As well as being a very popular spot for tourists visiting from the UK and overseas, Brighton has an interesting sub-culture of technical companies and has been a hub for making websites since the late '90s.
Thanks to the Brighton New Media mailing list and Wired Sussex pulling the individuals and companies together, the hundreds of people involved in the web and tech industries in Brighton have created many meet ups for different interest groups, and some annual conferences as well. These are some of the groups which have evening meetings every month:
Async meets twice a month on Thursdays in The Skiff, a co-working office in Brighton in the North Laine area.
They also have regular talks about a wide range of technologies, and also hack nights where people work on new projects or show off what they've recently made. They meet twice a month, usually in The Skiff.
A meet up for people who use Microsoft's .Net language, held once a month at The Skiff.
Rather than a fixed schedule, unless there is a booked speaker the topics for the evening are set at the start of each meeting by being written down and voted on by attendees. We've heard this is an excellent meet up for unusual and interesting talks.
A group who build robots, mess with electronics, and make all sorts of interesting things. They have a 'Hackspace' off of Lewes Road. This is a kind of workshop where members can build physical projects and have space to play with mechanics, which is often not available in their homes as Brighton has few properties with decent gardens, sheds or garages.
They have meet ups every Thursday at the Hackspace where people can come to talks, learn skills like soldering, build robots, or just get some time to work on their own projects around like minded people who will give them a helping hand.
A networking group for freelancers in the web industry, they meet every Wednesday at a pub in Brighton, for chats and mutual support. One of the longest running groups in Brighton - it started in 2003 - the group currently has just over a hundred members.
They do not have formal talks, people who are self employed or are thinking of taking the plunge and going freelance are advised to just turn up and have a chat to the more experienced members on one of the Wednesday meetings. Membership is mainly web developers and designers, but they also have copywriters, website hosts, and accountants come to the very informal meetings.
Meet ups for people involved in making applications for iPhones, iPads, and other smartphones such as Android, Blackberry or Windows 7 phones. They meet once or twice a month on Thursdays either in a pub in Brighton or in The Skiff.
For people who make or run websites using the Drupal technology - so not just programmers but publishers as well. Evenings are a combination of formal presentations and helpful guides to creating particular parts of websites. They meet twice a month on Mondays, either at The Skiff or in a pub for a chat over drinks.
For people using or programming Wordpress based websites, modules and themes. They meet once a month on a Monday in The Skiff, and also run their own conference once a year.
The upsurge in interest in Functional programming languages has spawned this relatively small group of advanced programmers, investigating what they can do with languages like Haskell, Scala, F#, Erlang and so on. They meet once a month on Tuesdays at, you guessed it, The Skiff.
A meet up for Python programmers, meeting once a month on a Tuesday at The Skiff.
Group for Ruby and Ruby on Rails programmers, meeting on the first Wednesday of the month at The Skiff.
And finally, away from the hard core technology: a group for professional and amateur writers. They meet twice a month, once in a cafe and once in a pub, to talk about writing, reading, freelancing, getting published, and anything else about putting words on the page, or screen. This is a very friendly group and well worth going to if you're thinking of writing as a profession, either as a commercial copywriter or author.
If you're coming to Brighton on holiday or to attend a conference - potentially one organised by one of the groups above - there's more to see than just the standard tourist spots. Any of these groups will welcome a visitor who'd like to get their geek hat on for an evening, or just meet some interesting technical folk.
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