Async Conf – An Asynchronous Online Conference

brown and black wooden chairs inside room
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Ever since the world of tech conferences went to shit last year, I’ve not attended any virtual ones. They don’t appeal to me at all. The main reason is that when I attend conferences, it’s to meet up with my fellow attendees, greet old friends, meet new ones, and discuss all manner of topics. Attending talks and workshops is usually a secondary activity, and I typically only attend a handful, generally, those that really interest me. Trying to replicate the in-person format via a virtual event holds no interest to me whatsoever, without that in-person element.

A couple of nights ago, an idea for a different type of virtual conference came to me, one that I might prefer actually to be part of.

Based on the limited (45 votes) feedback I got, it seems a number of folks I know on social media would be interested to be part of such an event, and so I’ve decided to make it happen.

Planning

For now, I’m calling it async conf. Firstly, because I can make use of the JavaScript async keyword for the website.

async () => { 
    return "conf" 
};

Secondly, well, I’m sometimes terrible at naming things. I’m open to ideas, but I want the name to reflect the asynchronous nature of the conference, and be web technology related.

I also don’t want it to be tied to one specific web technology that I’m involved in, I’d prefer it to be something more open to a wider audience.

Next up is cost. I’m going to need a few pieces to make this happen.

  • A domain – currently, the one I want will cost $20 if I can buy the damn thing.
  • Hosting – I can get away with using one of my own SpinupWP managed servers, but it might be a good idea to at least host the site on its own DigitalOcean instance. I’ll probably need it for at least a month, so $10.
  • A website – it’s going to need to allow member registration as well as the ability to host member restricted content. I could roll something myself with Laravel, but it will probably be easier to use WordPress and something like Paid Memberships Pro. I also happen to know the PMPro folks, and I might be able to swing a free license from them if I need any of their paid add ons.
  • Time zone-based emails – I might have to develop myself, as I’m not sure of any existing WordPress plugin that does this. Basically, attendees need to set their time zone and a time at which they would like to receive the email.
  • Email deliverability – no idea what this might cost, but Mailgun starts at $35 a month for 50 000 emails, and I doubt I would need that much.
  • Video hosting – I have no idea what I’m going to need here. Vimeo’s Pro plan has 20GB of streaming and 1TB of storage. Hopefully, that should be enough, at around $25. The other option is to go with YouTube and use unlisted videos, which might not be a bad idea.
  • Pop up Slack-style messaging platform – I already know how I’m going to handle that.

All in all, that works out to around $100 in costs, less if I use YouTube for the video hosting, but it’s a nice round number. If I charge folks $10 to take part, I need 10 attendees to break even. I don’t want to make any money off this, so if I do make a profit, I’ll either be looking to donate the surplus or use it to sponsor open source development.

I’m also going to need help, both in organizing it, and also finding folks to speak. I think once I’ve managed to purchase the domain, and set up the basic site, a call for organisers and speakers is in order.

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