Hanging with the GTUG managers…

Prior to Google IO 2011, there was an opportunity to meet with GTUG managers from all over the world for the GTUG Managers Barcamp. Google hosted a session in their lovely San Francisco offices.

We have not been hugely involved with the larger GTUG community to date, tending to focus more on the local environment in Dublin, but this event provided the opportunity to learn how other folks run their GTUGs and what similarities and differences there are.

A few things struck me:

  • we are lucky to have such excellent support from Google – having the venue and the logistical support (from Jean) is something that most GTUGs don’t have and is something that does require resources (both time and money) to address;
  • we have been lucky to have had some attention from the DevRels – many of the GTUGs are keen to get more DevRels and we have already had Ade and Claudio come to visit in a relatively short space of time (we also had Nick Johnson give a talk when he was based in Dublin). I guess this is somewhat a function of how easy it is to get to Dublin from London and the fact that Google has a big presence in Dublin;
  • it’s interesting to note that there is a significant amount of people hanging around the startup world who are involved in GTUGs – I had never really thought about this, but there seems to be some nice synergy between Google and startups;

The event was run in unconference format, so there was a very wide diversity in the discussions – ranging from down’n’dirty tech discussions to what kind of emotions should people be leaving a GTUG event with.

I came away from the event feeling that we should have had more focus on what people feel is the primary purpose of their GTUG – they can (and do) fill many functions to varying degrees, eg providing feedback to Google, educational instruments, communities, recruitment grounds, etc. Answering the other questions around how to run them well should probably start with clarification on this. (Of course, my bad for not pushing this in the unconference format).

Another issue which I didn’t get a handle on was whether people largely think their GTUGs are working well, are not working well, or could be better. We feel that our group is largely working well, although there is always room for improvement.

Some nice ideas that came out of the event, which we may consider doing in Dublin:

  • have some kind of development competition which could run over a few weeks – eg people have to create a mobile app and there is some adjudication mechanism and a winner who might get a new phone (for example);
  • have a series of talks on a single technology – get really into the nitty gritty on one particular topic over a few months – it does require a bit of planning and choosing a topic in which there is sufficient interest, but this was reported to have worked well;
  • do something which is more of a fun event and probably would not be in Google – some kind of tech focused pub crawl (whatever that might actually be) might be interesting;
  • we should keep an eye on who’s speaking at nearby GTUGs and see if we can get some speakers from those events over if they are not so far away.

The last idea which Dan Franc from the Czech GTUG talked about was getting Miss Czech republic in for an event as a means to attract people – it was certainly an idea which involved thinking outside the box, although I’m not entirely sure it would work for us. D’you reckon we should make Emma Waldron an honorary GTUG member? 😉

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About morphousmusings
Engineer, thinker, tinker, drinker, talker, walker, hiker, biker, liker, lover

One Response to Hanging with the GTUG managers…

  1. Jos says:

    Hi there, I haven’t been involved in any DGTUG session yet (only discovered the group recently so waiting for new events to happen) but it sounds like you guys are doing a great job.

    Regarding the ideas you mention, I think there are some very good ones there.
    I especially like the competition but it might need a bit more thinking if you want to run it for a couple of weeks. I guess it depends who you are targeting. Students will have more time to work on it during the summer, and might do it for a new phone, but you might get a bigger response from more experienced developers if they get other kind of rewards (a featured app maybe?).
    You mention the good vibes between google and startups… could that be a group/profile to focus on?

    I also like the idea of going deep into a single technology, but not sure it goes well with the more casual nature of tech groups. As you say, planning and an interesting topic could make it happen, but in my opinion it should not replace completely other sessions in the group. You could lose some members if you replace normal session with these ones, not only the guys that are not interested in the topic, but people that miss a session or two might end up feeling that it’s too much work to catch up.

    Involving Miss Ireland in the group would probably mean full house the one evening she’s there; not sure it would have any effect on people’s willingness to collaborate, share, and learn 🙂

    Anyway, this is only my opinion and as I said, I’ve no idea how the group is working right now, so I can be completely wrong! looking forward to getting involved in new events.

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