This weekend I witnessed history in the making when the San Antonio WordCamp (WordPress Conference) went totally virtual for it’s 2020 conference. It was the first ever that a WordCamp was held entirely online.
Because of this move, the conference saw a major boost in attendance from people who normally wouldn’t have made the physical trip to San Antonio.
To Cancel Or Go Digital
With the outbreak of the Covid-19 corona virus in 2019 in China and its subsequent spread across the globe in 2020, conferences from Mobile World Conference to Google IO have cancelled. Many WordCamps around the World chose to, or were forced to, cancel in the face of the pandemic. WordCamp Asia, which would have been the first Pan-Asian WordCamp was the first to cancel, then many other local and regional WordCamps cancelled. San Antonio’s organizers decided to do it virtually and in 16 days pulled it off. Impressive to say the least.
An Uncertain time.
Facing an uncertain time for gathering in real life, conference organizers need to figure out how to still deliver the quality and experience, albeit expectedly different, that attendees would get from an in person event.
WordCamp San Antonio used Crowdcast and Zoom to accomplish this historic feat. Crowdcast was used for the sessions and Zoom, was cleverly used for the famous WordCamp hallway chats and sponsor booths. Minus a few glitches and temporary lost connections, it went off close to flawlessly.
The Future of Conferences
So what does this mean for the further of conferences? Honestly, as with all things since Covid-19 struck, nothing is going to go back to the way it was, and if it does tha would be horrible.
I’ve had many chats fellow technologists and an overarching theme has emerged — virtual isn’t going away. Many of these conferences will continue to have virtual tickets, where in the past they wouldn’t have. This is going to be great for those people with special needs and special circumstances.
Many of these conferences are going to be much more inclusive than they once were and that’s great.
Coming up Adobe is not only having its summit online, but making it free. And that’s an even more shocking element. Many of these conferences that would normally have to charged for tickets, can lessen or eliminate the cost of a ticket as well. No physical location cost and no catering. Those two things alone drive the cost of any event up exponentially.
The Good In Humanity
Another thing we’re seeing is that many subject matter experts are donating their time and expertise to help others. They are volunteering to speak at conferences, holding free webinars, free coaching calls, and so much more.
As scary as this time is right now, the good in humanity is shinning brighter than ever before.
Have you been to any of these online conferences? What do you think about them going digital? Post your thoughts below.