There is no question that the explosion of social media has made it easier to keep in touch with friends, families and business contacts, but it still doesn’t – nor should it – replace the value of meeting in person. I am definitely guilty of relying on social media, email and other forms of digital communications from time to time, when sometimes going to lunch or having some coffee in person would be far more productive and meaningful. This is why I was interested in Meetup.
Meetup is a social network that encourages like-minded people to take their relationships offline and meet. Basically, you look for groups of people in your area that are interested in the same thing you are – it could be gardening, cooking, film, heavy metal music – really whatever. You can then join a group, have a conversation online, but also schedule regular “meetups” to discuss your interests in person. The meetups tend to be informal – at coffee houses or bars – and often don’t have a set agenda.
This got me thinking – should I start a group and take Digital Qatar’s community offline from time to time? I’ve noticed some more traction on the blog (thanks everyone!) and thought it might be cool to get a group together a few times a year here in Doha to talk about anything and everything technology. Is this something you would all consider being a part of?
Well I went ahead and decided I would form a “Digital Qatar Techie” group, try to grow membership and see what happened. I logged into the site, went to “Start a Meetup Group” and proceeded to go through the basics, picking a theme and finding the right members. Then I got to “plans and pricing.” What?! This service isn’t free?! Suddenly Meetup became far less appealing to me.
A little more research and I found that only the group creator needs to pay for the account – it is free to be a member and engage with the group. The pricing is not all that much – $12 per month if you register it for 6 months, but still, if the group catches on, you would need to keep renewing. I am pretty sure I could get my employer to pay for the creation of the group, but that again brings me to the question: would you be interested in joining a Meetup group on technology?
Right now there are only three Meetup groups in Doha – and two of them only have one member. Clearly there is a ways to go before this catches on here, but maybe techies are the most logical first “big” group. Let me know your thoughts and if I get enough positive feedback I’ll start a group and aim for our first techie meetup right after Ramadan.