The last time I wrote about iNOG here was 3 (!) years ago. Time flies when you're having fun, huh. Back then, our community was 6 months old and we had absolutely no idea what an amazing ride it would end up being.
I think simply taking a look at inog.net already shows how far we've come, but let me throw some numbers at you just in case: our community is 738+ strong, we've held 0x11 events (that's 17 in decimal), and made countless great friends/supporters/fans all over the world.
In May 2018, at the RIPE76 meeting in Marseille, through the efforts of Mirjam and with the support of the RIPE NCC, NOGs were given some love in front of the wider RIPE community. I was one of the 5 organisers that got the opportunity to share the story behind their local community (and some lessons learned along the way), so go on and have a listen, it's only 13 minutes long!
A month later comes the second personal highlight of the year - a RIPE+iNOG hackathon in Dublin! It was something I wanted to do for a long time, as I'd attended a couple collaborative hackathons and they were fantastic, plus when I met Vesna at NLNOG in Amsterdam she was very enthusiastic about having one in Dublin. It was a huge success (+ a learning experience for me on many levels as one of the organisers), and you can read more about it on David's blog, Ronny's write-up on the OpenNMS blog, not one but two articles by Sofia on the APNIC blog and the Irish Tech News piece by John!
When visiting inog.net, one can find slides and video recordings for all the talks that were given at our events, plus the names of those that helped make each event a success and our community thrive - be it presenting, volunteering, organising or hosting.
Each post will also include a link to an album with photos from the event - if Jose is not there to take super pro photos, there will always be a bunch of more amateurish ones taken by yours truly.
Hosting iNOG events
iNOG events are hosted by the community in the events areas provided by various organisations around Dublin - as you can imagine (or just visit inog.net and scroll down) we've visited some amazing spaces! These can be dedicated conference style rooms, but more often than not they are large recreational/eating areas that have been also set up with AV systems and screens for presentations.
As we grew from 5 folks on a boat to an average of 90 people (hungry for knowledge but also some food and drink :), our requirements evolved and we decided to document them at inog.net/host both for transparency and to help others quickly gauge what it takes to host a similar event.
There's also a big green button on inog.net/host that allows one to propose hosting an event and kick off the conversation!
Donations, Tito and Meetup
We also introduced a way for people to donate to us - as opposed to more formal sponsorships - so that we can cover the direct costs of running the online infra and the events (leaving aside the hundreds of hours spent by Donal, myself and our many volunteers before, after and during the events), and order swag and prizes to give back and spread the love.
A second option (that's actually more popular and introduced to us by the wonderful Nathalie from NLNOG) is to buy a donation ticket when registering for a specific iNOG event. Given Meetup didn't offer all the functionality we needed to keep attendance free but also give the option of a paid ticket, we switched RSVP-ing to events to another platform (bonus, it's an Irish startup!) called Tito.
We now run both event registration (with mobile dynamic check-ins on the night) and donations through Tito, while keeping the Meetup group alive for visibility/discoverability. It's the best of both worlds and it works really well.
Content and speakers
One of our aims is to provide edutainment (as in education and entertainment) to our community... and finding/convincing people to step up and present is a lot of work. It may not always be visible, but we put a lot of thought and effort into coming up with a line-up that takes into account all of the following:
- it is relevant to our community
- it is not commercial/recruitment/sales/marketing
- it is diverse - from a presenter (e.g. age, background, ethnicity, gender/identity) and topic (e.g. technical, career, ethics, psychology) point of view
- it is accessible for beginners and/or interesting for senior engineers
The best way you can help us achieve these goals is by proposing a talk and also encouraging and helping friends/colleagues to overcome any barriers standing between them and coming to share their interests/experiences with the community.
iNOG is a volunteer driven community and it is not funded as such, everyone contributes their time for free. Both Donal and myself, Cristian, put in regularly quite a lot of time and effort into building the community, preparing and running the events, and keeping things interesting and fresh for everyone involved.
As a parting thought, I'd like to point out what we do for our daily jobs, as any step (be it direct or through recommendations, word of mouth etc.) taken to support us will help ensure that we can afford, sustain and grow our contributions to the iNOG community.
Cristian is now doing infrastructure and automation consulting via Redbit Networks and additionally delivering both his own and NetworkToCode's automation training across EMEA and APAC.
Donal is doing technical marketing and security consulting via his company Defensible and growing out an HR tech SaaS tool for engineer screening called PanSift.
And, as always, thanks for reading.