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Personal essays

Back on the Road - Essay from Newsletter 7

Conferences from your couch

A year of travel

Last year, the year I turned sixty, I decided to say “yes” to any conference invitation. Just for the year.

It meant that I was often on the road two to three weeks a month and many of my presentations were created or customized just for that particular conference.

There were many results from this experiment. I learned a ton of new things. Fortunately, it was a year when Apple released a lot of new technology I wanted to learn - so having the opportunity to present sessions and workshops worked well for me.

I also saw a lot of new places and revisited familiar ones. I have friends in so many of these locations and also people I’ve become quite close with after meeting them at these conferences.

It didn’t leave as much time for writing or training so I didn’t earn very much last year - but the experiences more than made up for that. It was almost as if I banked all of that travel to get myself through this time when we can’t.

A year of staying home

This saying “yes” to every invitation was supposed to be just for last year but I had so much fun that I decided to extend the experiment.

And then it all stopped and now no-one is traveling and no one is putting on conferences.

At least not in person.

It’s May and, like you, I’ve been home for months. Conferences I’m scheduled to speak at in September have already cautioned that it’s unlikely they’ll run.

And yet, the past few weeks I’ve spoken at one conference, taught a workshop, and right now I’m backstage at a conference in Switzerland.

All without leaving my couch.

The reinvented conference

I’ve been watching local meetup groups online since I’ve been home. Watching CocoaHeads from the Netherlands (I’ll be presenting there on May 20) and learning Swift from Paris has been refreshing.

I gave a talk at the Philly ETE conference. Most of the talks there were live over Zoom. I wanted to experiment with producing a video so I pre-recorded mine which was a quick intro to how your architecture changes with SwiftUI and Combine. I think it’s shown me a format I want to use to create video versions of my book.

I’m presenting workshops at try! Swift World. The first one went well. I covered an intro to Combine in an hour and will be repeating it this Thursday (sold out) and the following Thursday. The classes are limited to ten attendees. I enjoyed the participants - they were really nice and supportive and asked great questions.

I mentioned I’m backstage right now. I’m doing some of the introductions and interviewing some of the speakers at App Builders. I’m bummed because I was supposed to be in Lugano and I’ve always wanted to go - but this is really well run. Most of the talks have been recorded in advance. This means that the speakers are available on chat during the talk to answer questions. They also meet in designated “rooms” to answer questions after their talks. I recommend that conferences looking to go online look at this format.

I look forward to meeting people again in person, but I think there’s a real place for online conferences. They make it easier for people to attend who otherwise couldn’t either for time constraints, financial constraints, location, …

Essay from Dim Sum Thinking Newsletter 7. Read the rest of the Newsletter or subscribe

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