I’ve never attended Namescon in person. I was not able to attend the last one earlier this year. The latest Namescon had to go all virtual since in-person conferences are no longer a thing that happen in the current climate. When it was announced it was going to be online only, I asked to be able to attend and was given the clearance. I was very interested in learning more about the domain industry and hopefully picking up some new skills.

I warned my wife that I would be attending a virtual conference, on top of doing my job and while it would be an exhausting few days doing everything all at once, I was excited for it to come. It would be a nice break in the work-from-home monotony.

The conference lasted for three days from September 9th to the 11th. The 10th was the most ‘action-packed’ day, with multiple tracks taking place all over the world. There was a lot of content on offer, and when the schedule was released ahead of the conference, I made a note of everything I wanted to attempt to attend. It quickly became clear there was more I wanted to attend than there were hours in the day!

Namescon rolled out an online platform where everything would take place. It was mostly all right. My biggest irritation with it was that you couldn’t say you wanted to attend a panel, and then have the system remind you when it was. You had to say you wanted to go, then download an .ICS file and then import it into Outlook. I had to do this 15 times because Outlook doesn’t let you import in bulk. With people attending Namescon from all over the world, timezone translations would be an issue. Thankfully, the ICS files handled the timezone differences fine, and I didn’t miss any panels because I had the wrong time.

It was not clear before the conference, or even during, if the panels would be recorded to access later, so that put a bit of pressure to make sure you attended the panels you wanted to see because you might not be able to see them again. They sent an email out after the conference had ended providing access for a limited time to all the panels. Next time, I hope they tell people this in advance.

The ‘meat’ of the conference was obviously the live video panels. These were well-produced, many led right into each other; there were very few technical hiccups. The video part of the conference functioned perfectly smoothly. I learned of the existence of new people I didn’t know in the domain industry. I learned about new platforms and products I wasn’t aware of. I also learned some key insights into domains in 2020.

I’m not going to give an exhaustive rundown of everything I learned from the conference, most of that will come out in future blog posts here on the Blacknight blog (I have a list of great ideas – stay tuned). I’m not a ‘domainer’ per se – I’m not buying and selling domains (only buying, and too many at that), so there were a lot of panels that weren’t relevant to me, but it was still interesting to learn about a part of the industry that I have zero knowledge of. I might even try my hand at selling a domain or two that I own.

There were elements of the Namescon Conference platform I wasn’t so impressed with. There was a virtual networking lounge, but this was frankly kind of stupid. I didn’t meet anyone in it or feel the need to join any of the ‘tables.’ But then I’m someone who wouldn’t network much at a conference anyway; I’m shy. I didn’t have any ‘meetings.’ All throughout the conference, I got loads of unsolicited messages from various sponsors and attendees trying to sell me something – so just like a real conference! That was irritating but manageable. There was an overall conference feed where people could share things like on Facebook. There was a balance between pictures of where people were ‘attending’ from, spam promotions and domains for sale. It was fun to wade into and wade out of.

Really, all the ways they tried to make the in-person conference virtual were rather pointless, at least for me and what I was trying to get out of the conference. The most important element was the panels, and those were great. The live chat during panels was useful as were the Q&A sections. I didn’t get any swag, which kind of sucks as who doesn’t like free swag? I love my cPanel swag from Websummit last year.

My longest day was Thursday. The European track had three panels I wanted to make sure I attended, but one of them started at 5 am in my timezone. That was a bit of a slog – as I was online from 5 am to 5 pm. Still, it was worth it, temporary pain for lots of great new knowledge. Again it would have been nice to know they were recording the sessions, so I could have watched those at a more sane time.

The highlight of Namescon was the ‘Someone’s Getting Screwed: The War for SEX.COM’ panel hosted by Kieran McCarthy and Andrew Allemann. It was entertaining, informative and just plain fun. It even got me to buy Kieran’s book. Frankly, I would love a conference made up of panels just like this – domain and internet industry veterans telling interesting stories that many may not be privy too.

Namescon Online was definitely worth the money – I think we paid $59 for the ticket and it was definitely worth the time involved in attending. It was fun to be a part of a larger event, and I was kind of sad when it was over. You still had the same buzz of excitement that you have at an in-person conference. I would absolutely ask to go to the next one, and if there are ever in-person conferences again, I’d love to attend in person.

Did you attend Namescon Online 2020? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

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