It's odd—part of it reads like a typical non-fan experiencing, and being put off by, the wacky world of fandom; part of it is a fairly respectful discussion of what a big convention is like; part of it says some interesting things about sex and social mores and money. My favorite lines:
"I keep hearing about this Scandinavian Web site about sex during LARPing . . . and there's this big problem with staying in character while having an orgasm."
"[Stormtroopers are] like cars, or computers, or giant fascist sex toys."
But the most interesting bit to me is the part where she notes that Dragoncon runs opposite Worldcon, and says that Worldcon is a literary convention (citing the fact that "postmodern writer-brainiacs like Samuel Delany and Cecilia Tan" are among the guests) while Dragoncon is "lowbrow," as evidenced by the fact that "bad boy Harlan Ellison" spoke there. I'm not sure I understand how Ellison qualifies as lowbrow.
'sfunny, from my end of the sf world, Worldcon is halfway to being a media con; the real literary cons (Wiscon, Potlatch, Readercon, World Fantasy Con, etc) don't have movie rooms, don't generally have filking, don't have hall costumes or a costume contest.
But it's also interesting that I've barely heard of Dragoncon, and had no idea it had 20,000 attendees. That's about four times the size of Worldcon.
From Newitz's description, sounds like it's the epitome of a media con. I haven't been to a real media con since high school, when I used to go to the Creation conventions. It's a world I'm largely out of touch with these days. I wonder how much overlap there is between the media fandom that goes to Dragoncon and the media fandom that I see at mixed-media-and-literary conventions.