Today's technology places a vast amount of data at your fingertips across various mediums. A quick Internet search of a topic will yield an immense amount of resources within seconds. While online searches can be highly-beneficial to finding resources for learning, there's really no substitute for face-to-face collaboration with people who can challenge and enhance your learning experience.

However, finding a group discussing specific topics that interest you, in your area can be tedious. Meetup.com makes that task simple. It removes many of the modern-day barriers to meeting people who share the same interests by organizing a network of local groups. These groups are easy to locate and join -- the central website hosts thousands of groups whose members are already meeting face-to-face. In fact, more than 9,000 groups get together each day to work towards personal or community improvement.

Meetup's mission is "to revitalize local communities and help people around the world self-organize. Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference."

Where does this leave someone in the tech world looking to expand their knowledge or even share what they know with others? We live in a world of connectedness and information sharing and it's easy to feel overwhelmed or isolated at times. This is why something like Meetup is so helpful.

So whether you're looking to collaborate on specific topics of interest, learn a new skill, or venture to change the world -- joining a Meetup is an easy step towards achieving your goals. While new Meetups are sprouting up daily, new members join constantly, and interests vary widely from person to person, it is hard to quantify the "top" Meetups to join.

Below are five Meetups that cover trending topics of the tech world and have represented groups in most major cities.

Five Tech Meetups to Check Out in Your Area

Docker

Docker containers wrap a piece of software with everything needed in a filesystem: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, etc. The main idea behind containers is that each one is a self-contained block that can be easily combined with other blocks to create a working system. Docker helps ensure consistency in operations by storing objects in a specific way, regulating access to the objects, and controlling how the objects are used. It allows users to take copies of their live environments and run them on any new endpoint running a Docker engine.

Docker containers are quickly becoming a key part of many system standardizations, making it a great skill to possess for future development.

Ansible

Touting use cases from application deployment to security and integrations like cloud and containers, Ansible is an IT automation engine built to make other tasks simple. Ansible focuses on its simplicity by providing automation, specifically the automation of cloud provisioning, configuration management, intra-service orchestration, and other IT essentials. One of the best things about Ansible is its ability to take an entire, multi-tier IT infrastructure into account by understanding how all of your systems relate to one another. This provides a holistic view of your system and helps determine the best way to automate each piece. Ansible also retains its simplicity by using the YAML language (in the form of Ansible Playbooks) that allows users to describe automation jobs in plain terms that most people can understand, making it more accessible to everyone. It also keeps its system customization requirements to a minimum, making it easy to deploy and use the self-service applications.

One of the hottest trends in tech are automation and self-service applications, Ansible allows for both, making it an appealing skill set to master.

MongoDB

"Building on the best of relational with the innovations of NoSQL" is MongoDB's slogan. With their recent release of MongoDB 3.2, the company is focusing on standardization, most importantly on creating one current database to run all of their most important applications. The 3.2 release has enabled encryption and access controls for data-at-rest, which increases their ability to comply with industry safety and compliance standards. They've also released a Hosted MongoDB-as-a-Service, MongoDB Atlas, that allows customers to easily scale and deploy their applications in the cloud while providing high-availability, security, and disaster recovery.

With Hadoop and Big Data trending within the industry, having the skills to maintain NoSQL databases, or paying someone to manage them for you, is becoming a necessity in the market.

Spark

Apache Spark™ provides large-scale data processing with their industry-leading, advanced, DAG execution engine. This engine allows for lightning-fast processing by using in-memory computing and cyclic data flow. These qualities make it easy not only to process data, but process it simultaneously by building parallel apps within their high-level operators. Spark includes several libraries, including SQL and DataFrames, MLlib for machine learning, GraphX, and Spark Streaming, which you can combine in the same application -- making it a great choice for systems that require customization.

Spark is quickly becoming an industry standard and the engine-of-choice for big data processing, making it a key skill set to learn.

IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a broad area of growth that just keeps getting bigger. There are already billions of smart devices sharing and compiling data, and experts expect the smart device trend to continue into the trillions and beyond. Cloud-based applications are key to leveraging data collected by devices and translating it into useful information that can be shared with day-to-day users. IoT has the potential to impact the way everyone in the world lives by fundamentally changing the fields of transportation, healthcare, security, education, etc. From developing IoT software, to enabling sensors and devices to talk to each other, to architecting intricate smart cities, the IoT developer path is abundant.

The IoT has been stated by numerous technology forecasters to be one of the biggest technology trends in the years to come, thus producing the most opportunities within the tech sector and beyond.

Join or Start your own Group

Immersing yourself in the Meetup community can leverage your self-growth, both personally and professionally. If you are looking to network, take on a new hobby, learn new skills, or make a difference in your community, join a Meetup! Don't see a Meetup group on your topic of interest in your local community? Start one! That is the underlying power of the Meetup community -- it is easy to start and/or join.

Learn More

Want to learn more about the above topics? Check out these resources:

Docker

Tutorial: Understanding the Security Risks of Running Docker Containers: Don't Lose Your Sock(et)s

Tutorial: Gracefully Stopping Docker Containers

Ansible

Tutorial: Up And Running with Ansible & CenturyLink's Runner

Ansible Q&A: It Can't Make Your Breakfast Yet

MongoDB

Tutorial: Replicating MongoDB into Orchestrate

Getting Started with MongoDB: Blueprint

Spark

Blog: 5 Ways Apache Spark Powers Your Big Data

Blog: Apache Spark: Mining More Value from Data

IoT

Solutions: Internet of Things

Blog Series: IoT