What makes a digital conference remarkable?

  • Ease of sharing
    Something that we found as we moved our training program online is that pair programming became an easier and more valuable aspect of the event. And most of this just comes down to vision. It’s easier to see when everyone has their own screen so looking at details: screens, demos, small type, becomes a better experience.
  • Inclusivity
    If we were shifting from online events to offline events for the first time we would be appalled by how exclusive they are. They are largely off-limits to anyone who can’t afford the price tag, speaks a different language, is deaf or hard of hearing. Events are challenging to attend to for folks who are disabled or have even mild forms of social anxiety.
  • Asynchronicity
    In person events require you to be in the room. There is no ability to ask the speaker a question later or contribute to a lunchtime discussion after that discussion has ended. What a loss!
  • Micro-communities
    Evans touches on this in his article, in-person events suffer from wildly inaccurate connections. Everyone says networking is the most valuable part, yet finding the right people is a crapshoot. Surely, if we were accustomed to online meetings, we would have some kind of networking “Tinder” that makes it very easy for people to opt-in to meeting with each other or perhaps a better way of helping like-minded people group into micro-communities.
  • In-person events combine presentations + networking because conferences used to be the primary way people learned from other practitioners in their field. Today there are loads of online learning opportunities. If we were recreating in-person events today, would we still lean so heavily on presentations as the main value-add?
  • In-person events exclude people for all kinds of bad reasons, but there is still a valuable exclusivity. (Ex: creating exclusivity around role or industry would result in more targeted, higher-value content)
  • Creating exclusive events (both online and offline) also improves the accuracy of connections. You know that someone attending that event is more likely to be a valuable connection for you. Why do we always thinking online events need to be big and all-inclusive when exclusivity often creates value?
  • I imagine that if we were designing an in-person event for the first time today we would think carefully about how to preserve some asynchronicity. We would feel terrible about all the people being excluded and the online/asych experience of the watchers would be considered with the same care as the live experience for attendees.

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Janessa Lantz

Janessa Lantz

Building the marketing team at dbt Labs