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Show HN: Many to Many, a different kind of tech meetup (London, UK)
39 points by hafabnew on Mar 10, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments
We love tech events. But often the one-to-many talk format is a bit hit and miss. Sometimes you learn lots of wonderful new things, but frequently the talks are too long and of questionable quality.

Watching someone go over the basics of a library/technology/etc in a real life presentation generally didn't provide a lot of value to us. Instead, we always found the best parts were in the questions and discussions at the end of each talk - except this time was often cut off in order to make room for the next talk.

What we wanted was a smaller, more intimate event aimed at talking through the technology side of building startups. One didn't exist, so we decided to do something about that and created Many to Many.

Many to Many is aimed at fostering group discussion instead of the traditional 'one person talks to audience' format. There are 3 discussions topics per event, each discussion leader will open with a short (5m max) introduction, before opening up to a half-hour group discussion. The idea is that everyone shares their experiences, asks questions and learns from each other. We've been running this event since last July, and have had some amazingly positive feedback from people.

The event is mainly aimed at engineers interested in web/mobile startups in London, but we happily get designers and product people attending and leading discussions too! The event is free, and being a startup event, naturally pizza, beer and soft drinks are all provided :).

The next event is on Thursday 20th of March, and is held near Old Street, London, UK, the leaders and discussion topics this time are:

- Ollie Glass: "Turning hacks into products"

- Rob Elkin "Communication between developers"

- (final discussion leader TBC)

If this sounds like something that interests you, please do sign up on: http://www.manytomany.co.uk/

Thanks!





Another great twist on the meetup is the http://houseofgenius.org format. One of the challenges to open discussion is the way in which people conform to roles and hierarchies. In House of Genius gatherings, there is a veil of anonymity that helps release participants from these roles. The result is addictive. You find developers, VCs, political leaders, artists, and other successful people sharing and learning in ways they can't find through any other avenues in their lives.


This is a nice idea. We had tried this once in Bangalore, however, there was two major challenges.

1. Not enough people asking great questions. 2. The answers to questions was only vocal, with no presentation or material to back it up.

The first was easily solved by seeding a few question in the public to get things moving. However the number 2 was a major problem. Many people were not able to connect to the answers/discussions.

I would love to know if you are able to solve the 2nd problem.

Thought I would share my experience.


It is a problem indeed. We found the best solution to #2 is to avoid any massively niche topics. For example, "has anyone used <specific Python library>" isn't great for a group conversation: it instantly excludes people who haven't used that library, as well as people who don't know Python. Instead we try to stick to topics which everyone can relate to (even weakly), e.g. process-related topics are great for this.


Fab! Certainly interests me. I've signed up for the announce list. I don't work for a startup but we're pretty small and "start up" like.


Would you guys want to run one in Cambridge? I'd be happy to liaise with you as there's quite a few geeky meetups here in the Silicon Fen


I've been feeling the same frustration regards meetups recently, so definitely share the sentiment.Unfortunately, while I work with developers quite often, I'm not actually a developer, but I'd love to participate in a meetup where it's more discussion focused.

If you decide to address other topics such as business, marketing, management. I'd love to be a part of it.


Totally agree. We're planning on doing ones for marketing/management/etc in the future.


OK. In that case, please keep me posted. I'd be happy to pitch-in. Contact details in profile. :)


Really interesting conversations everytime I went.


I spoke at Many to Many a couple of months ago. A very interesting, different sort of meetup. Recommended.


Looks good, I'll try to make it!


Very interesting idea, thanks for sharing.

My question would be how do you make sure the quieter members speak up and it's not just the same people talking all the time? Is this something the moderator just has to watch for?


Good question -- it's hard! It is partially up to the moderator, but their job is more on the side preventing people from hogging the conversation, i.e. giving the opportunity for everyone to say something. Naturally we encourage everyone to talk if they have something to contribute, but we can't force them to :).


Maybe you can "force" people to contribute. If someone signs up to attend a many-to-many gathering then they are agreeing to be more than a passive observer.

One way to facilitate this is to have "go arounds" in which everyone says something, in order to get a sense of people's reactions and the best direction for the conversation. Another option is for the facilitator to know something about everyone and then to call on people (without their raising their hands) to keep the conversation moving.


From my experience as an event organiser, there are some ppl who just won't come if you do that.

We run a popular Meetup that does introductions. You can say lots or you can just say "I'm james and I'm here For The free drink." And even with that easy out, there are still occasionly ppl who don't want to say a single word and wont.

You can try and set the tone that everyone can contribute. The moderator can say things like "does anyone who hasn't spoken yet Want to add anything?". Rounds and moderators calling on ppl is good to.

I wouldn't like to try actually forcing tho.


cool idea, you should think about using crowdsound.io to do even more interesting interactive stuff, and yes, it is my app.




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