GitHub Patchwork: Nashville

This week, I had the opportunity to attend a GitHub Patchwork event in Nashville, TN, where I call home. At first, I was apprehensive about going; I’m typically shy and feel as if I don’t have much to offer at an event with people I’m not familiar with. However, after talking with a few friends about the event, I decided that it would be a good thing to experience. Myself and my coworker & friend Buddy both signed up to serve as mentors as we both have a good bit of history working with Git & GitHub.

I did not know what to expect, but I can say that I was thoroughly pleased with the night! The event, organized and hosted by GitHub employees Elizabeth Naramore, Heather Baldry, Jessica Lord & Steph Wills, was laid back, resourceful and well attended.

The attendees of the Github Patchwork event in Nashville, TN.
A grainy picture of the GitHub Patchwork event in Nashville, TN.

Jessica gave a quick talk describing open source and how she got into it. She had some great thoughts, such as:

I started from nothing - just like everyone else.

I still have a bunch to learn - just like everyone else.

We all started out not knowing a single thing. Wherever you are now, you probably know much more than you give your self credit for, but you still don’t know half of what you’d eventually like to learn.

On the subject of sharing knowledge, Jessica talked about overcoming “stage fright”.

There’s no “not good enough” - you’d be surprised what people find useful.

I’ve always held back from blogging/tweeting/sharing because I felt that:

  • the topic had been covered ad nauseam
  • I didn’t have a strong enough grasp of the subject
  • it would not be received well
  • someone had done it better already

All of those reasons, in my opinion, are logical and something many people go through. However, I’m working diligently to overcome these fears and excuses. By sharing more of my work, I can get more unbiased feedback on ways to improve, help someone else solve a problem, squash browser bugs and generally make the web a better place.

Mentoring

After the opening talk, we split up into sections of the room, so attendees could be centrally located around a mentor. We then walked through the Hello World tutorial on GitHub and I was available to help resolve issues, answer questions and explain concepts deeper in a one-on-one setting. Attendees were given about an hour to complete the tutorial and get feedback from mentors, which I think was just about the perfect amount of time.

Reward

One of the attendees I was working with had lots of great questions. I did my best to answer succinctly and accurately, knowing that Git and GitHub were both an entirely foreign concept to him. This made me think critically before I spoke as I didn’t want to introduce any confusion during this initial introduction.

As I was answering a question he had about Pull Requests, I saw the light bulb go off when he started to really grasp the concept of forking and submitting a PR from start to finish. This was my favorite part of the night; knowing that I helped someone make a connection they didn’t have before is a tremendous feeling.

By the end of the night, all the attendees had experienced the basics of GitHub and left with something they could refer back to. I saw some lightning talks about open source, helped a few people use GitHub and learned first hand what paying-it-forward feels like. If you have the opportunity to participate in a GitHub Patchwork event or something similar, I’d advise you to do it! You won’t be disappointed.