[kwlug-disc] communitech?

Andrew Kohlsmith (Mailing List Account) aklists at mixdown.ca
Mon Dec 21 16:44:54 EST 2009

On December 21, 2009 02:18:40 pm Bob Jonkman wrote:
> For some presentations it's a good thing for other members to be able to
> ask questions, and get into debates on some small minutiae. Some of the
> best presentations I've seen are the ones that are derailed completely
> from the original topic, but with great audience participation (not so
> much at KWLUG, but other UGs I've been to)

You see, this is one of the (smaller) reasons why I generally don't attend LUG 
meetings. (The single biggest reason is time.) If I wanted to see a 
presentation about X but the presentation beforehand runs over or the X 
presentation derails into some debate about something I really don't care 
about then the presentation has failed. I won't say I've wasted my time, but I 
will say that I did not get out of the presentation what I made the effort to 
come down to see it for.

I've given plenty of presentations at various venues and I think it's exactly 
this "feel-good doesn't really matter kind of hang-about" that is hurting the 
group, not helping it.

Debating minutiae (that is *such* a cool word, BTW) or derailments are what 
the time AFTER presentations are for, IMO. It seems we are trying to draw 
people to the LUG for the presentations, but then treating the presentations 
as an afterthought.

I'm one of the LAST opinions that should be given much weight since I do 
attend so infrequently, but I think that Robert has a point here. I am 
absolutely thrilled that people volunteer to speak, but I believe that an 
attempt should be made to stay on topic and on time, if for no other reason 
than to be courteous to the next presenter and the audience. This is also 
something I would suggest to the audience, BTW. Not everyone is interested in 
your alternative pet project that is like the presenter's. Feel free to 
mention it and then volunteer to do your own presentation next time, but let 
us hear what the presenter has volunteered his or her time and effort to share 
with us.

> It's already scary enough for many people to participate. Adding the
> irrelevant burden of a dress code, time limit and punctuality, and KWLUG
> will lose a large pool of talent. I have no qualms about wearing a
> business suit for a client, but KWLUG is a group of friends.

Agreed; I have presented to the kw-pm group a couple of times and it's very 
informal and friendly, same as the TAUG people as well as our own KWLUG 
people. Public speaking is always kind of nerve-wracking. I cannot speak for 
everyone who's presented but I know that I volunteer not only because I want 
to share knowledge, but also because I'd like to get some presenting practise 

Our presenters are volunteering; obviously we are not going to crucify them if 
they go over or have their presentation derail, but I don't think it's an 
unreasonable expectation that they attempt to stay on time and on topic.

> That wouldn't be a presentation for KWLUG. We're a user group, not a
> show-for-hire. We do the things we want to do, not things others want to
> do, or things others want us to do.

Yet every month we scramble to find topics or speakers... I think that another 
source of suggestions is a good thing. Who cares if the suggestions come from 
the venue holder? They're suggestions, and the worst that can happen is they 
say "uh, we're giving you the space for free" and we'd have to find another.  
Honestly though, I'd worry about this kind of problem AFTER it happens, not 
before. I'd imagine anyone volunteering space is going to be mildly curious as 
to what we're doing with it, and will become at least somewhat involved in the 
LUG. At that point, they're a regular member like any of the rest of us, and 
we're now taking suggestions from our own folk again... so no problem.

> I'll go to a meeting anywhere, a church, a bar, or a community room, but
> KWLUG shouldn't have to change its makeup, character or focus to make
> use of it. It may be necessary to *define* the makeup, character or
> focus of KWLUG in order to get the use of the church, bar or room, and
> wea're doing some of that right now.

I mostly agree with this, but I think that having at least a focus minimally 
defined as more than "general interest in Open Source and Linux" will help us 
find speakers, topics and maybe even a venue. Despite some of our most 
productive and volunteering members (and god bless you guys, I know I couldn't 
put in the time and planning that you guys are volunteering!), we're still 
mostly coasting, and I think the lack of focus is driving people away.


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