Geek Habits for Non-Geeks: event postscript

Geek habits workshopBig thanks to everyone who came along last night: the weather was really dreadful (extra cake for you lot next time)! For those who attended: a PDF of my slides (9 mb), and the page of exercise links.
I think the event went pretty well: the feedback was positive from geeks and non-geeks alike.

My favourite moment was the stony faces when I put a blackly comic/gruesome bbc news article on screen. I had so misjudged how people would react (horror rather than laughter….) I felt compelled to laugh at myself for putting it in! Definitely a “Doh!” moment. Workshop attendees take note: I found this article by searching for “funny bbc” at delicious.

I’ve learned a lot too. Part of my reason for running the event was to learn more about how to convey ideas to people. Here’s some points:

  • I didn’t know it beforehand, but people at the event were at very different levels of understanding. For example, I jumped straight in assuming that people understood already what a blog was. I perhaps need to work on some clear definitions earlier in the workshop.
  • The whole thing was a bit longer than I planned! I don’t think people were bored, but I want to get the ideas across quicker next time, or perhaps cover less (but more effectively).
  • I didn’t mention the benefits of some habits early+clearly enough, so we went straight to trying things before people had really understood why they would use something. I plan on trying to make the exercises more relevant to the individuals next time.
  • The way I had planned the exercises was a bit unmanageable: I put the main instructions on the projector screen and got people to use a page of links at the same time. I really thought this would be a good way for people to run through exercises on the web while keeping the instructions visible elsewhere. It didn’t work that well, so I’m going to rethink this.
  • I’m sort of glad that not everyone who signed up attended: many more than 11 and the time available for Q+A or discussion might have been a problem.
  • I didn’t really have time to go through some of the more specific geek habits (e.g. GTD stuff). I think there’s room there for a series, its too much for one workshop.

Most interesting thing I learned about myself: at one point, Josh asked me what Feedburner was used for (it wasn’t part of the workshop). I rattled off a quick answer something like this – “it sits in between your site and the people using your feeds and tells you how many people are using it”. He said afterwards that he’d spent ages on their site trying to figure out what it was for (Gillian said the same thing), but that my description cleared it up instantly.

What’s funny is that I made up an on-the-spot quick description that works better than anything on their site, when I’ve just spent literally days working on materials/metaphors to explain concepts like feeds (with only mixed success)!

This leads me to question the usefulness of my slides, perhaps I need less of them: instead produce a very short conceptual description that does the job (which is supported by a slide).

I’m fairly confident I’m going to run more of these (watch this space all new feed subscribers!). James has suggested that perhaps I run some sort of monthly advice workshop, and this ties in with Gillian’s suggestion that we do a Q+A before the talk bit so that I can gauge understanding and interests first.

Thanks to Gavin for the photo above (and for being our resident geek!), Graeme for being the resident blogger, and James+Ian again for the use of the space.

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