Two months on and the alt.net movement (that's right folks, by the only definition that matters, it's a movement) is showing no signs of slowing down. Over at the discussion group, there is muy talk on a myriad of topics, including some threads on how to talk in the discussion group itself which seems kinda metaphysical until you actually read the posts.
For my own part, my perception has altered ever so slightly. I'm still very much excited at the direction but I had a little mini-crisis of conscience about how much time I was spending on some of the more useless threads. And not wanting to add to the problem by replying to them, I voted instead with my mail reader. That is, I went through the alt.net-labelled mail and start pruning. Ruthlessly. Anything that had no direct impact on my work or added nothing to my sense of professional development - deleted for good. If there was any doubt, I trashed it.
If I wanted to be melodramatic, I'd say it was an uplifting, cathartic, and spiritual experience. But let's keep things grounded here. It's just deleting e-mail. If I were to be totally honest, all it really did was knock a few megs out of my inbox. But when I was done, I had gone from about 380 conversations to just under 250.
So with all the talk of whether the discussion group was going to pot and with all the head-shaking I'm doing about whether I'm wasting my time, there are still 250 genuinely interesting conversations that I would like to keep track of in some form. Seems pretty relevant to me.
The other thing I gave some thought to was how all of this would impact me in the near future. There is a lot of talk about what alt.net is and what it should be and what the logo is and what direction it's going. All of it valid and necessary to be sure (although all posts in these topics didn't make the cut), but I wanted some real tangible calls to action. Something I could write on a sticky note and put on my personal scrum wall.
And I'll tell you who I think is doing things the right way in this regard. Not someone who posts regularly on the discussion group (if at all). Rather, he's been spending his time touring Canada speaking at no less than six user groups in the last two months. It's the Igloo Coder, Donald Belcham, who apparently believes there's no better way to spend a brisk Canadian December evening than talking brownfield development techniques in Winnipeg.
Donald is braving prairie snows, 6:00am flights, and some dangerously friendly airline staff to get the word out. And you should talk to him about the reaction he's getting which, from what I've heard, is nothing less than stellar. Techniques that many of us take for granted are killing in eastern Canada. He's had to shift presentations midstream because people were so into his talk on TDD that they wanted more on that rather than whatever it was he had planned.
So when I think about what I want to accomplish in the next six months to a year, yes, it will probably include the likes of DevTeach and Canada's alt.net conference. But let's not forget that there are a lot of people out there outside alt.net that just want to learn how to do their jobs better. And they probably aren't that far away from you.
Kyle the Planned