At the end of the first day of the virtual LocWorldWide42 conference, I have managed to form two firm opinions. Firstly, attending an event online in the comfort of your own home can be just as hard work as attending it in person fully suited and booted. And secondly, multi-speaker panels seem to be the most engaging session format for an event like this
The user experience is surprisingly similar to a physical event. If you are intimidated by networking and visiting exhibitor booths, you will hesitate here too, since it’s not easy to see whether you’d be allowed to just browse. If you enjoy the social hour, you’ll have your chance to enjoy it here too. There is a virtual event bag with downloadable goodies, and the virtual booths offer links to useful resources as well as live video chats.
The best sessions have been those where multiple speakers appear on video and interact with each other. The second-best ones have included the speaker on video whilst presenting slides. On the whole, it’s not easy to elevate a conference session above a common webinar, although a friendly moderator and great audience participation helps. The Q&A chats have been the times that have felt most like live conferencing to me.
On the surface, this online event invites businesses to think about how to welcome and engage global users, but behind the scenes it offers great peer support to localisation professionals. The 600 attendees log in from different countries in different time zones and at different stages of suffering from the Covid-19 pandemic. We all need the uplifting experience of hearing someone like Melanie Heighway from Atlassian talk to her dev team about retrofitting internationalisation into the code of the company’s agile software products and saying “If you are not internationalising our strings, you are in effect screwing our customer. Don’t do that”.