Remote events should stick around

Full Stack Creator - 010

Welcome to this week's letter, the 10th edition of Full Stack Creator! I know that doesn’t sound like much, but 20 weeks of thinking about writing, on top of my current workload is not too shabby. It totally helps that I truly enjoy writing these. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Anyway, remote events...

This week there were two big remote events in the tech industry. Most know the first, the Time Flies event from Apple. Mainly the design community knows the second, Figma’s Config Europe event. What is to note here, is that both of these events are huge with their respective audiences and both are normally in person. Apple’s is usually in person with hands-on break out sessions, interviews, etc. They also stream it via their services and YouTube. Figma does something similar but does not share any of the recordings until a while after. This year, due to the pandemic, both companies opted for remote events, which allowed them to be accessible to everyone.

Apple opted for a pre-recorded event, similar to WWDC earlier this year. The thought and quality Apple puts into these pre-recorded events is unparalleled, but that is to be expected. They were very mindful of the current events, keeping all presenters separated. Each scene was shot in isolation, only having the speaker and essential crew on site. Of course, they announced amazing products and services. They announced a new series of Apple Watches and iPads. They are impressive and powerful, which is generally the trend at such events. They also announced a new services bundle, Apple One and Apple Fitness+. I am very excited about both the bundle and the fitness membership. Exercising from home has been a pain since the pandemic and I foresee this taking the edge off. Additionally, my wife and I ordered new watches! I haven’t updated mine in three years, so I am excited to use all the new features. This is my wife’s first Apple Watch, so I am even more excited for her. 

On the flip side, Figma’s event was all live. They broadcasted from all over the world, from different timezones, in a studio, and from homes. They announced new product features, a lot of really interesting and powerful features at that. Both variants and instances look awesome! See the link for all the announcements. They also had tons of great speakers that did a wonderful job. They used a tool called Hopin to pull this off and it went fairly smoothly, with only a few bumps. Hopin basically emulates a real event/convention, with numerous stages, networking options, and more. This solution presented a lot of value for Figma, allowing people to not only watch but choose their schedule and connect with other viewers.

While both events were very different, they did have one thing in common, they allowed all people to be at the same level and watch together. Most events are like a private club. You only get to join in if you have the resources. That could be money, time, or special connections. In this case – being free, remote, and taking up way less time – anyone could choose to take part.

The topic of this edition of the letter spawned from a Slack message I saw in the Friends of Figma Slack account. Someone mentioned that “this year was great, but I cannot wait for next year, in person.” As much as the idea of in-person events is great, they have so many more negatives than positives. Sure, there is that human connection, getting to meet peers and idols. But what about providing that accessibility that I mentioned? Being remote levels the field. Never mind that it is so much better for the environment. It doesn’t waste resources with flight and other travel, consume pointless resources of hotels and convention halls, and doesn’t add to the waste of single-use travel products. Obviously, it is also way healthier. Even before the pandemic, whenever mass amounts of people were in a convention or event, they returned with all forms of colds and sicknesses.

Events and conventions are powerful, they always have been and always will be. Recently they have been forced to evolve. This is something that should have happened a long time ago. As much as we like that human connection, there are more reasons to keep these remote than to ever have them in person again. I know, some of you are also thinking about the economy, that these events provide a crucial part of the hospitality industry. That industry is broken to begin with, supporting vain, frivolous actions, for no real good. If you want me to dive into that more, I can in a later installment, just let me know. For now, check out the latest announcements from Apple and Figma, while seeing how great remote events can be.