[tor-project] NYC meetup notes

George george at queair.net
Fri Dec 8 21:04:00 UTC 2017

Posting to tor-project@ as recommended:

Greetings all.

Just a quick note on the NYC event focused on running relays.

The goal isn't to build a labor-intensive meetup, but rather to have
bi-monthly events which address different aspects of the project's work
while simultaneously connecting with different audiences.

The meeting was structured with a 20 min or so presentation, followed by
over an hour of discussion.  The vast majority of people in the room
spoke. There was a short wrap-up at the end. At least half the attendees
went to the bar afterwards for more discussion, which is a good
barometer for the level of interest.

The discussion covered a very vast array of topics, from recommended
hardware and local ISPs, to how DNS works on the Tor network and
consensus, and that great old topic about the life of a relay from birth.

A core person from HOPE was there, and we informally got an ok for a
free table.  At least we're on the radar.

There were 22 people in the room, which wasn't bad for the first
meeting. The Tor blog post was great to have, as were the posts to
relays@ and talk@, but we should figure out how to broaden the reach for
the next one.  I wasn't personally disappointed, but I assumed the
attendance was going to be higher.

If we can begin to loosely build networks in a number of locations, we
are in a better position to engage the larger community. Local networks
could allow the TPO to respond to different external events more
effectively, such as a remote censorship crackdown. It could mean, in a
place like NYC, having more hands on deck to manage a table at HOPE. It
doesn't have to be just in places where there are core TPO people, once
a general approach propagates, but people in places like SF, Seattle,
Berlin, Amsterdam, Santiago or in university towns should definitely
consider at least a one-off event, catered to educated guesses of what
would be relevant.

But to reemphasize, it's a lot of effort to maintain a full-blown user
group with, say, monthly meeting, speakers, etc. We don't have to set
the bar so high.  Periodic events, without necessarily maintaining any
strong continuity between them, is possible since there is such a large
critical mass of vaguely Tor-engaged people. Responding to different
censorship events, for instance, can be addressed more effectively with
loose networks of familiar people.

If the next event attracts a different audience, maybe focused on TB, or
PTs, some development topic, or whatever, then great. Casting and
recasting a net bringing in new people who maybe aren't interested in
the last meeting starts to give more people better familiarity with TPO,
and encourages them to increase their commitment.

There are other side effects. The notions about Tor being some USG
front, or whatever loopy ideas thrive the internet, weakens when people
interact with others using or contributing to the TPO. Conspiracy
theories die hard in the real world.

I am apprehensive about proposing new mailing lists, as it can disperse
audiences from talk@ and relays@, in our case. But there may come a time
when a low-volume NYC list, for example, makes sense to address more
local concerns, such as discussing ISPs, data centers, relay
installfests, etc.  At this point, I'd argue that keeping it in the
current channels probably makes the most sense.

Input from others onlist encouraged. This is a more general issue
everyone can brain dump into.



34A6 0A1F F8EF B465 866F F0C5 5D92 1FD1 ECF6 1682

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