I took advantage of last Sunday afternoon to squeeze in my monthly quota of socializing at Women Who Hack. It’s laid back and comfortable enough that it’s probably the one event each month I actually make sure not to miss, and I’ve gotten to a place where I can often bookend the time there with friends if I try.

I’ve been thinking about why this particular tech get-together appeals to me. It’s hard to say. I like the informality, I think. There isn’t even the whole “hackathon” pretense going on. You show up with a computer, and you’re golden. I don’t think I’ve ever written a line of code at any of these things. I’d get too distracted, anyway.

What’s the value-add, then? Probably the people I’ve met. I’m pretty lousy at meeting new people, and the framework of this kind of thing gives just enough meaning to the interaction to make it work. There isn’t just the tech grab-bag of people one usually sees, but women who dig tech in some form or another, so there’s a consistent set of narratives we can share and issues we address. It’s sort of wild, the number of conversations I’ve been able to take part in or people I can chat with when I see them out in the world doing their thing.

Are you around in Portland? Come hang out with us sometime. The rest of you, why not start up something like this? Make sure to leave room for talking and get everyone to introduce themselves! And free snacks never hurt.