I’ve had the opportunity to gather with my peers a few times over the past couple of months.
There was dConstruct, which I hosted. That was just lovely.
Then a few weeks ago, in spite of train strikes and travel snags, I went to Bristol to give a talk at Web Dev Conf, a really nice gathering.
This past weekend I was in London for State Of The Browser, this time as neither host nor speak, but as an attendee. It was really good!
I noticed something rather lovely. There was enough cross-over in the audiences for these events that I got to see some people more than once. That’s something that used to happen all the time but became very rare over the past two years because of The Situation.
None of the organisers of these events were pretending that Covid has gone away. Each event had different processes in place to mitigate risk. I wrote about the steps I took for dConstruct. For some people, those measures might seem to go too far. For other people, they don’t go far enough. This is a challenge that every in-person event is facing and from what I’ve seen, they’re all doing their level best.
None of these events were particularly large. Attendence was maybe somewhere between 100 and 200 people at each one. I know that there’s still a risk in any kind of indoor gathering but these events feel safer than the really big tech gatherings (like the one in Berlin where I got the ’rona—that was literally tens of thousands of people).
Anyway, all three events were thoroughly enjoyable. Partly that’s because the talks were good, but also because the socialising was really, really nice—all the nicer for being in relatively safe environments.
It’s not exactly an earth-shattering observation to point out that the social side of conferences is just as valuable as the content. But now that so many of us are working remotely, I feel like that aspect of in-person events has become even more important.
Or maybe I’m just appreciating that aspect of in-person events after spending such a long time with screen-mediated interactions only.