I disagree that we learned this year that “virtual” works. It works for some things and for those things, yes, virtual is the future. But we also learned it doesn’t work for a lot of things. A virtual event with low attendance and sales won’t survive any more than a live event with low numbers would.
Organizers have to decide if their virtual event “worked”. Just holding it isn’t enough to proclaim that.
Yeah, I agree with you on this. Some things can work really well virtual. For example, me winning the raffle worked REALLY well! Ha! The streamed talks were great, and I had a lot of fun on the Youtube Live Chat. It was nice to see names there that I haven't seen in two years.
But MANY things did not. I wasn't able to spend the weekend with my KAS buddies like George N. I wasn't able to meet and hang out with those astronomy friends that I only see at events like these. I wasn't able to score face time with the wonderful space enthusiast friends that attend NEAF for the sole reason of getting together. I wasn't able to attend "how to" discussions on topics like astrophotography. I wasn't able to bicker with HighPoint Scientific over the price of an item. I wasn't able to ask questions to the innovative and creative vendors who make all of these amazing products. I wasn't able to discuss some of my mechanical challenges with Anthony from ADM. I wasn't able to drool on some wonderful telescope at the Stellarvue booth.
Like George said too, it is one thing to watch a "Moon Walker" on YouTube, it is entirely a different experience to shake a "Moon Walker's" hand, and share a few minutes. Loved seeing Alan Stern, he is a favorite of mine, and an inspiration to me. So great to see him virtually, BUT he is very approachable and just an all out interesting guy to have a personal chat with.
And all the traditional stuff that goes with NEAF and NEAIC - like a wonderful attack on the heart at the Airmont Diner, a fantastic bagel sandwich at Bagel Boys Cafe or sharing a beer with astronomers and astrophotographers at the Crown Plaza hotel bar.
I really miss NEAF and NEAIC, and I for one cannot wait to get back to them!