Meanwhile back home on Maui many parties are continuing discussions about opening a coworking space there. Obviously being back working in a coworking space has gotten my neurons firing on the subject as well so I had some thoughts to share.
I was super fortunate to have first dropped by PunSpace the day before a bi-weekly BeerCamp night they host. For those unfamiliar with BarCamp see wikipedia here, for BeerCamp however I quote the BarCamp Chaing Mai website:
Beercamp is a continuation of the discussions and connections that emerge from Barcamp. It’s a bi-weekly tech meetup. We get together every other Wednesday. Roughly half the time we have a presentation and/or discussion about a selected topic.
Not clearly stated in there is that they really have two things: BeerCamp (socializing) and BeerCamp+ (Socialiizing + a talk). I presume this is in part because they don’t always have a volunteer willing to speak. I actually think it’s brilliant , which Ibecuase it means people meet regardless of whether someone volunteers to speak or not lending consistencny of schedule and the more familar people get with eachother the more willing the shy ones are to share thier knowedlge.
This week one of the several ex-patriot business owners (runs a web development shop) gave a talk about “Programmer Optimization”. He was test running it as a talk he wanted to give in Singapore in a few months (I assume BarCamp Singapore). The talk was about 15 minutes and we had about 15 minutes open discussion/comment period afterward. We then all refilled beverages and hung out chatting for the rest of the night. Being Thailand the rest of the night invovled changing locations at 11pm to the Blah Blah Bar for late night food and more drinks. It was a GREAT intro to the coworking and ex-pat tech scene here, I’m glad I didn’t miss it. This is tech and ex-pat community at it’s finest.
Coworking Chickens and Eggs
I had many nice discussions with both members and owners of the coworking space. The thing that struck me was that there was a small, but active and growing, tech scene in Chiang Mai before the coworking space opened. The tech community seemed to be focused around BarCamp, TEDx and Creative Chiang Mai and it was a little ragged, but it existed and it had leaders. There exists a paradox as to which comes first, the nucleous that a coworking space can be, or the energized cloud of folks that orbit it. IMHO this hasn’t been, and needs to be, discussed in regards to Maui Coworking.
Seeing the evolution of tech and creativies here made me realize that one of the things lacking in Maui is any sort of tech/dev meetup where geeky creatives get their geeky creativeness on with like minded folks.
Neither MauiSMUG nor MauiWP is that venue. As many know, I’d really hoped MauiWP would someday be the spark to ignite that, but it’s not and I’ve come to realize why. The meetups are far too much community help group where new users come to learn and far too little sounding board for new ideas (don’t misunderstand, I love helping my community, but that is a while different mode from a user group).
Plain Wrap Tech
The Beercamp+ talk was pretty generic, it could be applied to anyone working on anything, not just a programmer. Someone who knitted for fun could easy draw analogs from the topics of avoiding burnout and maintaineing focus. I’m sure there are talks that are very narrowly focused, but the talk itself is only a small part of a BeerCamp night which is in part why I think it’ll work.
Bringing it Home
I’m thinking we need to reach out to a larger audience on Maui and put together some sort of BeerCamp+/BarCamp style gatherings. Something to start to build community around the creative tech arena. Such gatherings would principally be to build community (which I crave) but would also act as a gauge for the critical mass necessary to support a coworking space (something I also crave).
I feel the key to these gathering is that they would NOT be another user group nor a group where any one narrow thing defines it (ie. WordPress _or_ Social Media _or_ Drupal). It would try to draw a broad crowd. People could come for 15 minutes and leave, or stay for 4 hours if they saw fit. I know there are a few tech folks I see 2-3 times a year that I could try to pull out to an gathering like that. I also think the Maui Makers folks would be a perfect fit.
TechHui used to do socials of a sort on Maui, but I haven’t seen one in more than a year. Perhaps the approach is restarting those, or restarting those with a modification.
I wondering if I make any sense… please share your thoughts!
I’m also specifically wondering:
- if you know anyone you think might be interested in something like this?
- When and where to do it?
(One thought I had was piggybacking onto one of the Friday Town Parties to start, ie meet then mingle, or maybe with our own booth… maybe that’s crazy. I also seem to recall there is a Pau Hana or Maui Happy Hour group that meets somewhere, wonder when/where they do their thing. Finally, maybe something like what MSB did, start with some coffee meetups?)