Greetings from AltConf HQ, relocated back to London due to the turmoil the world has been thrown into. As I write this, it is almost a year since I was rushing back to the relative safety of the UK, and just over a year since the UK entered its first lockdown (we are currently in number 3).
COVID-19 has pushed everyone into challenging times. The tech industry has been, in my opinion, less impacted than other sectors of society in their ability to respond, work from home and generally thrive. Some sectors within it haven’t faired quite so well, with events being one.
So… events this year?
Last year, I had hoped to put AltConf to sleep for a year and bring it back in 2021. The harsh reality is, however, that even now we are as a world nowhere near ready for large scale, in person events or international travel. So lets get the unsurprising but unfulfilling news out of the way first: We can’t see a way to run in person events in 2021. It isn’t the safe or sensible thing to do. Even in London, where we are above 50% of adults vaccinated, lockdown will still be continuing until mid June regardless.
There are some rays of hope however. AltConf has always been set up to run for the community, so putting it on hold for a year or two doesn’t have any lasting damage. It has always been something run for the community, and so doesn’t have large ongoing costs when not running. AltConf will be returning in 2022 for in person events (pending no more world changing events)!
What about an online conference?
Something that was asked a lot last year, and this year, is about the possibility of an online conference. I think the online conference space is really interesting right now, with a number of companies providing platforms to help here. And for other events, I definitely think online, and in the future hybrid, events are going to be the way to go.
But AltConf is unique. We exist to give the community a space when there isn’t enough at WWDC. Because this is our primary role, it is hard for us to look at competing with WWDC on content alone. It is Apple we’d be competing with! We want to provide a space for the community when WWDC doesn’t have enough tickets, or when not everyone can travel to California (which is why we pioneered the satellite events).
But in a year when WWDC will be online and unlimited in attendee numbers (this is an educated guess here, I don’t have any insider information!), we need to think how AltConf can best help the community come together. But putting on a full conference schedule isn’t the answer.
What we’re up to for 2021
There are three things we’re going to focus on for 2021 to bring some community value.
First, we’re going to host a community chat for the Keynote and State of the Union live streams. This will be a place the community can come to have a live stream (which will just be the direct stream from Apple to you), as well as a text based chat to discuss the announcements in real time. We hope to have interesting things like subject based rooms, and anything else that comes to mind. Feel free to reach out on Twitter to suggest interesting things we could do!
We’ll also be resurrecting the audio only rooms from 2020 for post Keynote discussion. We found these to be a great experience last year, allowing everyone to have conversations about the new announcements in an environment that allowed for easy movement between groups. We’ll break these rooms into different languages, with one for English, French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Portuguese. Come along and check it out, you won’t be disappointed with the experience!
Finally, we’ve partnering up with our long time friends over at Tito, and will be releasing a “Countdown to WWDC 2021” video series, with Paul (Founder of Tito and Ull Conf) and myself along with a variety of special guests. Reach out if you have a suggestion on an interesting and under-represented voice to add to the lineup!
To hear more about these events and videos, you can subscribe to our mailing list here. You can also sign up to the hub for the keynote and the post-keynote discussion rooms, which will allow us to prepare for numbers as well as provide updates. Finally, the Countdown to WWDC 2021 registration for updates is here.
And of course, everything we’re doing is completely free!
When is it all happening though?
We’re just running keynote related activities, so everything will be happening on 7th June, starting from 10am PT.
The nice thing is that we’re doing everything online, which makes the usual challenge around booking venues a lot easier!