The Austin Forum on Technology & Society has always educated people about how emerging & pervasive technologies are shaping society, but it is fundamentally about community: about connecting people that might not normally have met, and creating relationships that lead to collaborations and innovations that contribution to society. We are proud to be Austin’s largest monthly tech information and networking meeting series, but now, in an expanding COVID-19 epidemic, it is a time for social distancing—not for large in-person meetings.
However, we must all also continue to work, learn, and communicate with each other in the meantime. We must adapt to the new normal in order to keep companies and organizations productive, and to continue providing for ourselves and our families. Fortunately, we live in a time of widespread access to computing and communications technologies, and some companies have deep experience to share about encouraging and enabling effective remote working, learning and more with technologies. The Austin Forum on Technology & Society remains committed to sustaining community and to executing our mission, so we will not skip a beat—but we will change how we meet.
We are changing the April 7 event to an online presentation and Q&A session, and details will be provided via the web site and EventBrite soon. We want to keep our community safe, so we will use this format for as long as social distancing is required to limit and eventually halt the spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) virus. We have offered Facebook livestreams of some past events for those who could not attend in person, but we will now shift all effort towards executing a great event for an entirely online audience. We will also change the topic to address the COVID-19 situation: how to use technologies effectively to work and collaborate, educate and learn, and communicate and share, and how to help others do so as well.
Please just us for our first-ever online event on April 7. Even savvy techies are likely to learn something from our panel about how to use digital technologies most effectively, and everyone will learn some challenges we must help everyone overcome. We will have a great panel and Q&A session with no loss of content quality; we will only lose the handshakes and hugs, and the post-event beer and pizza at Trifecta on 3rd. Be assured that we are thinking about ways to address networking and relationship-building online should the social distancing remain necessary for much longer.
Also because of the COVID-19 epidemic, we will ramp the usage of the Austin Forum Slack workspace more aggressively now as a means of connecting people in our community from different tech areas and backgrounds. We announced the relaunch of the Austin Forum Slack workspace two months ago to increase our ability to connect and build our community; it has become even more necessary and potentially valuable, and we believe will remain so even after the COVID-19 emergency is behind us. We also have several blog posts in the queue to ramp the Austin Forum Update, our Medium-hosted blog so that we can provide more great content while working entirely with authors online, for readers online. We’ve also started posting more content relevant to COVID-19 on our social media, carefully selected for being factual and informative, not opinions and conjecture. In short, we are transforming the Austin Forum for everyone’s safety, but we are ramping up, not down!
Please keep yourselves and your families, friends, and colleagues safe. This epidemic is serious, and in the absence of treatments and vaccines it is our individual and collective behaviors that will determine the rate of exposure. We can and will defeat this, but slower growth in exposure absolutely equals saved lost in the meantime. The Austin Forum on Technology & Society is going to do whatever we can to share useful information while also sustaining our community connections and continuing to encourage collaboration and innovation. We hope you will join us for the special event focused on this topic on April 7, and we look forward to seeing you online on April 7, or on Slack any time.
Jay Boisseau, Executive Director and Founder
Jessica Sager, Managing Director