The Meet-up is dead, long live

Auckland web developers meetup – 23/June/2011 is one of those many web services people flocked to enthusiastically a few years back when it first appeared on the virtual social landscape. I signed up for a bunch of meetup groups imagining my cloud community horizons expanding explosively and began mentally preparing to get along to events and actually meet people face-to-face.

People I had previously only read, not met as such.

The reality was, of course, that events came and went (to be fair the Meetup community in NZ is pretty small, and I don’t think anyone else in Hamilton NZ knows it exists) and I never actually got a long to a single meetup….. Not one.

Until last Thursday that is.

For the last few years a bunch of Auckland web developers and designers have been using to have gatherings every month or so, and it was one of these sessions I went to last week. This is no-back-of-the-pub gathering of a handful of socially awkward boffins (though they do adjourn to the pub after the meetup, a post-meetup-meetup if you will).

No, this is a popular enough event that numbers are capped using the RSVP system at meetup. Take last week for example, there were 180 web folks in attendance, and 220 had registered interest before the event.

Without going into the details of the three sessions (links to them follow) which by the way were all very useful and entertaining (two often incongruous elements of a tech talk), the thing I was most impressed by was the healthy number of people who were prepared to brave rush-hour Auckland traffic to get along to a venue they’ve never been to, to listen to and mix and mingle with folks they may have never met.

OK so the free Pizza and Epic beer probably helped (thank you Orion Heath)

The other thing that tickled my fancy was geek-superstar Mozilla hacker Robert O’Callahan doing an awesome slides-optional presentation where he lost connectivity and talked for about 20mins with a “Server not found” error on the monitor behind him. Didn’t matter squat, he couldn’t have cared less, but sure looked funny thinking about it now.

Anyway, a big virtual-ups to the awesomely funny and larger than life John Ballinger (you can pay me later big fellah) and KarlVR and anyone else who’s involved in organising these things. Punters don’t appreciate how much effort goes into pulling something like this off on a semi-regular basis, especially when its a not-for-profit activity, and a fairly narrow slice of the community.

I’m all for the social web, but you really can’t beat face-to-face. I’m so relieved other people still see value in it too. See you at the next one.