Technorama, TR20 and the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic

In the 24 hours since we released the location and Guest of Honour announcement, COVID-19 warning levels increased, airlines released special fares, airlines grounded planes, governments released crowd advisories, and our Guest of Honour questioned the wisdom of travelling.

The Technorama board met on Thursday 12 March, and considered the situation from every angle.   It’s a complex landscape, with many possible ramifications if we make bad decisions.   Many organisations are cancelling conferences and gatherings, but that’s not necessarily the best response.  The key issue is that there is too little information available to make solid informed decisions, and many gatherings like ours are being cancelled because people are spooked.

One thing we are doing is to ask your opinion.   If you are signed up for our Facebook Q&A group, and you were planning to go to to TR20, why not give us your opinion?   The relevant thread is here. 

Over the next few days we will bring you more information, and our next decision point is 25 March.

Technorama is in the business of informed technical discussion. A decision about whether to continue with TR20 on 29 May is no different, and we’re trying to be as un-emotive and rational as possible. For instance, we could reasonably infer that if there is government (or airline) action, there may also be mitigating conditions to allow backing out of arrangements that the action makes impossible to complete (eg: under consumer law you’d expect it to be unlawful for a vendor to take or hold money for a service that can’t be delivered).   Or there may be no help from the airlines (who are commercial entities) and imposition of draconian rules.   We don’t know.

From a business point-of-view, at this stage we don’t have any hard basis on which to make a decision.

Given that there are no contractual obligations which impact on TR20 right now, we have decided to do four things:

  1. continue planning, for both 29 May and for future dates, and potentially open registration to gauge support
  2. start the Awards and Represent! Bursary processes because the outcomes aren’t date dependent
  3. meet on 25 March to review progress and make a go/nogo/postpone-till decision
  4. continue to poll our members and customers (you) and continue to seek input (eg: here)

Thanks to all those who have provided input so far. Please continue, and the question is:

Based on what you know, would you attend TR20 at the end of May?