[TriZPUG] TriZPUG May 2011 Meeting: Call For Talks

Chris Calloway cbc at unc.edu
Thu May 5 19:50:48 CEST 2011

On 5/4/2011 3:42 PM, Calvin Spealman wrote:
> Re: meeting topic. What about allowing 4 to 6 smaller topics with ~10
> minutes each rather than a single, longer talk?

As our meeting announcements including this one always say:

"As always, spontaneous lightning talks of ten minutes or less on other 
topics are also welcome. Anything you've learned about Python, no matter 
how trivial, can be a lightning talk."

Calvin, if you want to call shotgun on organizing the next (or any) 
TriZPUG meeting as a series of lightning talks from the get go, you are 
"allowed." The call for talks doesn't imply one talk, or a specific 
length, or even one topic. I'm just looking for *at least* one topic to 
advertize which might bring in people who want to know in advance what 
to expect.

I don't know if declaring a meeting to be lightning talks from the get 
go discourages anyone from making major talks. Certainly, if there is a 
long form topic, then there's always room for additional lightning talks 
to fill in. Whereas, if we say ahead of time it's all lightning talks, 
that might say to someone looking to make a long talk that their topic 
is disallowed. I'm just looking to "allow" (i.e., facilitate) whatever 
anyone willing to show up wants to talk about, whatever the length.

Myself, I've only called shotgun on a lightning talk meeting in the past 
when either a) the meeting announcement has come so late in the month 
that there wasn't time to call for talks, or b) some event that a lot of 
TriZPUGers went to like PyCon just occurred and I was interested in 
seeing if I could scare up some of those folks into sharing their 

Our best meetings are when there is no topic and we have an enthusiastic 
group of lightning talkers show up. Lightning talks are always the 
fall-back when no one calls shotgun with a major topic.

As always, TriZPUG isn't about "allowing." Its about people stepping 
forward and doing. One of my "do" things is making meeting announcements 
whenever I can, because they remind people of when and where. I find 
that meetings are highly unlikely to occur unless there is announcement. 
There were some months last year when I had personal and family medical 
problems and didn't make meeting announcements as a result. Some of 
those months other people stepped forward in the spirit of do-acracy, 
made the announcements, and the meetings went on. But a few of those 
months there was no announcement and as you might expect, no meeting.

After when and where, the most frequent question people have about 
meetings is what. If someone wants to call shotgun on a what, "we allow" 
it by default because no one is going to disallow or stop you. If no 
topic is called, it's all good. If there's no meeting topic claimed by 
the time a few days before the meeting rolls around, you'll likely see 
me change the title of the the meeting announcement to say "Lightning 
Talks." It happens from time to time:


(Some of those meeting titles will show multiple topics. They were 
likely meetings with no formal topic announced ahead of time, which 
turned into lightning talk fests, and where I went back and changed the 
meeting announcement title and description after the fact so we'd have 
some institutional memory of what happened when. Sometimes I have not 
always succeeded in that record keeping. Anyone is free to try.)

There seem to be some people who will only come to meetings if there is 
a topic and that topic appeals to them. Then there are other people who 
seem to take an extra interest in showing up when there isn't a topic 
and take an interest in giving lightning talks. TriZPUG, like any group, 
seems to be a mix of spectators and active participants which ebb and 
flow. We kind of go with that ebb and flow, because it certainly doesn't 
make sense to go against it.

Anyway, I try to encourage anyone coming to a TriZPUG meeting to always 
have a lightning talk in their back pocket just in case. If you don't 
use it this month, there are always months to come. :)


Chris Calloway http://nccoos.org/Members/cbc
office: 3313 Venable Hall   phone: (919) 599-3530
mail: Campus Box #3300, UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, NC 27599

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