This month marks the first anniversary of Seajure, the Seattle Clojure group. I've had a lot of fun conducting these meetings. It sounds like our group is a little different from the way most people run things, so I thought I'd write a bit about what has worked for us.
One thing I knew I wanted from the start was for meetings to be very code-centric. The Seattle Ruby group used to have talks regularly, and they found that in that kind of situation after a few months things usually fall into patterns of just having the same person present over and over.
So we focus on code instead. We try to come up with a small project that's somewhat useful on its own but not too ambitious to build in a couple hours. Everyone logs into a shared tmux session running Emacs and can all collaborate on the code as it's being written. Of course still only one person can type at a time, but it's a lot less hassle than having to set up a projector, and it's much more interactive.
This only really works because we have a small group; with larger attendance levels the group may need to be divided somehow. We have swarm-coding sessions for only about half of our meetings when we have a good idea for a project. Other times we'll just discuss new features of Clojure or specific tools; one meeting we had an Emacs workshop to get people started. We also spend about half an hour starting out just chatting and making sure everyone has been introduced.
Normally I stress the importance of keeping the same location consistently since people have an easier time planning for it if it doesn't shift around, but the coffee shop in which we hold our meetings is closing early for winter hours, so we're in the University District Trabant for our March meeting. If you're in the Seattle area, join the join the mailing list and come on by!