A look back on rC3 nowhere

Posted: 2022-01-13 19:43:56 |
Last update: 2022-01-13 19:44:34

What's this all about

As most of my readers probably know, every December the Chaos Computer Club is organizing a large conference where hackers and other like minded folks meet up to share knowledge, work on their projects and showcase cool stuff they did.
In 2021, for the second time, the conference was not held in person due to safety concerns, but instead there was an online event.

While nothing can replace meeting your friends (and strangers who might become friends) in person, there was an online "game" setup where one could walk around and videochat with the people who happen to be in the same area in game.
I was not able to make much use of this because video chats are somehow more stressful to me than in person conversations and I kept getting lost in the huge world, but there was still the second most important thing about the conference: Talks.

This year I held a lightning talk in German as well as a longer presentation on unions and union busting in English.
What was different to previous talks I have given was that both of these talks where prerecorded before the event and only the Q&A session was actually live streamed.

Prerecording - The good

During my first major talk in 2020, my microphone decided that this would be a great time to stop working.
This ruined the audio quality and made a talk that took lots of time to prepare seem a lot more unprofessional.

When prerecording, you can catch these issues and start a new take with a new microphone without anyone knowing about it. That's great and makes holding the presentation a lot less stressful.
You can also obviously do retakes if you mess up badly and the whole thing can look more polished.

Another huge upside of a prerecorded talk (at least if it is being recorded locally, which not all of them are) is that the video (and to a lesser extent audio) quality does not depend on the speaker's uplink.
Many talks during the first rC3 where simply incomprehensible to me because the connection kept breaking up and there where missing words all over.
If there's already a recording, you don't have to worry about uplink as much. Even in the worst case scenario - a full on outage - you may have to reschedule Q&A but the talk can be streamed as planned.

I was actually a bit sick for the entire week of rC3, so I was also really happy that I didn't have to hold full on presentations. -I was lucky that the Q&A sessions worked out mostly okay considering my condition

Prerecording - The not-so-good

I am bad with deadlines.
Or rather, I am good with deadlines that are close, but bad when there's more perceived time until they're reached.
When I am holding talks, I usually prepare them the weekend before the conference and spend the leftover time memorizing what I'm gonna say and doing practice runs.
This caused some issues since I was basically unable to concentrate on preparing my slides in early December because I thought I still had enough time left over.
In reality, one of my talks was recorded on the 18th and the other one had to be done on the 19th.
It did not feel as close as it actually was and that led to some crunch; as well as maybe sub-par slides this year.

Another issue with the earlier submission deadline was that the official design for the conference was only released on the 18th. The same day that one of my presentations had to be done on.
This meant I was only able to slap the logo on a few slides and call it a day, since reworking everything I had until this point was out of the question. If I had prepared the slides like I usually do, I would've adapted them a lot more to fit within the official design.

Sadly the presenter's hardware is also not irrelevant to the produced result's quality, even when prerecording.
My laptop lacks a dedicated GPU and so the screen recorder skipped a couple of frames.
This led to video and audio being out of sync and was not a problem I was able to fix.
The nice people who where running the event did do some post production to mitigate that, but it also didn't feel good to create more work for them to do in an already filled schedule.

Imposter syndrome is a thing I used to suffer from a lot.
During my professional work this has gotten a bit better since every time I get to see into the code that runs any industry, I realize how lucky we are that computer systems at least kind of work most of the time.
Most code is terrible so I don't have to feel bad about mine not being perfect either.
Sadly, this does not help with my thoughts on holding talks.
I enjoy doing it, and I've been told that my presentations are pretty good, but I still feel like I don't actually know enough to go on a stage and educate others.
I will always think that my slides are terrible and that nobody will care about what I have to say until the moment Q&A is done and I realize all questions and remarks where positive and people tell me they enjoyed it.
Having prerecorded the talks made that a lot worse.
From the moment I finished recording, I was second guessing myself. That might actually have contributed to me feeling sick during the conference :/

My personal conclusion

While there are definite downsides to prerecording, I will continue doing it for remote events.
My internet connection may be good and I have decent audio hardware now but I'm still too scared that something will go wrong during the event.
Being able to watch my own talks beforehand is also really nice and if I hadn't been as stressed out as I was during the recording weekend, I probably would've done some light video editing to fix mistakes that didn't warrant a whole reshoot.

I still hope that we're gonna be able to return to in-person (or at least hybrid) events soon.
For some reason seeing the people who are listing to me, makes speaking easier actually.
Obviously I miss meeting "my" community and these events are kind of the only thing I'm looking forward to currently.
Online streaming is a good distraction but it will never be able to replace in person events for me and I'm realizing how much I need those more and more for every one that is moved to remote only.

Stay safe, get vaccinated (and boosted!) and be excellent to each other!
I look forward to hopefully seeing you in person at some point in the future.