Today I held the first open town hall meetings for anyone to attend. I sent the invites out to speakers and organizers, but the meeting was public. This was at the request of a few organizers and speakers that were wondering what the state of SQL Saturday was at this time.
I am noting these are the morning and evening session, based on my time zone.
Quick Link: Evening Session
My apologies, I started the transcript, but not the meeting recording. I thought one might enable the other, but that’s not the case. I’m not usually in charge of meetings on a regular basis and this slipped my mind.
I’m going to summarize the discussion and notes.
- Steve Jones
- Steph Locke
- Stacia Varga
- Victoria Holt
- David Klee
I opened with a short statement on what has been happening with events. To date, I have contacted a number of organizers around the world. Many of them would like to hold events, but not at this time. About 2/3 aren’t interested in virtual events or do not think physical events are safe in 2021. About 1/3 would like to either have a virtual event later in 2021 or want a physical event.
As is the case for any event, finding a venue is the most challening issue. Many of the places used in the past (schools, corporate offices, Microsoft offices) are not allowing use as of late July. SQL Saturday Orlando 2021 is renting a hotel but given the state of the world, they are a bit worried about the event running smoothly with attendees. A few other locations would like to run an event if they get space.
Colorado Springs is one of these locations, and they are hoping to use a local library and reboot their user group with a smaller event. Around the world, however, most people are looking to 2022 at this time.
I noted that I have had some discussions with groups around hybrid events. While many people would like to produce a hybrid event, doing so at scale is hard. Beyond 1-2 rooms, the equipment requirements, bandwidth, and effort is high.
I have suggested to a few people that we experiment with a spare laptop and microphone as the “camera”, allowing the remote attendees to see either the audience or the speaker. We will see if people try.
Victoria noted that Microsoft and other companies have said that specialized equipment is needed, and they are considering lending some out to events. David noted that a spare webcam and microphone can work well.
A short discussion on ways that we might run hybrid events in the future, as they are likely to be requested. Some ideas are:
- Speakers present remotely with a moderator in the room
- Pre-cons virtual, perhaps spread across days
- Partial hybrid, with specific rooms used for broadcast
Cost and effort is likely to limit the amount of hybrid content produced at SQL Saturdays.
David suggested that while there are few events, perhaps we should be trying to rebuild tooling for events during the next six months. He noted that the previous tools were not great.
My response is that this is an ongoing project. I have added a few issues in the repo (#1, #2, #3 ) to note some items needed. I hope to get volunteers to help build some tools across the next few months.
I don’t think we need to rebuild a call for speakers/scheduling, as Sessionize does this as well as we could, and this is not a good use of resources. We do likely need a way to capture history for the event pages from the schedule.
For attendee registration, Eventbrite and Meetup can do this well. These are being used by some events already, and for free events they do not cost money. For SQL Sat Orlando 2021, Eventbrite is being used with two events, one for attendees and one for sponsors. This allows sponsors to easily make payments to the organizer.
David does not like the Eventbrite ToS, but said that using an service here is likely better than trying to build this.
The raffle tickets and getting information to sponsors is the biggest challenge. Paper seems to have been the easiest way to do this, but managing data and getting contact information to a sponsor is hard. Steve has been contacting a few people on how we might do this.
Steph noted that they tried putting a QR code on the sponsor booth that an attendee could scan and fill out data. It didn’t work well, but with changes in the world after the pandemic, with lots of QR codes being used, this might be better.
Steve likes this a little, but notes managing the data is a challenge still. Who runs the infrastructure here? Each sponsor? Or the organizer.
We likely need a few solutions here, open sourced and available for events to pick from.
We ended at about 45 minutes, not accomplishing much, but able to connect and inspire each other a bit on the possibilities for the future.
The evening session was a bit more organized. I was awake, and not chit chatting as much, which helped me remember to hit record.
Warwick Rob Heidi Jason H
A quick report from me, repeating information from the morning. The recording is on YouTube, but a couple of items that stood out.
For sponsors/raffles. Rob suggested we email out links to users, to send them to a landing page. Then there might be something they get from a booth to ensure some interaction with sponsors. Might work well with virtual. Less useful for physical events.
Jason also suggested that we add events to LinkedIn Events as an - announcement
This was a lot of general discussion on the state of events and the world, especially the Australia experience.
Future Town Halls
` I will aim to schedule a town hall every month, just to keep discussions moving forward and enabling us to interact with each other in a live environment. I will endeavor to actually record all of them :)
If you have questions, suggestions, or ideas, please send them to me at the webmaster email.
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