The One with Online Meetups

While the world outside is still standing still, there have been some cool things happening online. You can now attend events that normally would have happened in-person somewhere far away as online things from home. That has been cool for sports classes (I did one in Paris a few weeks ago) and for meetups as well.

The biggest one that I have attended so far was SoCraTesUK, a fully-online one-day Open Space. The organisers went to great lengths to make this feel almost like an in-person SocraTes event. The day started with a virtual breakfast where people were put into breakout rooms simulating the experience of sitting on a breakfast table with people you might have never met before. The space was set up in Mural, with a gathering point where attendees could customise their avatar to drag around to virtual rooms later and a session plan that worked just like a real marketplace, complete with lining up to present your session proposal.

All the sessions were held in Zoom calls, some people shared a Mural at the beginning, others shared their screen and most people had turned on their cameras for easier discussions. During the breaks, Discord voice channels with names like “dining hall”, “garden” and “pool” served as places for people to hang out and chat. All in all it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to more Open Space conferences online.

I also think this way of doing a meetup with lots of people who might want or need to talk about different topics could be a way to hold a department-wide retrospective: Gather in a call with a shared Mural or Miro board, find some topics to talk about and then do this in small groups in Slack calls. No need for Zoom breakout rooms and fancy tools for us, I think. And we are in need of a retrospective. But I digress.

Other meetups that I have attended or am looking out for:

  • INNOQ Technology Night now does lunch meetups as well and I have already attended some great ones
  • GOTO Nights have had great meetups so far and I’m very much looking forward to the one on Tuesday
  • Virtual Domain-Driven Design meetup has been an online meetup group since before lockdown times and they did a digital conference on Friday with lots of different formats of talks. I have only been able to watch 2 live events but they still live on YouTube and I plan on watching a lot more in the next few days
  • DDD London has very interesting topics and I hope I’ll finally be able to attend an event next week
  • ThoughtWorks has some interesting events coming up as well

It’s definitely really cool, but also a bit overwhelming right now. I sometimes feel like I there is something interesting that I want to or should attend every day, but I really don’t have time for that. I need to be a bit more careful about not working too much and finding enough time to take care of other important things in my life. I have now established a report system with 2 of my coworkers who are equally eager to attend meetups. If someone finds the time to attend a meetup live, they recap the content for the others if it can be viewed online later, so they can decide if it’s worth their time.

I don’t really need any more suggestions for things I can spend my time with, but if I have missed anything really cool, do let me know!