During the pandemic, I (like many) have been experimenting with online social gatherings. Mostly over Zoom, but also on Wonder, Gather.town, Gatherly, Jitsi, Google Meet, Airmeet, and Teooh. While working on technology to improve them (I’ve got a handful of patents pending), here are some resources to explore their social dynamics.

The cover of the book, "Zoom Reunions", with a Doonesbury cartoon from Garry Trudeau

Zoom Reunions: In spring of 2020, when college reunions around the world were cancelled, I helped my class pivot theirs online. Our award-winning reunion included large events and small, happy hours, memorial services, dance parties and more. Zoom Reunions, available in both ebook and paperback, relates what was learned about holding them: https://bit.ly/ZoomReunions.

Virtual Feb Club: In February 2021 during the pandemic, a Yale alumni tradition of holding multiple in-person alumni February gatherings was not feasible. So a group of dedicated volunteers, led by Tim Harkness, experimented with a variety of platforms for holding online social events. I’ve held a few. During preparations for a for a Virtual Costume & Dance party (with a mixed theme of Carnival, Mardi Gras, and Guardians of the Galaxy superheroes), I created and curated some virtual backgrounds as well as virtual masks to enliven the proceedings.

Virtual backgrounds: Most virtual backgrounds are lovely photos without people. That’s no way to nurture a party atmosphere! Here are some virtual backgrounds that do: https://slotznick.com/costume-party-virtual-backgrounds/

Virtual masks and costumes: Zoom has built in some video filters that add virtual hats, masks, even mustaches to your face. For more intricate masks you need a virtual camera, such as Snap Camera, from the SnapChat folks. Here are some curated Snap lenses for a Mardi Gras/Guardians of the Galaxy costume ball: https://slotznick.com/virtual-costumes-masks/.

Virtual drinks: Online events can be draining, so I prefer drinking coffee to alcohol. But the gesture of making a toast is still enjoyable. Here are some virtual drinks: https://slotznick.com/virtual-drinks-for-virtual-parties/.