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I’ve been brainstorming with @conroy about putting together some kind of “get to know other people on Lobsters” shindig. I think it would be great and I’d like to meet the people on here in person at some point.

We’re having trouble coming up with a good event. Here are some brainstorms:

  • A drinkup is easy to put together, but forces everyone out to a bar where it’s loud and the conversation drifts toward bar chit-chat, and there are some in the community who have expressed a negative reaction about drinkups.

  • Our previously mentioned idea about riding a train, plane, shuttle around the Bay Area for a day - some place without wifi where you can get work done, then get together at the end of the day for drinks. However the main issue here is the trains aren’t great for long ranges without stops - Caltrain is 90 minutes with a 30 minute break between trains at each end, BART doesn’t support bathrooms, and AMTRAK is too early or too expensive to ride somewhere fun.

  • Get together and solve problems of some kind or listen to tech talks from people in the Lobste.rs community, think of it as the stories on here but more in depth, and with a chance to discuss in person. (PS, I hate the word “meetup”). We’d have to think about what sort of content makes more sense to discuss in person, maybe language (Go, haskell) or tool (nginx, haproxy, etc) walkthroughs?

Anyway, would appreciate your thoughts or ideas in the comments.

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    While I cannot attend a meetup in the Bay Area, I must insist you meet up at a Red Lobster.

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      Cheddar biscuits for everyone!

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      If one happens in Chicago rather than the bay area (I believe @jcs is here), I have a good-sized meeting/hack space available through work.

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        I think a physical meetup-like event would be fun, and I’d probably prefer a talk-based or hackathon-based format to drinkups or a train event.

        Instead of “one big talk”, it could be fun to do an event (or events) based around a bunch of lightning talks. Maybe based around a theme like distributed systems, or devops, or “talk about your favorite language”.

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          I think something like this would be really cool. I don’t think a theme is really necessary. Just have people send proposals for talks a week or so ahead of time.

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          It would be amazing to have a monthly meetup that we could get sponsored.

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            Location might be an issue, since not all of us are in the Bay Area. Perhaps simultaneous local meetups connected by video call would work.

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            @kb & @conroy: what a great idea! I’m not sure what to do for people elsewhere, but I’d love to see a gathering happen somewhere in the Bay Area. Here are a couple thoughts.

            On the topic of social gatherings:

            • Not all bars in San Francisco are loud, and the quiet ones can actually be really nice places to meet. (And oddly, that’s the biggest thing I miss from the Philly technology scene – meetups were never huge, so everyone ended up at a bar for a drink or two, but rarely ever more, after any given gathering.)

              So, I’d actually put my two cents toward just getting together and drinking. So far as bars go, you could look for a quieter one near downtown but a bit further from BART, such as High Dive. Or, you could just look further afield. San Franciscans seem to think the bay is as big as an ocean, but downtown Oakland has quieter bars and is really only 15 minutes away. :-)

            • As an alternative to that, dinner is really nice, too. One of the finer points of Twilio was the sub-group that went out to eclectic and interesting places for dinner every few weeks. This may only work for up to ~20 people, but that’s about as many people as you could easily associate with anyhow.

            On the point of technical gatherings:

            • For a run-of-the-mill “hear a talk in the evening” thing, I’d most like to hear lightning talks about topics that were of the greatest interest for the group. If we do something like that, it’d actually be pretty easy to just let people submit things they want to hear about as comments, and then folks can upvote them. (I see that Red Lobster has the highest score of all the ones listed. Sadly, the closest one is in San Bruno.)

            • The most productive (and fun) technical gatherings I’ve been to have invariably been unconferences. One example of this, which has quite a catholic collection of topics and attendees, is BarCamp – see http://2013.barcampphilly.org/ for a really well run one. Another one, more applicable to lobste.rs, is something along the lines of the Union Square Ventures Data Summit that Gary Chou used to run in New York. For that gathering, a whole collection of different startups send PM’s, engineers, designers, statisticians, etc. to a one-day event. Gary would collect a list of desired topics from everyone ahead of time, and on the day of, he’d have them collated and written up on a board. Folks could then mark up the ones they wanted to attend, collapse topics together, etc., and then figure out a couple tracks of seminars to run. 30-45 minutes per session, with about 5 sessions in 2-3 tracks. It’s hard to say how useful this was (or fun!), and I’d love to see more events like it.