Sometimes the answer really isn’t that hard.
We were recently having a lunch conversation and talking about how to get involved in the local tech community. Kevin simply stated “Just show up”. It was a stunningly simple answer.
To people that have had the great experience of being involved in the Philly tech scene this seems obvious. As a Gen ‘X’er that moved around the east coast during the dotCom days let me say this is an unual and fantastic community. Back in the day there was some feeling of elitism and you had to demonstrate some effort to be included in a ‘community’. Its true that a ‘noob (great word, best contribution of the ‘millenials’ so far ;) could show up at the local Linux install day and get some help setting up slackware on left over office equipment, but they were not taken seriously in the ‘real’ meetings.
When I moved in I had to throw down my triple homed T1 router built on freeBSD just to get a slice of pizza.
Things have absolutely changed. I showed up at the ‘mashable.com/Indy hall party’ last night and the converstations were easily flowing. I sat down at some random table and got into a CMS discussion contrasting my recent Alfresco for the portal action to UPenn’s current e-learning on drupal issues. We talked about Scala v Groovy and I even met the previous manager of one of my developers (Found he also takes credit for John’s great work!). I’m thinking the guy who recommend not using the front brake to stop my motorcycle was from a differnet crowd. (note: saying that the 10% extra braking of the front wheel stop the bike is not worth the risk of fishtailing is wrong. Bikes have 2 wheels and 2 brakes for a reason. I’m not telling you what is right because some things should not be learned from a blog. Take the MSF course, please. I don’t have many readers here so I’d hate to lose one)
So in short if you want to be involved, just show up.
On a related professional note I have been reading an enjoying Adrenaline Junkies and Template Zombies: Understanding Patterns of Project Behavior . It is a humorous take on the project management side of software development. It uses the concept of ‘design patterns’ to discuss behavours (and solutions). The one common one that I see professionally is the ‘Movie Critic’. This is the person that shows up 3 months after the project starts with an ‘opinion’. Sometimes you can’t just say “where was this opinoin back when we needed it’. Perhaps these people felt that there was a high barrier of entry to get into the project at an earlier phase? We have internal blogs, wiki’s and even do development co-located around big tables. Everyone is welcome. People just need to know they are welcome.
So if there is something you care about please just get up and do it!
‘Just Show Up’
(except riding a motorcycle, that can mess you up. Get some in-person professional advice. 99% uptime is not good enough on a bike)