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The Future of Design Events

Mariyam Hasan, Editorial Strategist

With so much news being churned out to announce the cancellations of events, conferences, national/international meetings, sport meets, exhibitions; I wonder when I will be out next attending one of these. Not soon, it seems. The COVID-19 crisis has forced countless events to be cancelled or postponed, and it will likely be this way for the whole of 2020.

And while I scroll through news around the COVID 19 pandemic, separating facts from fiction in these uncertain times- there is also a sense of optimism to me that while everything is moving online these days, events will be no different. One wouldn’t have to look too far to find an event that is live and in progress! Digital technologies are reshaping the way we communicate, live and work. The boundaries between the digital and physical world continue to blur and this has a direct impact on the way design interacts with the community. Geographically, the world of design has been brought closer through virtual solutions. As a community, we can still reach out to one another, if not physically during the lockdown, and provide not only information but emotional support, stability, and valuable content.

For years now and due to the ongoing advances in technology, design dialogues across virtual meetings and events have been successfully delivered across the globe. Virtual and webcasting events, designed as an alternative to physical face-to-face events, are still in the early phase. Live streaming of such events enables us to participate and engage, without the need to leave our homes- All we need is an internet web link to the event or conference. Everyone can attend an online event, irrespective of location. It is a great opportunity to connect with a wider, international audience and meet the experts, who you wouldn’t have had the chance to cross paths with at a physical event. Today, design events via virtual means are important for collaboration and communication to continue. Design dialogue through podcasts, webinars and virtual conferences- must happen to keep the community engagement going.

In times of these global crisis, the ability to pivot to digital is key. We need to move to and focus on digital events, especially for the foreseeable future. While there are many aspects of in-person events that can't be replicated in digital form, it looks like the virtual events have strongly embraced interactivity capabilities in areas where in-person events are still dabbling. Although In-person event popularity will rebound once we are past the current crisis, as people will always value physical, face-to-face experiences, But, for now more than ever- together, as a collective, we need to pivot to digital. With what we're going through now, when people recover and stabilize and start planning for next year, the opportunities are immense for design to blossom through both virtual and real means. For now, The show must go on(line)!

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