Wednesday 9 October 2013

vJUG: One small step for JUGs, one giant leap for JUG-kind

What's the problem?

I love community, networking and interactions with other geeks, that's why I married one! :) The greatest thing about Java User Groups (JUGs) isn't just the great content, but also the close knit community, the beers and chatting/networking with like-minded geeks talking tech and sharing ideas. I’m an active leader of the LJC (London JUG) and speak at events as well as organiser for the LJC Open Conference (Happening this Nov 23rd ;) ). I've actually considered moving into London for this community alone. I currently live 45 mins outside, and it takes me over 2 hours round trip to visit or attend a session. With a new(ish) job and family, this really isn't viable. But it got me thinking… there must be hundreds of thousands of Java developers around the world who, just like me, don't have an accessible local Java community. There are likely many others who are close to a local community, but don't meet regularly, or maybe it isn't active at all. So, enough talk, let's see some action!

What's the solution?

I've created a new JUG, the virtualJUG, that's applicable to everyone with an internet connection! It aims to plug the hole for people who either don't live near an active JUG, who want to interact and get some community networking. Well, it's open to people who do live near an active JUG too if they need a tech-top-up! You can join now and stay connected with all the exciting sessions we have in the pipeline, by joining our meetup group right now! Or see what other things we need right now at the bottom of this blog! Of course the vJUG is entirely free to join and use.

So where's the community?

Clearly local JUGs provide a community that the vJUG will never compete with and it's not in our interest to do so! We want to work *with* local JUGs to give their content a better outreach and be the platform through which, if they choose to stream sessions, can be pushed and advertised to the wider Java community. We're already working with the LJC (London JUG) to be the place they live stream their sessions from - cool!

Interaction! Interaction! Interaction!

I'm a hater of a one way dull presentation whether it's being presented live or as an online webinar. So I intend to make sessions as interactive as possible! How? Here are some of my ideas:

Panel discussions - multiple speakers with interactive discussions, possibly based on Q&A from the audience

Attendee driven sessions - live polls to determine the direction of the session, or heavy Q&A sections

IRC chat - chat rooms live throughout the presentation, so attendees can agree, disagree, vent, ask questions and discuss what it happening without needing to stop the session to ask.

Anything else? If you can think of other ideas, let me know!

What types of sessions we be looking to run?

  • Presentations
  • Live Demos
  • Panel discussions
  • Live Streams of JUG meetings

Also by joining the community you'll get links via newsletters collating what we've been up to, what's going on outside the community and what is coming up, as well as which sessions have been most popular, so you can look them up again on Parleys or watch for the first time if you missed them! Essentially, we're your proactive calendar that throws content at you :)

Call to Action!

What are you waiting for? Sign up now!!! But more importantly, please share this blog post far and wide so our community can grow and help others techies around the world.

You own a JUG or community? Awesome, you can help too! Get your members to join up and ask them if they'd like to present at the vJUG! Make your community famous by reaching out, streaming to, or presenting at the vJUG!

We're also looking into options that allow for feature rich video streaming for large numbers of attendees and chat environments, like IRC that outlive the webinar. Let us know if you have any recommendations or suggestions.

Our first sessions will be announced shortly on the meetup site and on twitter!

You can contact me directly on twitter @sjmaple. This is also where I’ll initially be talking about the vJUG and letting you know what’s happening.