A friend asked me the other day whether I was still zooming about? I think he was referring to the physical zooming associated with that old favourite, the aeroplane. I immediately shot back that the activity was still high, but ‘Zoom’ has taken on a whole new meaning. Travel budgets have taken a battering, and there are obstacles to physical meetings at every turn. On the other hand, the virtual world has taken off with boundless enthusiasm!
Since March, nearly all of this year’s conferences have been cancelled, postponed, or have been re-imagined as virtual events. There are pros and cons to the virtual format, but in reality we don’t have any choice but to adopt a new way of working in the short term. Maybe next year, the old norms will begin to re-establish themselves, but I suspect that a significant proportion of events are here to stay in a virtual format, at least in some capacity. It could be very good for both budgets and climate change.
I have taken the opportunity with my colleagues at TechnoBiz to convert my workshop training into a series of webinars, https://www.knowhow-webinars.com. Starting on 18th January 2021, I will be presenting a series of 16 virtual lectures which will cover the complete set of my membrane filtration workshops. My good friend Mark Wilf will then be presenting a series of 12 webinars to cover all things RO starting on 15th February. The two series of webinars will take place on consecutive working days, starting at the same time each day with each webinar lasting about 90 minutes. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and recordings will be available after the event.
Hopefully, the new format for these workshops will have some important positives. There will be a chance to pick and choose individual lectures or a themed sub-set. Perhaps more importantly, attendees (and their bosses!) will suffer less disruption to the normal working schedule. Also, if you miss the live event, you can always watch back on catch-up.
Of course, from time to time, we all need the live networking event. Workshops benefit from the intensity of the classroom experience for several consecutive days. Conferences and exhibitions are even more dependent on interactions to get the full benefit They may be expensive and time consuming, but the rewards can be great since the unexpected conversation or nugget from a presentation can make the whole effort worthwhile. I was mightily relieved when the IDA announced last month that they had changed the venue of their November 2021 conference to Sydney, Australia. Originally the plan had been to hold the conference in Kenya. I don’t know why that didn’t work out, but for attendees such as myself, a conference only works if the attendance is good, and there is no doubt that a lot more people will go to Sydney if the straw poll of my colleagues in anything to go by. Australia is a great place to work for anyone involved in membranes and water, and Sydney, a great place to visit. Hopefully the combination should prove irresistible. I hope to see you there.