Update: I have become more interested in Verge as life and Fretless progresses. In fact, you’ll probably see me there regularly. I do still pine for a hackers-&-founders-ish meeting, and I think others do as well, so I want to leave this post here. It was always intended to be constructive (though perhaps I should’ve chosen a less joke-y title - Ha).
Today, Anthony Panozzo mentioned Verge’s new “qualifying question” policy, in which you essentially must be a startup employee or founder to attend. I seemingly took that opportunity to pile on Verge, like some kind of entitled asshole. That wasn’t my intention, I swear! At least, it wasn’t consciously my intention. Let me clarify.
Quick aside: Matt Hunckler and company have put in good, hard work on this event. I do not mean to disparage him, others who helped, or those who attend. I am not saying the event isn’t a worthwhile event. SPOILER ALERT: I’m saying it’s not my thing, basically.
Living in an Alternate Reality
Verge used to be called Hackers & Founders. Unfortunately, calling an event Hackers & Founders creates a set of expectations. Let me quote from the original Hackers & Founders site:
It’s mostly a chance to get together with hackers who are founding or are interested in founding startups. Many of us hang out at Hacker News. So, if you’re in the area and interested in chatting with people of like mind, please stop by. We’d love to get to know you.
… and, from the description of a recent meeting:
Topics of conversation include hackery in general, startups, shiny new technologies we’re playing with, recent articles on Hacker News and miscellaneous cool stuff.
That is what I expected when I first attended a meeting. It wasn’t quite that, but it was fairly casual, and in the back of a bar/restaurant. It had an intimate feeling to it.
I think I probably should have, both in this instance, and in general, a more open mind. I think there is a good chance I went in wanting Mountain View’s Hackers & Founders, and I wasn’t willing to settle for less.
Love What You Got
I wanted to like Verge, and attended a couple other events. I had a fine time. I mean, beer, a festive atmosphere, Earthhouse, excited people… it’s easy to enjoy. Afterward, however, I always felt like the event wasn’t really for me. I also felt that I should continue to support the thing, because it’s good for Indy. (Of course, then I opened my big mouth / typing fingers on Twitter today.)
It’s hard to explain what about Verge didn’t hit the groove for me. Again, I think it’s because I was still wanting Hackers & Founders. I wanted, “Man, we’re using Node.js to build this awesome real-time client-smiting application. Yeah, it’s evented as hell!” … uh, or something. Instead, it is more high-level, more business-y, more network-y, more… more…? Seriously, I am not sure I can properly articulate my problem.
You Don’t Need Me
When Anthony and Kyle Shipley began discussing Verge, and the qualifying question policy, this morning, I jumped up to say I didn’t like this incarnation of Verge, basically. You can start with this tweet, if you’d like to read more. Also, read this blog post from Anthony.
Anthony, in that post, says that this makes Verge more interesting for him. It essentially targets him directly, now. That is a good thing! Someone feeling like Verge is more relevant is, I’m sure, exactly what Matt was going for. That it also excludes people fairly directly is also what Matt was targeting. Matt is always really nice to me, even when he explicitly invites me to stuff and I don’t attend. I am guessing he wasn’t expecting that I would feel excluded. Still, it’s a good thing. Creating a group who feels explicitly included is important. Excluding people is an acceptable consequence, I think. You don’t need me. You need the Anthonys, Matt Gordons, Kyle Shipleys, etc.
What About Hackers & Founders
Does this leave space open for a new meeting that is in the spirit of the original Hackers & Founders? I think so. I have a serious question for those who might be interested, though. Does the Indy Hackers Bar Meet do that sort of thing already? Once a month we get together at a bar and chat over beers and food. The biggest difference I see is that I have never made Indy Hackers even almost focused. A few of us talked about posts on Reddit last time — we’re talking poorly drawn comics and dumb pictures with dumber captions. However, we also talked about what we’re doing at/for work lately, etc. The Venn diagram would be a huge circle labeled Indy Hackers Bar Meet Topics, with a little circle inside it labeled Hackers & Founders Topics. Is a combination of the Indy Hackers Bar Meet and Indy.rb, Indy.js, et cetera, good enough?
I don’t want to change Indy Hackers Bar Meets. So, what do you think? Do we need a Hackers & Founders meeting, in the same vein as Mountain View’s Hackers & Founders?