It perhaps goes without saying but there’s no harm in repeating one of the great truisms of this project: the Community is a critical component in the development and the successful roll out of the SAFE Network.
We have no intention of building paradigm-shifting technology that has no users - and it’s this approach that informs everything we do. The Network can only survive with the engagement of a global group of supporters. You can see the evidence of this in the fact that all of ‘our’ communication channels (the Forum, r/safenetwork, Telegram, Discord etc) are managed and controlled by individuals from the wider Community (as opposed to MaidSafe employees).
True democratisation does, of course, bring with it certain challenges - particularly around the marketing and branding of the Network. We’ve touched on this topic before (MaidSafe Marketing Strategy H1 2018) and I think we all generally agree that by focusing on the same key messages we’ll have a greater collective impact and minimise confusion for newcomers.
It’s now time to bring (in my view) one of the most important areas into focus: the meetups.
MaidSafe meetups started popping up a few years ago around the world. To date, there have been meetups held in Scotland, England, America, Argentina, Australia and various locations in Asia. Since joining MaidSafe, one of my responsibilities has been to think about how these meetups are currently working (or not) and to suggest a way forward for us all.
I’d like to use this post to progress that conversation and to propose the following template for meetups that we can then all use around the world. It’s a starting point from which we’ll evolve - but hopefully this gives some clarity to how we at MaidSafe see things developing.
Where we want to get to (long term vision)
SAFE Network meetups in every major city in the world. A regular in-person meetup for people to learn, share knowledge and have face-to-face conversations with others who are developing on top of/interested in learning more about, the SAFE Network.
Where we want to get to (2018)
SAFE Network meetups in a small number of key locations, entirely driven by local organisers but supported by MaidSafe (the company) as far as possible.
Setting up the meetups (www.meetup.com)
Every SAFE Network meetup needs to be available on meetup.com
Love it or loathe it, meetup.com has become the default platform for meetups. After running more than 50 events in the last decade using the platform plus a handful of events using other alternatives, my personal experience is that the differences are stark. To recap, at this point in time, meetup.com still has a few major benefits:
- Enhanced discovery - captures those that search for e.g. ‘SAFE Network’, ‘decentralisation’ etc
- Enhanced promotion - weekly emails that push your event in front of locals who’ve likely never heard of the SAFE Network.
Please note: this listing doesn’t need to be exclusive. There should be no barrier to listing a meetup elsewhere if alternative platforms that might more readily appeal to specific local niches (developers, local tech calendars etc). But by ensuring we keep every event visible in one place by default, it’s far easier for the 22+ million other meetup users to see the activity that’s taking place and take the next step towards joining up. It will also be easier for global supporters to join the various groups - which is important as these groups build momentum, with each new member reducing the natural social barrier for others to join up (you’re more likely to join a group with 100 members than one with only 3 for example).
There’s a cost for registering using Meetup.com. So if you’re looking to run a meetup, just contact me (using firstname.lastname@example.org) directly. We’ll then set up the group for you on meetup.com and install you as organiser. That way your annual registration fees will be covered - and you can start to tap into the global network of support.
As much as we’d love to do so, it’s not scalable for MaidSafe to meet the regular costs of the venues as each meetup grows. However, we will support events to the best of our abilities. What this means in practice is that all support will very much be carried out on a case-by-case basis. It’s crucial as the community scales that we don’t become a chokepoint for groups starting up, financially or otherwise. In short, we’d love to see groups start up, attract decent numbers of members on meetup.com and for the individual organisers/teams to show their enthusiasm by putting on events regardless of our support.
Our suggestion at this stage is that you look at putting events on within technology centres/incubators/startup hubs etc initially where both the costs are lower and you’re likely to appeal to a larger potential drop-in audience.
From experience, running meetups can be hard. You are running a free event §§ to attend, you get paid nothing and you work hard, sourcing the venues and speakers, running the evenings and promoting the meetups. So we’d like to do all we can to support those who really want to put the work in on the ground.
To help out initially, I’d like to introduce a regular call for meetup organisers. It will be an opportunity to feedback on the meetups, talk about our upcoming plans, look for suggestions and highlight what we all could be doing to help support each other’s groups.
I appreciate we’ll have a challenge scheduling a suitable time across timezones but we’ll all benefit from strengthening ties between meetup organisers. More to follow on this in due course once I’ve spoken to the various groups.
Content for each meetup
Obviously at MaidSafe we’ll do all we can to support meetups with speakers and content via video interviews. Hopefully as time goes on, we’ll get to the stage where we can have MaidSafe reps attending some of the larger meetups in person.
But, it’s clear that for the meetups to be sustainable and grow, the community should be leading with the content. That might be developers showing off their newest apps on the platform, talks from local supporters, in-depth talks around sections of the network… I’ll not go into too much detail here as the plan is that the regular meetup calls should support the generation of ideas here.
Recording the Meetups
With this structure, it will be far easier to share resources across meetups. But the majority of meetups are likely still be too far away for many to attend given the global reach of the project. Therefore, it’s critical that we have these meetups videoed for everyone’s benefit. There’s various ways we can approach this but the starting point is this:-
If you’re running a meetup, please make every effort to stream the event live and/or upload a video afterwards so it can be viewed by the wider community.
Promotion of Meetups
We’ll promote SAFE Network meetups around the world - but we’ll all benefit from coordinating a broad Community effort around publicity also. Coordination of social campaigns by individuals around each meetup can be significant in finding new members for each group.
This is just the starting point. There’s been some fantastic work carried out by lots of different people over the past few years on this and I can’t wait to see what will happen now we can build on this with a little coordination between the groups moving forwards. If you have any comments/criticisms, please leave them below. But in the meantime, if you’re interested in running a regular event, please do get in touch, initially by leaving a comment below (and let me know which town/city you’re looking at).
Initial list of potential meetup organisers (updated)
London, UK - @opacey
Chicago, US - @Sotros25, @Dwieluns2, @MrNinjaCook
Seattle, US - @arsnebula
Miami, US - @Josh, @Majestic84
Glasgow, UK - @Southside
Ottawa, Canada - @conreezy88
San Antonio / Austin, US - @fergish
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - @Harvindar
Melbourne, Australia - @PeterRobertson (looking for new organiser)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - @anon63178599
Amsterdam - @dewild, @Arthur.Rommes-NL
Munich, Germany - @CPay-Solutions
Belfast, Ireland - @Traktion
Sofia, Bulgaria - @Dimitar
Seoul, South Korea - @RobinKang
Finland - @Sascha