The Weird and Wonderful World of Digital Conferences

 
Metaverse

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Conferencing is a massive global industry—Comic-Con, QuakeCon, Consensus, Anime Expo—the list goes on and on. People love to attend conventions to find out more about their favorite projects, meet like-minded people and get some exclusive sneak peaks at upcoming experiences and products. However, it’s an expensive affair and limits involvement based on geography and socioeconomic status. Digital conferencing seems to be a promising answer to these challenges, but can it ever truly replace the authenticity and thrill of being at a real convention?

This Is Cool, but Something’s Missing…

I won’t tell you I’ve been to a lot of digital conferences—a literal handful at best. And while they’ve certainly been interesting experiences and not without their merits, I can’t help but feel something is missing from the whole experience. Now I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m technically sitting at home by myself and can communicate with speakers and attendees via voice and video, and that’s all well and good—but that isn’t really the problem.

Probably the most enjoyable experiences I’ve had as far as digital conferencing goes is DYGYCON . For those of you who don’t know, DYGYCON is a ‘bimonthly metaverse experience hosted by Splinterlands .’ MSQ.io has been there twice now, once last year in 2021 when were still in our Beta, and once again in July 2022 shortly after our official launch. If you missed out on our exhibition and presentation, you can check it out right here:

Now I’ve enjoyed both of my DYGYCON experiences thoroughly—it’s fun to log in, create an avatar and explore exhibitions and projects in a virtual environment. But while hundreds of people attend DYGYCON, I can’t really say I saw too many of them or even really knew how to start interacting with them, particularly outside of exhibition booths. Now I’m not saying this is anyone’s fault, and maybe it’s just me, but it would be nice to be able to talk to people and meet creators in a more personal, easy way.

Honestly, I actually think the big issue with digital conferences (and this isn’t confined to DYGYCON or their platform) is that you just don’t feel like you’re actually at a conference. And that’s because you aren’t. Second of all, headsets and webcams just don’t cut it as far as immersion goes. I mean, even having team meetings in this kind of setup, at least beyond a few people, can get tricky since everyone is together in a virtual space but isolated in real life. It’s not an easy problem to overcome.

So What’s the Solution?

What makes real-life conventions so great? I think the fact is that humans are social animals and seek companionship. They want engaging, real-life experiences with like-minded people and to feel a sense of camaraderie and belonging, like they are part of something really profound and exciting. Let’s face it, social media and the internet as it stands in the world of web2 just doesn’t cut it. It’s alienating, it’s weird, cliquey and in many respects, not particularly good for people. It just isn’t.

Comic-Con is ultra popular for many, many reasons

The logical solution would be for events to take place in VR with attendees donning headgear and other tech so that they can fully immerse themselves in a digital conference or convention. But while this gear is becoming more accessible, it’s still out of reach for many and significantly reduces the number of possible attendees (at least for now). So while going to conventions and conferences in the Metaverse is an awesome idea, it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

So how do we add a little more zazz to digital conferences right now?

  • While digital conferences should cater to a certain market or audience, it’s also important that we try to encourage participation by getting in material that people outside of the industry in question may be interested in. I have to admit, even after years of being in the web3 space, it’s still pretty insular and tribalistic. If we actually want to grow communities and get them interested in projects, we need to cater to their needs and wants too
  • I don’t think that simply having exhibition after exhibition is a good idea—it needs to be spaced out. Real life conferences have a range of different activities available to attendees. And I’m not saying digital conferences don’t do this, but just doing giveaways and contests isn’t going to cut it. Round-table discussions with a panel of experts, Q&A sessions with creators, inviting industry experts to give special presentations and the like are just a couple of ways to up engagement and get people talking to one another
  • Having separate rooms with exhibits is OK, but I feel like this format doesn’t really work since you then end up with certain areas being completely empty or populated by a few bots and trolls. It’s kinda weird to me. I would rather have fewer exhibits in a larger room where everyone attending has to co-mingle. I want to see a bustling floor space with a bunch of people all interacting and checking stuff out. That feels exciting and engaging to me
  • Try to vary the kinds of exhibits in the space. NFTs projects are cool, but what about people developing new technologies and solutions in the world of web3? What about metaverse projects or new platforms? How about authors and bloggers? Or even just communities? A range of exhibitions brings in people from across the industry and promotes collaboration and innovation. Those prospects excite me
  • Have some kind of quality control for exhibits and talks - I have attended conventions (not DYGYCON) where speakers have had bad connections, bad software and just bad presentations. I’m not saying everyone has to be a pro with amazing tech and gear, but having some standards isn’t a bad thing. It encourages people to up their game and to compete for spots rather than just getting them or buying them. Merit has to come into play if we’re going to make these experiences better for everyone

Where to From Here?

If any of my suggestions excite you, or even if you have your own, then that’s fantastic. That said, I would encourage anyone reading this to attend digital conferences and conventions like DYGYCON to get a feel for the space and to contribute where they can. I have huge respect for communities and projects working to create platforms and new experiences for people. It’s bold and exciting, and I think a lot of progress has already been made.

This said, is there room for improvement? Absolutely. And if we’re going to build experiences and finally get The Metaverse we so desperately wish for, we’re going to have to make our voices heard and get involved in communities and provide projects with good constructive feedback. It’s easy to complain and condemn, but most creators do want to hear feedback, both good and bad. Those that take good criticism into account will likely become some of the top names in the industry while those that ignore chances to improve and try new things will fade into obscurity.

The world of digital conferencing is absolutely fascinating to me, and I’m excited to attend more in the future. I’m also sure more and more people will start to join the fray and contribute, and this will drive innovation and further enhancements. It’s all good stuff, and to platforms like DYGYCON I say ‘Bravo!’ I’ve no doubt they have much planned for the future and will make significant improvements as time goes by.

The next DYGYCON is set for 23 - 25 September 2022. Make sure you register and check it out! You won’t regret it! And be sure to let us and them know about your experience!

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When not playing drums in his death metal band, Brynn can be found reading up on all the latest developments in the world of Web3, watching horror movies or playing online games with his friends.

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