It feels like time has officially moved forward and the unending month of March 2020 is over. All it took was attending this year’s ECP Annual Meeting, which corresponds to the last event I attended before lock down. Personally, I find doing anything for the first time to be a struggle… I guess it just took a whole “first” year of working from home to get over the hump.

This year, the ECP annual meeting is a virtual event. One of the platforms they are using is Gather.Town: a virtualized physical conference space. I. love. it.

You control a little avatar and move around a virtual space designed to look like work, or in this case, a meeting space. You enter rooms, you run into people, you get lost, someone corners you with a conversation that turns out to be awesome. I sit in the audience and work on my laptop while there is a talk going on in the background. Maybe it’s the pandemic isolation getting to my head, but I miss this. I never thought moving a little virtual character could make me feel so present. The only thing missing here was a coffee station for people to gather around.

I am already scheduled to use Gather.Town for another event this summer (the International HPC Summer School). I can’t wait to get my hands on helping to design the space. If we weren’t virtual, the event would have been held in Toronto… maybe we can get a layout from some landmark there!

In the mean time, I think I’ll try to create a personal Gather.Town instance… maybe I can convince a few of my more social co-workers (or even colleagues from other companies) to join me.


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