Why I Started a .Net User Group

If there is dissatisfaction with the status quo, good. If there is ferment, so much the better. If there is restlessness, I am pleased. Then let there be ideas, and hard thought, and hard work.” – Hubert H. Humphrey

Last year I started a journey. For years, I had been observing people interact in groups. I had gotten to know the SQL Server community over twitter and saw how they interacted with each other. How their concept of #SQLFamily spanned more than just a common technical bond. They liked being around each other; they were friends. I also started to hang around the South Florida WordPress community. I saw how they bonded together when one of their own was in a life threatening motorcycle accident. They gave not only their sympathy but their time and money.

Then I started to wonder, why isn’t the .Net community like this in Miami? To be honest Broward and West Palm Beach have some good .Net communities. The annual South Florida Code Camp has fourteen tracks and over 1,000 registrations. Dave Norderer (blog | twitter) who organizes the Code Camp does an amazing job with the event. So if South Florida can host one of the largest Code Camps in the country why can’t we have a vibrant .Net community in Miami? This question came to a head for me when three of the Visual Studio team members came to South Florida. The Miami User Group hosted the event but there were only twenty or so people there. That really got me thinking about the nature of community. If developers won’t come out to an event where the people that writes the tool that they use everyday are there why would they come to an event at all? Can’t they get great training from home via the internet with sites like Pluralsight or Tekpub? Why do people even get involved in community? More importantly why should I and why should I care?

I pondered these questions for a few months still observing the SQL Server and WordPress communities. During Tech-Ed I wondered out of my pre-con and into the INETA User Group Leader Summit. I’m not quite sure what drove me there. Probably my curiosity of successful communities and wanting to meet up with some acquaintances that were attending. I think I had more questions after the Summit then I did before but I met some really great folks that shared their thoughts on community throughout that week. It was there that I decided to create something instead of just criticizing. To put myself out there and build a community in Miami. What I realized that week that it doesn’t take an uber MVP community guru leader to start a user group just someone who’s willing. I also realized that I had a desire, a need, to connect with others that shared the same passion that I have about technology.

I still haven’t had all of my questions answered. In fact, I have more questions about the nature of communities now then when I started. But now that I’m a part of a community I can start investigating answers to these questions while making the Miami technical community a better place. That may be the biggest reason to build community after all.

Visit our community at http://www.dotnetmiami.com.