When you get together in a room full of group organizers, you’re sure to find inspiration and encouragement. I found plenty of both on Saturday, May 2nd, at the first New English User Group Leaders Summit (or simply NEUGLS).
The event was held at Microsoft’s New England Research and Development center. The main event was on the 1st floor, which was awesome. The reception/drinks after the event were on the 11th floor, which is where Refresh Boston usually holds their presentations.
This was my first ever unconference-style event. It was confusing at first, but grew on me quickly. Planning the talks at the start of the day felt haphazardly but was intoxicating. It was unlike any event I’ve ever attended. There wasn’t a complete lack of authority, but if it was there, I didn’t notice it. I’m not sure how each talk/presentation was selected, I wasn’t observing the whole process.
Organizing is hard work
For the most part, I was an observer. I just recently started a book club for UX design here in Boston, and so my knowledge base of organizing is fairly limited. At the time we only had one meeting. The event was quite an eye opener for me. I had a little idea of how daunting organizing a user group could be. My group is under a hundred at the moment, and less than 30 attendee’s. Some of the group leaders at the summit mentioned they had several hundred into the thousands of members. Organizing at that level has got to be tough. I have a new found appreciation for the events I’ve been just showing up to.
The sessions themselves were good. One of them we talked about how to get creative with our groups. Someone mentioned that we could start a “concrete group” that gets together to make stuff out of concrete. It’s totally irrelevant to me, but it was interesting to entertain the notion. One of the sessions was about a tech/hacker groups in Rhode Island, AS220 and DC401. One of them has a laser cutter. There was talk of shared work spaces where people can come to make crazy stuff that I can’t imagine. It was the first I have ever heard of hacker spaces, besides the occasional mention of MIT’s fab lab. I didn’t realize there was a huge, global following of this sort of thing.
I met a lot of great people that do interesting things. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch and hopefully seeing them again soon. Until then, check out the NEUGLS user group on Google or the PB Wiki for the event itself.