Last night was the March meeting of the Cleveland C# / VB.NET SIG. It was really the February meeting as well since that was delay multiple times due to weather, gotta love Ohio. This was my first trip to this particular group and I really enjoyed it.
The topic for the night was SQL Server 2008, with Sam Nasr as the presenter. Since he is also the leader of the SIG it was pretty much all Sam, all the time. Since SQL Server is still only a CTP much of the information is subject to change but it does look like they have added a bunch of new features that will make development a little easier. Nothing ground-breaking, but some niceties. My favorites are some of the new datatypes such as Date, Time and HierarchyId. I've been wanting them to have a separate Data and Time type for a LONG TIME.
This crowd is a lot more interactive and the group at the BA hosted .NET SIG. During this presentation there was a lot more discussion, and not just asking and answering with the presenter. Sometimes a question would be answered by another person (or people) from within the group. It made for a very good experience.
Several things come to mind that may cause such a difference in the group dynamics. First, the average age of this group is probably ten years older than of the other one. Typically with age come experience and more of a willingness to be "out there" where others can see/hear you, both of which increase the likelihood of speaking up in a crowd. Another factor could be that this crowd and the venue itself were smaller. The more intimate setting also makes it more comfortable for people to be themselves. I would name as a third factor that Sam actively tried to engage the crowd, and while that is a needed aspect of interaction, presenters at the other SIG also try this, so although this is a good and needed thing, it doesn't set this group apart.
One more thing that I would name as different and good is that it felt more informal. Sam sat during much of the presentation, granted it was partly to reach his laptop, and that help the crowd feel as equals. Also instead of just jumping into the presentation there was a little bit of a conversational feel to the non-presentation aspects of the night. Even the presentation felt that way. I can't point to one thing in particular that made the night different but I think all of the above items contributed to a better experience.
After the presentation was over Sam had a few of us come up and announce Cleveland Day of .NET. We talked it up and asked people to register and to ask their bosses to sponsor, I think it went over well. Sam also announced that I'll be doing next month's talk on Silverlight 2. I guess it's too late to back out now.
And there was an after-party at the Winking Lizard on Rockside again. There were about six of us there, ok, exactly six, and it was a fun time. We were talking about how old Mike is :) and what we started programming on and such. I came to realize that I'm nearing old. Ick. The chat was so fun though that before we know it the clock said 11:00PM and we split up to get sleep before work.
So it was a good night, good crowd and I look forward to next month.