who wants to talk about development stuff?
If you go to meetup.com and search for developer meet-ups, depending on where you are in the country you will see dozens of different meet-ups available for all flavours, variations and discipline of developer. With one small caveat the majority are based in a city.
As a developer who would like to talk to other developers about development, this posed a problem for me. Being based in Hastings the amount of time it would take to travel to these meet-ups made attending any very difficult. So I had an idea; Why not set-up a local developer meet-up. A developer meet-up in Hastings, so devtings.
That's as far as I've got so far, an idea (and a domain, and an IRC channel). This blog post will be about the thoughts and assumptions I've had regarding the setting up the meet-up, and as we move forward my plan is to blog about the reality of it.
meet-ups in theory
One of the things I have realised is that a local dev meet-up can't be the same as a larger meet-up. Firstly you can't be too specific in your topics and audience. A meet-up like Functional Brighton would be too specific to build a regular meet-up around, however talks and discussion about functional programming would make a great contribution. A good model I think for this is podcasting. A podcast like .Net Rocks! will cover various different aspects and disciplines of development. Then with guest experts to deliver some deep insight into the topics covered.
With a local meet-up it will be more difficult to get a wide variety of industry experts to come and give presentations. But there is opportunity in that as well. There will be people who want to be industry experts, who want to be a presenter at conferences a local meet-up would give them a place to practice, develop their skills and hopefully be a stepping stone for them. The other opportunity is for regular members of the meet-up to give their own presentations. Again this gives people an opportunity to develop their own skills and confidence.
Other items of business
Although the presentations will be an important part of the meet-up, they will not be the only part. The meet-up should be a relaxed environment where developers can discuss anything they want. Structure is important so people know what to expect but at the same time things need to be flexible and if this is going to be a successful venture it needs to grow organically.
How much is this all going to cost?
The costs of a meet-up. Costs are something that can grow and grow quickly. Starting off with organisation; you need an online presence you can point people to. Then with a place people can go it needs to be followed up with some promotion. Venues, food and drink, guest speakers; all these things cost money. So while this idea is getting off the ground we'll ignore the more formal ideas. Keep costs low, see if there is an interest and build from there.
what we've got and what we need
So far I've floated the idea to a few developers I know and work with and have got a positive response. So the next step, it's to get a few more devs and go to the pub. Start fleshing out some ideas, see what others can contribute and lets take a bunch of devs living in Hastings and start building a community of developers.