If you’re looking for a steamy exposé on what can go wrong when a bunch of creative strangers start an organization, I’ll have to disappoint you here. But you might pry it out of me over a drink offline.
Instead I want to share the Big Gotchas that derailed us, in hopes that the knowledge can help someone else. I’m sure much of it will sound familiar to other organizers and leaders.
I’m going to pull YOU in as a potential prizewinner. That means a FREE TRIP TO HELSINKI, FINLAND for you if I win the contest (Facebook contest winner gets two tickets) and you get drawn from the list.
There’s no funds or funny stuff required. Visit Helsinki has arranged a contest where contestants’ photos are displayed in a Facebook media album and all you need to do is Like those of your favorite participant. In this instance, me.
And in case you need further motivation, as I noted in the previous post here I’m working on a book about maker communities. One of the coauthors, Jarkko Moilanen, works in Helsinki and I’d like a chance to get with him face-to-face for a bit. I also hope to interview former Maemo/MeeGo community members (now with Jolla) to get their perspective on collaborative communities.
I have many friends in Finland and several of them have jumped in to help. But so far it’s not nearly enough– I’m being beaten pretty soundly by another contestant and could use all the assistance I can muster.
All of this has been a lot of work, especially in my very conservative locale. Every time I hit some sort of social or functional wall, I think, someone should write a maker community how-to book.
And when a common political rant emerged on the hackerspaces.org general discussion list on that very subject, it all came together for me: *I* should write that book.
I recently wrote about a long shot opportunity I thought I had to attain a “dream job”. In the aftermath of failure, a friend mentioned that we don’t always land our dream jobs. I had to reply that I did have one, once, in a quality assurance role in a former Nokia factory from 2005 to 2007.
Of course defining a dream job is very personal, and for me there were some distinct, key elements that inspired me to literally race to work most mornings and hate leaving some times:
- Management trust. My boss made it clear she trusted everyone on her team to have the necessary skills and do the right thing on every occasion. She never hovered over us, never micromanaged. And when I doubted myself on a tough, critical project, her faith in me got me past a brief approaching-deadline panic and on to a satisfying solution.
- Clear goals and communications. I was never caught off guard with ad hoc expectations. I always knew what I was supporting. In fact a large part of my role was to improve the team’s data mining and reporting solutions so that we ALL knew.
- Ideal work environment. On the first day my boss was embarrassed, she said, that I would have to sit near the edge of a mezzanine overlooking the factory floor. I thought she was kidding– for a Maker, that was workplace heaven! Not only that, but cube walls were almost non-existent– so low that I could actually see my colleagues at any moment. That may bother others, but I loved it. Out of the maze and right over the frying pan! Not to mention that I got to spend a lot of time in a test lab.
- Travel opportunities. When I was told I would be going to Finland sooner or later, I was terrified. I had never left the states and did not know how I would handle a foreign country. A trip to Mexico was not really a big deal; it was just southern Texas with different laws. But not only did overseas travel turn out to be tolerable, I actually enjoyed it. I’ve been to Finland 13 times now and eagerly look forward to getting back as soon as I can.
- Beneficial training. Oh, the training I received! Useful. Interesting. Not the usual rote lecture stuff but engaging sessions where I came away a much better employee and person. Nokia had training down to a fine science.
- Opportunities. For a while, the sky was the limit in Nokia. I have a feeling it will be again before too long.
- Enjoyable culture. I’ve worked for many companies but only found myself truly at home in two: Texas Instruments and Nokia. A large part of that was culture. The previous bullet points are reflections of rich, rewarding corporate culture. Where employees feel empowered and even encouraged to contribute, and not just treated as cogs in a cube farm. True, no company is perfect and even TI and Nokia had some cultural failings, but they were still far above many of their peers.
Of course those attributes work for me but may not for everyone. They thing to take away though is that a dream job is one that easily fits your aptitude and interests. One you might even do for free, for fun. I think we can all agree on that sort of definition.
But I’m eager to hear from others: what defines your dream job? Please add to comments.
After months of exploring civic hacking possibilities for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a brainstorming session finally came together early this month. Held at TECH Fort Worth on a breezy Saturday, the event sought to identify challenges and develop plans for future events that bring needful municipalities and contribution-minded citizens to the same table.
We decided to take a traditional brainstorming approach, throwing ideas on the board and carefully guiding them toward a refined, useful set of actionable items. TECH Fort Worth is the right facility for it! But first, I shared a presentation on the subject. I’m sure I violated some unspoken rule by launching a Prezi from a PowerPoint deck, but at least it worked!
As many if not all of you know, I returned to Nokia on a part-time contract basis in late 2012. I still have a full-time day job, and commit a large part of my other hours to sharing the Nokia Lumia story with current and hopeful developers in North Texas… with some virtual forays into neighboring states.
Here in DFW there’s been a steadily growing increase in interest, something I’ll blog in more detail about later. But it’s still a mostly Apple world in these parts, at least from a user perspective, while the local developer community largely feeds on Android. The Dallas-area Windows Phone developer crowd has reached a respectable size, though, to the point where this part-time gig feels more like full-time.
That last part has been mitigated through cultivation of additional community leaders. For instance, Bary Nusz in Amarillo, Texas and Patrick Hefner of the Nashville, Tennessee area have been phenomenal in growing the Nokia developer and enthusiast base for their regions. They’re being rewarded with Lumia phones and something maybe even more useful: Nokia Developer Champion nominations. The Champions are volunteers recognized for some form of advanced leadership– technical, community-oriented or both. The perks are very nice. I have not heard yet if Bary and Patrick will have their nominations approved [update: both were], but they are both deserving in my opinion. I’ll be spending a great deal of time this year on Champion development. If you’re interested, contact me!
And if you haven’t checked out our DVLUP incentive program, what are you waiting for? It’s out of private beta so no registration codes required now. The challenges have been updated and cool new rewards added. If you’re an existing Windows Phone developer and haven’t joined, you’re already cheating yourself out of some really cool stuff. If you’re new to the experience, you’ll find helpful people there and at Nokia’s core developer community as well (our wiki is legendary). So get engaged! Some lucky DVLUP participant and Cowtown Code Camp attendee stands to win big– more on that in a following post.
The Maker Space
Being a founder and director of the new and rapidly-expanding Fort Worth Makerspace community keeps me pumping as well. To minimize conflicts and make it easy on this old body, I’m focusing on areas where Makers can play in the Nokia product ecosystem. This goes beyond simple app development into some really cool areas, like 3D printing.
As I shared over at post404, I helped kickstart Nokia’s involvement in crowdsourced 3D printing and have been assisting John Kneeland as he promotes this venture into even bigger proportions. The project started with the sexy Lumia 820 and has recently been expanded to include the newer 520 model. It remains to be seen if calls for supporting unibody devices like the 920 prove feasible. I’ve formed a mobile technology special interest group at our local makerspace for those interested in participating. See Nokia’s developer wiki for more details.
I’m trying to get some sort of contest developed around 3D printing of Lumia back covers, and hope to share something soon. Meanwhile, Shapeways has announced a 3D printing API and I’m very excited about the possibilities it presents! Check it out.
Before 3D printing took off in the consumer space, the Internet of Things was largely about mobile and embedded devices. Sensors everywhere would feed data to the web, turning the Internet itself into a rich field of environmental I/O. Arduino and Netduino devices are especially designed to participate in this space, and I plan to bring the latter into my Nokia outreach efforts. Ideas welcomed!
As if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve been asked by Intel’s awesome Bob Duffy to whip up local enthusiasm for their perceptual computing challenge. How could I resist?
In a nutshell, Intel is promoting the development of novel interactve solutions built around Ultrabooks and Creative’s Interactive gesture camera. Consider the latter as a laptop-scaled analog to Microsoft’s Kinect camera and you get the picture.
This article at Venture Beat provides an introduction to what Intel is trying to do:
The latest laptops, known as Ultrabooks, will have multiple ways to interact. Nuance-based voice controls will let you talk to your computer to run Google searches, start playing music, or share links on Twitter. Perlmutter, who is from Israel, said the technology will eventually be able to understand even his accent.
Intel is also working with SoftKinetic to bring 10-finger gesture recognition to the PC. With it, you can wave your fingers in front of the camera of a computer, and it will recognize your gestures. [Intel executive vice president Dadi Perlmutter] showed how he could use his fingers to control a catapult game demo and hold a crystal ball, by waving his hands in front of a computer and not touching it.
I’ll be using my Maker channels to organize activity around this one, although I have also been informing the local Nokia outreach community of the opportunity. I have developer devices available for loan and session work; I’ll have something more formal to announce soon for the next phase of the challenge, but feel free to hit me up via email if you’re at all interested in learning more. First, however, get familiar with the program and tools. Note that my direct support of this activity will be limited to the immediate Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Bob has an analysis of where the challenge is currently, and it’s worthwhile reading.
Sadly, I have not had much time for Qt lately. I do want to rectify that, but at the moment I don’t see how. I’m still interested in the platform, especially where Jolla is concerned, and even in coding for my coveted N9… but overcommitment is a bad habit that I’m working hard to break. I’ll still share Qt news, mostly on twitter, and continue trying to make time for learning it. I’m thrilled at its prospects and assured by its recent advances.
As noted before I have a lot of work to do with this site. Most of it has been invisible: theme-searching, plugin-testing, etc. The necessary grunt work that feels like time wasted. I definitely need to add some resource pages, and that’s in the works.
One of my goals is to push content to your preferred channels so you don’t have to subscribe to MY preference(s). So besides this site, here’s a list of outlets where you can expect updates:
I’ll be attending a Board of Directors meeting for the Tarrant County Maker Community Foundation this week. If you have anything you want me to raise there, let me know!
Here are some upcoming events:
Much more to come!