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DevDays Virtual and the Emotional Cycle of Change

Rien Wertheim

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The background story to bringing DevDays US 2020 Online

For seven years, DevDays has been our baby. It’s always something to look forward to, to meet old friends and new people, and to be part of a global community with a common goal and shared spirit. But then, all of a sudden, we’re space-zapped to a planet where they don’t have events.

In February I was thinking that June was still far away (how naïve!). “Uniformed Optimism” is what they call that state of mind. Later that month doubts started creeping in (still naïve, still uninformed!). In March I entered the Valley of Despair: it’s not going to happen! And in April we finally made the decision: cancel the event and make it virtual instead.

Enter the phase of Informed Pessimism.

How the heck can we recreate the DevDays vibe with participants sitting behind their laptops, thousands of miles apart? Sure everyone would miss the inevitable serendipity of a crowd: sharing ideas over lunch, bumping into Grahame Grieve and asking him that one burning question, raising your glass with a competitor, and feeling slightly out or sorts the morning after the social event. In short, the things that make DevDays, DevDays. Virtual stroopwafels, anyone?? 

But then something funny happened. This probably happens with thousands of other event planners during these memorable times. While exploring the how-to’s of virtual events, bit by bit we entered the psychological state of Informed Optimism.

No jet lag.

No more “ONLY 1 ROOM LEFT” stress when trying to find a hotel on

No carbon footprint guilt.

No need to block a whole week off your calendar.

Maybe even reach a larger crowd!

The things we can do with Zoom and Whova (our conference app) that we couldn’t do before are countless. Now we can hold Office Hours where anyone can drop in on the world’s best FHIR experts. We can give Let’s Build! Workshops with homework in between sessions, have break-out rooms for tutorials, and even playback high quality recordings between event times.

Remember the design of the calendar app on the iPad 1.0? It looked exactly like a real calendar. Now the UI designers have left that paradigm to create something even better for their users. Event planners are also beginning to realize that a great virtual event isn’t necessarily a copy-paste version of an in-person event. Virtual events need to exceed expectations and give even more value, while keeping what’s useful from real-life and including what’s possible in digital. We’ve just started learning how to do that. Now we’re headed to stage 5 of the Emotional Cycle of Change: Success and Fulfillment. After all, FHIR doesn’t stop because of Covid-19. On the contrary, FHIR is now more important than ever (read our previous blog post on FHIR and Covid-19). And so is DevDays.

FHIR DevDays US 2020 will be held from June 15 to June 18. For speakers, schedule and registration click here.

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