Last night we had the July meeting of the .NET Developer Network
. This meeting was an experiment as it broke from the normal formula of one or more traditional user group presentations by a single speaker. Instead the evening was split into two halves: 4 grok talks and a group discussion. The 4 grok talks were presented by members of the .NET Developer Network: Chris Myhill
did Refactor For ASP.NET, Will Holley
did MbUnit, Jeremy Nevill
did Beyond Compare and Mike Doherty
did Resharper. This is what user groups are all about: 4 people distributing their knowledge and enthusiasm about a subject to the rest of the group. Each speaker simply presented an honest opinion of why they liked their product and why it made a difference to them. This kind of directness is so compelling and I, like others I spoke to, were compelled to try out new products that we wouldn’t normally had done because we had been given a kick start. I was also impressed with the effectiveness of the presentations and would like to thank Chris, Will, Jeremy and Mike for their work in preparing and presenting their subjects - well done, chaps.
The second half of the evening was a group discussion on development practices led by Adam Towler of Bluewire Technologies
. The group discussion was Adam’s idea to harness the potential of the user group. The idea is that the traditional user group format is a worthy one but it is missing an opportunity. Adam proposed this idea some time ago and I am delighted that he did as I would have to say that it demonstrated a side of the user group that could have gone untapped. We moved the chairs into a rough circle and Adam moderated the discussion. Naturally there is one part of me that wondered "will anyone have anything to say ?" but then I remembered that we were at a user group and I recalled Princess Fiona saying to Shrek about Donkey "It talks!" and Shrek replying "Yeah, it’s getting him to shut up that’s the trick" and I realised we had nothing to worry about. Adam did a great job not just of moderating the discussion but also of verbally poking people and good naturedly ensuring that a contribution was mandatory. I was very pleased with the discussion itself but also because people can see that the members of the group have faces and personalities and that user groups need not be a uni-directional flow of information from the speaker to the group. I would recommend this kind of meeting to other user groups.
For everyone who wanted to know more about the hastily prepared Microsoft Codename "Astoria"
grok talk that I did you can get more information at http://astoria.mslivelabs.com
Finally, if you are a member of the group please take a moment to fill out the surveys on the site (after you log in you will see a new menu item called Surveys
). There are 4 as of this morning.
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, Chris Myhill
, Will Holley
, Jeremy Nevill
, Mike Doherty
, Adam Towler