I am presenting at two different events in February next month. Given the current COVID situation, that is entirely unexpected. In 2020 I only gave four talks, three of which were virtual. I am not holding my breath for 2021. Conferences are going virtual all year-long. Next year too, most likely.
There are some clear advantages in going virtual, but the final result is a net negative. Any conference junkie will tell you that she/he attends for the people first, and only then for the sessions themselves. At these events, the most exciting stuff happens in the corridors, usually during breaks. A little story here. You might know that I run a motorcycle club. Well, the very idea of founding it was actually ignited by a corridor chat, few minutes after I delivered a session. Replicating this kind of in-person interaction online is, well, next to impossible.
As a speaker, I miss presenting live. A simple glance at the audience helps me assess how’s going and eventually adjust my talk direction. The Q&A session at the end? That is often a matter of eye contact and body language. Not to mention the “offline session” that follows if your presentation had any degree of success. With online delivery, that’s all lost.
Also, I suspect not many online attendees actually pay due attention, not compared to the same session presented in-person. I know that’s true for me. When I’m comfortably sitting at my desk, too many things compete for my attention. Every possible distraction is just one click away. And then there’s the family. And my cat, of course.
Speaking of attendance, I would not be surprised to find that many people who sign up for the event won’t actually show up. Again, I know because it happens to me all the time. The commitment I have to put in for attending an in-person conference is much higher, making it more likely that I will actually participate.
Organizers, on the other hand, are incredible. They do a fantastic job in attempting to provide an experience as close as possible to the real one. They are the true heroes of this kind of event. They always have been, even more so now that we’re forced to go virtual. Remember to always have a word of gratitude for your fellow organizer. She/he deserves that.
Alright, enough with the rambling. Here’s where I’m presenting next month:
- Python REST APIs for Humans at CloudGen 2021
- Introduction to F# and functional languages at Scottish Summit 2021
One significant advantage of virtual conferences is that anybody can take part no matter where she/he lives on the planet. So, maybe you will fancy join us?