The future of Alt.Net

Today Richard Banks asked us a question about the future of Alt.Net.

I strongly agree with his conclusions, but wanted to get my thoughts down too and answer his questions.

I’ve been part of the Melbourne Alt.Net community since our first meeting on April 28th 2010. We started a little after Richard and the Sydney guys, but have kept a solid core of attendees and survived wavering levels of interest from the broader community and multiple sponsorship and venue changes. I’m glad we started at that time because that “why so mean” moment had already passed and it didn’t seed a negative undertone in our community here.

Here’s the only photo I have of that April 28th meeting, it seems accidental as I was putting my phone away.

Alt.Net 28th April 2010

I became a better software developer thanks to Alt.Net and it helped where I work now build the fantastic team we have, seeing that there were more options out there and learning from others in the community.

Here’s a better shot of Richard visiting us in October that year (2010):

Alt.Net October 2010 with rbanks

Richard asked

“Is that enough now, should we now disband?”

No, because we still need continuous improvement – we don’t stop, we grow and improve.

Richard stated “I still need what the Alt.Net community provides”.

I do too. Sharing ideas and frustrations with friends, peers and other new people is very important to me.

What do I want to see in the future?

Even more mainstream.

There are still many developers who haven’t heard about our user group meetings.

Working on 2 presumptions:
– A percentage of people can’t physically attend often or at all.
– The topics we’re discussing are of value and will improve what people deliver in their jobs / be better software developers.

We just need to get our message/content out there better, by pushing stronger for input on topics the group covers. Getting our content out there, which has been happening for the last year (recording and publishing on YouTube), but sharing more on twitter/linkedin/blogs.

So …

Branding?

If we want to reach more people then yes maybe branding will help, there’s now very high quality content available online for developers, so there’s more competition now days.

When our team from Picnic Software presented last year the turnout was huge, we had some good questions recorded, but many more good discussions after the fact and the attendance was record breaking.

Based on our chats with those in attendance our honest and direct coverage of issues/challenges and what we’re doing is what people did come and wanted to see and why so many came to talk to us after.

So any new branding I believe should be have the feeling of one strong community of software developers spread throughout Australia gathering together to share locally and online.

Objective

All this depends on the collective objective…

If we’re trying to reach more people then yes branding and putting time and money behind it, should help (right? it’s the reason companies pay so much for marketing). I stand here and want to reach more people.

If we’re just self-evaluating our community is strong, we’re doing a good job sharing and enough people are finding us (we’re not shrinking) then steady as she goes, is fine and the branding is less important, it’s about our content and we can just focus on that.

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