Tuesday, 11 October 2022

The Importance of Face to Face #JoelKallmanDay

I love this day - renamed to remember one of the best exponents of community ever - Joel Kallman.

In the Oracle world, user groups are the heart of community and they have had a hard time - not just during the pandemic, but even before, numbers were falling.

There is no one reason why but a big part in my opinion is generational. I'm old, I learnt from people, face to face, at school, my first programming language, consultancy skills, even when I finally tried post school education, I did that face to face.

My superstar graduate needed to learn something 15 years ago, I went off to look for a training course and he came back to me and said 'I've done it, I found something online'. That is great, but the theory he learnt was bolstered by working side by side with people in the office and with customers.

So as people looked more and more to the web for education, face to face events were less the obvious choice. User groups added online content but it is so difficult to provide content that has to be funded by membership fees when organisations simply push it out themselves for free.

Don't get me wrong, online is really important, and how would we have survived the pandemic without zoom, teams, etc - user groups had to switch to all virtual content, and with many relying on their annual events for funding, it has been hard.

I wrote about in-person events last year, but I have been thinking about it even more.

Events are back, some are still all virtual, some in person and many hybrid. Even Oracle's Cloud World is hybrid. 

But people are fighting back. We are social creatures and we want to see people, but being with people for the sake of it, or as in my case for the sake of a hug, is not enough of a reason. Many organizations are not back to being in an office full time and may never be, so at first glance along with a very difficult economy - sending people to in-person events may still be off the cards.

But go back to my graduate. He learnt on-line but needed the osmosis effect of working with people to solidify those skills. Many of us have changed jobs in the last few years, being onboarded remotely and doing so more from home. It works but we are missing that osmosis and actually spending time with peers and learning from what others are doing may be the 'top up' we all need. 

So talk to your boss, explain why you think being part of a community is so important, and make a special effort to be part of a user group community and if you can, attend in person, I promise you won't regret it.

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