Updated March 21: crossed out ‘conferences’ because I don’t do a good job of listing those.
Boulder, Colorado, has a great tech scene, that I’ve been a peripheral member of for a while now. I thought I’d share a few of the places I go to network. And by “network”, I mean learn about cool new technologies, get a feel for the state of the scene (are companies hiring? Firing? What technologies are in high demand?) and chat with interesting people. All of the events below focus on software, except where noted.
NB: I have not found work through any of these events. But if I needed work, these communities are the second place I’d look. (The first place would be my personal network.)
Boulder Denver New Tech Meetup
- 5 minute presentions. Two times a month. Audience varies wildly from hard core developers to marketing folks to graphic designers to upper level execs. Focus is on new technologies and companies. Arrive early, because once the presentations start, it’s hard to talk to people.
- Good for: energy, free food, broad overviews, regular meetings, reminding you of the glory days in 1999.
- Bad for: diving deep into a subject, expanding your technical knowledge
User groups: Boulder Java Users Group, Boulder Linux Users Group, Rocky Mountain Adobe Users Group, Denver/Boulder Drupal Users Group, Denver Java Users Group others updated 11/12 8:51: added Denver JUG
- Typically one or two presentations each meeting, for an hour or two. Tend to focus on a specific technology, as indicated by the names. Sometimes food is provided.
- Good for: diving deep into a technology, networking amongst fellow nerds, regular meetings
- Bad for: anyone not interested in what they’re presenting that night, non technical folks
Meetups (of which BDNT, covered above, is one)
- There’s a meetup for everything under the sun. Well, almost. If you’re looking to focus on a particular subject, consider starting one (not free) or joining one–typically free.
- Good for: breadth of possibility–you want to talk about Google? How about SecondLife?
- Bad for: many are kind of small
- Get together in a bar and mingle. Talk about your startups dreams or realities.
- Good: have a beer, talk tech–what’s not to like?, takes place after working hours, casual
- Bad: hard to target who to talk to, intermittent, takes place after working hours.
- Originally started, I believe, in response to FooCamp, this is an unconference. On Friday attendees get together and assemble an interim conference schedule. On Saturday, they present, in about an hour or so. Some slots are group activities (“let’s talk about technology X”) rather than presentations. Very free form.
- Good: for meeting people interested in technologies, can be relatively deep introduction to a technology
- Bad: if you need lots of structure, if you want a goodie bag from a conference, presentations can be uneven in quality, hasn’t been one in a while around here (that I know of)
- Presentations on a variety of topics, some geeky, some not. Presentations determined by vote. Presentations are 20 slide and 5 minutes total. Costs something (~$10).
- Good: happens in several cities (Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins) so gives you chance to meet folks in your community, presentations tend to be funny, wide range of audience
- Bad: skim surface of topic, presentation quality can vary significantly, not a lot of time to talk to people as you’re mostly watching presentations
- Run by the CU CS department, these are technical presentations. Usually given by a visiting PhD.
- Good: Good to see what is coming down the pike, deep exposure to topics you might never think about (“Effective and Ubiquitous Access for Blind People”, “Optimal-Rate Routing in Adversarial Networks”)
- Bad: The ones I’ve been to had no professionals there that I could see, happen during the middle of the work day, deep exposure to topics you might not care about
- Cooperative work environments, hosted at a coffee shop or location.
- Good: informal, could be plenty of time to talk to peers
- Bad: not sure I’ve ever heard of one happening on the front range, not that different from going to your local coffee shop
- From the website: it “encourage entrepreneurs, developers and investors to organize real-world informal meetups”. I don’t have enough data to give you good/bad points.
- BarCamp with a focus–build a startup company. With whoever shows up.
- Good: focus, interesting people, you know they’re entrepeneurial to give a up a weekend to attend, broad cross section of skills
- Bad: you give up a weekend to attend
- Another group that leverages meetup.com, these folks are in Denver. Focus on web developers and designers. Again, I don’t have enough to give good/bad points.
Except for Ignite, everything above is free or donation-based. The paid conferences around Colorado that I know about, I’ll cover in a future post.
What am I missing? I know the list is skewed towards Boulder–I haven’t really been to conferences more than an hours drive from Boulder.
Do you use these events as a chance to network? Catch up with friends? Learn about new technologies, processes and companies?