I hope that in-person conferences can restart later this year or early next year.
NamesCon organizers announced today that July’s NamesCon Europe event in Budapest is canceled. This comes on the heels of ICANN announcing that the ICANN71 Policy Forum in The Hague, Netherlands, scheduled for June, would be virtual.
Neither of these announcements came as a surprise. But with vaccine rollouts gaining steam around the world, when can we reasonably expect to get together in person again?
The next big date on the domain calendar is ICANN72, the Annual General Meeting, scheduled for late October in Seattle. Assuming vaccine rollouts continue as planned and no new vaccine-beating variants gain a foothold, it’s conceivable that North American residents would be able to attend an in-person meeting in October.
There are two challenges, though. First, go/no-go decisions must be made in advance, so we’ll need to see enough progress by summer for ICANN to move forward. Second, ICANN meetings attract attendees from around the world. Will people around the world be vaccinated and feel comfortable traveling internationally?
A likely scenario is a hybrid event in October. Fortunately, ICANN has lots of experience with this. You can argue that all of its in-person events have been hybrid thanks to live streaming and commenting. And it improved its online experience over the past year as it hosted virtual events.
After that, I’m hopeful that NamesCon can stage a live event in early 2022 in North America.