Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

October 2009 Posts

Let's Make it Suck

Sat, 10/31/2009 - 20:56 -- rprice

This week I ordered my copy of The Art of Community by Jono Bacon. Jono is a community leader for a big open source software project, and hosts one of my favorite podcasts, all about open source, but he tries to write the book from a neutral perspective.

Still, you have to write what you know, so Jono's 4 big examples so far are the Jokosher sound editor, Linux user groups, the LUG Radio Podcast, and the Ubuntu project, of course.

He has a big emphasis on writing things down, which I have to say I haven't always been the best at in the past - I like to get my hands dirty. However, when the mission, goals, and a plan are written down and shared with everyone, more doors can be opened than if you keep everything in your head.

What do you mean by "making it suck"?

One of the coolest examples from the Art of Community is when Jono is discussing methods for brainstorming. One of the ways he suggests to get people talking and break down mental barriers is by asking them to design an end product with the opposite goals in mind.

From The Art of Community, Chapter 2, p. 55:

The idea is simple: reverse the aims of what you want to achieve.

As an example, imagine you wanted to design a cell phone. Traditionally, you would brainstorm the attributes of a great cell phone. Instead, turn everything on its head. What would make the worst possible cell phone? Maybe it ignores all calls? Or maybe it only accepts calls from telemarketing companies? Maybe the buttons are too small? How about really short battery life?

Awesome idea. I'm stealing that one.

So, what's something I love, and how can I make it suck? I think Florida Creatives would be a great thought experiment:

  • Membership is invite-only. Each event has a $50 entry fee, and you are not allowed to bring anyone new - ever.
  • Meetings are now held at a private office with 3 keycards and 2 security checkpoints. meetings are announced one hour ahead of time; If you miss 2 meetings in a row, you are banned for life
  • You can contact other members, but only through the web site, and only if you have paid for the last 3 meetings - your website account is locked out otherwise
  • All events begin and end by passing a stack of business cards around the room - nobody is allowed to introduce him or herself, and no discussion is allowed to deviate from a pre-selected agenda
  • The agenda for each meeting will be determined by a monthly sponsor. Sponsors must take the president of the group out to dinner first and only companies with 1,000 or more employees should apply
  • a member should only ever mention his or her day job. Any "moonlighting" or "fun" projects are taboo, and anyone working for a startup will be banned
  • 30 minutes at the beginning of each meeting will be dedicated to talking about how bloggers are destroying the news industry, and why every blogger should go to jail for being un-American. Also, anyone caught mentioning open source software, let alone using any free software, will be banned for life.
  • the leader of a given group will be considered "dictator for life", and he will be able to kick people out for dressing the wrong way or bringing up the wrong subject, or making a suggestion of any kind that relates to the group. most of all, anyone offering to give his or her time for free will be banned and will be told he or she will "never work in this town again". The dictator will distribute all monies as he sees fit, especially if that means buying a new sports car to drive to meetings

Um, you get the idea... Now how would you make your favorite thing suck? The idea here is not to complain about an existing problem or bring up negative points. This is to be the "minus" side of the battery (+|-) or the "south" side of the magnet (N|S). What is so far opposite from the ideal, that any change whatsoever will be a step in the right direction?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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Drupal 7 will Rock so hard!

Sat, 10/24/2009 - 07:49 -- rprice

Where do I even begin?

First of all, I must preface that the Drupal Community is without a doubt one of the best open source communities. (meaning: most open, most likely to share code, experience and best practices, most innovative, most forward-thinking, least likely to "chase the bunny", most likely to be the bunny, and most likely to create tons of venture-backed companies in the next few years)

DSC05039

I mean, the people involved are just amazing. The two DrupalCons I've attended were just amazing, and our local Florida DrupalCamp and Florida Drupal user groups are a big part of why I have not jumped ship to Python, Ruby, or other even other PHP-based platforms, and why I have no plans to any time soon.

We had a demo of the penumbrant Drupal 7 at our recent monthly Drupal user group. I am convinced it is THE CMS with more power under the hood (built-in, for free) than anything else... ever. The whole Job Queue API by itself is a reason to build web apps on top of this, and stop thinking of Drupal as a CMS - if you've got tons of processing that needs to happen, such as processing thousands of RSS feeds, or creating something very processing-intensive like Feedburner or Flickr, you will need to use multiple servers - a simple Cron job isn't enough any more.

Then there is the database layer - not that it was the worst before, but there were certain kinds of configurations which used to require hacking core. Now, because of some pretty OOP (yes, Drupal has objects now!), you can override the database layer, and it uses PDO.

One huge change is the addition of a Fields API (AKA adding CCK to core, but it's more than that). This means that instead of storing simple rows in a database, Drupal 7 exposes data storage to developers and end-users. At the most basic level, fields are used to store the title and body of nodes, categories/tags, images, dates, links, numbers or references to internal objects like nodes and users. This allows you to add extra fields to comments, user accounts and taxonomy terms as well.

Next, we'd have to talk about user interface and workflow improvements. The entire administrative interface now has a default skin - and there is now a compact administrative toolbar at the top of each page, plus a customizable bookmarks area and a configurable dashboard (unlike Wordpress, where you get to read Matt's blog). The interface is a great sensible default, which is a bit of a departure from where Drupal has been in the last few years.

You'll actually notice that there will now be a choice when you install Drupal - to use a "Basic" install, or strip everything down to the bare metal. In fact, you don't even have to turn on node module any more - really. This is part of some hard work by folks who would like to use Drupal's core as a PHP framework for building entirely custom apps (instead of smelly Zend Framework or the other unmentioned PHP tools that exist). If you look around for #smallcore, you'll see what I mean.

There is so much more to say... In fact, this presentation by Steve Karsch says more. If you're a big podcast listener, I'd highly recommend listening to Lullabot's Drupal Voices. I'll leave you with this, Drupal Planet and Google to find more.

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October 24, 2009: A Day of Climate Action (350)

Fri, 10/23/2009 - 10:17 -- rprice

350dotorg

Download Eco Footprint Special: 350.org

 

Length: 3:04

Gabe LeBlanc of EcoFactory left me this message about the event being held on 10/24/09 to raise awareness about the level of Carbon in the air. More info can be found at http://350.org and http://ecofactory.com

Gabe is offering free beer to the first 350 people to arrive at Orlando Brewing at 3:50 PM on October 24th. Gabe is doing awesome stuff in our community, and I recommend everyone go and support him, or find a similar event in your area.

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Think and Drink is Tomorrow Night! 9/16/09

Thu, 10/15/2009 - 12:29 -- rprice

Just a friendly reminder that tomorrow night, Friday, Sept 16th, at 7PM, we will be opening the doors of the historic Cameo Theatre to an event to have everyone get together, share ideas, talk about community building, and hear from a few people who have experienced success in their own communities.

Please bring $5 cash per person - each paid admission also gets a free drink coupon for a drink at the bar (non-alcoholic options are also available). If you don't want to pay cash, we can hook you up on the internet, but the EventBrite service slaps us with an extra $1 service charge.
http://thinkanddrink.eventbrite.com/

We will be keeping the venue open as late as everyone wants to stay, so call the babysitter, put out the cat, and tell the wife (or husband) not to wait up for you! The conversation can continue until the wee hours of the morning! The Cameo will keep the bar open as long as we need it.

Who will be there?

Gwendolyn Anello is a co-owner of Anello Consulting out of Merritt Island. She consults several organizations in the areas of communications, market development, community and public affairs, and fundraising.

Chris Blanc is the Marketing Director for the Enzian Theatre and the Florida Film Festival. As if that wasn't enough, he's involved in several other local communities, and had a hand in creating the Dandelion Cafe.

Darren McDaniel is the creator of a feature film (The Essence of Irwin), the founder of a local internet startup (Petentials), former programming director at the Downtown Media Arts Center, and has done PhD-level research Sociology at Vanderbilt.

Julie Norris
is the owner of Dandelion CommuniTEA Cafe and the host of Front Porch Radio on WPRK 91.5FM every Wednesday. She's also a new mommy! Congrats!

John Rife
was a media missionary in S. Pacific / Asia, a founding member of Interactive Expeditions (IntXinc.com), is an independent documentary filmmaker, a video blogger and is currently pursuing an MFA in Digital Media at UCF.

Lance Turner is the founder of the Ourlando movement and the owner of AEonBlue in Winter Park. You'll see Lance at tons of local events snapping pictures or signing up small businesses to bring the local color.

The Cameo Theatre
1013 E Colonial Dr (corner of Mills & Colonial)
Orlando, FL, 32803
Map Link: http://bit.ly/2gK2BC

About Florida Creatives

Ryan Price and John Rife hatched the idea for Florida Creatives Happy Hours in Ryan's kitchen 3 years ago, and the event is now a fixture in the Orlando community. FLCreatives has expanded to Jacksonville, Brevard County and South Florida. The first New Media Think and Drink was held in January 2008 at Redlight Redlight in Winter Park. John and Ryan are planning to hold Think and Drink several times a year. Get more info at www.FLCreatives.com or follow @flcreatives on Twitter.

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Media + Communitty -or- FLCreatives Discussion Series

Thu, 10/01/2009 - 07:43 -- rprice

In preparing to plan for a local event in October, namely Bringing Arts and Technology Together (BATT), I went through the process to reserve a space and get a few people involved with the organizational parts.

Long story short, we didn't have enough time to pull off BATT. Time to take baby steps. At the same time, we still have a venue reserved, so it's time to pull other ideas from my back pocket.

In the last 3 years, Florida Creatives has had an important role to play in helping the community grow, but we can take it farther. Our network (and network of networks) is capable of reaching all kinds of people around so many subjects.

I started a wiki page on the FLCreatives site to outline and suggest a format and possible topics for FLCreatives discussions. My main concern right now is the discussion we will hold on October 16th in the evening. Here's my first draft:

The Role of Media in a Community

A collected panel of community leaders with a successful track record will be given the stage and a chance to share their thoughts and stories using media to communicate with:

* Their community members
* Traditional media
* Other organizations
* Their volunteers and employees

New forms of media seem to appear every day, and what used to work in a print, TV and radio world may not fly in the world of social networking and YouTube. Some more established community leaders will have had to adapt, and those with newer missions will have had to make it up as they go along. We can hear from both sides in a panel like this.

EDIT: New Media Think and Drink Event RSVP

We have already confirmed 2 panelists:

  • EDIT: New discussion leaders!
  • John Rife
  • Darren McDaniel
  • Julie Norris, Dandelion CommuniTEA
  • Chris Blanc, Enzian/FL Film Festival
  • Lance Turner, OurLando
  • Gwendolyn Anello, PR & Marketing Consultant

Why do this event?

BarCamps and large events are great, but they only happen once a year in a given city - it would be hard to organize them too often. Happy Hours and Likemind are fun, but we try to keep the agenda out of those events. Ignite is great as a showcase of local talent, but there is no real theme to the event. The idea here is to pick one subject and pick it apart from several view points.

I always like following up a great discussion with some brainstorming, time to make plans and get things done, so my ideal would be to follow a great discussion with a "think tank" the following day - this is what the unconference format is great for - have an empty schedule and fill it with all of the things in your head after you get energized and inspired, then have a room full of people who are willing to talk about anything.

The discussion series should be followed by a BarCamp-like event to let people workshop on the discussion's topic from the previous evening. It's great to have time to "sleep on it", go and reflect, then get back together and get stuff done.

We've got the venue for Saturday the 17th as well, and they'll be happy to leave the chairs and equipment set up for us to hold a 'Camp style event on day 2 if we want.

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