AUTHOR
Dalibor Pulkert

Mdevtalk #1: From an Idea to 250 Participants

Our mDevTalk event series kicked off with a bang! Over 250 people attended the first event and we've received fantastic feedback so far. If you're curious about how we built this vibrant community, join me for a behind-the-scenes look.

The Czech Republic lacks a community of mobile developers. We're trying to change that.

There are events that revolve around mobile apps, but they fail to go deep. The community itself confirmed this to us right away.

My idea of the platform was clear: we don't want a conference and the unilateral dictate of the organiser. It would be great if there was a breeding ground for a community to meet regularly, show each other the source code and move forward. The main idea is to connect developers regardless of the company they work for and the platform they develop for. I want to forget the animosity between competitors, unfortunately so typical for the limited Czech environment.

Let us unite and show the world that there are capable developers in Central Europe. mDevTalk organisers.

I didn't want to end up just daydreaming. I started looking for allies around me. I found out that this idea is shared also by Michal Šrajer from Avast and Martin Půlpitel from Ackee. Our goal is not self-promotion of the organising companies. The reason for our connection is simple: three wands are harder to break than one. We needed to build a stable partnership, without which we would not have been able to organise the event in the long term.

“Three runners run further when they pass the baton.” From left: Dean Tvrdík, Martin Půlpitel from Ackee, Michal Šrajer from Avast and Dalibor Pulkert from Etnetera.

We are still at the beginning and we are still learning. We dream that in time individual members will come forward to organise a community meeting in Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen, Bratislava...anywhere. In agreement with Michal, we chose the name mDevTalk just to connect the event mDevCamp, which is organised by Avast (formerly Inmite) for the sixth year, and to make sure that it is clear that this is a mobile community.

Lectures or workshops? Paid registration?

The first conference call of the implementation team took place at the end of 2015. At that time we had only one speaker, a Wordpress template and a lot of ideas, which we had desperately little time to implement. We opted for collaboration in Trello. The Ideas and To-Dos were filling up. Before the first mDevTalk we have processed an impressive 91 cards (4 are still hanging in the In progress column).

We are still debating the ideal format for lectures. At first we wanted to build the evening around one speaker and periodically alternate the focus on Android and iOS. As you know, we abandoned this model and decided to give the floor to several speakers and topics at the same time. Still, we don't know yet how well this format suits you.

Would you rather have one speaker to guide you through a theoretical introduction and a hands-on workshop in the code itself? Should we try a voting system to select speakers like it is done in Barcamp?

Your opinions in the comments or in an email can move us in the right direction.

There were also big question marks over the method of registration. We talked about Eventbrite and admission fees, which would help us better estimate how many of you will actually show up for the first ever mDevTalk. Our priority was to make sure that everyone could come to the event and that the community gained as many supporters as possible. Now we know that out of 270 registrations on srazy.info 180 of you came, dozens more arrived without registration. Is this really a common ratio? Only the next mDevTalk evenings will tell.

Day M

Thursday afternoon, preparations are at their peak. We meet at FIT ČVUT at 4:30 pm. We put on our organiser's T-shirts and sit down to do the registrations. We hand out badges, stickers, smiles and snacks. The lecture hall is filling up fast.

After the introductory speech of the Dean Prof. Tvrdík, the first speaker took the floor. We are grateful that our invitation was accepted by Petr Zadražil from Google. He speaks about TensorFlow libraries which Google recently released as open-source. For example, if you use Google Translate, the TensorFlow library helps you in the background. How does it work? Petr talks about neural networks and shows us a video that explains the whole miracle in a few minutes.

How does artificial intelligence actually learn? That's what Petr Zadražil from Google explained to us.

Petr Šíma is coming. While his Onewheel charges in the corner, he rolls up his sleeves and engages in functional-reactive programming. We dig into the source code, repeatedly build new versions of the application and examine how "it" behaves. At the end, he shows an interesting tool, the ReactiveCocoa counter.

The last speaker is Petr Hamernik and he talks about Geneea, a product for extracting information from text. Among other things, the intelligent algorithm detects the mood of the text and is able to pick up sarcasm. Will the priority of emails soon be determined by their sentiment?

About a quarter of the participants continue with us to the afterparty at Cafe Prostoru_ in the National Technical Library where we debate new findings and get fresh feedback. It seems to have worked out well. One week after mDevTalk, the whole team had a retrospective event. We have a good feeling about the January event. We look forward to introducing you to a new topic. In two months, we have a new chance to get closer to your idea of the ideal community meeting. Small steps, but still. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday 31 March at mDevtalk #2!

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