The Least Worst Online Conference Ever

By Charity Majors  |   Last modified on June 3, 2021

I am sick of online events. I can barely rouse myself to give a shit about one more virtual conference. They all start to feel the same ... the same 45-minute pre-recorded talks, over and over, the same awkward juggling of A/V issues, the canned intros and forced jokes, the question and comment stream that is either invisible and forgotten or way too intrusive, the gnawing lack of any hallway track or gossip or buzz.

You get the feeling that everybody has the “conference” open in a background tab throughout their day—if you’re lucky. If not, they’ve lost track of the tab for good by lunchtime.

Anyway, so we’re throwing an online event next week, and you should totally come! :D

We can’t promise it won’t suck, but we can promise it won’t suck in the same tired old ways.

o11ycon is different

This might ring a bell with some of you who came to the first o11ycon. It was different, right? No reused talks, no rambling Thot Leaders, lots of participatory energy, and lively round table discussions. We heard over and over from people who came away feeling a certain glow, like they had been present at the start of something marvelous. And they were!

Can you believe that was three years ago? Holy shit.

We’ve missed two possible cycles for o11ycon during the pandemic and we couldn’t wait another year for the next o11ycon event, but we feel exactly the same way you do about most online events. So we’ve composed this event very carefully to avoid common pitfalls. It’s two half-day events, the talks and keynotes are short and crisp, and the tracks are packed with the kinds of stories you tell us again and again you crave more of: Tales from the trenches of real, honest-to-god digital transformation. Teams that have pulled themselves out of a pit and transformed into high-performers. Sociotechnical systems that have been tuned, reinvented, and rebuilt from the ground up.

Ones I’m particularly excited about include the panel on making the business case for observabillity, Erwin’s talk on killing your staging environment, and the o11y war stories open spaces on day one (o11ycon).

And everything about the “Mysteries Solved” track on day two (hnycon) is just fucking stellar. Deep technical stories of exploration, served up from the front lines with a flourish and a sense of humor.

Speaking of open spaces: We chewed for ages over how to replicate open spaces in a virtual conf environment, and we came up with short, focused, chat-driven open spaces revolving around very specific technical and cultural challenges. No awkward Zooms with strangers. We don’t want people to just tune in and passively listen—we want you to interact with each other and share your own expertise. These open spaces will have a dedicated facilitator and will leave a well-documented trail behind! Observability is such a young discipline that if you’re practicing it, you’re an expert in it—and your peers could use your stories.

What’s the deal with hnycon?

One of the biggest criticisms we had last time was that we didn’t offer enough Honeycomb-specific content. We were trying so hard to be vendor-neutral and not give off a vibe of hard selling, that we didn’t provide the information people came expecting to learn about Honeycomb. So, this time, we’ve tacked on the second half day that’s full of Honeycomb-specific stories; implementation, roll-out, technical deep dives, as well as driving social change and making your organization hungry for better observability. Come for the vendor-neutral discussion. Stay to find out more about what’s happening at Honeycomb.

Unfortunately, the talks begin at 8 a.m. PT. (Augh for the west coasters!). But on the plus side, they’re over by noon! I don’t think anyone can be expected to participate in an online event for more than 3-4 hours a day, so we aren’t gonna drag it out. Get your morning injection of cutting-edge o11y news, then we’ll all get back to work, a little bit better armed to convince our colleagues. :D



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