To me, pasta means instant food coma. It also means instant bliss with tomato sauce. So the first thing I did when I switched to a low carb diet was to look for pasta alternatives. Things would be so much easier if I could do this without having to give up my tomato-sauce-delivery-vehicle.
The situation with the Haxe Summit is a little bit like my low-carb pasta dilemma. Just replace "low carb" with "social distancing" and "pasta" with "Haxe Summit", and there you have it. I've spent a good deal of googling force and fretting trying to figure out how to bring the Haxe Summit experience online.
For the first couple of weeks, all I could think about were the things that would not be possible in an online setting.
Speaking in front of real people is very different from talking to your webcam. Eye contact is all screwy, and no comforting person is sitting in the front-row and nodding encouragingly anymore. You can't read the room; you can't have a coffee break; you can't mingle; you can't have magic compiler moments at 3 AM in a bar somewhere. "You can't" a lot of things.
I was also super bummed that I wouldn't get to show everyone around my picturesque town.
After I gave it a good wallow and procrastinated a fair share, my thoughts finally started to climb out of the haxe-summit-shaped box they'd been stuck in since March. I realised that there was no reason other than "we already put up the website" to make the event an "online Haxe Summit".
So I did what I always do when I want to think about something in a different way. I gave it a new name. Words have power, at least in my universe. To psych myself up a little more, I asked a friend of mine to draw up some logos. Something about having "signage" makes things feel a lot more real to me.
The HaxeIn was born.
And, finally, just like making it through a dreary and rainy April, my thoughts shifted into a sunny May. Once I started looking for them, I saw all sorts of positive aspects of this new online event format.
For the first time, everyone in the community can speak at the yearly event regardless of where they live and whether or not they have the resources to travel to the conference. There are so many exciting projects we haven't heard about just because the event was a long way away.
We also have an opportunity to experiment with different formats - both for the talks and the "online socialising" aspect of the community. Regardless of whether we can go back to in-person events some day, I think this is an excellent opportunity to develop an event format that benefits the community long-term. The HaxeIns could keep happening alongside in-person events. Don't think "replacement". Think "companion".
One of the things I find the most interesting is figuring out the different formats for the talks. Sure, we will have a couple of traditional keynotes - especially from speakers who are confident speaking to a live audience. However, the HaxeIn format also makes it possible for people to pre-record their talks. I imagine this could be especially cool for shorter bits. It also opens the doors to speakers who feel less confident about public speaking. On the live stage, there is no do-over. With a recording, there is.
We've talked about online-events for years and always dismissed them as "not as good as in-person events". We've missed out on a lot of great content and ways to connect because of it. Now, don't get me wrong; I love meeting Haxians in person. There is a certain kind of magic that happens when you put a bunch of Haxians in a room, add drinks, and wait.
But perhaps the magic doesn't come from the physical presence alone. Maybe, it is transmissible through wires, video chat, hanging out with friends online, and connecting over an exciting topic. It works for Minecraft. Why wouldn't it work for Haxe?
When you can't replace something you like, it is often better to just go for something new. Something different but with the same purpose. If we all put out magic together, the HaxeIn can be a bright star in the Haxian sky.
Unfortunately, I wasn't as lucky on my quest for low carb pasta alternatives. In the end, I just declared the "tomato sauce" to be "tomato soup" and chose the best tomato-soup-delivery-vehicle I had: a spoon.
Looking to give a talk? Let us know! Mail to email@example.com.
P.S. Big apologies to everyone stuck in our inbox! I owe some brave first speaker applicants an email - things got a bit mixed up. We're on it!