That’s week one over

It is. The first week of #CyberFest is over with three events led by CyberNorth as well as the amazing BSides. Although there is plenty of water to go under the bridge we already have a long list of lessons to learn and are tentatively talking about next year.

No doubt I will come back to the events, perhaps once they are all over but I wanted to start by saying we have had a few technical problems. Whether it has been intermittent broadband or issues with Zoom, the net result is the same, a disruption to the online portion of the event and a churning feeling in the pits of our stomachs.

We’re used to it by now though and talking to people who have attended the events, many of the issues go by without them noticing. A friend of mine said that once the event has started you have done everything you can and what will happen will happen. Those of us managing the events become swanlike, calm on the exterior and paddling like fury under the water.

Online events have become much more complicated. Not only do you have to manage people coming and going on the platform, there are questions and comments to respond to, inevitable queries from people who can’t get on and communication between those behind the scenes. All of this ends up meaning multiple screens, multiple devices and multiple platforms to manage. When everything is going well it’s bad enough but when the technology challenges it can become a maelstrom of activity. Don’t get me started on the extra angst of hybrid events.

Whenever I am in such a position an image of Rick Wakeman, of super group Yes, springs to mind. Those of you of a certain age will remember but he was known for playing on multiple keyboards and synthesisers at the same time. On stage he was surrounded by kit, his fingers a blur across the keyboards and buttons, a flurry of activity creating music.

Next time you are at an online event, spare a thought to all those Rick Wakemans out there!

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