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You Can, You must Do Better - Rant Against Cancelling Atlassian Summit 2021 (PG)

I couldn't  put into words what was really nagging me about Atlassian's decision to cancel every in-person event this year and the Summit next year and why I felt the urge to start a discussion in our local community how and when we could meet again in person. 

This week after a coffee chat and especially listening to Noah Feldman's interview with Julia Marcus today, I had sort of an epiphany. 

The decision to cancel the Atlassian Summit 2021 is a decision by the privileged for the privileged, devoid of leadership and guidance. 

And I am telling you as a friend: YOU CAN DO, YOU MUST DO BETTER. 

Let me explain: 

Remember the 80's? Most of you probably don't, but that was the time when something called HIV came along and it felt like people were dying like flies in the most horrible ways imaginable from something that became known as AIDS all around the world.

The first guidance that came out was: "Don't have Sex", but as sex is a basic human need - believe it or not - that proved to be unsustainable very quickly, especially when people realized that it was not only gay sex and/or the wrath of God that killed you I was not and still am not really gay, but I could already read, so I never believed that anyway.  I lost friends and friends of friends. I - like many in my age group - was scared shitless.  

So: Safe Sex was born, which is never really safe - even today - but it is a sustainable guidance that allows you to live a (sex) life around the virus which is still around. 

We are currently in the "Don't have Sex" phase of this pandemic. Stay at home, don't meet anyone, and yes, you are safe if you do that. But is it sustainable? Definitely not. 

Community, sozializing, privately and professionally,  is a basic human need, which you can believe, hearing it from me, who does not really like people (i.e. large numbers of...) and always liked being at home. And I am -  again - scared shitless by this thing. 

I am also privileged. I am an old, white man, no children to take care of and the rest of my family is even better off than me. I can find ways to make a living online with minimal human contact for a very long time. My bank kind of likes me. As I write this we are organizing the 25th virtual event for our community, way in September and I guess most of your are in IT somehow, so - on average - pretty safe. 

But where do the underprivileged work that so much solidarity is proclaimed with these days? In a city like Berlin, they work in the service industry: Restaurants, Bars and - yes - around the many hundreds of events, conferences, trade shows etc. that draw people by the millions (I kid you not) to our fair city. 

For them it is unsustainable staying at home, and it has probably been for weeks now, even in a country with a strong social network like Germany's. They do not want handouts, they do now want solidarity funds, they want to make a living. Heck, I remember when "tipping" was a big class issue on social media just a few weeks ago, and now it is ok that the underprivileged in the service industries may have to live from welfare for months and - very probably - years to come. That is unsustainable. 

Do I have a problem not going to Las Vegas in 2021? No, not really, 

Las Vegas does have a problem. 

Personally I would go and trust me, I am - again - scared shitless and happy to be at home. 

Was the decision not to put 5000 people in a windowless neon-bunker in the desert prudent? Yes, definitely. 

But for a billion dollar global company that sends us playbooks about everything from project management to corporate culture,  it was also lazy as fuck - pardon my french -  and as a friend - as a good and passionate  friend who likes you lot - I am telling you: Get your act together. 

I see companies big and small being creative to find sustainable ways to live and work with the virus around and like with HIV there is a good chance that we will have to live with that thing for decades. 

Where is your sustainable guidance for your community in a world that is never risk free?

Why do we have to come up with our own guidance beyond "Stay at Home"?

Where is the creativity - we came to expect from you - to develop hybrid events that networks small groups around the world in one big summit? 

You have access to resources that most of us can only dream of and there are people out there that would be happy to be paid to help you do this. And judging by the pricey spin you are putting on all your stuff, you know how to spend money.  (If this is truly home made, I apologize, and suggest you are not getting paid what you deserve). 

Let me repeat myself: You can do, you must do better. 

Just do it. Don't leave us hanging.  

 

4 comments

Hi @Joerg Mueller-Kindt , nice rampage. I don't know what you are trying to achieve, but this pandemic is far from over. As you know that in Germany there are popping up COVID-19 cases here and there. In the US there are currently 120,000 deaths (!) and the pandemic is currently on its highest. Today more people get infected than before. 

So yes, in Europe the first peak is going drastically down, but there is still no vaccine so we can expect a second wave in the autumn. 

What you call lazy, I call a very responsible decision.  They did a very well job to convert the 2020 summit into an online event, which was a hell of job. And yes, they experience is far from the same. But lazy... far from.

PS Since I feel this is some kind of trolling article, this will be my only response. 

Like # people like this

Hi @Rudy Holtkamp _TMC_ 

Thank you for your comment.

I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the severity of this pandemic, but this is not a troll and I think you are kind of missing my point: This is a long-term problem and "Stay at Home" is an unsustainable short-term answer to this problem. 

Cancelling an event in April/May next year and not giving any kind of perspective except perpetuating that short-term answer, is  IMHO a failure for a company that very much lives and thrives through its community. 

If history is any guidance, there will be a third, fourth wave in 2021, 2022 as I personally do not expect a vaccine this year or next year, let alone a vaccination campaign of the size necessary. The virus has already and will pobably mutate again. As I said: I can stay at home, no big problem, but many cannot. 

Is this a rampage? Old man screaming at the heaven? Yes, probably. 

Is my argument vaild? I think so. 

Stay healthy and the best of times

Joerg

If you were a potential attendee at Summit 2021, the cancellation may seem like a drastic step for such a far out date - but for many of the vendors and Atlassian, the planning process for each Summit is months long, even over a year.

The cancellation of Summit 2020 was very costly for many solution partners and marketplace vendors. Knowing now that Summit 2021 will not be an in-person event is crucial for our planning.

Like # people like this
Angela Smith Atlassian Team Jun 24, 2020

Thank you for raising your concerns and bringing them to our attention Joerg. Like you, every year, the entire Atlassian team looks forward to connecting with our customers, partners, and sponsors at all of our events around the world. For that reason, the decision to cancel our in-person Summit in 2021 was incredibly difficult. However, our decision to provide early, transparent guidance on our plans was made with the well-being of every customer, partner, and sponsor – and their businesses – in mind.

We hope to be able to come together, in person, for smaller, local events around the globe when the time is right. In the meantime, our teams are already hard at work to deliver a memorable, interactive, digital experience for you during Summit 2021. Please stay tuned for more information, and we look forward to meeting you in a local event in Germany in the future.

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