What do you want to get out of going to a meetup?
You may want to learn about the technology. Free food is nice. And why not go meet some new friends?
My first college math professor had a "weird" homework consultation policy. For normal problems, you can discuss with any classmates, but for extra credit problems, the only person you can turn to help for is the professor himself. Of course this is based on an honesty system but the rule is the rule.
Then when you go to him for help, he'll do only one thing. He'll just ask, "What's your progress?" Then you start your explaining. If you're on the right track, he'll let you continue. If he sees you deviate, however, he'll ask you to explain more.
This is when you realize that something may have been wrong. Because chances are, you can't explain. He seems to possess both the patience and the cavalier to never let out any hints. But it's exactly his "not helpful" that makes sure he never spoils your pleasure of finding things out.
That professor defined my college experience. When I claim the main body of my learning journey, I gain unparalleled joy of finding things out. My favorite learning materials are inspirational rather than instructional, its educational value has its limit if all it does is to tell me how to do things.
Frankly, I never really had the motivation to go to meetups until I began running RK. I don't like lectures and I'm particularly flawed in peopling. I went to Super Silly Hackathon last year in hope to learn what a tech event is like, followed by Global Diversity CFP Day, where I met the most amazing friend ever, Huijing. Later this year we went to an incredible number of meetups, conferences, ramens and dumplings together. And the two meetups that we run are now best friend meetups, yes meetups also got frens yo.
Huijing knows on a Singapore and a 4-year scale that it is hard to find speakers. I know it on a weekly clock and it's damn stressful sia. In retro, RK Originals now has 90 talks over 60 weeks in its back. If I thought about this set of numbers when I proposed it (1~2 talks per week by proposals), I would have probably dropped the idea immediately. So sometimes it is good to be not very smart to foresee the impossible, i.e., we don't have many people, we Asians, we no experience in speaking, life damn hard eh.
Despite being a math major, numbers are also not my thing. So I am the most grateful that Shopee's tech leaders have given it the most freedom it could ever have. There's no KPI whatsoever associated with this podium at all, there still isn't. And the leaders respect and support the public meetup as well. But the further I go the more I am in awe of the 1-hour of faith this team of 40 (and counting up) amazing engineers put in this podium.
So is it worth it? Why RK? Why every week / month? Why must constantly poke you all to speak?
In my third year of college, while I was spamming the "whats your progress" thingy on the most ubiquitous animal in my major -- smart guys, I was also working at a learning center where, instead of having us help students who were taking the classes we took before, it actually let us help students who were taking the same classes with us. This is where sharing my learning process turned out to help me. By explaining my the problems over and over again, I get a much refined understanding myself.
There's a #learnInPublic hashtag where one of our friends, swyx, is a major advocate behind its recent upbeats. RK will repeatedly share its taste in this guiding principle because, as Professor Feynman has also said, teaching is the best way to learn.
The podium shines when it is picked up by a first-time speaker, or someone who rarely speaks up in the team, or someone sees something so interesting that she absolutely has to share it. Be it initializing a new life experience, providing a stage for the rarely-heard-from, this podium has those "extra" meanings which now is an essential existence that I believe every team must possess.
By running this podium I virtually encounter all talks more than once. It's the most humbling experience I've ever had because without this podium I would have never known that we have Van who masters drawing with CSS, Lihau who is an expert in a spectrum of subjects that seems unreal as someone who works near me, and many more who prefer not to be in the public. The best content is right near me.
I mean, conference talks are certainly great — they're impeccable performances, extremely well polished, speakers look more noble in front of hundreds of people. But so as great are internal sharing talks — the problems are complex but we share the same context to absorb them quickly, the talks are less polished but full of true gems in content, speakers sit right next to me at work every day. Never in my life have I had such a humbling year and the strikes are on a weekly basis and I need to travel only four floors.
And, if you know our internal RK and know me as a person behind it, you know that at least half of my brain is full of craps. Is RK suspiciously a release of my accumulated nonsenses throughout the week? I don't know. But it'd be my crowning achievement if I successfully make us laugh, lol. Writing bugs is hard, have some fun yo.
It's a gift if you can always enjoy coding and constantly sharpening your skills. Not many people have it. That is why I see the fun part the most important because fun sparks joy, it brings me back, it spirals for refinement. Nothing beats having a fun career.
I'll end this with what I get out of. I get the most out of it. I've attracted some attention in this local community. I've found at least part of my value to my team — I've built something that makes my team a lovelier one. I've given a conference talk. I've met so many friends. I've formed an incredibly effective, long-term collaboration with Ken, then adding in a few more RK kids. I've learned knowledge and lessons. I've tried things out.
So, sun eclipsing, Switch store queueing, kite, bui kee and pigeon flying, you have me behind RK, and we want you behind the podium :)