Thu 12 Mar 2020 9:23AM

OPEN 2020 - Postponed - Now going online

OS Oli SB Public Seen by 154

How should the online event work!?!? Please add your thoughts...


Oli SB Thu 12 Mar 2020 9:30AM

It is after much deliberation we have taken the tough decision to postpone OPEN 2020 - but fear not: Covid 19 will not stop us collaborating, it just means is we have to get better at working together in a decentralized but coordinated way.

We are planning on organising an online version of the event, on the same days: 11th and 12th of June... and hope that we may be able to cover many of the same subjects... but clearly an online event will not be the same. There are many new considerations... some of which could make it better. For example, it could be more accessible to more people :) - but many of which will make it harder, for example, managing time zones, bandwidth and technology to say the least!

If you have any ideas or experiences from other online webinars / seminars / virtual summits - please share them here and we will try to build on these crowd sourced ideas to create the best online event we can - after all, if we can't make this work, there's not much hope for humanity!

Please share any observations about previous online events: what was good? what was bad? what worked well? what didn't? And anything else that you think could help make OPEN 2020 ONLINE the best virtual conference it can be...!



Titan Cassini Fri 13 Mar 2020 1:15AM

Regarding online events, patterns of global internet usage during the crisis so far suggest that prerecorded video sessions such as keynotes (perhaps from some of the main speakers previously scheduled) could be useful, as well considering when to start remote streaming. Having people chat or send in questions via tools like Slido could make the interactions more focused and be less stressful on bandwidth. Here is some general data around internet usage now (sourced from cloudflare), keeping in mind that an increase in remote working could stress local bandwidth more:

As more people work from home, peak traffic in impacted regions has increased, on average, approximately 10%. In Italy, which has imposed a nationwide quarantine, peak Internet traffic is up 30%. Traffic patterns have also shifted so peak traffic is occurring earlier in the day in impacted regions.


Laura James Wed 18 Mar 2020 9:23AM

I have a lot of thoughts about online events, which I can write up at some point. There are many different kinds of events and goals for events too, there's no one size fits all - many tools and techniques for different kinds of things. I would say for something like OPEN making sure there's scope for small group conversations as well as big ones, chat (which is archived) for discussion of different sessions, and networking space/time will be important.

At ClimateAction.tech we're building up resources for remote events - the page ( https://discourse.climateaction.tech/t/greener-events-summary-post/27 ) will get a bunch of updates this week.



mike_hales Thu 19 Mar 2020 1:10PM

@Laura James It would be great if you did actually write up some more specific thoughts about online events, in this Open 20xx context, thanks. Maybe a new thread. It would be good to understand what you mean by:

  • networking space/time

  • small group conversations, as distinct from . .

  • big group conversations, and

  • chat (which is archived)?

Looking at the CAT greener events Discourse site (thanks), and the CAT website, I find two responses:

  • The website seems clear, helpful. A manifesto-ish assemblage of material with a single voice - quite 'traditional'.

  • The Discourse group seems something of a pig's breakfast. An utter maze. Multiple styles and languages. Bullet lists, lists of links. No apparent conceptual framing (eg of the lists of links) and no apparent cascade of content (somehow, it doesn't seem to be very wiki-ish, more bulletin-boardish; no moderation I guess).

I sense this experience arises partly from multiple perspectives, multiple contributions (this Loomio group is similar, neither app imposes any constraint - not should it), partly the result of ad hoc bringing across of stuff from another kind of group space (Slack chat), partly simple lack of time to do the necessary conceptualising/organising. I don't mean this as a crit of you or CAT, Laura. Rather, I suspect this reflects the chaos of loosely federated organising in general. Maybe the Discourse group makes sense to somebody following it daily, as it evolves? But not to an incomer.

This present thread in Loomio is now well beyond intelligibility, and that's not a Loomio weakness, it's a chaos of voices and topics.

A lesson? Maybe: tech tools are not a solution-in-a-box? Without the labour input and without a developed focus of attention - and without opening out a meta discussion or two (to determine how the 'content' can be appropriately organised) - distributed organising and distributed resources are not going to magically fall into order bcos some digital format (Slack, Discourse, Loomio, whatever) is overlaid. So, how does this happen? I dunno. Maybe a core group needs to spend quality time in detailed design work, some video conversation, etc? Develop a conceptual frame. Do some heavy editing, regrouping, cross-linking, summarising? Open some new (pinned) threads?

@Oli SB d'you have a group at work on Open 20xx planning? Can you (plural) open a meta thread or two, to distill and reframe what been flowing here? Strikes me, this thread is beyond recovery?


Laura James Thu 19 Mar 2020 4:53PM

Thanks Mike! I'll see if I can find time to write up thoughts soon. As you note it's not so much about tech as about social dynamics...

The CAT discourse is not actually used as a community forum - it's mostly as individual wiki-style pages (and we are having some minor technical challenges there, as it happens). The real discussion happens in CAT slack, local meetups, etc.



Oli SB Thu 19 Mar 2020 4:55PM

All really useful thoughts Mike - yes tech will not save us... without suitable organisation to ensure collaboration is structured and effective... which requires some governance too... yada yada...

There isn't a dedicated group working on 'OPEN online' event planning - more of a cacophony of various chats and threads... but if anyone here would like to be part of a working group to help organise an effective event please just shout / add your name here? And I will kick off another thread / group / space we can collaborate...


mike_hales Thu 19 Mar 2020 6:24PM

OK, I should put some of my time where my mouth is . . so Oli, include me in! Although, I'm 'up to here' - and most people here are, I'm guessing.


Danyl Strype Sun 5 Apr 2020 3:09AM

Hi Laura, please consider replacing Slack with one of the many excellent free code tools for group chat. I have been curating a page exploring some of the options, which is archived here:


At minimum, please allow signups on discourse.climateaction.tech that don't depend on having a Slack account.


Olivier Frey Thu 12 Mar 2020 9:35AM

Hello. Sad to read this but I think it is better for everyone to postpone. I was wondering myself if it is a good idea to come to England as we don't know how the situation is going to evolve here in France. Why not make a one day online event and reschedule the whole event in October or November? I think it is hard to be in front of the computer during two days and follow the discussions.


Danyl Strype Thu 12 Mar 2020 9:41AM

Interesting that you've decided not to go ahead with a conference in England in June, when FOSSasia is going ahead in Singapore this month: https://blog.fossasia.org/fossasia-confirms-annual-summit-takes-place-from-march-19-21-devsprints-on-march-22-at-lifelong-learning-institute-in-singapore/

Is the COVID-19 risk higher in the UK than in Singapore? Do you think the pandemic situation is likely to be worse in June than it is now?

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