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The Future of the Bay Area HTM Meetup Group

From: user 6.
Sent on: Thursday, April 2, 2009 1:41 AM
Hello All Members of the Bay Area HTM Group,

My name is Greg Slater. I am currently the 'interim manager' of the HTM group simply because last Sunday night, rather than let the group die, I paid the $19 necessary to keep it going for the month. I am sending this mail to everyone to let you know the status of things and ask for feedback and suggestions as to where we all want to go from here. I have no particular interest in running the group. In the last three days I have received mails from David Weir and Mike Lee indicating their willingness to take over the management. I am happy to have someone else take over. However, having forked over the $19 to keep it from dying, I'd like to at least send this message to all members making my suggestions and asking for everyone else's preferences, about what, if anything, becomes of this group. I think it's always a good idea to get feedback from the group. There are currently 113 members of the group, although in looking at the list the majority haven't checked in for months, so are very casual members at best (nuthin' wrong with that).

There are really only two points that I wanted to make, and then ask you for your ideas and suggestions in return:

First and formost, I think the British Bankers Club is a terrible place to meet for several reasons:

1. It's so noisy everybody is always saying 'What?... What??...', and you can't possibly hear what someone at the other end of the table is saying.
2. You only have room for a handful of the 113 members.
3. I come to talk about HTMs not order high priced drinks.
4. (Very important!) - Anywhere we meet should have frickin' blackboards! This is just obvious. This is non-negotiable.

Think about it - Donna Dubinsky made the analogy at last year's workshop between the current devotees of HTMs to the Homebrew Computer Club of yesteryear, and I think it's a great and honorable comparison. Did the HCC meet in the BBC and buy drinks? No! They met in the SLAC auditorium, where there was ample seating for everyone, good acoustics, and blackboards to write and brainstorm on. Therefore, we need to get a place with 1. acoustics, 2. enough seats, 3. black (or white) boards. It might take some research but there's gotta be some classroom or other available in the area (with the money we save on drinks we can probably rent a place). The BBC is a pickup and sports bar, not an HTM bar. No we need a classroom somewhere, and I wanna put this to the members of the (henceforth) Homebrew HTM Club. I am open to other venues that come close to satisfying these requirements.

This is what I'd like to poll the members on, rather than assuming that endless meetings at the BBC are what everyone wants.

If you agree that a better venue is needed to meet the requirements for a group like this, then we need to look for a place - preferably one we can use for free - perhaps a meeting room at one our work places, an elementary school classroom, a community center, etc. So please send suggestions and possibilities for a better meeting place. On the other hand, if you actually dig having our meetings in the British Bankers Club, I'd like to hear that, too.

Second, I'd like to hear back from people as to what they want out of this group, and how they would like to run the meetings. I see the meetings as means for:

1. Getting to know the people in the HTM community (that's us)
2. Getting ideas about how HTMs are being used by all of us
3. Setting up collaborations between members
4. Discussing particulars of HTM implementation, and algorithms, problem solving, and tutoring each other
5. Brainstorming about new ideas
6. I dunno - starting new companies
7. Socializing

Please reply with your ideas as to what you most would like to get out of our group and our meetings.

As for the ultimate manager of the group, I am happy to hand it off to anyone (e.g., David or Mike, or anyone else) who is enthusiastic, motivated, creative, and full of ideas.

As for the next meeting, I'll probably schedule it for April 20 unless there is a groundswell in favor of another particular date. If we can't line up another meeting place before then we may have to meet at the BBC one last time (or if, incomprehensibly to me, most people actually like meeting at the BBC).

In any case, please let's hear everyone's thoughts on the future of, what I'd like to call, the 'Homebrew HTM Club'

Whaddya say? Let me know what you think.


- Greg Slater, interim manager of the HTM Group

p.s. - Note that all replies will go to the entire group

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