After reading Ryan Funduk‘s post on exclusion, my feelings are two-fold (at least):
- yes, life’s like high school. Who told you that it’d anything different just because people get older?
- yes, the Brogrammer trend with ninjas and gurus and rockstars and “poster names” is clear and parts of it’s really sad (I’d say most social structures look like this, regardless of industry or age)
- no, you’re partially wrong about social events like very specific tech conferences.
- no, the industry I “play” in does organize events and meetups like the ones suggested => is my community an exception?
Regarding meetups (4)
I’ve only been to one meetup where a pub or bar is the venue – Gothenburg Scrum Beers. We do however make sure we get a room on our own. And people eat – one typically needs food after work. Having a beer (or cola as in my case) doesn’t lead to everyone getting drunk. It may be more than that 1 glass/day recommendation, but it’s far from bar fights and even over consumption.
The other ones: JDojo@Gbg, GothPy, Scala Geats, CocoaHeads Göteborg, Android Göteborg, Javaforum, nforum, Cadec, Developer’s night(s) – is mostly organized in members’ offices, and pizza is common. If there’s a company backing the whole thing up (as in more than providing a venue), it’s common to see an alcohol option (whine or beer) when it comes to beverages. (Non-alcoholic options are typically sodas and bottled water.) Javaforum (and Cadec) from time to time has had these “after pubs”, where typically 50 people out of the 200 that attended the talks hang around for another hour and talk about tech, jobs in general and code. A sponsor has payed for the beer, but again – non-alcohol options are there and I’d say it’s a 50/50 distribution.
So, I don’t see that Meetups – or simply reoccuring user group meetings – has this Brogrammer issue, nor the epic bar rounds. I really think it’s hard to feel excluded at these events.
Regarding conferences (3)
a) Yes I agree in that very few conferences really provides the possibility to spend time in a hacker’s lounge (as opposed to speaker’s lounge), hack nights etc. I’ve been proposing this several times but I guess not enough of us (me?) voice this request. (It’s also related to closing hours and cost for “another room”.)
b) Some conferences, or rather those with a very narrow audience, is to a large extent a social gathering of people that typically don’t meet in person (IRL if you like). They hang out at IRC channels, mailing lists and the sorts and thus really look forward to meet in person and have a great time. FOSDEM is such an event. While coding, hacking and talking tech certainly is great and fun (at least I think so, which is why Squeed’s tankesmedjor (Swedish for thought/think forge) are so awesome – we start out “working” and then progressively move towards “playing” in the evening/night, the difference really being how organized it is), if that’s what you do on a day to day basis – you can’t really blame people for doing other crazy things when the actually do meet in person.
That means, if you’re not part of that IRC/mailing list/community – you’ll feel you’re not there for the same reason, or even feel excluded to various degrees.
With FOSDEM, as an example – a free to attend conference – the alcohol/beer culture is a problem (that leads to the risk of leaving people feeling excluded). The official t-shirt even has “beer” on it, in one of six bubbles. (I’ve personally only been to one of the Beer Events (It was loud, first beer was free and not conference-only, so it was really crowded), and typically skip these since I don’t know a lot of people, and you can easily meet other people.)
I might’ve read Ryan’s post completely wrong. I don’t think Ryan’s wrong. I think he points to some problems we do have, but I’d like to stress that the industry I see is more diverse. (And I wrote this after seeing some of my local peers retweeting the link to his blog post.)
(I also have this line of thought where commercially “bigger is better”, and people that organize these parties are typically the ones sitting at marketing budgets/money and for them, their success is measured on “bigness”, thus organizing a big, “impressive” party is in the nature of their program – “one hell of a party” is rewarded with a raise, bigger budget, what have you… An awesome hack night might not hit the blogosphere/twitter stream and/or is harder to “visualize” to people sitting on the money.)
(Before I moved to Göteborg, I used to organize hakkernight(s) – hack events with demo scene like competitions and such but also a largely social event. Used to attract 256+ people and there was always a question of what to do with alcohol. Since it was open to non-adults, officially it was a totally non-alcohol event, but nothing prevented people from going out to eat and have a beer (or three). We had our school pay for a security guard, and that was all. The guards never had anything to do.)