I’m writing this a week after the end of the first Virtual PASS Summit. For those who don’t know, let me share a couple of things. First, the PASS organization itself is in a bit of financial trouble at this writing. Second, I’m on the PASS Board, so I’m tasked with helping to keep the ship afloat. As such, I’ve been thinking about the organization quite a lot recently. Let me share a few thoughts.
I believe that we, the community of data professionals, benefit from this organization. Now, you may never have been to a Summit, a SQLSaturday, a local user group, one of the many live Microsoft events that PASS puts on, or any of the myriad online and virtual events that PASS organizes and presents. I’m saddened that this is true, but it may well be. This could be because of the cost of Summit or just because there hasn’t been a SQLSaturday near you or you never saw the virtual events being offered. Not to mention the fact, you may just be busy keeping your head above water at work. Despite this, you too have likely benefited from the PASS organization. Now how can I say that?
PASS started over twenty years ago. It started as just Summit. It didn’t do anything else. However, over time, it grew. Through that growth, quite a few people engaged with the organization, myself included. Many of those people started volunteering with the organization. They started user groups. Maybe they organized SQLSaturdays. They started presenting training and learning sessions because of PASS. These people started mentoring others, using principals they picked up from the organization. Some of them wrote books or recorded videos. Turn and ask one of the big name data pros where they got their start or how they grew into being a big name data professional, many will point to PASS. So, while you may not have been to a single PASS event, if you’ve read one of my books, blog posts or articles, you’re benefitting from the fact that PASS helped me shape my career into what I have today.
I know that if the organization goes away, you sure won’t. The community of data professionals will continue. People run their own events all the time. We follow one another on social media. Blogs, videos, articles, books, all of that will continue. However, we will have lost a central, organizing body for the community. A prime channel of sharing a message as important as “Connect, Share, Learn” will be gone. Organizations will put together their own conferences, virtual or otherwise. But a global, independent gathering place will be lost. The community will absolutely continue, but it will be less.
Fingers crossed, we keep it going.