Last week, Silicon Republic hosted its first ever virtual conference. It wasn’t what we planned for our inaugural Future Human event. Originally set to be a live event in May 2020, then October, then a hybrid event, we kept pivoting in response to Covid-19’s persistent presence in our world. Eventually, it went fully remote with just our host, Future Human founder Ann O’Dea, broadcasting live from a stage in Dublin.
It was a challenging step into unknown territory with a brand new event, and I can’t say it was without trepidation that I opened up the Hopin platform last Thursday, 29 October. But the friendly greetings came quickly, quelling all fears.
Hello from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Wexford, Donegal. London, New York, Hong Kong and the San Francisco Bay Area tuned in. Hi from Chennai, India. Hi from Ljubljana, Slovenia. We built it, and they came.
One of the most unique and wonderful things about Inspirefest, the science and technology conference we ran for five years, was the community that built up around it. We wanted to bring them along with us to Future Human, the next iteration, but we had no idea how that would look in a pandemic-ridden world.
We have spent so long now working and living at a distance, and while the benefits of flexible and remote work are many, there’s simply no denying that 2020 has been a year of crisis as well as opportunity.
“Is it time for a big reset?” asked O’Dea in her opening remarks as Future Human 2020 went live to the world. She spoke about selectively forgetting the past but remembering to take the best along with you. This is all we can aim for as we continue to weather this storm. We will eventually reach that end point where the struggles of this year are a distant memory, but the lessons we learned and the value we took from it all will have helped us become more human in an increasingly digitised world.
As the Future Human chat buzzed with the activity of old friends reconnecting after a difficult year apart, O’Dea introduced a musical performance by sean-nós-singing siblings Séamus and Caoimhe Uí Fhlatharta and something magical happened. Just as a hush would fall in an auditorium filled with people, the chatroom fell momentarily silent. In that moment, there’s no doubt that we were all together.
Elaine Burke
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