Based on practice at Apple, Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures provides the basic infrastructure for knowledge exchange and speaker training, while facilitating networking and collaboration among App Makers in the community. As a side effect, it generates content in the form of a video knowledge library.
The Spotlight On series at Apple is an approximately weekly lecture where an engineer presents their work to their peers. Those engineers receive speaker training, and those lectures eventually form the presentations at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference. The Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lecture series is our own implementation of the same idea.
Every week from 12:30-14:30 App Makers gather to see one of their peers give a presentation on something they’re working on, or some other interesting thing they’ve learned. These speakers optionally receive speaker training. Attendees are asked to vote speakers up or down, and those who receive at least 80% approval earn the title of Appsterdam Approved Speakers.
In addition to homegrown speakers, experts who pass through town are invited as guest lecturers. Past speakers include Aaron Hillegass of Big Nerd Ranch and Josh Clark, author of Tapworthy. At least one speaker, Hernan Pelassini of Nextive, used their appearance as justification for visiting the city.
As it is positioned as a long, working lunch, attendees are encouraged to bring sandwich toppings to share so everyone can have something to eat. This exercise in sharing adds an element of networking that encourages weekly participation regardless of topic, exposing people to new platforms, techniques, and ideas.
Together with nighttime drinks and weekend gatherings, Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures form an overall networking strategy that ensures there are social opportunities for all App Makers regardless of scheduling constraints. As opposed to other local meetups, Appsterdam events are open to everyone interested in apps, regardless of technical expertise, though some lectures may be technical in nature.
The Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures mix education and networking with the familiar benefits that each of these provide. Combined with Meeten en Drinken on the same night, the lectures provide a familiar and ongoing conference atmosphere that makes the city appealing to technologists.
The major benefit of networking is to encourage collaboration. We make this lesson explicit by encouraging people to bring food to share. There is something fundamental in sharing a meal together that bonds people together, and the generosity or stinginess of the crowd has immediate noticeable effects.
The lectures serve as a platform for knowledge exchange and capture. By filming the talks by local and guest lecturers, we are building a library of knowledge that benefits App Makers around the world to the reputation and glory of Appsterdam.
Then there are the direct and indirect benefits of the speaker training program. Local App Makers benefit by getting better at presenting to groups, and the world benefits by having its technologists better at communicating. Appsterdam benefits by having its speakers dominate conferences and classrooms around the world.
As a core initiative, Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures are meant to be grassroots gatherings that do not generate expenses. Facilities are donated, currently by Innovatielab.
Although lunch is provided by attendees, they are encouraged to provide that food. Some money is spent on basics like bread and drinks, but that comes out of a small slush fund of donations from attendees who do not bring anything to share.
The greater challenge in terms of real and human capital are the videos we record of each lecture. Current hardware are the cell phone cameras provided by the Appsterdam AV Club, so there is room for better cameras and sound equipment.
While we are using existing infrastructure such as YouTube to avoid bandwidth costs, there is a local storage requirement that will require purchasing a hard disk. There is also a backlog of videos nobody has had time to process.
Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures are the ultimate responsibility of the Chief Community Officer, though in practice they are managed by the Coordinator of the Appsterdam Speaker Bureau.