... and here I sit for the first time in 3 days alone with my thoughts outside Brighton railway station in glorious Autumn sunshine. ICON13 is over and real life drifts around me in ill advised shorts, double entendre tee-shirts and the occasional "kiss me quick" hat. Sitting on the low wall it occurs to me that I have been told by many people that we are afforded moments of clarity when all become clear and this wibbly wobbly continuum we call home makes perfect sense - sadly this is most definitely not one of those moments.
This post is not a plea to anyone to do anything or am getting all cross and pointing the finger and attributing blame it is simply the passing observations of a willing surfer dude who has enjoyed riding the wave of geek enthusiasm that Kitty and Warren and the rest of the team have provided year on year for the last 7 years.
I have been honoured to be a small and sometimes profane cog in the Lego Technic engine Kitty and Warren have crafted these 7 years and more out of the raw materials of knowledge, dedication, enthusiasm, the deadly cat herding skills of a ninja manager and when all else fails Kitty's tablet ... like all things I have found that echo with that indefinable "something" that sets apart the really great from the mundane I did not want it to end. .... but thing do end tis the nature of things and I (indeed we) need to look to the future and ensure that Kitty's and Warren's legacy in building a conference that has during its span changed from a simple crowd of geeks into a living breathing community of colleagues and indeed lots and lots of firm friends! As I sip my extra large 4 shot mocha I wonder what will come next but tis too early to speculate -
Hey ho *sigh* as a "helper" and I use the word helper advisably, I shall miss the craic of being in a team with a purpose and a pretty good and very satisfying purpose at that and with my next sip i remember that like 100's of others I was an attendee first. Dare I say it the single more important and yes vital ingredient for UKLUG, ILUG and ICON were the attendees. I can still vividly remember the day when I wandered from a Rob McDonagh/Julian Robichaux hour of Web Agent magic into a hour of Bill Buchan at his very best. I was stunned, I was invigorated, I was inspired, I went home buzzing with a head full of ideas that went into the admin/dev teams I was working with and promptly led us in new directions that lead to our end users getting faster and better service from the company's investment in Domino.
Those 7 years of GB LUGS did for this one attendee much much much more that just be 3 days away from the office with the chance of a few pens and memory sticks. Although I have no actual metrics to back this up I am as sure as I can be that the LUGs were the driving force that took me to the next levels year on year enabling me to make a difference in the other 362 days of my professional life and that is just so fecking awesome!. I am sure I am not alone in that particular feeling and the feeling of loss is palpable.
I am at heart an old slightly unkempt hippy and my character was formed in that era of "vibes" and aqs an attendee, speaker and putterupper/takerdowner of things at LUGs the vibe was good. Indeed if truth be told it was a top drawer, primo, organic, free range excellent vibe (Young readers please note I did resist putting "Dude" at the end of that sentence as I completed the 12 step patchouli oil addiction program in 1979 and I have no wish to go through THAT again). The vibe came from the speakers who spoke because they knew their stuff and wanted to share it just because they could. The sponsors who stumped up the cash to run the event recognised the LUG Vibe and never pushed the commercial side to hard I think because they saw the value of talking to customers and potential customers both at the booths and then later in the bar in a more convivial friendly atmosphere.
I think the LUGs are the "Farmers Market" of the community. The LUGs are the place you go to get the "special" stuff you cannot get in the high street. Don't get me wrong there is a place for the high street with the big shops we will always need them - BUT - there is a synergy between the formal and informal events that keep things fresh, vibrant and enthused.
I would love to go Connect, sadly it is unlikely I ever will but as a distant (and envious) observer the somewhat locked down Disneyfied formality and the sheer size of the endeavour makes me wonder if I would enjoy it as I do the LUGs ... very probably ... but in a very different way. I suppose what I am trying to say is the LUGs were "ours" and I have an affinity for what I is mine and I am saddened to have lost that and I think that the community will be much much less for it if a "postLUG" event does not fill the vacuum.
So my coffee is nearly done, and in 10 minutes I shall board my train and close the door on one part of my life that has been filled with education, laughter, amazement, friendship and the very best of company - it is really quite sad.
So here I sit like Schrodinger's cat in a dark box wondering where the nice Physics Geeks have gone and who ate all the tuna. - I wonder what I will find when the box is opened?