Before we have our first meetup, I wanted to take a minute to let you know what the format will be like, and also some plans I have for future hangouts.
TL;DR: G+ Hangout broadcast to YouTube, small G+ Hangouts after for beers and chat, Google Groups to keep the conversation going.
Enabling Technology: Google+ Hangouts On Air
Standard Google+ Hangouts allow up to 10 people to hang out, but recently Google has added broadcast capabilities via YouTube so any number of people can watch the hangout live. We plan for the “main” hangout to have our hosts, presenters, and a few moderators or special guests. The rest of the community will be engaged through YouTube. Our moderators will be selecting comments from YouTube live and copying them into the hangout’s text chat, where hosts or guests can bring them up to our presenters. Our goal is to make everyone feel like part of the conversation.
Our First Meetup
Keeping that in mind, our format will be (for the first meetup at least), an introduction, announcements, two presentations each followed by questions, and then break-outs into smaller hangouts to bring the community together.
Building a Real Community
One of the things I love most about my local meetups is the time after the presentations when I can hang out, drink a beer, and get to know the other people in my community. We want to have that same feeling at The Ruby Hangout, so we’re going to have break-out “drink-up” sessions after the presentations. These G+ Hangouts will be each created by one of the hosts, presenters, moderators, or special guests who were in the original broadcast. These will be informal sessions for people to get to know each other and chat about Ruby or other things of interest to community members. The organizers will try and keep a list of active hangouts so people can move around, getting to know as many people as they like.
We also have started a Google Group, The Ruby Hangout. Forums and email lists are familiar tools to build community.
Continuing the Conversation
The recording of the hangout will be available on YouTube for anyone to watch. One of the problems we’re foreseeing is that we’ll be recording at 7pm Eastern time, which isn’t necessarily convenient for people around the world. We’re considering ways to continue the conversation with both our presenters and the community at large, making everyone feel welcome. Some ideas are collecting comments and forwarding them to our presenters up to 24 hours after the meetup or simply asking our presenters to respond to comments on the meetup in our Google+ stream or Google Group. We could use more ideas around this, what are your thoughts?
We’re looking for presenters and great presentations. The core of our community is sharing knowledge, so if you have anything you’d like to share, please let us know.
One idea we’ve had is to have short “ruby newbie” intro presentations. Each would be 5 - 10 minutes and would help introduce ruby and related technologies to newcomers. Think it’s a good or bad idea? Let us know in the comments!