Some weeks ago the second meeting of Munich DataGeeks took place. Munich DataGeeks is a meetup group I am organizing with Florian Hartl about what we like to call intelligent data processing. After two meet-ups, with around 45+ attendants each, I feel comfortable saying that it has been a success. In this post I am going to describe the idea behind the meetup, the structure of it and some plans for the future.
You might be wondering what are we referring to when we say intelligent data processing? By that we refer to all those technologies and techniques used to extract, process and get insight from data. We don't limit ourselves to a particular technology/buzzword or a programming language. Therefore, the topics discussed will be really diverse. A presentation in our group will probably include things like NLP, Machine Learning, Information Retrieval, event processing, Data Science and related; and technologies such as Hadoop, NoSQL, Python, R, etc.
The idea of creating this group came one day after Florian and I shared some Bier (Many good ideas come after doing that). We realized that in Munich there was not a place where people interested in such areas could share knowledge and meet other like-minded persons. We decided then to fill that gap by organizing such group, having regular meetings featuring talks on those topics. For the name, we took the inspiration from an already existing group in Paris.
For planning the first event we decided to write down a set guidelines containing the philosophy behind the group. We thought that by doing it, it will help us to keep the meeting with the same structure. They are not carved in stone, but so far we believe they have worked pretty well. I am going to share them so you can have an idea of what to expect in our meetups:
- (Almost) Monthly Meetup: We want to have one meeting every 4-6 weeks maximum. It is not a hard limit but we don't want to have a lot of time between meetings. We want a engaged community and a continuous exchange of ideas :).
The First meeting at TrustYou.
- Networking is important: We don't want people to come and listen to talks like zombies. We actually want people interested in similar or related fields know each other. For that reason we will have time for networking at the beginning, between talks and at the end. The sponsor will provide Bier and food to loosen up the people and spark friendly conversations :).
- Not to product pitches: We like talks that mix concepts with practical application. However, we don't want to be a venue for closed / paid products or companies. We that know sometimes people work in specific environments that are not open (e.g. Matlab) however, we think if the concepts are more important that the tool itself then there is no problem, but if the talk is centered on a specific tool, then the tool should be free / open source / available.
- Research and Industry: We want to get into the same room software developers / data scientist with researchers. We believe that were people working in the industry (or "real life") can meet researchers. Both sides can benefit from it. Researcher might see what are the current problems that the industry faces and developers can see fresh results or current research trends.
- Talks are held in English: Although we are in Germany and German is the official language, there are plenty of people which are not fluent enough (I include myself in this group) in it. In addition to this, we want to include recently landed M.Sc. / Ph.d / Post Docs and developers / data scientists that not necessarily speak German.
- From the community to the community: The idea of the meetings is to share knowledge from within the community in Munich. So we encourage people and attendants to present. We do invite people we know that work on the subjects and we think their work is interesting, and that they don't necessarily live in Munich, but we prefer and love to receive talk proposal from the same people that attend the events .
The second meetup at Stylight.
Using these guidelines as basis we have successfully organized the first two meetings. TrustYou (the company where Florian works) sponsored the first meetup. They provided the location and the food/drinks. In this first meeting we had two interesting talks one coming from the university and the other one from the industry. Han Xiao from the chair of computer security of TUM, shared with us his research in the field of adversarial machine learning and Jan Stepien shared his experiences analyzing his personal internet navigation data.
We were really happy with the results of the first meetup. As I mentioned before than 45 people attended the meetup (during sunny afternoon in Munich which makes it even more significant). We had a really spacious room with top notch projector and sound and in my personal view both talks where really good and understandable (even when Han showed his math mojo in order to describe properly a problem).
The second meetup was sponsored by Stylight. They have an awesome office with at an excellent location. This time we had three talks, one about MongoDB by Dimitar, another about Event Processing by Alex and one about Real Time Robot control using Neural Networks by Justin. Besides some minor problems with the projector the Meetup went smoothly and we had really good feedback from the attendants.
You can find all the slides of the talks on the Speakerdeck account we created for storing them.
For the next meeting we have some nice ideas that we want to try and and really cool talks as well. We will be announcing the next meetup shortly, I think it will be shortly after Oktoberfest (Wiesn). It will be probably in the brand new Gini office but I will confirm this soon. We are constantly looking for sponsors, so if your company would like to sponsor our meetup please just drop us a line.
If you are reading this (and you happen to be in Munich) and would like to attend or present in our group please sign in in our Meetup.com page and send us an e-mail (the e-mail is necessary only if you want to present). We will love to have more DataGeeks to share knowledge with.
I forgot to mention the origin of the logo. As neither I or Florian are designers, I asked my siter, who runs along with ther husband a design agency, to take an hour from her busy schedule to design something. Well, she did it and you can see the result on top of this page. Thanks Sis :)