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My First Homebrew Website Club Meeting

Written by . Published on under the IndieWeb category.

A Zoom call with eight participants of the Homebrew Website Club meeting posing for a picture, featuring James.

I came across the Homebrew Website Club meetups earlier this year. I decided not to attend because I had a lot on my plate. This year, I’ve not attended any online social events. I quickly get fatigued with Zoom. I think the reason is that I usually use Zoom for work and so I have a subconscious mental association with the software being used for work. What happened last night in the Homebrew Website Club meeting was nothing like work.

I was initially apprehensive about attending. Social events are often tiring for me. I prefer to talk with people through chat where I can move at my own pace. There was a moment where I thought about not going. I realized that I had already said that I would attend and I did not want to be the only one who said they would be there who did not show. I was committed to showing up. I ate some chocolate beforehand which may have given me the courage I needed to step up and attend.

Meeting Other IndieWebbers

I attended the London Homebrew Website Club (HWC). It is the most convenient meeting for me given how I am based in the UK. These meetups happen all over the world across many different time zones. I believe they all happen on Wednesdays once every two weeks.

The reason I decided to attend was out of my passion for the IndieWeb. Would I really want to pass up an opportunity to talk with other people about personal websites? I wasn’t so interested in sharing my own work as I was in learning about other people and what they are doing. I find that it is so easy for me to scroll through personal websites but there’s nothing like hearing how people do things from them directly.

I have spoken with a number of IndieWeb community members through the chat channel. I love the chat because there always seems to be some sort of discussion going, even if it’s just someone popping in to say “Good morning!” The HWC meetup was a bit different. Instead of just hopping in whenever I had free time, I devoted an hour of my time to meeting and talking with other people about the IndieWeb. It was exciting!

The Experience

I met six or seven people with whom I had never spoken before outside of the chat. The facilitator, Ana, led with a quick introduction where we were to share our names and, more importantly, our domain names. I’m James, here at jamesg.blog. I liked how central the idea of domain names were in the intro. It’s such an IndieWeb way to ask people to introduce themselves.

The discussion just flowed from there. As I do, I quipped that it’s always quite awkward when a discussion begins because nobody knows whether to speak in case someone else has something they want to say. We overcame this silence quickly and we got to have a number of interesting discussions.

At first, we started talking about the improvements we had all made to our personal websites. I learned about someone who hosts their website from home. I think hearing about someone else hosting a site from home has given me the courage I need to do it. I’m not sure how to describe this feeling and I am a writer. I just feel like there are some things that you can’t experience through words; you need to talk with someone else face-to-face (or Zoom-feed-to-Zoom-feed).

I showed off what I have been working on over the last few weeks. It was quite difficult to describe all the changes I’ve made to this site because there have been a lot of them. Most of them were just moving code from other projects to my site and so it was actually less work than what it seemed like to get this site working. My quantified self metrics were already being tracked and generated by a program I built weeks ago. I just needed to port the code over to Ruby. I still haven’t done a full audit of my code to ensure its cleanliness.

We had discussions about a range of technical topics, from hosting websites from home to code editing on mobile phones. It was exciting to talk with people who are just as interested in technology as I am. As I said earlier, I haven’t been attending social events. I have not really had anyone with whom to talk about what I am building and what technologies I am playing around with. The HWC meeting was just what I needed to both build my confidence and also remind me about how much I love to talk about technology.

My Next Steps

I’m definitely going to attend the next meeting in two weeks. I’m hooked. Hearing so many people talk about their itches and their personal websites brought a new dynamic to the IndieWeb. A more human one. That’s not to say I did not feel like part of a community. The chat does a remarkable job at welcoming people and building up a shared sense of identity. It’s just that seeing faces is a bit more personable.

I did not commit to a goal for the next two weeks because I’ve already done a lot. I’m interested in home server hosting and I’ll probably follow up on a few points that were made during the call. Whether you are new to the IndieWeb or have been hosting a server in your basement for the last decade, I would highly recommend attending a HWC meeting. The meetings are published at events.indieweb.org. I feel energized with so many ideas on what to build and what to read. I cannot wait to see what the next meeting brings.

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