February 20, 2019

New SF Clojure Group

I’ve created a new Clojure group in San Francisco: SF Clojure.

I love Clojure and feel up the the challenge of organizing a community around the ecosystem. The astute reader may be aware that there is an existing Bay Area Clojure (BAC) group and ask why I don’t simply join that group, or perhaps you’ve interacted with me at that group and enjoyed my frequent small contributions. I was indeed an active member and always had engaging and thought provoking conversations with the members, dating back at least a couple of years.

Why would I create a second group?

The creation was, unfortunately, in response to being frivolously barred from participation in the existing BAC group during the last meeting, due to an online mob incited by a present member and presumably absent organizer. I’d been a part of it for at least a year or two and had made a number of contacts there, and always got along well with everyone and have nothing ill to say about it.

Why was I removed from the first group?

I was removed for unrelated Tweets and it was a two step process. First, a new organizer (“Katie” IIRC, with green hair) confronted me in person at the meeting and asked that I re-write my name tag to not include my @harlanji handle on it, because somebody went to my Twitter timeline and was uncomfortable with the content there. No comment about Instagram or Hacker News or GitHub or etc, which use the same handle. I thanked her for letting me stay (given my history of similar frivolous complaints in SF history; go Cal!!!), and continued the evening right through having a pleasant conversation with her about Kafka and the water cycle and then walking to the Muni station with 2 other participants. After I’d returned home and got on Twitter and into my email, I found that while the meet up was still in progress there’d been a Twitter mob and another organizer (Zach Tellman) had removed me from the group. After a couple of day cool down period, I attempted to convince him that his move was unreasonable but he reiterated that Tweets containing “hate speech” and “veiled threats of violence” are not acceptable—regardless of whether any of it happened or was related to the group or meeting itself. This means that a Felon or anyone with past publicity that makes a member uncomfortable is susceptible to being kicked out of the group (criminal records are public). The decision to kick me out of the group seemed unilateral, so I asked that the latter organizer share my conversation thread with the former and bid him farewell—please, put in a word of support for me if you disagree with the decision.

Will I keep running the group if the ban is lifted?

It’s possible. I didn’t do it right away because it requires Meetup Pro which is $15/mo and I am literally starving to death, but I got a nice Patreon payout and decided to pull the trigger on it. I think I have the experience and network to run it well, and given that the existing group is 5 years old I imagine that it’s getting kind of stale. I’d like to be allowed back to the existing group, but the totality of the situation and my relationship with Silicon Valley may warrant ongoing maintenance of the group. The plan is to have group meetings at the same time and at nearby venues to the existing group, to siphon off members. Getting a venue and giving talks until I can attract more speakers will be enjoyable. So yes, I could keep running it perhaps on a 2 week phase shift and deeper focus on amateur and “second chance” people like Felons, Trump supporters, comedians, and seniors.