Post Virtual Meetup Thoughts

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"That was about as close to an epic fail as we've ever had."

It's pushing toward noon on June 1st, 2010. Also known as yesterday. The Sonlight Virtual Meetup was carrying on, but I have no idea how. Two minutes after we were supposed to be well under way and I was still on the phone trying to figure out what we were doing. I had completely failed to properly explain what was going on. Worse yet, half of what I thought was going to go on now couldn't. The chat room was flying by much like Gandalf as he plunges into the depths with the Balrog. And now, almost two hours after the start, I've learned that our "toll-free number" was anything but and that our webinars could only hold 96 people. Worse yet, not all presenters could call in and annoying alerts went off any time someone actually got onto the conference line.

The problems didn't abate. Not yet. Our internal chat system gave in at a crucial moment. We learned of an Internet Explorer bug that crashed with large chat rooms. The audio for the live video stream cut out a few times. And more than once we toasted our winner selection tool because we were overloading it.

Toss in a few people who got echo with the videos, a strange YouTube glitch, some scheduling conflicts and a few other pieces that simply never came together... and... well... Suffice it to say that there were times I wanted to assume the fetal position in the corner and cry. Or run screaming from the building. Better yet: Both at the same time.

It was insane. And yet, over 1,000 people had a great time.

As I drove home, tears filled my eyes. I couldn't figure out how to breathe. The graciousness of the Sonlight community. The overwhelming support and encouragement we felt as we bumbled through our first virtual meetup. The things I'd failed to do. The solutions we'd tossed together on the fly. The ups and downs. Sarita's incredible session. The enthusiasm for the give-aways. The way things just kept rolling. And the crazy moment when it was all over. It was too much.

As we discussed everything we'd learned this morning, the tears came back. What an incredible experience! What an amazing group of people! What a joy it was to hang out with you all day yesterday... partly because of all the madness that was going on in the background. "Memorable" is the right word, but like all memories I expect to look back on this event with fondness.

And so today we started on moving forward. As my coworker pointed out yesterday: This really didn't go so well at the start. I never like hearing "epic fail" associated with something I'm trying to do <smile>. So we're learning and trying to figure out how to overcome some of the hurdles we tripped over.

I am so grateful for you; both your patience in the glitches and your participation in the event. I'm grateful for my coworkers who hung in there with me and helped fix all the problems that arose. And, despite my frustration, I'm grateful for the technology that allowed us to spend the day with over a thousand friends across the globe in real time.

And so, in the end, what started as almost an epic fail became an epic win.

Have any of your homeschool experiences felt like that? Have you seen something that was falling apart come together in the end?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father

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