Austin Groovy and Grails Users Message Board › Expert Panel Concerns

Expert Panel Concerns

Janelle Klein
janellekz
Austin, TX
Post #: 7
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Ryan & Rob,
I know this has been announced already, but I've got a couple concerns.

I spent a lot of effort dismantling the 'expert' pedestal in Agile Austin, as it has encouraged really funky behavior in the community... People start looking up to a few folks blessed as experts, and stop having peer-level discussions. I think people lose the confidence to think for themselves, stepping outside the expected norm and figuring out problems on their own. It's been a long road for me in trying to restore balanced community discussion.

When a community grows as big as Agile Austin, they have a lot of influence over community thought by who they put on stage. This influence starts to attract business interest because the community's blessing of authority brings in $$. The interests of the group become conflicted, because money helps it to grow. But at the same time, the content starts to drift away from the best interests of the community.

While I don't think any harm was ever intended in AA, one of the reasons I felt compelled to get involved was to try and repair some of the imbalance. I know this group is just getting started, but I'd hate to see it walk down this same path.

The best way I've found to encourage balanced discussion, is to demote the importance of the stage. It already carries imbalance by being a stage, the expert label just increases it. Encourage participants to question speakers, and participate in discussions. Frame the discussion and mediate for balance. Also I think taking the expert label off takes the pressure off the panelists to have to be expert-like. I don't know, is a great answer. Finding people doing a variety of types of applications in Grails would be an awesome panel - whether they've been at it 6 months or 5 years.

This may seem like a small thing, but I think it's important for anyone leading community groups to be aware of. New Iron is even getting stage time out of it, but our primary mission is to promote talent in the community. Since it's something I've dedicated a lot of energy to over the past few years, I'm just quick to express concern.

Sincerely,

Janelle
Ryan Vanderwerf
rvanderwerf
Group Organizer
Austin, TX
Post #: 27
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Good points Janelle, thanks for the feedback. I'm fine changing it to be a community panel as long as you want to be on it :)
(You don't have to but that is an invitation). Joking aside the intention I had wad to make it like the agile austin panel Lee had me on once, but I wanted the group to get some technical value too. That and we were busy and didn't have a speaker lined up :)

I think a talk on Spock and Geb will hit the mark but none of us had the cycles to develop a talk. I do enjoy the informal stuff like AA does as it's a refreshing change of pace.

Cheers,

Ryan


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