Attending and organizing Emacs meetups

Bhavin Gandhi (he/him, IRC: bhavin192, @bhavin192@toots.dgplug.org)

In this talk, Bhavin Gandhi shares how to participate in Emacs meetups and even how to organize your own. Afterwards, he will handle questions over BigBlueButton. Spanish captions are also available for this talk. You can find them on the talk page.

The following image shows where the talk is in the schedule for Sat 2022-12-03. Solid lines show talks with Q&A via BigBlueButton. Dashed lines show talks with Q&A via IRC or Etherpad.

Schedule for Saturday Saturday 9:00- 9:05 Saturday opening remarks sat-open 9:05- 9:25 Emacs journalism (or everything's a nail if you hit it with Emacs) journalism 9:45- 9:55 Back to school with Emacs school 10:05-10:15 How to incorporate handwritten notes into Emacs Orgmode handwritten 10:45-11:05 Writing and organizing literature notes for scientific writing science 11:25-11:35 The Emacs Buddy initiative buddy 1:00- 1:20 Attending and organizing Emacs meetups meetups 1:40- 1:55 Linking personal info with Hyperbole implicit buttons buttons 2:15- 2:40 Real estate and Org table formulas realestate 3:00- 3:25 Health data journaling and visualization with Org Mode and gnuplot health 3:45- 4:05 Edit live Jupyter notebook cells with Emacs jupyter 4:50- 4:55 Saturday closing remarks sat-close 10:00-10:15 Tree-sitter beyond syntax highlighting treesitter 10:25-10:45 lsp-bridge: a smooth-as-butter asynchronous LSP client lspbridge 10:55-11:15 asm-blox: a game based on WebAssembly that no one asked for asmblox 11:25-11:35 Emacs should become a Wayland compositor wayland 1:00- 1:25 Using SQLite as a data source: a framework and an example sqlite 1:50- 2:30 Revisiting the anatomy of Emacs mail user agents mail 2:50- 3:10 Maintaining the Maintainers: Attribution as an Economic Model for Open Source maint 3:35- 3:40 Bidirectional links with eev eev 3:50- 3:55 Short hyperlinks to Python docs python 4:05- 4:35 Haskell code exploration with Emacs haskell 9 AM 10 AM 11 AM 12 PM 1 PM 2 PM 3 PM 4 PM 5 PM

Format: 20-min talk followed by live Q&A (https://emacsconf.org/current/meetups/room)
Etherpad: https://pad.emacsconf.org/2022-meetups
Discuss on IRC: #emacsconf-gen
Status: Q&A open for participation

Times in different timezones:
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~1:00 PM - 1:20 PM EST (US/Eastern)
which is the same as:
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~12:00 PM - 12:20 PM CST (US/Central)
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~11:00 AM - 11:20 AM MST (US/Mountain)
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~10:00 AM - 10:20 AM PST (US/Pacific)
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~6:00 PM - 6:20 PM UTC
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~7:00 PM - 7:20 PM CET (Europe/Paris)
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~8:00 PM - 8:20 PM EET (Europe/Athens)
Saturday, Dec 3 2022, ~11:30 PM - 11:50 PM IST (Asia/Kolkata)
Sunday, Dec 4 2022, ~2:00 AM - 2:20 AM +08 (Asia/Singapore)
Sunday, Dec 4 2022, ~3:00 AM - 3:20 AM JST (Asia/Tokyo)
Find out how to watch and participate

00:00:00.000 Introduction 01:10.120 Example from Emacs APAC 02:08.320 "Why should I attend meetups?" 02:27.400 "I am a beginner" 02:56.800 "I am an experienced user" 03:16.160 Finding meetups 04:10.000 How to join 04:36.840 Emacs Calendar 05:33.200 Making the most of a meetup 06:45.560 "What if I want to start my own meetup group?" 07:19.680 "How much effort do I need to put?" 07:37.880 "What if I'm new to Emacs?" 07:58.480 "How do I do it now?" 08:52.600 Why I prefer discussions 09:49.440 What about talks? 10:18.240 Frequency of the meetup 10:58.480 "Should I schedule and just wait?" 11:39.960 Adding your event to the Emacs Calendar 11:58.920 What to do during the meetup 13:00.280 After the meetup 14:44.240 Checklist 14:59.800 Co-organizers 15:57.240 Website 17:14.200 Video conferencing 17:42.280 Communication 18:01.720 Other resources 18:50.080 Connecting with other organizers

Description

Events like EmacsConf are a great place to meet Emacs users around the world. You get to learn about new ideas, workflows, packages, and make new friends as well :) What if I tell you that you can meet fellow Emacs users more frequently, that too in your region/time zone? Yes, meetup groups!

In this talk, I will help you explore Emacs meetup groups of your interest. And cover how to attend meetups, how to stay updated with all the Emacs related events, and more.

Organizing a meetup and setting up a platform for others is even more fun! I will cover how to easily get started with organizing meetup events as well.

Outline:

  • Why meetups?
  • How to find nearby groups?
  • Staying updated with events
  • Organizing meetups
  • My learnings from organizing meetup events

Links

Transcript

[00:00:00.000] Hello everyone, welcome to my talk. I hope you all have been enjoying EmacsConf so far, like I am. But you might be wondering, "How do I meet fellow Emacs users after the conference?" What if I tell you there is a way? The answer is local meetups. These are user groups who arrange events at some frequency, they meet at some frequency. That's what we are going to talk about today: attending and organizing Emacs meetups. In other words, enjoying your Emacs journey with more folks! I am Bhavin, I am from India, and I have been organizing Emacs Asia Pacific meetup since last few months [almost 2 years]. We will be talking about online meetups most of the time. The beauty of online meetups is, you can join any meetups if the time permits, if the time zone is same. And there is no barrier. So let's get started.

[00:01:10.120] Let's see how a meetup looks like. We will see one of the Emacs APAC meetup's snippet, basically. So, it's like this org-adapt-indentation which is like electric indent. Like when you press enter, it will indent. There is org-indent-mode, which does not require you to actually make the indents physically in the file. It will make things appear indented. This one? Yeah. Okay. Looks interesting, right? So, let's get into more details.

[00:02:08.320] You might have a question: "Why I should attend meetups?" That's a good question. You should always ask "why". It's an opportunity to learn together. You basically meet like-minded people, like-minded Emacs users, and you can always have fun, right?

[00:02:27.400] You still might have a question: "I am a beginner." I would say that's a great avenue for you. You get to discover more things. You can get help if you are facing any issues, any errors. And always keep in mind that it's okay if you don't understand everything from the discussions. There are going to be times where everything is…, all the topics you are not able to understand, which is totally fine.

[00:02:56.800] "I am an experienced user." I would say that's even better because you can help others during the meetup. And usually, in Emacs or in general, there is always something new to learn. There are plenty of packages. There might be something you have never tried. And there are always going to be different workflows of using something.

[00:03:16.160] So now, how do I become part of a meetup, right? "How do I become part of a meetup group?" The first step you might be doing is finding a meetup. There is this page, EmacsWiki page called Usergroups, currently maintained by Leo and Sacha. So, let's see how that page looks like. As you can see, this page tells you about all the upcoming events. And it also has a list of all the meetup groups. So, you can find all the groups there.

[00:04:10.000] Once you find one, you need to join them, right? How to join differs from group to group but usually you will find a way to subscribe to their mailing list or RSS feed, join their IRC channels. They might have accounts on some platforms like Mobilizon or meetup.com. You can just go there and join, so that you get notified whenever there is a new event.

[00:04:36.840] Now, seeing that list, you might say, "There are too many events of my interest." Don't worry, there is a solution. There is an Emacs calendar, you can subscribe to this calendar. Let's see what all events are there in this particular calendar. This month there is Emacs Berlin to start with and then there is EmacsConf, then Emacs APAC is also there. Let's see…, there is a companion website for this calendar as well. Let's go to the website also. You will see all the options, how to import it. There is ICS file, there are different time zones, Org mode files. You can just go there and subscribe.

[00:05:33.200] "How do I make most of it? If I am attending a meetup, how do I make most of it?" I would say never hesitate from asking questions. If there is something new, something you don't understand, just go ahead and ask questions. Ask for help if you are stuck somewhere. There are going to be new things, so make sure you note them down, and you can try those later. If possible, have a microphone or webcam on, so that you can connect with others very easily. If that's not an option for some reason, it's fine, you can always use chat and interact with everyone. So, don't make that a reason for not attending. Go ahead and attend, even if you just have chat as an option to interact with others. "Wait, I still have questions." Definitely. If you have more questions, go ahead and post those. I will come to them at the end. Now we know how to attend, what are the things you need to do if you want to attend.

[00:06:45.560] "What if I want to start my own meetup group?" Because there is no regional group, or there is something very specific which you want to start a group about. Again, "Why should I start a meetup group?" It is a way, I would say, to give back to the community by creating a platform for people to interact. You give speakers a platform, you also give a platform to the attendees. And obviously to have fun with others.

[00:07:19.680] There are some common questions which might come up, something like, "How much effort do I need to put?" Personally, I don't have to put more than two hours a month, that's including the time I attend the meetup.

[00:07:37.880] "What if I'm new to Emacs?" That's totally fine. You don't have to know Emacs, you don't have to be an expert to start a meetup group. That's totally fine. You will have more folks joining in with different experiences. That's totally fine to be a beginner in Emacs to start a meetup.

[00:07:58.480] "How do I do it now?" So, let's look at some specifics, some questions you might need to answer in order to start your meetup group. Format of the meetup. What participants will do during the meetup? Let's see one of the options, this is one of my favorites. Keep it simple, a bit unstructured and have free flowing discussions. What does that mean? That basically means letting people ask questions, share new things they have found, let them ask doubts, let them ask for help. During this free flowing discussions, you can go through Emacs News as well, go through the topics, and you might find something interesting which you can talk about.

[00:08:52.600] Why I prefer discussions? Discussions basically give an opportunity to all the participants to participate. They get to talk about what they know rather than just having one way talk. They can basically participate by putting up their thoughts. Everyone gets to learn more as topics change. Usually during these free flowing discussions, topics keep changing and that's how you get to learn more. This also has less friction for the speakers. They won't have a burden that, "Okay, I have a talk in the meetup I need to prepare." That just increases friction for them to participate. If you are having a free flowing discussion, it's basically just a matter of saying, "Hey, maybe I would like to share my screen, and I'll talk about this particular thing."

[00:09:49.440] What about talks? Everyone loves talks, even I do. So, make sure you are also accommodating talks, allow people to submit talks, and have talks plus discussions. You can also host watch parties. You can pick up any of the talks from EmacsConf for anything which is out there, and you can watch it together, and you can have discussion about that particular talk.

[00:10:18.240] The next question you might need to answer is frequency of the meetup. How often the group is going to meet? One option is recurring meetups. So something like, you meet every month on a specific day time. Another option is one-off meetups. You can meet whenever you have some specific talk, some specific discussion topic. What you can do about the timing is, if you are targeting a specific region, make sure [people from] all the time zones from that region are able to attend.

[00:10:58.480] Now you have figured out everything and you are going to schedule the meetup. So, "Should I schedule and just wait?" No. Go ahead and spread the word about it. Let's see what we can do. You can post on social media about your event. Usually do it a week or two before, so that people can plan their other things. Share it on local GNU/Linux user groups. They might have IRC channels, mailing lists, so you should share your event there. Reddit seems to be a popular place as well. Many people follow and are there, so you can post about your event there as well.

[00:11:39.960] The next option is adding your event to Emacs calendar. You should get your event added to the EmacsWiki and the calendar, which we saw in the first part. And the instructions are given there. So, whenever you schedule a meetup, you should definitely add your event to those places.

[00:11:58.920] Next thing you should do is…, these are few points which you should do during the meetup. You should start with the introductions. Introductions serve as an icebreaker, usually. They make everyone speak about themselves, so that everyone knows each other a bit at least. Make sure it is possible for others to participate via chat. So, if there are some messages in the chat, make sure you relay those to others who are talking via audio/video. Share your website at the end, so that people know and they can follow it, and they can join the next event. The next is keeping track of time. Make sure you keep track of time. Have some time, let's say, 1 hour or slightly more than that and time-bound your event, so that we respect everyone's time and we conclude in time.

[00:13:00.280] Now your meetup was done, it was good, people attended. What's next? Publishing the recordings, I would say. You should consider publishing the talks or discussions both. The reason being people can revisit the things. Usually people go back and watch the recordings again. And those who were not able to attend, they can also participate by watching the recording. You can do even more. You can have captions for the videos, so that people can enjoy the talks way better than just audio video. And you can even have written summaries of the discussions, something like with links. Let's see some of the examples of summaries. This is one of the summaries for Austin meetup and this is written by someone who is participating during that meetup. You can see they have put up their thoughts, what they think about something they got to know in the event. Another example we can see is M-x Research. You can see they have put up all the discussion points. They even have action items from the meetup. One more example we can see is Emacs APAC. What I have done here is, I have mentioned the topic and links, who shared what. And that's about post meetup stuff. You can keep it simple. Just start with hosting your video recordings, and just start with basic links and details.

[00:14:44.240] So, are we ready to start a meetup? Definitely. Let's see some of the points or checklist, I would say, you should do before you start a meetup group. What are the next steps?

[00:14:59.800] Have a co-organizer. So, have at least one co-organizer or person to talk to during the meetup, so that even if no one shows up you will have someone to talk to and you both can discuss about the topic you decided to. If your friend or the person you have reached out to are hesitant to become a "co-organizer", because that feels like responsibility, it's fine. You can ask them to just come with you and have the discussion during the event. And like Andrea explained in his talk about 'buddy', buddy is someone who is helping you with your Emacs journey. Buddies and their mentees can make their meeting public, and that can be a good way to start or spin-off a meetup.

[00:15:57.240] Have a website for your meetup. You should definitely have a website where people can go and read about your event or the group. Keep it simple. Have RSS feed, so that people can subscribe. And whenever you have new talks, make sure you add those talks to the announcement pages. Let's quickly see some of the example websites. The first one here is again Emacs Asia-Pacific event. You can see we have details, what is the timing, how to submit a talk, how to attend. Next example is Emacs Berlin. So, you can see they have mentioned what is the next event, which were the previous events, how to participate, how to stay updated. And similarly, there is M-x Research as well. They have mentioned what are the events, what are the upcoming events and all. You can just get started by taking any of the websites, and just modify it to your liking. That's totally fine.

[00:17:14.200] The next thing you will need is a video conferencing tool. It should support video, screen share, chat. These are the few of the free software options. One is BigBlueButton and another is Jitsi Meet. You can request for an account on the given instance to EmacsConf organizers on this mailing list, or you can stick to any of the Jitsi Meet instances.

[00:17:42.280] Communication media. You should have at least some way for people to interact post meetup or before the meetup. You can use any of the existing IRC channels,

emacsconf, or maybe you can use the existing

GNU/Linux user groups lists.

[00:18:01.720] I would recommend you to read or watch "Starting an Emacs meetup" by Harry Schwartz. They have mentioned details about in-person meetups, but there are many important points to consider in that post as well as in the recording. So, go ahead and definitely watch before you start your meetup. If you need any help with BigBlueButton account, hosting, or captioning the talk recordings for very specific or good talks, don't hesitate to reach out to EmacsConf organizers. There are many volunteers subscribed to that list, so you will definitely find someone to help you.

[00:18:50.080] I had one idea. If you are one of the organizers, or if you plan to start a meetup, I was thinking if we can have a common platform for all the organizers to discuss what they are doing, what they are experimenting. If you are interested, drop me an email at this email address. If I get somewhere with this idea, I will definitely involve everyone who is interested. With that, we come to the end of my talk. I would like to thank Sacha and Leo for their inputs while I was creating this talk, and thank you for joining. Now it is time for the questions.

Questions or comments? Please e-mail emacsconf-org-private@gnu.org

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