If you can’t go to the conference, the conference will come to you.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has given a new, implied meaning to the term ‘virtual world’. It is a world where people are connected via Zoom calls and online events, where physical distances have expanded and digital ones have shrunk.
2020 is truly the year of virtual. With the COVID-19 pandemic throwing the world off balance, event planning groups across the globe have been forced to redesign ways of bringing people together.
Hugely anticipated events, including large tech events that are the lifeblood of the innovation community, have been canceled or moved virtual in droves. From top-tier fashion weeks and major corporate conferences, to massive events such as SXSW, the Met Gala and even the Summer Olympics (which has only been shelved three times before – due to the World Wars) have taken a backseat due to the outbreak.
Others, however, decided that if people cannot attend the event, the event can come to them instead. Several international programs, such as the Seedstars Summit 2020 and the SaaStr Summit, turned the tide of quarantine cancelations by going virtual.
With fresh themes, packed agendas, and a long list of speakers, here are 10 upcoming online conferences that you can attend without having to leave your dining table.
Collision from Home
Margaret Atwood, Shaquille O’Neal, Jonah Peretti, Yasua Miyakawa, and Steven Levy – these are some of the biggest names on Collision from Home’s 400-strong speaker list, which includes industrial leaders and media figures.
One of the world’s biggest tech conferences to go remote, Collision from Home is spread over three days from June 23-25, and covers business, media, society, data, and more.
The SaaStock experience is going remote this June 10-11, having postponed its 2020 conferences in Latin America, North America and the Asia Pacific region.
Built for the Subscription-as-a-Service (SaaS) community, SaaStock Remote promies a virtual exhibition floor, roundtables and matchmaking sessions, and over 150 speakers including David Heinemeier Hansson.
Women Impact Tech’s free virtual conference WIT Connect is a five-day-long conference starting June 8 that follows the collective’s mission of empowering women in technology. The WIT Connect Virtual Conference Platform will host a livestream of the conference and help women connect with sponsoring companies.
Speakers include Engineering Manager at Google Maps Helen Altshuler, and Chief Security Officer and Head of Trust Engineering & Data Science at Airbnb Vijaya Kaza.
Microsoft Build 2020
Made ‘for developers by developers,’ this non-stop 48-hour conference is going live this May 19-20. CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella, programmer Scott Hanselman, and Executive Vice President of Cloud and Artificial Intelligence at Microsoft Scott Guthrie will be leading key segments of the conference.
Microsoft Build will also include a film festival, details of which are expected to be out soon.
WSJ Tech Health
This short one-day health tech conference by The Wall Street Journal is taking place online on June 2, and focuses mainly on the role of technology in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WSJ Tech Health brings together leaders from health tech companies including Merck and Moderna, tech disruptors such as Co-Founder of Instagram Kevin Systrom, and CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods Patrick O. Brown, as well as U.S. public officers such as Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
The Global Boardroom
In partnership with The Next Web, Financial Times will be holding The Global Boardroom virtually from May 12-14. The free conference will discuss the global economic crisis triggered by COVID-19, and post-pandemic recovery.
Speakers include eminent world figures such as Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire and Managing Director of International Monetary Fund Kristalina Georgieva amongst several others.
AIBC Asia Digital
AIBC, along with Ice Asia and SiGMA, will be virtually hosting the AIBC Asia Digital conference which will discuss Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Technology, Big Data and the Internet of Things.
Bitcoin advocate Tim Draper and Bitcoin CEO Roger Ver will be speaking at the virtual event, along with other proponents of emerging technologies.
Taking large-scale global conferencing online due to the crisis is a smart way of keeping the world running as usual, but it is not foolproof. Unreliable Internet connectivity is a potential pitfall, but the greater disadvantage is that online events may not connect people as organically as an offline conference would.
Startups such as Teooh are trying to change this, by making online events ‘virtual’ in the actual sense, at the convergence of conferences and augmented reality. However, this remains a young technology, and the question is whether it can tip the balance permanently in favor of the online.
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