Last year I started a conference - I was looking for a barcamp style conference that I could really enjoy going to - that would be full of topics I wanted to cover. It eventually got named The Exceptional Conference (given Illegal Argument as the theme) - and it got a good turnout. However, the topics really didn't interest me all that much. They interested a lot of other people however and the feedback was good. We got some Pizza sponsorship from Fronde, the rest was paid for by my company Blue Train Software Ltd.
We had a few people come up from Wellington - which was excellent, I enjoy John and Nigel's company and it was great to meet the other guys who seem to form a really informed and friendly group. John and Nigel decided to run one in Wellington and so it was simply polite that I went - Mark and I went down (I took my son Xavier with me). Unfortunately it was pretty much the same topics, so I didn't enjoy it a whole lot. I felt pretty guilty about that - John, Nigel, and the VUW crew had gone to a lot of trouble to organize it - I just couldn't get into it. Later I just realized that my original goal - something discussing things that I am interested in is hard to find at conferences - even ones of such a small size. I get it from the IllegalArgument podcast, but only in general chat. I also found there wasn't enough core-geek depth.
So when Nigel asked when the next conference was going to take place I said I'd bow out of this one, but more prodding from Nigel and Mark got me thinking, and I really appreciate that they did prod.
What I realized I wanted in reflection was what John, Nigel, Mark and myself did at the start of all this - a geek weekend or even just a single day where we could take a topic or idea and really explore it - a small number of people (4 in that case - perhaps up to 8?) would probably work. Idea had to be fairly tight, people shouldn't know too much about it otherwise its not a learning experience - or perhaps they should - I don't know yet. Close environment, good for pairing, good food, good drinks (coffee for those that like it, water for those that don't :-), good wifi, projector if necessary, white board, all that good stuff.
And I realized I had most of these in my lounge - and so was born the concept of CodeLounge. The idea is to take a topic, advertise your lounge will be a meeting place on a specific date for a specific set of times, specify what you can provide and just go for it. At the moment, I'm not sure how it will turn out - but I am hoping that we'll learn ways of making the experience interesting.
I registered a domain name for it - CodeLounge.IO (a play on Google.IO - a conference I no-longer wish to attend, the videos are good enough), there is no website yet - perhaps that is the first job (Twitter Bootstrap anyone?), but we have a Meetup group and a logo.
I call them a micro-code-camp.