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I have watched many webex's on the internet and enjoyed many of the great presenters. However as useful as the learning experience has been I still leave thinking "I wish I could have spoken to the presenter" or "I wish the could had shown me how to do this".  Basically I want to be able to interact with the presenter. The other day I started doing some paired programming on the open source project I run (http://www.glass.lu)  with Aaron Job. However Aaron lives in Australia and I live in the UK so we have a 9 hour time difference. We got around this by using Skype and sharing my screen, it wasn't true paired programming, I had control of the keyboard the entire time but Aaron was watching and correcting all my mistakes. It was a really enjoyable experience and we both learnt a lot from each other and have already planned to do another session this weekend. This got me thinking, how can I combine a Webex style event and paired programming? The great thing about a Webex is that you broadcast ideas to a large group of people really quickly, the great thing about paired programming is that you get to learn and engage with other people. So what about if it was possible to get groups of people together on the internet to have an "Online hack"? This is what I want to trial. The idea would be to get  a small group of people together and let them perform some hacking/group programming so that people can share, engage and learn. The people who want to get together will ideally have a problem or technology they want to explorer, for example:
  • How setup a mongo DB?
  • Writing simple monads in Scala
  • What new features are in .Net 4.5
  • Ways to solve different business problems?
  • Exploring different programming patterns.
These sessions would have a few simple rules:
  • There are no stupid questions, everyone has different experience and different areas of knowledge. Only by asking questions do people learn.
  • The person who has control of the keyboard acts as the moderator. At the moment it isn't easy to share the keyboard but VS Anywhere looks really interesting.
  • Going off topic is not a bad thing, you never know where it may lead.
  • Respect others opinions, you might love SQL Server and see no point in document databases but don't spend hours arguing about it.
What will people get out of it:
  • Firstly knowledge, you will learn something
  • You will hopefully meet friends and make connections that you might not have had
The question is how will this work? Well I only have access to Skype at the moment so I am looking for people who would interested in giving this ago via Skype (if anyone has access to something like GoToMeeting that we can use that would be great). To start with I am thinking of trying to organise a session with 5 people around any topic (please suggest). I want to start with 5 and slowly grow the size to see what the maximum number of people on a session should be, obviously having 60 people trying to program and suggest ideas won't work. If this sounds like something you would be interested in doing then please message me via Twitter or add a comment to this page. To see those other posts in this series the Online Group Programming category.
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