To tell the truth, I had zero interest in going to hack night tonight. I spent the day working from home, even further isolated from a team who's already all the way in New York, with no heat or hot water while backhoes drove around outside my window, dudes clanged pipes together under my house, and my tile guy tried to explain to me why the tiles at the edges of my bathroom weren't going to be able to be set. I was tired, beaten-down, and I just wanted to watch Netflix and fall asleep. Luckily for me, I'm the organizer of the hack night, it was my fucking idea, and I was obligated to go despite my shitty disposition.
It was awesome.
Around 7:15, I gave up on any more people showing up. We had around twenty RSVPs and there were about half that number of women there. (In hindsight, it occurs to me that both Refresh and Austin JS were also unusually small this month, but it didn't then.) I was briefly disappointed, cause we gained two new sponsors this month - Windows Phone 7 for snacks and drinks, and TabbedOut for our awesome venue - and I wanted to show them that their support wasn't wasted. But you know what? Even with only a small turnout, it wasn't wasted at all.
What happened, despite the room not being completely packed, was that we spent several hours doing nothing but talking. I think perhaps one woman got any work done. Sounds bad, right? Sounds like the beginning of one of those ridiculous analyses where they say women aren't as productive because of their inherent social drive? Consider what we talked about:
- CodeIgniter vs. Drupal
- CodeIgniter vs. MS WebMatrix
- MS Web Matrix vs. PHP
- PHP vs. CodeIgniter
- iOS development
- Android development
- the HTTP spec
- the W3C
- the HTML5 logo
- the evolution of web standards
- IE6-only intranets
- noSQL vs. RDBMS
- more stuff I can't even remember
Which is to say, we had one of the best technical conversations I can remember having in quite some time. It wasn't constrained to a single discipline and it wasn't limited by showboating or competitiveness. Everyone at the table was teaching everyone else all the cool stuff we wanted to know about. Someone would ask, "what about _____?" and someone else would pipe up with her experiences with it. And we just went on like that for several hours. I had to demand that people remember to drink the drinks and eat the snacks because everyone was fixed at the table, jumping from technology to technology as fast as they could digest the information.
Seriously, it was awesome. I don't know how to force that to happen again, but I know that I'm more excited about this group right now than I've been since the first time we met. I hope we do a lot more of this.