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The new experimental landscape of virtual conferences

Maya Ish-Shalom for Quartz
  • Anne Quito
By Anne Quito

Design and architecture reporter


Spring is a particularly busy time for professional conferences. TED, Google I/O, IBM Think, and Milan’s Salone di Mobile are just some of the major annual gatherings scheduled for this time of year. Under normal circumstances, many of us would be polishing pitches, confirming travel logistics, and packing business cards for professional gatherings.

A global pandemic has vexed all plans. Many events foiled by Covid-19 are included on a dedicated Wikipedia page which reads as a memoriam to the best-laid plans of 2020. This disruption is more than a logistical nuisance—it equates to billions of dollars in losses. The decline in business air travel alone represents an estimated $809 billion hit to the US economy.

While many organizers opted to cancel or postpone events, many more plunged into the world of virtual conferencing. They’re realizing that hosting a good virtual conference isn’t simply a matter of transposing stage content and broadcasting it on the internet.

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