As part of presenting the last couple of AnDevCon conferences I have organized and hosted so called fireside chat sessions named. They are following the concept used at the Google IO conference, where a panel of topic experts is available in an open questions and answers session. Having evolved this a bit we are now introducing these sessions at our VIJUG meetings and call them Ask Your Expert Peers. So how does it work and what is the intention?
After our regular presentation or number of lightning talks, we will host a Ask Your Expert Peers event at each meeting. So how does this work and what do you do in it?
For each Ask Your Expert Peers session we will have one or multiple hosts available as a panel ready to answer or at least discuss any questions related to their field of expertise. E.g. in the first session we will have Matthew McCullough presenting on Git and GitHub. As an author of the Gradle book and presenter at other conferences he is also an expert on this topic. In addition myself will be available on the panel as expert on Apache Maven as well as Sonatype Nexus, after authoring training material for both and hosting training events for a few months now.
With this panel to start we will open to any questions the audience has run into and would like to discuss. These questions could also be completely different topic and are directed at the panel as well as the audience. E.g. somebody could have a questions on Groovy and Grails and Kelly Robinson might be attending. Ideally he would therefore join the panel and try to answer the question and discussion amongst the panel and the audience would start up.
In this manner all sorts of topics are tackled and everybody finds out about new topics as well as what skills and knowledge their peers have. People would join and leave the panel and lots of questions would be tacked. This in turn can lead to great knowledge exchange for start and potentially lead to cooperations between the attendees following up. People would know that e.g. Manfred Moser knows a lot about Android and actually runs the GDG Victoria BC, while Sven Resch on the other hands is an iOS expert and lead the Cocoaheads group in Victoria. After a while of doing this we will all know a lot more about each other and be ready to rock together and potentially tackle some large projects together or start some ventures together.
And if none of that happens we will at least have had lots of fun in the Ask Your Expert Peers session and learned a lot by listening to the advice and opinions from our peers and at that stage probably friends.