I totally understand why so many devs are loving the new WWDC format this year. I can see why many don’t want to see it go back to the “old” way. I don’t, either.
There’s no question this online format gives more access to far more people. And that can only be a good thing. Whatever Apple does next year and in the years following, they should absolutely continue to make the show as accessible to as many people as possible. They should incorporate what they’ve learned this year into any future iteration of the show.
But then I’ve seen a number of people suggesting the live show is no longer needed at all. And I’m not so sure about that.
You know what didn’t happen for me for the first time this week while attending WWDC? I didn’t make a single new friend. My community grew by zero. Sure, I had plenty of FaceTime/Zoom/Messages interactions with friends whom I met over the years at the in person show. I even co-hosted a happy hour Zoom call with my podcast cohost Charles Perry. And at some of these online events, there were new faces to whom I could be introduced.
But if I had never been to a WWDC before, I would have spent the entire week alone. I would have had no one with whom to share this experience.
To me, that’s the bit that can’t be replaced. You can meet new friends online, of course. But do you get that same connection? Would I be comfortable texting people I chatted with for five minutes on Zoom a year from now? I don’t think so.
The fact remains that any live form of WWDC is not going to reach as many people as the online event. But why can’t we have both?
Given the expansion of AltConf (which had started popping up in cities all over the world prior to this year), more people than ever had an opportunity during WWDC week to interact with new people and make new connections. The live WWDC inspired other simultaneous live events.
Without a live WWDC, does a live AltConf still happen? I’m not sure.
I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about this for years, but it remains as true today as ever—we need more live gatherings in our community, not fewer. (Once we’re past this pandemic, of course.)
Some of us are just getting started on building connections. And even those of us who have a large group of lifelong friends in the community are always going to be better off expanding that group a bit more every year.
So while the prospect of never having a live WWDC again appeals to many developers (and my wallet), I’m hoping Apple doesn’t agree.