DotNetDevNet July Meeting

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

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.

Technorati Tags: DotNetDevNet, Chris Myhill, Will Holley, Jeremy Nevill, Mike Doherty, Adam Towler,

Posted by: Guy Smith-Ferrier
Posted on: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 9:16 PM
Categories: Events
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