The Next NYTM

December 22, 2008   

It's been a little over a week since I became the Organizer-elect of the New York Tech Meetup; and since then, I've spent most of my time working with others to shape the next phase of the largest organization in NY technology. While part of this has meant meeting up with the current stakeholders in the NYTM (Scott & Dawn), most of my work has been around three areas: Listening to the Community; Forming the NYTM Board; Planning my Community Committee; and, Planning January's Meetup.

Here's are the updates I can share in each of those areas and how you can get involved:

Listening to the Community

In the last week, I've received dozens of emails, engaged in many conversations on the NYTM listserv, and read several blog posts relating to the future of the NYTM and the NY tech community. I've also met face-to-face with several folks, including my friend Sanford (who posted this after the election) to recap all of the ideas shared.

Of the many things I've heard, I think Sanford's actions of openning some of his schedule -- as a comunity resource -- is a large part of what's needed from the community at large. I'm glad he and I see eye-to-eye on this stuff. It's not a coincidence we were #1 & #2 in that election and both instituted "office hours" in the same week.

So, one way you can be involved in changing the NY tech community is by openning yourself up to the larger NYTM community and also doing some version of office hours. Get people in your door and meet folks you wouldn't ordinarily meet. Go visit people you'd like to learn more about. We could have a culture of connectedness here -- and that wouldn't be a bad place to start.

Forming the NYTM Board

As Scott mentioned back in November, the new NYTM will have a board to guide and preserve the future of the New York Tech Meetup, as well as serve the broader NY tech community. Forming the first board is almost complete and is being handled mostly by Dawn and Scott. For the sake of transparency, you should know that I lobbied to make this Board full of our tech community's greatest luminaries and that they represent a diverse constituency. I felt that the board needed folks who had been around the longest and had the most information and resources to share. I'm excited to see how my input on the matter ends up shaping the next Board. Regardless of its composition, I'm sure it will make our community stronger in the longest run.

Planning the Community Committee

"Community Committee," "Organizer Committee," "Organizer Board": this is the group I've spoken most about, am most excited about and have had the hardest trouble naming (partially because the name means the least while the work will be the most important).

At the next Meetup, I'll unveil the final plan, but already I've shared a lot about how I see this committee working out:

The Community Committee will the the source of coordination and communication throughout the ecosystem. It will be a 10 - 15 member committee comprised of community organizers and connectors: folks who have deep and broad knowledge about the NY tech community and have displayed a tendency to disseminate that information among the ecosystem's many communities.

The purpose of the committee is to provide coordination among those organizers, rather than forcing coordination upon the organizations themselves. It's about system optimization, not re-engineering or replacing.

So, using lightweight tools, the Community Committee will task itself with making sure critical information and networks traverse the ecosystem and that community stakeholders are strengthened by the rest of the Community Committee and their networks.

Besides the requirement to be deeply involved and connected in the broader community, being a part of this committee will also require specialized knowledge of specific sectors of the community. We need your expertise! As with the Board, I believe linking diverse groups together is mission critical for our community. And lastly, the biggest requirement is being bought into the idea that the most important work in this community will go unrecognized. I've always found that community organizers who want to be front and center get the least done. Everyone involved in this, including me, will have to be comfortable enjoying seeing the fruits of their labor in the success of others. Self-promoters need not apply.

PS: Info on how to apply will come at the next Meetup, or just drop me a note any time.

Planning January's Meetup

There's still a lot I have to learn from Scott and Dawn about running the Meetup, but before the New Year look for information in your inbox on how to apply to present at the next Meetup. The Meetup will still be at IAC for the next few months so it will still only fit 400 people. As for selecting the presentations for the next Meetup, be aware that I'm going to try a combination of curation from yours truly (as it has been in the past) as well as community voting.

Stay tuned.

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