The Shortcomings of Online Events

Benedict Evans, writing in his blog:

A physical event is a bundle of different kinds of interaction, but it’s also a bundle of people at a certain place at a certain date – as soon as you take these things online, that bundle has no meaning.

As Mr. Evans points out, there are still no good substitutes for physical gatherings. A conference or industry event isn’t just about the formal presentations. Much of the value in these events comes from information exchanged in hallways, relationships built over shared drinks, serendipitous encounters, etc.

Then there’s the value of switching contexts for a short while; of moving your body temporarily from the places where it’s beholden to its daily routines to a new place where a different set of rules apply. You think differently in different places, and traveling to physical events gives you the opportunity to think about new information in new ways.

Online events — at least the ones I’ve attended during the quarantine — just aren’t the same. While the transmission of information via structured presentations is a central part of these online conferences (in some ways, they’re more effective than their “real-world” counterparts), the other key aspects of physical gatherings are missing.

Solving online events — Benedict Evans