Ljubljana Tech Community – We have a problem

Let’s be honest – our tech community is slowing down. We’re organizing less meetups than in previous years. Without them, we’re losing the culture of sharing. While everyone focused on entrepreneurship and startups, we took engineers and developers for granted. This means that we now have less senior developers available, than a few years ago. Good ones are not working for local companies anymore. So who trains the novice developers?

This will be a problem, for many different groups of people.

Developers need to talk to other developers

We’re not challenging each other with new approaches and ideas. Reading on the internet about some new tech, is not enough. You want to have a a discussion with a person that just implemented it. Building on experience of your peers, is the best way to kickstart the project.

Technical leads need success stories

Nobody wants to be the first to try something new. So seeing smaller success stories, makes it easier to start your own. You can also contribute to a small niche of consulting and training. If your company starts to invest into one technology, more people will join you. That way you’ll have access to extra talent, if you need it.

Entrepreneurs need their developers to be able to teach

Great tech companies brag about their solutions. Not the CEOs, but their developers. Every chance they have, they’ll talk about hard problems and how to solve them. In a world, where we keep producing CRUD applications, it’s hard to find novelty.

But that only happens if the company encourages them. First they have too see their CTO’s and lead developer give talks. Sponsor event and host them at their offices. Once you have good role models in place, it’s much easier for everyone. They have to encourage and give space to younger ones, so they can practice. It also means that they recognize that learning goes both ways.

This has an added side effect, that makes it easier to recruit new developers.

OK, enough problems – what are the solutions?

Easy way – send everyone to conferences abroad. There are many excellent conferences around Europe, any many of us are there. But it’s often the same people. The same people that already  give talks and organize events. It’s also likely that they’re not working for a local company. Distributed companies are not picky where their developers live.

It’s also rather expensive.

So that leaves us with the hard solution. I checked the stats of a few different meetup groups. Most of them seem to do 2 – 3 meetups per year. Looking at speakers, they come from a small group of developers.

That’s troubling, because it leads to burnout and lack of new ideas. There is only so much you can learn in a year.

To make this work, we need to inspect the building blocks of a good community. We already have shared interests in different technologies. We wouldn’t be visiting these events otherwise.

What we need to figure out

1. How do we get more people to organize events? Can we encourage small group of people to take care of certain domain. That way the pressure is not on the individual.

2. How do we find new IT companies. Slovenian IT sector is larger than the 5 startups we see everywhere. It’s good to see them paying it forward, but what about the others? If you look at all the companies that are hiring – why are they not present? Why don’t we see CTOs from marketing agencies talk and sponsor?

3. What kind of support do they need? It a problem to find a space, make announcements or something else? Can we build a network of individuals that can help out. That way we don’t need to negotiate about the space every single time.

4. What else? Is it something more simple – like just having a set schedule and following it?

When I wrote the description of local WebCamp, it was simple. We’re doing this event, because that’s the kind of community we want. I believe having active meetup scene, follows the same ideals.

But it’s an issue that is bigger than any individual. We need to recognize that it’s a problem and start doing something. Not just organizing events, but getting more allies on our side. Teach business and marketing professional the importance of tech community.

We need to make sure, that we’re building the community that we want.

1 thought on “Ljubljana Tech Community – We have a problem

  1. Good points about, I think, real problem. However when thinking about personal experiences I find myself less drawn to talk or attend because I find most existing talks boring. Too many of them feel like sales pitches for a currently fashionable framework that don’t go much beyond intro tutorial. There are few opportunities to discuss why something works the way it does instead of how. I wish more talks were presented by a bit jaded users of technology instead of its champions.

    Not sure how that would fit with growing novices, but I would hope it would be of use to them too.

Comments are closed.