DebConf 20 Online

This week, last week, Last month, I attended DebConf 20 Online. It was the first DebConf to be held entirely online, but it’s the 7th DebConf I’ve attended from home.

My first one was DebConf7. Initially I mostly started watching the videos because I wanted to learn more about packaging. I had just figured out how to create binary packages by hand, and have read through the new maintainers guide, but a lot of it was still a mystery. By the end of DebConf7 my grasp of source packages was still a bit thin, but other than that, I ended up learning a lot more about Debian during DebConf7 than I had hoped for, and over the years, the quality of online participation for each DebConf has varied a lot.

I think having a completely online DebConf, where everyone was remote, helped raise awareness about how important it is to make the remote experience work well, and I hope that it will make people who run sessions at physical events in the future consider those who are following remotely a bit more.

During some BoF sessions, it was clear that some teams haven’t talked to each other face to face in a while, and I heard at least 3 teams who said “This was nice, we should do more regular video calls!”. Our usual communication methods of e-mail lists and IRC serve us quite well, for the most part, but sometimes having an actual conversation with the whole team present at the same time can do wonders for dealing with many kind of issues that is just always hard to deal with in text based mediums.

There were three main languages used in this DebConf. We’ve had more than one language at a DebConf before, but as far as I know it’s the first time that we had multiple talks over 3 languages (English, Malayalam and Spanish).

It was also impressive how the DebConf team managed to send out DebConf t-shirts all around the world and in time before the conference! To my knowledge only 2 people didn’t get theirs in time due to customs.

I already posted about the new loop that we worked on for this DebConf. It was an unintended effect that we ended up having lots of shout-outs which ended up giving this online DebConf a much more warmer, personal feel to it than if we didn’t have it. I’m definitely planning to keep on improving on that for the future, for online and in-person events. There were also some other new stuff from the video team during this DebConf, we’ll try to co-ordinate a blog post about that once the dust settled.

Thanks to everyone for making this DebConf special, even though it was virtual!

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