EFFatx Meetup (May 2012)

by Gregory Foster

EFF Austin Convenes

EFF Austin Convenes

EFF Austin is about as ready as we can be to start up monthly meetings again. That’s the kind of frank honesty we’d like to cultivate when it comes to all of our activities. We’re a volunteer-run organization and all of the board members are very busy individually – as are the folks on our discussion email list and those interested in meeting up. After much reflection, the board feels that convening and information sharing is the most important function we can perform at this time. There are unprecedented efforts underway to encroach on hard-earned civil liberties online and disrupt the structure and function of the Internet. So we’re not as concerned about simulating professionalism in event organizing, and more concerned about providing a forum for people to come together and connect.

Towards that end, we want to encourage your participation and solicit your help. This coming Tuesday May 8th, we’ll re-inaugurate our monthly meetups from 6-8pm at the ATX Hackerspace. After the Bruce Sterling event, the good folks at the Hackerspace were kind enough to welcome EFF Austin to host meetings there on 2nd Tuesdays. That works out very well for both organizations as there is natural overlap in our memberships. It’s especially satisfying as ATX Hackerspace opens their doors to potential new members on Tuesdays from 8-11pm. So you can come to the EFF Austin meetup—which will naturally pique your curiosity about the amazing space and community—and then stay afterwards to get a full tour of the facilities and learn how to become a member. Definitely check out their flatbed laser cutter and 3D printers!

After discussion on the board and conversations with the EFFatx community, we’ve come up with the following meeting structure. This is open to revision as we learn what works best for everyone, so consider this a starting point.

  1. Welcome – 5 minutes by EFFatx staff.
  2. Ignite/Lightning/Pecha Kucha Format Talks – 20 minutes; 3-5 minutes each on any subject of relevance to the group; slides or no slides; here’s your chance to let folks know what you’re interested in and direct attention to the latest events; sign up in advance or on the spot.
  3. Legislative Update (Local, State, National, Int’l) – 10 minute survey and discussion of the legislation EFFatx staff is tracking; we’d love to open this up to hear reports but will need to work on the best format – might be better integrated w/ Lightning talks?
  4. Speaker 1 – 30 minutes; speaker and subject to be arranged in advance; get in touch with us if you would like to present, we’re always looking for folks interested in talking.
  5. Break – 5-10 minutes.
  6. Door Prizes – we have swag you want; happy to work with organizations or individuals who have swag to donate.
  7. Speaker 2 – 30 minutes; speaker and subject to be arranged in advance.
  8. Conclusion – final calls to action and encouragement to explore the ATX Hackerspace.

So you might be wondering what our first meeting will cover? Frankly – so am I! In other words, if you’re ready to go with a subject for one of our talks or ignite sessions, step up. Otherwise, volunteer at the meeting and EFFatx staff will fill in the slots. If called on, we’d probably cover CISPA and the litany of dangerous cybersecurity legislation in one of the talks, and perhaps use the second one for some meta-level reflection on our meeting structure and solicitation for future talks. I’d also like to discuss my desire to integrate remote participants into the meeting format. We live in a connected world and the issues we are confronting are often global in scope. We want to bring remote speakers and participants into the discourse, and consider that fundamental to our process of convening. We think that shift in thinking alone portends good things for the issues that EFF Austin focuses on, and the imperative we feel to get like minds better organized.

So pipe up if you would like to help out, and we hope to see you on Tuesday May 8th at the ATX Hackerspace. Remember: 2nd Tuesdays at ATX Hackerspace.

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