Recent months have seen significant changes in The Next Generation User Group. The Next Generation User Group is de-centralising and to a certain extent rebranding as multiple independent user groups. Everything changes and an end to the existing structure was always going to happen as it does with all ventures. But it is not right that it just happens and we let them move on without recognising the difference that the NxtGen founders (Richard Costall, Dave McMahon and John Price) have made.
Although their community activity today is lower than it used to be Rich, Dave and John made a huge difference to our world. Their model for running a user group worked exceptionally well for longer than most. Enthusiasm is infectious and Rich, Dave and John have it in abundance. They inspired people to start speaking in manageable chunks with nuggets (aka grok talks) and gave them the chance to move onwards and upwards to bigger talks (look around the UK community today and see how many people started speaking because of NxtGen). Their obsession with pizza and swag made their meetings fun to be at. Listen to their podcasts and you'll hear them laughing and giggling along as they just have a whole bunch of fun being infectious.
The recent changes to The Next Generation User Group aren't especially surprising though. Keeping up that level of enthusiasm, that level of consistency, that amount of organisation and that amount of time month after month is tough. Seven years is a long time. Eventually you have other things to do and you simply want to go to a user group like any other attendee without having to do all of the organisation that goes with running it. And it would be nice to win some of the swag that you spend years giving away to everyone else. Anyone care to calculate the cash equivalent of all of the swag The Next Generation User Group has ever given away?
So apart from the swag and the pizza and the socialising and the technical presentations and the nuggets and the podcasts and the Fests and the micro-presentations and The ReadyBoost Song and the game shows (that sometimes worked) and the Swagometer (that never really did) what has The Next Generation User Group ever done for us? They made it all fun. Thanks, guys, you really made a difference.