Collaborations Workshop 2020

Posted by on 16 April 2020 - 8:26am
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Image by Liliana Qu under Splash License

By Raniere Silva

This blog post first appeared on Raniere Silva's blog.

From 31 March until 2 April 2020, the Software Sustainability Institute hosted the first online edition of Collaborations Workshop, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were planning to have the workshop in Belfast, UK but decided to move it online with only two weeks to go before the event.

I’m not a big fan of online events because I don’t believe that you get the same human interaction that an in-person event provides. When I saw the announcement that Collaborations Workshop would be online, however, I knew it was something that I wanted to be part of because the Institute successfully moved its Fellow selection from in-person to online in 2017 and it had the experience needed to make the online Collaborations Workshop a big success.

The Institute used Zoom for video and Slack for text. I imagine the use of Zoom is because of their breakout rooms and the use of Slack is because many people are already using it. Zoom worked very well and some attendees used virtual backgrounds. Unfortunately, it was impossible to see all the ~100 attendees in one screen at the same time (and your 8k resolution monitor doesn’t solve this problem, yet). Messages on Slack were friendly and the most popular channel was pets-at-cw where attendees shared photos of their cats, dogs and other pets.

Keynotes, mini-workshops and demos, and lightning talks were good and I recommend you to watch them when they release the recording on YouTube. Given the Institute's experience with the online Fellows selection, the discussion groups and speed blogging and collaborative ideas/Hack Day ideas session went incredible well with the help of Zoom’s breakout rooms. The transition to the breakout rooms and the return to the main room were one click away for all attendees. In the next few weeks, I believe the Institute will start publishing the speed blogs in their website and you can subscribe to their week news to be notified of the posts.

The Hack Day wasn’t engaging for me, maybe because many ideas were related to online events and I was four hours behind all other attendees (time zone speaking). From the presentations, I noticed that many attendees had fun working in a project not related to their day-to-day work. And some learned that you should not use your personal Twitter account to be the bot of your Hack Day project.

Big congratulations to Rachael Ainsworth and all the Institute team for successfully running their first ever online Collaborations Workshop, and, let's hope, their last online one because they have the best conference social programme with board games and walks in addition to lunches and dinners.

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