NDC Online Community AmbassadorPosted by Dylan Beattie on 18 March 2020 • permalink
Things are weird, and a little scary, right now. People, companies and countries are all responding to the COVID-19 crisis in different ways, but I think we’re all agreed that getting hundreds of people together in a conference centre for days at a time isn’t a good idea over the next few months.
For technology conferences and events, this creates some interesting challenges. I’ve been working with the team from NDC Conferences since January, helping to build stronger relationships between NDC’s flagship conferences and the developer communities that they serve. None of us is going to be meeting face-to-face for a while - but we’re absolutely committed to supporting those people and communities while this situation is ongoing. Big events like NDC are a lot of fun, but they’re also an incredibly important part of our industry. Conference workshops are a critical source of revenue for a lot of people working on open source software. Sponsors and partners use conferences to connect with potential customers and employees – and for attendees, an event like NDC is a chance to meet the experts, discover new technology, connect with new people, maybe even find their next job. Turning a physical conference into an online event isn’t easy; there are challenges around content, technology, infrastructure, scheduling - all sorts of things that we’ll need to figure out. So that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
To that end, I’ll be joining the NDC Conferences team for the next few months as their Online Community Ambassador, to help them – and all of us – figure out how to run the best possible virtual events. I’ll be running live trials, online workshops and virtual meet-ups to help speakers figure out the best way to adapt and present their material online. I’ll be testing equipment, platforms and formats, and working closely with all our speakers and experts to make sure we give all our virtual attendees the best possible experience. Obviously our initial focus will be on the technical content - workshops and talks - but we’re also going to try and virtualise the hallway tracks, the social elements and all the wonderful conversations that take place during an event like NDC.
It’s been a really difficult couple of weeks for everybody, but in a way, the timing is fortunate. NDC Copenhagen at the beginning of April is one of the smaller NDC conferences; NDC Porto at the end of April is a little bigger, and NDC Oslo in June is our biggest event. Now, obviously when everything’s gone virtual the physical locations don’t matter so much - but by the time we get to Oslo, we’ll have had plenty of opportunities to experiment with formats, figure out the details and make sure it all goes smoothly. And I know as well as you do that there’s no way an online virtual event can replicate all the conversations, coffee, drinks, dinners and boat cruises and atmosphere that make events like NDC so memorable, but we’ll be doing everything we can to maintain the character of our events whilst we’re running things online. Same speakers, same sessions, same conversations - but you won’t have to pay Norwegian prices for a beer afterwards.
We’ll be contacting all the confirmed speakers and workshop trainers soon to start working out some details. In the meantime, hang in there, take care of yourselves, and if you feel like hanging out online with some friendly nerds whilst we start figuring this stuff out, I’m running an open Slack at ursatile.slack.com and you’re all very welcome to stop by.