This is the internet of our discontent.
Fans complain when an e-commerce site crashes and keeps them from making a desired purchase.
They also complain when a site works with perfect efficiency.
There ain’t no justice!
Tickets to San Diego’s Comic-Con International 2011 sold out in seven hours last Saturday, February 5. Internet and TV news outlets made breathless reports that the overwhelming demand crashed the online ticketing system three times. Fans vented their frustration about repeatedly getting “Over Capacity” error messages.
Ticket Leap reached out with technical explanations about why their system was not prepared for the unprecedented strain:
In 2009, [Comic-Con] sold out after 6 months. In 2010, it sold out in 2 months. On Saturday, Comic-Con International 2011 sold out in 7 HOURS (200x faster than last year if you’re keeping track). Needless to say, the demand was unbelievable, reaching a peak of 403,000 page requests per minute and a total of more than 35 million total page requests throughout the day.
An interesting contrast to the Comic-Con ticket story is what happened the first day that the 2011 Worldcon accepted online hotel reservations.
Renovation’s hotels the Atlantis, Peppermill and Courtyard by Marriott began taking online reservations on January 18. The Atlantis is the designated party hotel and it’s the closest to the convention center, to which it’s inked by an air-conditioned sky bridge. Doubtless these attributes are the why fans reserved every available room in the Atlantis on the first day.
When that happened a few fans felt the committee deserved criticism, yet it’s hard to pin down what they ought to be blamed for. Quite unlike Comic-Con’s situation, fans wanting to reserve a room for the Worldcon seemed to have no trouble getting through to request reservations. And I personally think that was the story. No system crash. Information readily available. Either people were able to make reservations where they wanted, or they immediately found out their first choice was unavailable and they needed to pick an alternative.
That’s an infinitely better situation than the days of paper forms when it’d be weeks before you found out whether the tourist bureau had put you in your first choice or somewhere else. (That’s right! When I was your age we didn’t have the internet, we had to walk 20 miles through the snow to…) And rooms are still available at the other official Worldcon hotels.
However, all the Comic-Con tickets are gone. Honestly, beneath the media’s surface treatment of this as a pop culture consumer crisis the stories really seemed to be a coded celebration of Comic-Con’s commercial prowess. So many people want tickets they broke the computer!
Surely Comic-Con’s organizers must be delighted when news coverage increases the pressure felt by the City of San Diego to do whatever it takes to keep the event in town for the long term. Because overshadowing last weekend’s story about frustrated ticket customers is the fact that an enormous number of people do have tickets and will be coming in July to enrich the local economy.