2 Jun 2016

GeoDev Meetup Review

Submitted by geobug

I went to a GeoDev meetup in Sacramento tonight. I love these things. Whenever they roll around to Sacramento, I get myself there. If you're in my corner of the world, you can watch this board for GeoDev meetups. (There's always a GeoDev meetup at ESRI UC as well, by the way, so if you're fortunate enough to be heading out to San Diego at the end of the month, check that out. Sadly geobug is grounded this year, but I'll be wistfully following the conference on twitter and instagram.)

Our local Sacramento GeoDev meetups are always at Hacker Lab, which is a local co-working/maker space. It's a fun environment. Cork boards with classes in programming languages on the walls and white boards with job postings, couches and desks and nooks and crannies to work in, and pretty awesome workshop in the back for everything from metal working to 3D printing to textile arts. It's the kind of space that inspires you to make a thing.

I go to a couple of different groups like this. I heartily recommend them. Back 15 years ago when I was starting in GIS, knew no one in the field, and had zero co-workers that understood exactly what I did, they were invaluable, both for the free training and for keeping sane in a world where nobody I knew could use the word "georeference" properly in a sentence.

I go to a more standard GIS user group for the Sacramento area, which I enjoy as well, but it's a little more buttoned up. It's during the work day. It's downtown in a government building. There will be coffee. There will be three or four presenters. They will have power point presentations that will be well-organized and well-thought-out. We will sit in chairs in the audience and politely hold our questions until the end. There will be an abundance of polo shirts and dress shirts in the room.

The GeoDev meetups are in the evening. (These are the programmers, not the managers, you see. They've got stuff to get done 9-5.) There will be free beer and usually sausages. The talks are lightening talks, and there may or may not be hecklers. There will be trivia questions, and if you answer correctly, your swag will be hurled at you, unless it's a pint glass. (Tonight I scored a t-shirt.) There will also be a certain amount of mingling. I suck at the mingling part, but there's enough people about that are surprisingly good at it, so that I find myself engaged in conversation anyway.

Whether you tend towards dress shirts and coffee or trivia and beer, I advocate finding yourself a group that speaks your language. There aren't many of us in GIS that get out for field work, but getting out from behind the desk for what you do is a good thing. Listen to people who are bending the same tech to applications that will never apply to you. Shake some hands and talk to some people [gulp]. It stretches your brain in new directions.