Apple’s Virtual WWDC Wasn’t Better Than the Real Thing

I also think about, we’re having a lot of talks right now about race, and racism, and the black community, and other under-represented people of color in the tech industry. And I’ve heard they have this experience where they look around and they say, “OK, people here are mostly white.” This is the experience that they’re having. And each year when you get to go, you get to hold that company to task, to their commitment that they say they’ve made around creating a more diverse experience, and you get to look around and say, “OK, is that happening?” As a woman who often attends these events, we make the line of the bathroom joke, but it’s not really a joke. There’s very rarely a line for the women’s restroom because there are so few women at this conference, and each year when you get to go, if you see that line grow, you think, “Oh, OK, there are more women here this year.” And I think that’s a good thing. And not being able to go in person means you don’t get to do those kinds of checks.

MC: Yeah. Julian, what was your read on the cultural aspect of WWDC this year?

JC: Yeah, I think it really comes down to whether the developers like this or not. And I think, generally, everyone is going to be excited to go back to the normal of having physical real-world events. I looked on Apple’s WWDC website earlier today, just a quick glimpse. They have this new forum system, where developers can watch the presentations and ask questions, and there’s a lot of questions that are just unanswered. They’re just hanging out there. Some of them have been marked resolved and I saw some answers, but if that’s the experience, and I know there are one-on-one sessions that you can still schedule, but if it’s like that, you’re a developer you’re sitting at home, you’re like, “Cool. I want to ask a question,” and then you’re just left with silence. That’s sad and definitely something that … Of course it does open it up more to more people, but I do think, hopefully, in the future that they would have more of a team that are more dedicated to answering some of these questions if we are doing more virtual events.

MC: Yeah. And I agree with you. And I think to Lauren’s point, if you have this organic physical space that you can talk to other people and interact with other people, the harder questions, the ones about the issues with the culture, issues relating to diversity and representation, are things that are much easier to talk about. If you give somebody a web form where they can show up and ask that question in public, and then that question just gets stuck there and never gets answered, that’s a very dark future.

LG: Well, I hope we can go back to events soon. I never thought I’d say that, because back in February, when Boone, who produces this show, and I went to the Samsung event, we were like, “Do we really need to go to these tech events anymore?” I’m here to say, I would love to go to a crowded tech event right now.

MC: No, but just think of all the bad food.

LG: I would take the bad food if the bad germs went away.

MC: Well, we’ll get chances maybe to go to the phone launches in the fall, but it’s looking unlikely. And as far as we know, the first big event of the year, CES 2021 in Las Vegas in January, is still on.

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