On Tech Community Events
8 min read
Events are happenings. Community events are moments of bonding and celebration. They are a means through which others out there get to know about the tech community in question.
Community leads/organizers together with the core team plan and execute community events. They announce the events ahead of time to get a good number of attendees. Events have an aim. They could be technical, inspirational, for entertainment purposes, etc.
Based on Location
Community Events are either physical or virtual, based mainly on where the event takes place.
There will be a live/physical location where attendees meet for the event. Attendees get to meet other community members face-to-face, spend all the time, and make new friends. The events usually take place for over hours or a whole day.
During in-person/physical events, attendees could receive swags or eat food or snacks.
Physical events are in most cases organized by local communities. That is communities within a school campus or a town or city.
In rare large-scale cases, there are also community events that could have a large number of attendees. These huge events are usually organized by popular tech brands. Like OSCAFest by Open Source Community Africa, Google I/O, Facebook F8, etc.
Physical events were very popular till the COVID pandemic when people could not meet physically for health reasons. As a result, the number of hosted physical events has drastically gone down since 2020.
Online events take place over video conferencing platforms like Google Meet, Messenger Rooms, Microsoft Teams, Telegram Calls, Zoom, ... Anybody anywhere can join these events as there is no constraint of physical location or transport cost.
Virtual events are common with large online communities, given that people join in from anywhere. Most virtual events take place for a short period of time: an hour, two, or rarely three hours.
Virtual events or webinars are very popular now as a result of the COVID pandemic.
This is an uncommon mixture of both physical and virtual properties of an event at the same time.
So people can meet physically in a given location, but then the event could be live-streamed for others to have access. Another format of this mixture is that people who can't be at the venue can join the event virtually through video conferencing, but then there will be some main device capturing the physical event.
Hybrid events are also seen in cases where speakers and event attendees could be in far different locations. So the speaker(s) could join through video conferencing, while the attendees listen. It is also common to host watch parties. In that case, an event is been live-streamed for people who met physically.
Based on Aim/Agenda/Format
The aim of an event determines the agenda or format of the event. The event's aim also determines its activities and venue. Events can be split into different types based on how the event proceeds and its aims.
All the following event types could either be physical or virtual.
This is the common name for events by tech communities. You will hear the word "meetup" several times in community spaces (especially in-person/physical communities).
At a basic level, all community events are meetups because as the name implies, it's just people "meeting" together.
Meetups are commonly used to gather community members on some periodic bases (weekly, monthly, every two weeks, ...). Meetups take different structures depending on the current goals of the tech community in question, or the choices of the lead/core team.
1. Info Sessions
These are kind of introductory meetups. They are commonly used for awareness. An info session is kind of a launch event.
Info sessions are like announcing that a new chapter of a tech community is just beginning. A newly appointed community lead can host an info session to start a community or to continue an existing community while communicating their goals for their tenure.
Info sessions could also be used to introduce bootcamps or competitions.
As the name implies, info sessions are aimed at informing attendees. The agenda could involve demos, games, speakers speaking, or whatever the core team decides. The event would be aimed at engaging the members for whatever would be coming next.
Generally, it is not common to see info sessions being held.
2. Speaker Sessions
Very popular. The model is simple, some speaker(s) speaks to the audience. Speakers usually inform the audience about some rare-to-find secrets or inspire them to take some action in their career paths.
Whether physical or virtual, speaker sessions usually have a presentation of slides. Slides visually help the audience to understand what the speaker is saying. Slides contain text and sometimes graphics that the audience could refer to after the event, to remember things the speaker said.
Speaker sessions are usually on career topics or soft skills. These events educate community members on things that are rarely found in tutorials (like collaborating, getting jobs, personal branding, ...).
Speaker sessions are not quite interactive given that there is a speaker on stage. The event might incorporate a little game to drive activity from attendees. In speaker sessions, attendees can ask questions to the speaker(s) towards the end of their session to clarify ideas or opinions.
3. Study Jams/Hands-on Workshops
This is where technology meets community members. These are events where community members learn a technology or acquire some skills.
Study Jams are events where community members are clustered in study groups. In these groups, members learn stuff and improve themselves from resources provided by the community.
Workshops are interactive mentor-led study sessions. The mentors outline step-by-step instructions that community members are to follow. Then as the community members follow these instructions, they learn the needful. The mentors could check learners' work and help remove any blockers they may experience.
Study Jams and Workshops enable community members to practically get better at some skill/technology. It could be cloud computing, technical writing, user interface design, ...
These events broaden the knowledge of its participants. Should in case participants in the future do not want to follow the peculiar skill path being learned, they would have understood the basics of that skill/technology.
Hacking is about exploiting vulnerabilities. Marathons are about speed. Hackathons are about coding competitions.
Hackathons could be open for days/weeks or could take place just in a day. They are an avenue in which developers can showcase how far they've gone in their skills.
Hackathons are competitions and competitions have prices. Winners of hackathons always go with their rewards. In fact, the rewards are announced before the hackathon starts. This motivates participants to compete.
Hackathons take different formats. At times, they could require competitors to build some big project over time in a team, or they could require them to complete a small task quickly while being timed (alone).
Hackathons are fun events that boost winners' self-esteem. Participate in any upcoming hackathons near you.
These are intensive learning events. They span for weeks or months. Bootcamps are a series of events where community members learn skills together.
Unlike study jams or workshops, bootcamps are not one-time events. However, bootcamps could incorporate them at various intervals. Bootcamps could also have meetups or speaker sessions in between the series.
In most cases, participants of bootcamps build projects towards the end of the bootcamp. The built project proves that the participant is actually graduating with the acquired skill.
Furthermore, most communities open participation in bootcamps to the public. That is other persons who are not community members are allowed to participate.
#30DaysOfCode, #10DaysOfDesign, ... could easily be organized as bootcamp programs.
6. Demo Days
A demo day is an event where community members showcase to the public what software they had built.
It is not easy to build projects. Displaying what you built is one way of being rewarded for building. After community members have built some solutions or created innovative apps, they could deploy them. Then on the demo day, they can showcase these digital products to the public.
Demo days are parties. They are usually climax points in the life of a tech community. Sometimes, bootcamps could end in a demo day. This makes sense since bootcamp participants could showcase what they built in the bootcamp during the demo day.
Demo days are like an accountability system to the community. In itself, a demo day passes the message that within a given tech community, the members are building projects, which is one of the aims of tech communities.
Demo days rarely take place because it is not easy to complete projects worth showcasing very frequently.
7. Brand Events
These events can't fall in the general categories above. They are most of the time, annual events. These events are inspired by some goals (like being innovative or solving problems). They could also be in the form of competitions and have their rewards. They are maintained by the tech companies bringing the peculiar community.
As you read, there must be at least one tech community event going on somewhere in the world. This is because there are so many tech communities out there. Community events make tech communities lively. They are interesting gatherings and you would always want to attend them after attending your first community events. Go out there, take part in as many community events as possible, and enjoy your stay in your tech community.
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