A few weeks ago, tired of lacking contact with fellow designers, I formed an “interactive design” group by making a couple of posts to regional mailing list, targeting southern New Hampshire and northern Massachussetts. I’ve never tried to form a group before, so it’s been an interesting experience.
Here’s what I did:
- Posted on the Boston Macromedia User’s Group mailing list, asking if there was anyone interested in getting together to talk technique and career in a non-business network setting. I got a few responses, all named Dave!
- Posted on Dave English’ NH Jobs list, via Dave. Got a few more interested respondants.
- We had our first meeting in Burlington, MA, which was sort of equi-distant for everyone except for one fellow in Concord, NH. This meeting went well, getting to meet a couple new people and sharing our experiences. One result was we set up a Wiki for group collaboration and a mailing list to make email handling a little easier.
There are also some practical challenges that stand in the way:
- Finding a good meeting place — So far we’ve tried a couple of places, the Barnes & Noble in Burlington, and the Panera Bread in Manchester. I suspect the Manchester location is too inconvenient, and B&N is too crowded. We need to find someplace that’s a little more off the beaten path. WiFi would be nice, but maybe if not crucial. Food is good for an informal, discussion based location
Establishing meetings regularly — I think it’s too early to establish a format, as we’re still getting established, but we probably should do this. Once a month sounds good, with maybe small mixers erupting during the week.
For longer-term sustainability, I’m considering the following:
- Establishing Things to Do — What’s the point of meeting if we don’t get anything out of it? By establishing some kind of topic or takeaway from the meeting, people would be more likely to come.
Maintaining Focus — Non-obtrusive reinforcement of who we are as a group, establishing a core resonating function! Or something :-)
p>I guess the main thing is to continue to have a reason to get together, and to establish some continuity. I’ll have to reflect what I really expect to get out of a group. I’ve described this in the wiki, but it doesn’t hurt for me to repeat it again:
- meet new people who are practicing interaction designers and are “into” it
- have excellent user group meetings that all benefit and learn from
- establish a persistent presence of useful stuff for people, become a resource
- establish a reputation of being a friendly, accessible group with a lot of expertise
It just occured to me that it would be nice to make some collateral for the group!
- business cards!