Last Tuesday was the monthly g33k d1nner and I planned to do Speed Geeking. What is speed geeking you might ask: well the concept is stolen from speed dating.
The idea is speed geeking is a fast way to get to know other technologically inclined people. As anyone who is a geek knows, starting a conversation with someone you don't know is one of the reasons we prefer computers. I probably would rarely make it to a geek dinner if I was not actually coordinating them. One of the "problems" of the geek dinners is that there are so many interesting people and you can't meet everyone. Speed geeking was invented to help that.
How I did it
- I wanted to pick a quiet place to have dinner, with tables that would be easily navigated. (I envisioned people getting up and moving around every 5 or 10 minutes.) I choose Shakey's Pizza because cheap pizza, pitchers of beer and last time we were there on a Tuesday night it was DEAD. We practically had the whole place to ourselves.
- I made up question cards. Each card had one "starter" question on it. For example: "What is the strangest place you have wified from?" and "Social network sites: useful or not?" and "What is the first computer you owned?"
- As people arrived, I handed each person a question card and asked them to get into groups of 3 to 5 people per table. Each person would ask someone at the table the question on their card. Everyone would ask one question and would answer one question.
- After 15 minutes tables would mix and there would be a new group of 3 to 5 people to ask/answer questions.
I think the concept worked better in theory than in practice. This was for several things that were outside my control.
- When I got to Shakey's the place was pretty full and the tables I had requested were occupied. The tables that had been set aside for us were right in front of TVs that were blaring some sporting event. (This was a totally different situation from the last time we were at Shakey's.) Our group ended up moving into an alcove area that was really too small for us.
- Food was a bit of a problem. Or rather, trying to speed geek and eat at the same time.
- I came prepared with 4 different questions. I think having more variety in the questions would have improved things.
- The loudness level. Once we crammed into the alcove we were the ones causing the noise.
- Timing. I'm not sure this happened.
All in it was a successful first run, with lots of things to improve upon. I'm definitely trying this again, but with the following tweaks.
- Better to have it part of something - like Barcamp or a BOF or before/after dinner - where you can move around with people quickly without food, plates, etc.
- More diverse questions
- A better way to organize/communicate the timing.
I'm definitely going to have a session at the next Barcamp (or a BOF at a geek conference) where I try this again. Less distractions (food, noise), more questions and maybe a megaphone.
If you try speed geeking, let me know how it goes and what works for you.