More Community Minded | March 18, 2004

A few of you may remember a spat I had with a few individuals on my local mailing list a couple of weeks back. The spat left me feeling distinctly negative towards the local web community, and as a result I signed off the list and was thinking seriously about packing my SkillSwap project in.

Since leaving the list, there have been more spats and more people have left, some of whom have been there from the start. At one point, it really looked like the list was going to implode. Luckily it looks like the message may finally be getting across to the individuals concerned, and things seem to be calming down. Over the last couple of days, I’ve been to two local web community events, and was extremely impressed with positive vibe at both.

On Monday, I ran a SkillSwap event entitled “The Business of Freelancing”. The event was extremely popular and heavily oversubscribed. This was partly down to the excellent speakers we had in the shape of Jonathan Hirsh and Tom Nixon, and partly due to the timeliness of the talk. The web business really seems to be picking up at the moment and quite a few people are taking the leap from full time work into freelancing. There seems to be much more business around at the moment, something confirmed by the speakers and the attendees alike.

The talk went down really well. Both presenters had plenty of material, and each could have done a whole SkillSwap just on their own. However, having two presenters worked really well, as each came from a different background and had a different approach.

Jon’s talk was very much focused on the practicalities of being a Freelancer. He talked about having good contracts, book keeping and tax, trading statuses etc, as well as more prosaic topics such as networking and elevator pitches. Tom’s talk revolved around what potential employers want from a freelancer. He discussed the best way to approach agencies looking for work, and gave examples of good (and bad) email people had sent him when replying to job adverts. He talked about reliability and the fact that companies will hire a freelancer to “take the pain away”. If your interested in finding out more about these talks, you can download the presentations from the SkillSwap archive.

After the presentations, we all went for drinks and were joined by a number of other local web folk. The pub talk was all extremely positive and it was good to put more faces to names as it were.

Then last night the BNM had a social down at Riki Tik’s. I was really impressed by the turnout. Loads of people came down, and I had another matching faces to names session. There were a lot of people there who I didn’t recognise, so I’m sure there must have been a big lurker contingent.

Again, the atmosphere was extremely positive. Loads of people came up to talk to me about SkillSwap and hopefully I have the next couple of speakers sorted. If everything works out, the next couple of events will be an “Intro to OS X”, “Javascript, the New Black” and hopefully a Flash talk from recent Flash Forward returnee Pete Barr-Watson.

Overall, a couple of very positive nights that have helped revive my faith in the local web community. It’s really easy to mistake the loud voices of a few vocal community members as a general feeling of negativity. However in truth, it’s only a few people resonating these negative vibes, and on the whole, Brighton has a very active web community.

Posted at March 18, 2004 11:32 AM


pid said on March 18, 2004 1:35 PM


i see you got your google ads then. :o)

i’ve just packed my job in to go out and seek my fortune (or similar). it’s exciting, but also quite daunting. Skillswap topic is good timing, cheers.

Jason said on March 19, 2004 6:25 PM

“The spat left me feeling distinctly negative towards the local web community, and as a result I signed off the list…The pub talk was all extremely positive and it was good to put more faces to names as it were.”

the same thing happened here in Toronto. hopefully cooler heads have prevailed and our social group can move forward. web designers and beer just seem to go well together.