The last week RIPE80 meeting happened. Online. It should have been in Berlin, with my company DE-CIX as the „local host“. Because of that, I was appointed to the program committee – as a local host representative.
For my friends not familiar with what I do, how the Internet industry works or, what a RIPE meeting is let me elaborate a bit.
So what is RIPE – or Réseaux IP Européens? It is a community of people working in the internet industry. We are not a legal entity, there is no formal membership, everything we do is on a voluntary basis. Please read more on www.ripe.net, click on “RIPE community”. The important part is that RIPE is made up of people, not companies. And this community usually meets twice a year. These meetings are organized by the RIPE NCC, which is a company. The meeting is open for everybody who wants to attend for a moderate fee (you get food, good talks, presentations, and social events, and it is really not very expensive).
As I said – we meet twice a year. 800-1000 people in a conference room. Well, you now know where in these times the problem is. It simply could not happen. So the RIPE NCC (the company organizing the meeting) did a fantastic job of moving the meeting to the Internet. A meeting of people running the Internet, on the Internet. Why did we not do this before? Simple – it is a meeting of people! And that means, informal conversations during coffee breaks, beers in the evening, meeting and talking over dinner. Imagine a meeting of a big family where you meet your 5th-grade cousin who you only see twice a year. We like talking to each other! In person! As I said – not possible at the moment.
So, as there was no meeting in Berlin, no local host. Thankfully the program committee let me stay on, so we had to re-shuffle talks and come up with an agenda for the “plenary” of one day, instead of two days, some talks had different lengths, and presenters needed to be asked if they were willing to present online instead of in front of an audience. Result: In the end all was fine.
My job was not a very big one, I was the “chair” of one of these online sessions. Chair means, I make sure the presenter is present (yes), I introduce him (or her) to the audience, I keep time (very important – each session had a fixed time of 45 minutes, for two presenters. The first one had 30 minutes including questions, 2nd one had 15 minutes including questions), and I also sort and read out questions from the (online) audience to the presenter (the hardest part, my English is good, but I hate reading out written text in any language).
So, this was the virtual RIPE80 meeting – it was fun! We got very good feedback from the audience, and we also managed to have some fun side-meetings. On Tuesday, I met with 45 friends from the German DENOG community online, we had a beer (everybody at home with camera) and a good talk. On Thursday usually, we have a dinner all together, this time there was home cooking – the recipes were published in advance.
Have a look at the pictures – it shows me listening to talks and also chairing a session and some other stuff. No idea if RIPE81 will be online again of physical (I doubt it will be physical in September 2020), but RIPE82 will hopefully be physical and in Berlin! Perhaps see you there!