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Re: Meeting Agendas and Organization

On Tue, Oct 26, 1999 at 01:07:24PM -0500, Burke, Jason wrote:
> I've been wanting to do an installfest since earlier this year,
> but I just can't find anywhere suitable to have it at. With the
> research and collections building getting back in order it 
> may be a possibility to have it there, but we'll have to speak
> with Erich about it first. I've come to the conclusion that 
> the museum is our only ally for getting things done since
> no other entity seems interested (I've tried to get LRS to 
> host LinuxMentors, and the Installfest, but I haven't gotten
> any positive response back about it). 

At the last Perl Mongers meeting (my debut for PM, that was so poorly
attended, snif snif :-), Erich showed off the new layout for the
room.  We were thinking that it's even better suited now for install
fests, as it allows one group to be in the middle of installs while
another has a speaker, tutorials, etc., without them bothering each

I will agree that the museum deserves mega kudos for their helpfulness 
(and Erich, too, for coordinating).  I wonder, however, if there
aren't other Linux-friendly organizations out there that would jump in 
if they were aware.  I certainly haven't done much footwork to places
like UIS or LincolnLand (doesn't one of them have an all-Linux
computer lab?)  Perhaps others have not been as lazy as I...?

> However, I don't think that the installfest is the only (or best) 
> way to help out our new members. Your idea for doing a quick
> presentation on the different commands is great, and this is
> exactly what I'm talking about: thinking outside the box and
> coming up with creative solutions to our issues. Now if we
> could only get the older, and more experienced members to
> join in this talk I'm sure we could get some really good ideas.

Challenge seen and well met. (I hope. :-)

> In any event, one of the biggest problems we have is how to
> accommodate varying levels of skill while keeping it interesting
> for everyone, and maintaining some type of group direction
> overall. At this point the group has been very reactionary by
> having meetings based on what's going on in the industry,
> but I think we'll be better served by trying to be more 
> informative about the system rather than current events. 

It is tempting, though, especially for us long-timers.  Just two years 
ago, remember, an off-the-cuff wisecrack from people like John Dvorak
would have been considered "major media exposure".  It's heady as heck 
to have lived through the lean years and see all your predictions come 

All the same, I don't think that it's necessarily bad to have some
"current events" at each meeting, even if we do cut it back a bit.

I would be inclined to agree that a bit more structure might be nice;
OTOH, I wouldn't go so far as to have published schedules.  There's
nothing so stifling as a "schedule" attitude, where important topics
can't be given the treatment they deserve.  But certainly an informal
outline would be nice: about 15 minutes of mingling, followed by a
call to order, then a few minutes of "current events", some Q&A, some
group business, followed by a speaker or two, with optional breaks
where appropriate.

I'm sure there will be more discussion about this tonight, but here
are some ideas I've got:

 - Speaker rotation.  This is in no way a slight to Steve, who has
done a great job of things so far (and who has, I should say, been the
one person to stand up and do the gritty work of leading the meetings,
as well as other things).  However, having different faces up at the
podium gives off the impression better that we encourage active
participation.  Perhaps if we had a cadre of "permanent speaker
volunteers" in a rotation, with the understanding that anyone else
with a topic could insert themselves on a one-time basis or decide to
join the rotation?  If this were considered a good idea, I wouldn't
mind joining the rotation.  Anyone else?

 - Perhaps some of the topics could be hands-on tutorials.  If the
Museum is willing, we could use some of that lab equipment they're
getting (and already have) for this.  Even if people had to share,
they would likely take more away from this than a standard tutorial. 

 - We could likely use the Web site more than we do for managing
stuff.  As with most things, this falls into the area of "problems
waiting for time to implement a solution."

I will agree with one thing Kara said, however.  Participation is
key.  Hopefully, no one is afraid to take the bull by the horns and
say, "Hey, I'd like to speak at next meeting on fooing bars with
bazes, is that OK?"  Or even "I've got some cool info, can I put it up 
on the Web site?"  Or whatever.

In the interest of practicing what I preach, I volunteer to lead the
meeting next time.  (Not tonight; I'm sure Steve is just bubbling with 
fun news from ALS. :-)  Who will join me?

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