A minimal viable meet-up?

There is a fair chance Professor Einstein never actually said this but it remains a great quote and sums up how I feel about my latest idea!

Now I’m back working in Bristol I’ve been thinking a lot about whether to get back involved in the local digital community — either by helping with an existing meet-up or (god help me) kicking something off that is a bit closer to my interests.

As for existing groups I think the only one that really floats my boat (just not my paddleboard) is Product Tank SW so I’ll continue to keep that on my radar as a participant but other than that there isn’t much that is jumping out at me (this is on me rather than the groups that are out there — it seems to be a thriving eco-system of meet-ups these days but they appear to have become a bit specialist for me really).

So does this mean setting something up? I’m leaning towards that I have to be honest — with trepidation though having been burned time and again.

The thing is if (and it is a big IF) I was to do something it would have to be something a bit different. I really like the idea of the coffee mornings that Russell used to run and more recently the ‘hardware-ish coffee mornings’ that Matt Webb loosely organises in London. Well not the hardware stuff — I leave that lark to folk like Libby — but the way it runs;

..there’s no standing up and doing intros, or anything super formal. The coffee morning is simply a friendly space to hang out, chat, get caffeinated, and compare notes on everything hardware related, whether that’s making stuff as a hobby, figuring out how to do manufacturing, swapping interesting new Kickstarters, or just spending time with like-minded people.

..also not the coffee or the morning bits — because I don’t drink coffee and I have a day job 🙂

The timing I like is the Teacamp model (and of course Bara Brith Camp) something that starts at 4pm and is pretty much done by 6 allowing people who need to to get home at a sensible time and not really massively interrupting a work day. Anybody else so inclined can just stretch things in to the evening a bit longer.

As I was telling someone this week — the thing I love about things like Govcamp / OpenData camp isn’t the ‘law of two feet’ or the collaborative agenda setting — it is that it brings people I want to chat with together in one place. Thus my preference for ‘corridor conferencing’. I’d like to bring something like that into being on a relatively regular basis.

So this is the idea I am floating —

A regular(ish) meet-up for anyone interested in the broadest definition of the ‘internet of public service’. So everything from working in/with government to contributing to Wikipedia via online social enterprises, charities dabbling with digital or hacking away at open data.

It will take place in a central Bristol pub (but one that does decent coffee/soft drinks) at 4pm. Drawing to a close about 6pm.

There will be no speakers, no formal introductions and no pressure. There will just be an opportunity to chat with like minded souls, let people know what you are up to, get help and if need be vent to sympathetic fellow travellers! It might evolve in to something else over time but this seems enough for now — a ‘minimal viable meet-up’ →

Thoughts? Let me know over on Twitter 🙂

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