- Formal conferences and meetings. "Eyes-front" presentations.
- Getting together with the geeks for chat.
- Unconferences and open spaces. Lots of potential for multi-directional learning, yet shaped around specific topics.
- Sprinting: gathering to code together with people outside your usual circle on specific projects. GiveCamps.
And yet, there's a new one: hanging out and geeking out with other geeks. Programming with, or around, people who aren't your usual co-workers. Like sprinting, sort of, but on no predefined topic. Questions, advice, and ideas bubbling around unpredictably while you code.
That's basically what the CodeJam at CodeMash was, and I loved it. Even if you already work every day with a wealth of fiercely creative, inquisitive, knowledgable co-workers who are delighted to pitch ideas into your project - and not all of us do - it's still a benefit to mix it up with some new minds.
That happened just a week ago, yet suddenly, I'm seeing it everywhere. In Cincinnati, they're doing an evening called "bitslingers". In Ann Arbor, they're doing a daylong Code Retreat.
Solo from-home workers developed this a while ago; they call it "coworking". Now we cubicle monkeys are getting some chances at it, too. I'd love to see this carried to its logical extreme - a custom of getting out to work in new places with new people, say, one day a week. I think the payoff would be enormous.