It is about finding others with a similar interest rather than sharing specific knowledge with the hope that those relationships will pay off in the future.
For someone like me how finds it difficult to start a conversion, having the topics and names on the board provides a nice ice breaker.
wow i have to say, my experience with meetup groups has been totally different. almost all the technical ones i’ve been to have lots of awesome people doing things that are interesting; the presenters are generally very good or at least provide interesting things to think about. there are one or two meetups, associated with specific languages, that aren’t particularly interesting. but i mostly blame the culture around those languages - and in general the people are still pretty cool.
while i think the approach outlined here is not terrible - having some way of starting conversation is good; and it’s probably a good way to help newbies into the specific area, but i shouldn’t think it would actually replace the standard programming meetups.