Going Virtual


Microsoft accounted that Build will go virtual this year, which is both saddening and exciting. I've been fortunate enough to attend Build 3 times and I've enjoyed the experience every time. Even when I was there for only 24 hours. I wasn't sure I'd get to go this year, but now I can.

Sort of.

The experience of a remote event is different. I've watcher numerous remote keynotes, including for the PASS Summit, over the years. I've attended 24 hours of PASS, GroupBy, and various Microsoft events, though in all those cases I only attended part of the event. I saw a few sessions, having them run in the background while I was doing something else.

With the world struggling with the COVID-19 epidemic, I know we'll see more virtual events this year. I'm torn on what I think here. Certainly more people can join in and get information, which is overall a good thing. When we can share information more widely, we open up more collaboration and allow those that are not privileged enough to attend to still be a part of the event.

At the same time, events are expensive and some of the costs are often covered by sponsors and vendors, which lose out in a virtual setting. They don't get the same chance to interact with attendees. There's also the loss of interaction and interpersonal networking among those that go.

I don't like the idea of having all events be virtual, nor do I like the idea of only having attendees get information. There is some balance to be struck here, though I'm not even sure what I want. I think PASS does a good job of streaming some sessions, and I love SQL Bits making recordings available later, though in both cases, I often feel very disengaged.

The MVP Summit was virtual this year, and I made it a point to shut down everything outside of interactions with attendees. However, that was hard. A few work things popped up and there were times I couldn't turn off everything. Even when I could, it was more distracting with more people at home, and I'll admit, concerns over the state of the world weighed me down.

Virtual events are a challenge, but we're all going to get used to them for the time being. Redgate is doing a streamed event next week and I expect even more across the coming months as many of us strive to keep businesses going and achieve some level of normalcy. I know that continued learning, inspiration, and career growth with be hard with virtual events, but I look forward to finding ways that keep us engaged.