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Penguicon Starfleet Tux.jpg
Tux visits the Penguicon Consuite
Status Active
Genre Science fiction/Linux User Group
Venue Westin Southfield Hotel, Southfield, MI (April 24-26th, 2015)
Location(s) Southeastern Michigan
Country United States
Inaugurated 2003
Attendance 1,377 (2014)[1]
Organized by Penguicon Staff

Penguicon is a convention in the midwestern United States designed originally to mix the communities of science fiction fandom and Linux User Groups.[2] In addition to educational panels on science fiction in the media, attendees participate in professional and beginner-level panels on Linux and Open-source software.

Penguicon expanded its focus over the years to include panels and events for foodies, cosplay, filk music (the folk music of science fiction fandom), gaming, and makerspaces.[3] Penguicon is a place where "hackers, makers, foodies, open source software junkies, anime buffs, and science fiction fans of all ages and backgrounds come together in a hotel for a weekend and totally blow the roof off."[4]

Along with the panels, the convention hosts a "geek prom", a film room, swordfighting demonstrations, a cosplay contest, OpenCola (open source soda making),[5] live action role-playing game, computer, board and cards.[6]

Working alongside local makerspaces i3Detroit and All Hands Active, Penguicon has offered instruction in learning to solder electronic components, which allowed attendees to create their own LED badges.[7]

Over a thousand participants have attended past conventions, which have featured Guests of Honor from Neil Gaiman[8] and John Scalzi[9] to Jon "maddog" Hall and Eric S. Raymond.

Guests of Honor (2015)[10][edit]

  • E-Nabling the Future (Hack of Honor, represented by Jen Owen and Ivan Owen)
  • Albert Manero, creator of a $350 3D-printer myoelectric arm
  • Charlie Jane Anders, Editor-in-Chief of
  • Annalee Newitz, Editor-in-Chief of
  • Aral Balkan, founder and lead designer for

Recent Events[edit]

For the 2014 convention, the Penguicon tech track's focus was on privacy and cryptography,[11] with panels on installing cryptographic software, GPG encryption, and setting up a physical firewall on your home network.[12]Cory Doctorow is returning[13] as a Guest of Honor Emeritus to talk about privacy in a post-Snowden world.

Recurring almost guest of honor[edit]

Wil Wheaton has been a guest of honor over multiple years, and has had to cancel each time. In 2009, he had to cancel the morning of the convention, and wrote an apology letter which was read aloud at Opening Ceremonies.[14]

Featured Guests[edit]

Every year, Penguicon invites a dozen or more people (authors, hackers, and entertainers) who are not full Guests of Honor, but are celebrities in their own right, and calls them Featured Guests (formerly "Nifty Guests"). They also invite former Guests of Honor as "Guest of Honor Emeritus". In 2010, this included author Jim C. Hines, musician Tom Smith, and open source advocate Eric S. Raymond.[15]

Tron Guy[edit]

Jay Maynard is known for his self-made electroluminescent Tron Guy costume, which he says debuted at Penguicon in 2004.[16] After submitting photos of himself to Slashdot, he ended up doing regular reporting segments, in costume, for Jimmy Kimmel Live.[17] He has also been on America's Got Talent and a commercial for Duck Brand duct tape. He says he "hasn't missed a Penguicon, and doesn't intend to."[18]


Penguicon is known for compensating its volunteers with a currency known as Whuffies, which they can spend on T-shirts, a place to sleep in the hotel for the night, or to refund their membership fee.[19] This is a reference to the reputation currency in Cory Doctorow's book, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.

In the Media[edit]

A Science Channel show, Outrageous Acts of Science, replayed a video from Penguicon 2006[20] in which Guest of Honor Howard Tayler recorded people dumping the remains of a dewar of liquid nitrogen into the hotel pool.[21] In 2010, Howard Tayler came back to Penguicon and hosted a second video involving liquid nitrogen and a pool.[22]


Penguicon is held in the spring in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area. The venue, a hotel, changes from year to year. This year's hotel is the Westin Southfield Hotel in Southfield, Michigan.[23]


Penguicon announced that the organization Enabling the Future would be their 2015 Guest of Honor[24] and official sponsored charity for 2015.[25][26] Along with collecting donations, they are working with E-Nable to 3d-print limbs for those in need during the 2015 convention.[27] Their goal is to have up to 100 arms printed for Enable, to be presented during the event.[28]

Penguicon was listed as a Guardian of Wildlife[29] at the Detroit Zoo in 2013 for donating to symbolically adopt a penguin. Penguicon's logo is a penguin on a rocketship.

In 2013, Penguicon listed the New Beginnings Animal Rescue as their official charity, and Penguicon members donated $700 and 123 pounds of food during the convention weekend.[30]

They also sponsored MHacks III,[31] a weekend-long hackathon held in Detroit in late January that was expected to have up to 1,200 student programmers.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2014 Rocked!,
  2. ^ Rob Landley - History of Penguicon From One of the Co-founders
  3. ^ Penguicon Convention 2012 Mixes Science Fiction, Linux, And DIY Exploration, Huffington Post
  4. ^ Episode 78: Penguicon, Bebop Art, Kosmic Kasey, IT in the D
  5. ^ After Report, Disjointed Images
  6. ^ About Penguicon,
  7. ^ PenguiCon Boot Camp!, All Hands Active
  8. ^ If This Is Saturday It Must Be ... Where Am I?,
  9. ^ And Now, My Penguicon Guest of Honor Bio,
  10. ^ Penguicon Guests of Honor, Penguicon wiki
  11. ^ Michigan's Penguicon will focus on crypto and privacy this year,
  12. ^ 2014 Programming,
  13. ^ Gamers, makers, and sci-fi fans unite! at Penguicon 2014,
  14. ^ To Everyone at Penguicon,
  15. ^ Nifty Guests, Penguicon wiki
  16. ^ Being Tron Guy, Minneapolis City Pages
  17. ^ Memes Pwn The Web: What Lolcats, Tron Guy, and Doge Tell Us About Ourselves and the Future of Humanity,
  18. ^ What is Penguicon?, YouTube Video
  19. ^ A Handy Currency Converter For Alien Money, iO9
  20. ^ Liquid Nitrogen Into A Swimming Pool, YouTube
  21. ^ Outrageous Acts of Science - Power Junkies, Science Channel (via YouTube)
  22. ^ Liquid Nitrogen in the pool at Penguicon 2010, YouTube
  23. ^ Penguicon Venues, Penguicon wiki
  24. ^ Penguicon announces E-Nable as Hack of Honor,
  25. ^ Want to give back to those in need?,
  26. ^ Sci-fi meets open source at annual Penguicon nerdfest, The Detroit News
  27. ^ Have A 3D Printer? You Can Help A Child Get A Hand This Spring, Daily Detroit
  28. ^ A Geeky Good Cause: Help 3-D Print Prosthetic Arms For People In Need,
  29. ^ ADOPTS honor roll, Detroit Zoo
  30. ^ New Beginnings Animal Rescue, Facebook entry
  31. ^ MHacks Sponsors, MHacks
  32. ^ MHacks III, Hackathonwatch

External links[edit]