PSA: I'm trying to build a community of online EA coworkers with longer-lasting connections than Focusmate and more flexibility than Discord. To this end I've created a general EA gather.town space.

My hope is that it can eventually become an always-active meeting grounds for anyone who wants to both cowork with and actually get to know other EAs to join at any time of day - perhaps like a neverending EAGx.

To help build up the community vibe, some of the hardcore users are keeping it open in the background whenever we're working to increase the probability of you finding at least one person in there. So if you see anyone with a 'happy to chat' status or similar, feel free to come over (username and indeed real name = Sasha) - and if you want to support it, it would be great if you could just hang out on there yourselves! Hope to meet you there soon ❤

Update

We've had very positive feedback so far, and seen surprising growth over the past week, so here's a more in-depth look, to encourage more people to join and keep the snowball rolling!

Features & Norms

The setup and norms are constantly evolving, but at the time of writing, here's a taster (though there's plenty more easter eggs to explore):

Pods of connected desks have a private area for 1,2, 3, 4, or 6 coworkers. You can join an existing coworking group at any time if there's a free desk, and we usually make sure we're  working somewhere where there's at least one open space (though when entering, please respect the timer ;). Requesting to split a 4+ group is actively encouraged if anyone thinks they'd prefer it. 
Press X to interact with the monitor on your desk to access a customisable pomodoro timer that's synchronised by all monitors in the lit-up area.
A section for focused work where no one can interact with you. Useful for people who just want to simulate an office background feeling  or support the space while working alone.
Some areas are designated as "social" (the vase marks these sections);  staying in them implies that  anyone should feel welcome approaching you to chat or hang out. This removes uncertainty/anxiety for newcomers wondering who to talk to.
A portal room that connects other EA or interesting Gather Towns. Can be expanded as we discover more - so if you have a local gather group that you'd be happy to link to ours, please let us know!
The east-side desks of the garden area and some desks in the library have solo focus-zones, and you can customize them via the Build Menu if you logged in. Customising other parts of the map is also possible, but please sanity check with someone if you want to make major changes!

Plans & Support

We have started expanding the space to make sure we have plenty of room to grow without feeling crowded, and we should be able to source funding for more users so please spread the word!

We have two loci for talking about the project: a Facebook group and a subchannel of the EA Co-Working Discord. Feel free to use these places if you want to schedule coworking with people ahead of time. We also have some terminals set up in the actual town that links to google docs with information, and where you can add suggestions and introductions.

We also want to encourage people to host talks or other virtual events in the space, both to help spread awareness of it and as a convenient forum for discussion afterwards:

 

People in either orange megaphone tile can broadcast themselves and their screen to the rest of the room.

Please get in touch if you wish to help out or have questions, comments or suggestions! :)

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This looks great, thanks for creating it! I could see it becoming a great 'default' place for EAs to meet for coworking or social things.

That would be awesome :)

Cool! I'll try to stay online when I can. If you see me online, feel free to walk up to me and chat. I'll let you know if I'm too busy to talk. I'd like to know what other EAs are up to, and talk about what I'm up to.

Will be joining tomorrow!

Awesome stuff! Have you increased the maximum limit of participants yet? (Asking before sending this to my community group in case it creates problems)

Please do!

And I haven't yet - the most users online so far was 6, and the free plan allows up to 25 (unless by concurrent users they mean 'members'?), but I'm very happy to do so if it gets anywhere near becoming a limiting factor!

ETA It's substantially more expensive than I thought to do this, so I wouldn't be able to self-fund it, but if we hit the point where we repeatedly need space for 25+ users I'd expect we could get funding from a community group. Or in the worst case scenario we can set up an adjacent space with a 2-way portal between the two.

If cost is a problem, I could definitely contribute with up to 200 $/month. But I expect if we get 25 concurrent users, I'm not the only one interested in funding the project. Having an online EA hub like that could be extremely valuable.

Thanks for setting this up! 

In case anyone's interested, there's also the EA Focusmate group

There is also an EA coworking discord server: https://discord.gg/5FGY4PyEcT

You can share screen + there are pomodoro bots that people can sync up working/taking breaks together if they want to.

One great thing about the EA coworking discord is that you can get to know people can connect with them because you have their discord handle :)

Have you considered using Spatial Chat? 

I've extensively used both Gather Town and Spatial Chat for online events and coworking during the pandemic, and I found Spatial Chat a bit more user-friendly and intuitive (especially for new people). Both platforms seem to work, though, and there might be good reasons for choosing Gather Town over Spatial Chat. 

Thanks for setting this up, really appreciate! I'll try it out in the coming weeks. 

I had a look at it, but my instinct was the reverse - it feels much more natural to me to walk an avatar through a virtual space than to drag a video feed of my face around.

But if there's a lot of EAs who prefer Spatial Chat, maybe there'd be enough demand to support both at some point. My instinct would be to avoid splitting the space any more just yet, but since these places can all link to each other, over time we could build a linked network of virtual spaces (we already have a 2-way link to an EA VR space, for eg).

I looked at it for a bit, and it seems interesting! But announcing a move would be risky, given that we might lose people in the transition, so the difference in quality of the space would have to sufficient to overcome that risk, and I'm not sure it is.

Also, if you have a Gather Town in Germany, we could link it via a portal; or alternatively you could copy the whole space into EAGT, and it could be linked via a door (like with EA Denmark's space). The latter option has the advantage that it benefits the larger community, encourages more intermingling between groups, makes it easier to find EAs to cowork with, and even if you're just inside your own local rooms you still show up as "online users" and gives the space a livelier feel. I can help with either option if it sounds interesting. :)

i love this and have been using it a bunch! the cuckoo coworking timer has been down today, though :(

I would love to try this but I use focusmate mostly to well... Stay focused... I really don't see the point of co-working if I can't share my screen? Is that sort of thing possible on Gather town? Because last time I checked (more than a year ago) it was not. 

You can share screen on gathertown (I think I managed to do it before.) However, it seems like in the current gathertown setup (the way the desks are arranged and where videos can be streamed), I haven't really found a way to see other people's videos while working in the desk working area, though you can work in other areas and maybe see nearby people's videos.

I do have a shameless plug to the EA coworking discord server though: https://discord.gg/5FGY4PyEcT where you can share screen! :)

Can confirm Gathertown allows screensharing - I'm doing it as I type - and we've actually just been setting up some of the desk pods to allow communication with other people in the same pod (you can also cluster round the same desk, though that does feel a bit cramped for more than two).

Btw, I'm hoping that the Discord and Gather servers will have a positive sum effect where they link to each other and collaboratively increase the number of EAs who get into online coworking. We've placed a prominent link to the Discord server near the entrance to the Gather space :)

I might  coime and try this tomrrow!