Last year I had the joy of experiencing my first YAPC, it was YAPC::NA in Madison, WI, which is just up the road from me in Chicago. Sadly this year YAPC::NA was much further away and I, having recently defended my Ph.D. thesis, could not afford the time nor cost to attend. While people (most notably Peter Rabbitson (aka riba, aka ribasushi)) offered to help me attend (he with the excess of his own funding drive), finding a job was of greater concern.
That said, I ended up having a great YAPC::NA. I have to extend massive thank the conference organizers for again providing streaming video of the conference talks. I was able to watch an incredible number of talks, learning many new things and seeing many Perlers who I have only known by name (several of whom were not at last year’s YAPC::NA). I even got two shout-outs from speakers!! (squee)
A complement to the video streams was the #yapc channel on IRC. We virtual attendees developed quite a rapport. Much as in real life I have a hard time leaving a group of friends, talking long beyond when I intended to leave. Sure enough, as those in the channel may attest, our conversations often lasted long after I said that I was leaving.
If there was a small silver lining to not attending live, being able to converse during a presentation was a new and interesting way to absorb the material (ie. “links here”, or “see my example there”, or “has anyone tried this with X”). I even once got a question passed to a live attendee to be asked of the speaker.
I was very saddened to not be able to attend this year, but the videos and #yapc made it almost feel like I was there. A few comments. I would have been happy to contribute a few dollars to defray some of the costs, perhaps a donation link or “virtual attendee” category might be considered; though I hope that videos continue to be free to watch, more for the newbie’s sake. Also when Barbie made his call to “submit talk reviews” I was sad that virtual attendees are not able to do so; he has heard my plea and has offered to consider this in the future.
As Brent Laabs so eloquently put it, “Truly, Perl’s community is it’s greatest strength.” Of course, I hope to be able to attend future YAPCs (not just NA) in person, but virtual attendance is an experience which helps to boost the community beyond just those who can attend. Congratulations to the YAPC::NA organizers, it was a great event, even for those not present!