Do Hybrid Conferences Work?

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Do Hybrid Conferences Work?

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  • I do like the attempt at making things accessible. However, I agree, it's not working well enough with the current level of technology.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood... Theodore Roosevelt
    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2022 Query Performance Tuning, 6th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • Gosh... I wouldn't blame the "current level of technology" for any such complaints that Steve has cited.  That's not the issue.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Dear Lord... I'm a production DBA. Please grant me patience because, if you grant me strength, I'm gonna need bail money to go with it.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Jeff Moden wrote:

    Gosh... I wouldn't blame the "current level of technology" for any such complaints that Steve has cited.  That's not the issue.

    It's not ALL the problem, but it's part of it. I've tried to include people online in discussions happening in-person while presenting. It simply doesn't work, and it's largely a tech problem. Everything is laggy. Sound is bad. Video is non-existent or bad. I've also been the proctor in the room for remote presentations. Again, interrupting the speaker so questions can be asked is difficult because of the tech. Attending sessions with a remote presenter were also an issue. We can't see the screen and interrupting the speaker proves hard, again, tech, so you're sitting there looking at stuff you literally can't see. Overall, extremely challenging stuff.

    Sure, there are also just human issues. Eye contact, body language, the whole fact that we've spent millions of years evolving a certain set of mechanisms for communication that don't involve Zoom, all of that gets in the way. Probably first, and most. No argument.

    However, as technologists, what are we doing? Trying to use technology to solve problems. Well, this is a problem and there's tech involved in attempting to solve it. That tech ain't cutting it. It's possible that it never will. Or, it's possible that it won't for 10-15 years. What I know today is, it all just gets in the way and doesn't make the virtual aspects of a live, in-person conference better, and it doesn't make the live, in-person conference better (although it really does make it more inclusive... at a cost).

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood... Theodore Roosevelt
    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2022 Query Performance Tuning, 6th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • Hi Steve, I respectfully disagree. I do this because I work for an agency which won't send anyone, anywhere for training and certainly never to a conference. Having hybrid conferences helps those people who are seriously disadvantaged because of who they work for and the prevailing corporate culture. The only events they can attend are virtual and hybrid events. I admit that the current state of technology isn't ideal. And I willingly admit I've no idea how much struggle those who put on events, whether they're in-person, hybrid or fully remote, is like. Nevertheless, I still contend that hybrid conferences/events need to continue for those who will have the chance to attend a live event. And I also think that not all events or conferences must be hybrid. I'm advocating the some need to be.

    Additionally, I disagree with the idea of not having hybrid local events, such as local user group meetings. I helped start the local .NET user group in my area about 15 years ago. However, it is slowly dying. There are no other .NET groups in my area. My only option is to attend a local .NET user virtually in the Phoenix, AZ area (which is closest to me) when they offer a meeting both virtually and in-person. This doesn't happen often, but I do attend when I can, and they offer it. I keep my eye on Meetup.com accordingly.

    I understand your arguments and the struggles you've mentioned. I wish things were better to improve engagement for all attendees regardless as to how they attend. I respect your opinions; they are well thought out and documented. I know I can trust you to respect my opinion, even if you disagree. I hope that I've conveyed being able to disagree with you, agreeably.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

  • Grant Fritchey wrote:

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    Gosh... I wouldn't blame the "current level of technology" for any such complaints that Steve has cited.  That's not the issue.

    It's not ALL the problem, but it's part of it. I've tried to include people online in discussions happening in-person while presenting. It simply doesn't work, and it's largely a tech problem. Everything is laggy. Sound is bad. Video is non-existent or bad. I've also been the proctor in the room for remote presentations. Again, interrupting the speaker so questions can be asked is difficult because of the tech. Attending sessions with a remote presenter were also an issue. We can't see the screen and interrupting the speaker proves hard, again, tech, so you're sitting there looking at stuff you literally can't see. Overall, extremely challenging stuff.

    Sure, there are also just human issues. Eye contact, body language, the whole fact that we've spent millions of years evolving a certain set of mechanisms for communication that don't involve Zoom, all of that gets in the way. Probably first, and most. No argument.

    However, as technologists, what are we doing? Trying to use technology to solve problems. Well, this is a problem and there's tech involved in attempting to solve it. That tech ain't cutting it. It's possible that it never will. Or, it's possible that it won't for 10-15 years. What I know today is, it all just gets in the way and doesn't make the virtual aspects of a live, in-person conference better, and it doesn't make the live, in-person conference better (although it really does make it more inclusive... at a cost).

    Ten years ago, I might have agreed with you.  Not so much any more.  I've found that technology isn't the big issue for such things anymore.  Rather, I've found that the big issue is all a human problem.  Poor planning for using what could actually be used.  Not testing to make sure they've used the appropriate technology and that it actually works long before "Go Live" day and the day before that.

    But, whatever.  To each their own.  I simply believe that properly planned "Hybrid" events work just fine and, done properly, are the best of both worlds.  They also make information from some really smart people available to those that cannot attend in person while still fulfilling the joy of in-person events for those that can attend.  Oddly enough, they can seriously enhance in-person events... people way in the back can see the screen on their laptop and still have the opportunity to ask a live question.

    You and Steve don't and I don't hold that against you. 😀

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Dear Lord... I'm a production DBA. Please grant me patience because, if you grant me strength, I'm gonna need bail money to go with it.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Thanks for the comments. A few notes

    I'm do think the accessibility matters, and I would like to see virtual events. I do think an in-person event can broadcast their content through some streaming, but I don't find the hybrid system working well. Hybrid meaning that the virtual people can ask questions or participate in the event. That's the part that doesn't work well and it doesn't work well with existing technology.

    We can have moderators, but it's a flawed system, and having a presenter distrated by a proxy, with incomplete questions or out of context ones, without being able to speak back and forth with an attendee, without the rest of the audience being able to see/hear as well, just doesn't work. It breaks up the live event, and it makes the virtual one appear very second, or third, class.

    I have seen plenty of people test things, but there are still problems, and the effort to make those go away is high. It's way higher than many of you think if you haven't actually been doing the production of a hybrid event.

    For a user group, you can likely live with some of this, and because there are relatively few attendees, it works better. But having a speaker system in a room, and one that goes to the Internet, isn't simple. Most places aren't set up for this, and getting set up is expensive.

    Rod, I think we ought to continue with virtual user groups, and I'd like to continue to see virtual events. I do encourage some people to think about virtual SQL Saturdays or other events that are longer, precisely because accessibility matters. However, adding even broadcasting to a live event is not easy or simple, and it's a lot of work. Honestly, I see why many groups don't want to do both. Virtual only is way easier.

    I'd also say that you don't have to be an expect in tech to run an event. We need more people to setup and run virtual groups and events, so if you want to see more, become a part of that solution.

  • Agreed... thanks for the comments and, Steve/Grant, thanks for the feedback.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.

    Dear Lord... I'm a production DBA. Please grant me patience because, if you grant me strength, I'm gonna need bail money to go with it.


    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Steve, thank you for your feedback. Thinking over your response I can see how I've experienced some. My best examples are Microsoft Ignite and Build conferences. I've attended both, virtually, the last couple of years. What I'm seen at both is either large group settings with no interaction from the audience (in-person or virtually) and small groups where both in-person and virtual attendees can ask questions. That seems to work better. However, I've been at conferences (in-person) in a large group setting where people are going to the front to ask questions into a microphone, or someone is running around the auditorium to hand a microphone to someone wanting to ask a question. I definitely can see how virtual attendees wouldn't really be able to participate.

    Perhaps my experience is limited. It does seem like Ignite and Build both do a reasonable job of having hybrid events. At least as a virtual attendee I felt included. And I've attended a few Ignite conferences in-person, so saying I still felt included, even though I was virtual, is saying something. But reflecting upon the last two years and the conferences I've been able to attend virtually, I can see that the dynamic has changed in order to accommodate the virtual audience.

    Lastly, concerning your recommendation that I participate in making our local user group virtual, that is already happening. Nevertheless, I think the group is slowly dying. We used to have monthly meetings. Now it's down to one meeting a quarter. Additionally, we have unincorporated.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 4 days ago by  Rod at work.

    Kindest Regards, Rod Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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