9 Technology

The technology team is important in in-person, online, and hybrid events, as most of the communication of the conference happens via the internet. The team sets up the website and chooses and configures the different platforms of the conference.

These are:

đź“ť At all stages, the digital accessibility of every platform has to be taken into account

9.1 Collaboration

People charged with technology tasks will collaborate with several other teams in the conference:

  • Program and Content: to publish all the relevant information at the correct dates
  • Communication: to follow the visual identity, setup platforms, and solve any relevant communication media, including the website and the blog
  • Accessibility: to ensure the accessibility of all the chosen platforms, and collaborating in setting up the captioning

9.2 Website

The website of the conference is hosted at https://user[YYYY].r-project.org/ Until 2019 the addresses followed the pattern https://www.r-project.org/conferences/useR-[YYYY]/

Currently, the website is hosted in the gitlab repository for the group R Foundation conferences: https://gitlab.com/rconf. The repository for the website is a Hugo site template can build and deploy the site using Netlify almost out of the box.

9.3 Registration and submission platform

useR! 2021 used conftool for registration, work submission, work revision, and hosting of the conference materials during the conference.

Users can be classified into different roles–chair, program commitee, participant–with different permissions according to the information they need to have access to and protecting the personal information of the participants.

Other conference platforms exist that provide similar integrated platform services, such as Easychair and pretalx. Read more about the different abstract review systems used in past useR!

9.3.1 Setting up Registration

Once pricing has been decided you’re ready to set up registration. useR! 2021 used a Paypal account, but you may use another payment provider. The payment platform needs to be linked directly to the company that does the invoicing.

Specifically you will require the following for each attendee:

  1. Require information for each attendee
  2. Ask for employer name (optional) if people want it printed on their badge (for in-person conference)
  3. Ask for Twitter handle (optional) to help attendees connect with one another
  4. Ask if they require an invoice; if yes ask more details like VAT number (if needed)

Note: Attendee email or direct-contact information should never be visible on the website or given out to vendors. We value privacy and do not want attendees to be spammed.

9.4 Organize the streaming / recording of the event

In in person mode

9.4.1 Before the conference

  • Check the video recording system or hire a professional to handle that part.

  • Check the captioners or live interpreters installation.

9.4.2 After the conference

  • Put the videos online.

9.5 Conference platform

In online and hybrid modes

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9.6 Chat and networking platform

9.6.1 Hosting and streaming talks

The team has to make the decision of where to host and broadcast the talks.

A popular option is Zoom, which is accessible, easy to use due to its popularity, and allows for captions/captioners, live interpreting, and streaming to Youtube.

Streamyard is also accesssible and can broadcast live to Facebook, Periscope, YouTube, Linkedin, and custom RMTP servers. It has a limit of five people live and two in the backstage.

Jitsi is an open software alternative to Zoom.

9.6.2 Q&A sessions

  • Will Zoom chat/Q&A be used?
  • Questions over chat/networking or conference platform?

9.6.3 Conference rehearsals

useR! 2021 organized conference rehearsals one week before the actual conference. The goal was to test the chat lobby and zoom rooms with the zoom hosts, chairs, and speakers. Each session was tested exactly a week before the session (same schedule). The people leading the rehearsals were Dorothea Hug Peter, RocĂ­o Joo, and Yanina Bellini Saibene.

In order to set everything for conference rehearsals, we had to:

  • recruit session chairs (led by Janani Ravi)
  • recruit zoom hosts
  • organize a training for the zoom hosts (led by Dorothea Hug Peter, Yanina Bellini Saibene, and RocĂ­o Joo). Four training sessions were organized during the week before the rehearsals. We taught 35 zoom hosts multiple tasks such as opening the right zoom room, sharing slides, start live streaming, activate captions, and allocate captioners, among others.

9.7 Tools for Streaming

  • A YouTube channel allows us to broadcast live and share videos. We create one channel for each parallel session, so we use four (4) channels: where three (3) channels are used for live streaming and one (1) channel is used for elevator pitches.

  • For streaming we need to create an event for each session in the schedule, that is an event for each zoom meeting, and link the zoom meeting and the YouTube meeting link. For more details follow the instructions here

  • We choose to start and end the streaming automatically when the host on zoom start the streaming and finished the streaming/or the meeting.

  • For meetings, we use Zoom webinar and Regular Zoom. We stream Regular Talk, panels, and Keynotes. We don’t stream incubators and tutorials.

    • We need to ask for permission to upload the video after the conference is over.
  • After the conference, everything is upload to the RConsortium YouTube channel after editing (beginning, end, any other problem on the video).

Note: We also do the below activities * Create the playlist * Assign each video to their playlist add an initial picture (thumbnail, banner) * Upload captions and schedule publish date

Whether or not you’re able to livestream (irrespective of in-person or virtual format), it is important to record all the talks. This is invaluable for your speakers, and it’s great for the R community. You can ideally talk to the host institution in-case they have some setup in place. If you’re going to livestream, rehearse ahead of time, and then assign at least one person to run it during the event.

Note: Some events stream directly to YouTube. Be very careful not to accidentally include any background music, or YouTube will take your stream down.

Some services exist to record and stream; check with others in your region to see what they’re using.