I was unsure of what to expect from the NY Video 2.0 Meetup because, although I've been to other meetups, this one definitely had a much more professional "feel" to it going in. Almost like an Expo, without the huge price tag.
I suppose to best cover what I thought of the meetup, I'll split it into "the good" and "the bad". Though - more fittingly "the bad" should be labeled as "things I'd change for May".
The meetup is free! It isn't everyday that you can attend a well organized, professional meetup like this without flying across the country, booking a hotel room, and paying some large entrance fee. Granted the meetup only lasts about two hours by design, but that is actually a good thing.
The meetup is structured in such a way that it is interactive, collaborative, and yet has enough constraints to not become a free-for-all where time could definitely be wasted, and focus lost. I saw many parallels between this meetup and Web2Open (or any *Camp for that matter) in that while someone "has the floor", the audience can steer the discussion in any direction it'd prefer simply by asking questions.
Photo Credit: Eileen Barroso, Copyright: CU
The venue, Uris Hall at Columbia University on the west side of New York City, is nearly the perfect fit for the size of the audience and the meetup itself. A large projector and a podium for the presenter make it probably the best way to demo and take questions. Obviously, this being a classroom, makes it the perfect design for a meetup like this.
Yaron Samid, of Pando, is the meetup organizer and also moderates the meetup. I think Yaron does a superb job of keeping the discussion moving forward, getting the audience involved in the conversation, and treating everyone from presenter to attendee with respect. He also doesn't try to promote himself or his company while he is moderating the meetup, something I've seen done before and never quite felt right. I've been to many meetups, expos, and events this year and Yaron is probably the best meetup organizer/moderator I've seen yet.
Or - what I think could be adjusted over the next few meetups.
Each presenter is given five minutes to demo their product/service to the audience, and then the audience is given five minutes to ask questions of the presenter. I like this balance of time - but I'd much rather see less presenters and more time allotted for demoing and Q & A. I think the meetup would benefit greatly by reducing the number of presenters each month by half, and allowing double the amount of time for demo and questions. How can you possibly demo a rich application with hundreds of features in five minutes? Ten minutes may still not be enough time, but at least it'd be enough time to give the highlights. Several of the demos that were given at this particular meetup, were cut short due to time - and although people can just go look at these sites themselves when they get home - I think that being able to show off the product/service in full would make for much better Q&A afterwards.
The Q&A session afterwards was nice, but I almost like the way that the panels handled it at South by Southwest a little better. People approached a microphone and stood in line waiting their turn. Although this venue doesn't really adapt itself to that - perhaps raising your hand and leaving it up should be the way you'd be "in line". Or even standing - instead of people just yelling out questions. I saw one person who left their comments on Meetup.com about the event say that they thought some of the questions got to be a little "snarky". I agree. Though the attendees aren't journalists trying to make nice - the hard questions are the ones that people want to ask the most. I'd love to see a little more structure here - but overall it seemed to work well.
And finally, there was supposed to be time for "announcements" by the attendees at the end. Some people were looking to hire, some were looking for jobs, others wanted to announce something. I think that this is a huge problem to solve since it'd be nearly impossible to give everyone in the room the time they need. That, and once the presentations and Q&A are over, many people left rather quickly. Perhaps an announcement could be given at the beginning, that any person/company with an announcement should stay afterwards and would be given 30 seconds. Then they'd at least have the opportunity to say something like - "I'm looking for a good graphic designer, please see me if you're interested.". This opportunity was lost this time - and I heard many people expressing that they were upset about that.
Photo Credit: Yaron Samid
Geno from AOL and I
Oh, one more thing that I'm just going to inject into this post - the NY Video 2.0 Meetup needs a photographer to attend. Many events on the west coast get great photo coverage - and I'm sure video coverage won't be too big of an issue - but I've yet to find many photos of the event online so I think that someone should step up to the plate that lives in or near NYC.
Note: If you were at the NY Video 2.0 Meetup in New York and had an announcement - run over to Viddler, create a free account, use our "record with webcam" feature and put your announcement there. Be sure to share it with me or tag it with video2meetup, and I'll try to get it in from of Yaron so that we can help broadcast those announcements to all the attendees.
If you have the chance to get to one of these meetups, I highly recommend it. I had a great time - I love trying to support east coast events like this, and it was a good opportunity to meet people that work in our industry at some level. I'm looking forward to the next time I have the opportunity to meetup.
If you'd like to watch all of the presentations I was able to record them all on video and put them on Viddler. For a recap in text-form, I recommend reading through CenterNetworks coverage of the event.
[tags]new york city, nyc, video 2.0, meetup, yaron samid, centernetworks, video, viddler, columbia university[/tags]