Moving the Community Forward

Today is the last day that the PASS and SQL Saturday websites will be active. It’s possible that they will be shut down as this post gets published, and if so, I will be sad for their loss. I’ve already moved my SQL Saturday.com bookmark to https://sqlsathistory.com/, where André Kamman has captured quite a bit of the data.

In any case, the organization will cease to exist, though I expect to learn about the fate of SQLSaturday.com in the next few days. I put in a bid, but I know some other organizations have as well, and I expect one of them to acquire the brand.

I don’t quite know how to move forward, but I have a few ideas here, at the local and global levels, and this is my proposal.

One Day Free Tech Events

SQL Saturday was dreamed up by Andy Warren, with Brian Knight and myself helping to implement it. The idea was to bring a conference experience to many people that would not otherwise get the chance to attend an event like SQL Bits, the Data Platform Summit, or the PASS Summit. The idea was to help the local communities run their own events.

This succeeded beyond my wildest dreams, and I look forward to continuing this work. Whether under the SQLSaturday.com domain, DataSaturdays.com domain, or something else, I hope that these events not only continue virtually,  but that 2021 will see some live events in physical locations.

In order to do that, I do think that some sort of organization is needed to help steer and manage the branding and common tools. Many organizers not only appreciate, but need help in running events. My view is that this organization needs to be open and transparent, unlike how the SQLSaturday brand was managed in the recent past.

My hope is that a non-profit organization, with transparency, is formed and can manage any assets in a way that prevents a dependency on any individual or commercial organization. I would envision this as the following public characteristics:

  • open proposals from the community or board of directors
  • open discussion and debate of proposals
  • timely and open voting on issues by the board of directors
  • open source tools that enable event coordination and execution
  • open books of any and all financial details*
  • public guidelines, with limited rules or requirements for association with the brand
  • flexibility to allow organizers to run events in a variety of ways.

There are many details to be worked out, and certainly many concerns from the previous way in which the PASS organization operated, but I am confident there are ways to continue to promote and advocate for local events.

Local and Virtual Chapters

Most local chapters have operated very independently with few dependencies on PASS, and I expect they will continue to do so. I do hope that they maintain connections with each other for mutual assistance and knowledge sharing.

I would recommend that chapters ensure they have a mailing list that is accessible by at least two individuals. I would also say that they should ensure they have a public website. There are a few options available from different sources if anyone does not wish to manage their own. Please sign up with one or both of these.

I would encourage user groups to also register their meetings with https://callfordataspeakers.com/ to help them find individuals that might present at their meetings.

Andy Warren has other thoughts, and I would encourage chapter leaders to read and share them.

Speakers

Many speakers maintain their own schedules, lists of resources and more. The growth of many speakers and their willingness to present at events all over the world has been one of the incredible things that came about as SQL Saturdays grew and spread. I hope this continues, and that means speakers need to continue to find opportunities to practice and deliver their sessions.

I would encourage all speakers to do the following:

In addition, everyone should ensure they have a place to share code and Powerpoint/PDF/session materials. I have seen many options, and these are good options:

  • A blog (WordPress or otherwise)
  • OneDrive/Box/DropBox/etc.
  • GitHub repos/pages
  • YouTube – Save recordings of your sessions

There are many ways in which people share, and I would certainly encourage speakers to share their own methods that others might learn from and implement on them.

A Final PASS Chapter

I’ve seen a few people write about the end of PASS and the future (Andy, Andy, Tim, Brent, and more). I’m disappointed that there isn’t an organization (right now) that promotes things, but I am glad PASS ended. It hasn’t been run well or with a primary focus on community good in a long time.

Hopefully we can move forward in new ways that improve on what we’ve had and continue to drive the community forward.

* I do recognize that the timeliness of financial disclosures can be difficult at times, but any and all filings, revenue received, and expenses incurred should be available.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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