Back on Feb 12th of 2020 I was sitting in Virginia at a conference going “Yeah I dunno – this whole virus thing sounds weird”. Two years later I was walking into Montgomery Bell State Park at the first in-person conference I’ve been to since Feb 12th 2020. I can be and usually am gloriously wrong. Covid was slightly more than weird. Sometime last year I declared “I think in person conferences are done”. That’s not the case either.
I could tell you a lot about the conference: Talks about geo, software, trials and tribulations of the last 2 years. I’m not. I needed a break. I checked out for most of the conference. Normally I hate going to Montgomery Bell but this time it was different. It’s 5000 acres of State Park and it’s pretty nice and quiet. So all those emails I had to rush down to my room to deal with was me sitting on the balcony not answering email. Take that College kids who wanted to know about GIS from a professional. That’s how I do it.
So what stuck out for me in this conference – the discussion of the “conference”. In general everyone was pretty happy to be in the same area and trading notes and talking (possibly trading covid – we will know shortly). There was talk of working remote which a lot of people had done for 6 months at least. Some still were remote. Some were never going back in the office.
If you divide the group into thirds here is how it felt to me:
- The last two years of being remote wasn’t any fun.
- The last two years of being remote was awesome.
- In person is good. Remote is also good. I’m not committing to anything.
How did I conduct this scientific poll? Walking around talking to people.
I fall into the last “non-committal” group. Why? The 2021 FOSS4G meeting – the amount of knowledge coming out of that recorded for the masses was incredible. …but….it’s hard to get nuance if you’re not talking to someone face to face. So – in person is better….BUT……I attended one conference in Britain “live”….so remote……
One person had rigged up his camper trailer to allow him to travel and work. One other person I spoke with had done quite a bit of traveling while remote. One person I spoke with went home for a few months and then were back in the office because – the whole reason they were there was the job was the site and the site was the job. Remote didn’t work for them.
One email this morning announced a new discord server for a user group. Another group has slack. Another still relies on email. People as always are making the best out of what they know even if it doesn’t work for everyone. I sorta hate slack and love email. There’s a whole group younger than myself that loves Discord. Email is still the lowest common denominator for about everyone. Communication – it’s a little bit complicated.
Anyway – it’s still weird out there. I look forward to it remaining weird moving forward. Do conferences go back to “normal” – I sort of hope they don’t continue like it’s 2019. Viva Remote. Viva in person.