“I want to clean up leftover food from tons of people,” said no event organizer ever.
These were the thoughts running through my head after a “Let’s Sketch Tech!” meetup I ran over a year ago. This meetup came on the heels of a successful “Let’s Sketch Tech!” conference about art and tech I organized in San Francisco at the end of 2018(?).
Then it hit me. “What if I ran this online?”
This year, it’s been heartbreaking to watch event after event get canceled because of the coronavirus. It hurts to see people who work in the events space lose their jobs and it also hurts to see so many events and communities lose their physical footing.
In my case, after the catering was cleaned up (with the help of the meetup’s attendees), I chose to take my meetup online. The next meetup was a virtual one, and it ended up being a more positive change than I expected for several reasons:
People from everywhere could join making the reach of my event much larger
I was able to invite speakers from different places
I was able to participate and benefit from my own meetup
and yes, there was no food to clean up
This year, once I was inside for shelter-in-place, I realized people would need to make some art, so I organized my meetup as a conference. I had the most attendees I’ve ever had at an event, and the feedback was wonderful as we were able to give each other an escape, if only for a few hours.
Marlena Compton is a software developer, writer and collaboration artist. She organizes conferences such as "Pear Conf" and "Let’s Sketch Tech!" builds software, and introduces people to pair programming. Marlena’s agile hat-trick of working for IBM, Pivotal and Atlassian, has left her with a life-long appreciation for quality code, empathy and working together with a team. Marlena enjoys writing about tech, sketching talks at conferences and sometimes giving talks too.
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