The Powers of Money and Community

I’ve been looking at the draft of this since April, 2015. I’m going to take Jorbin’s advice and just press publish so that it’s no longer a draft. Most of this observation is informed by my perceptions of structure inside the university when providing a central service. It’s still interesting.

We provide an excellent base service for groups inside the university. We build features to extend this base service. Most built features are available to everyone.

We invite everyone to join our community. Open labs every Friday, a Slack group for use throughout the week.

Groups paying us to extend the base service tend not to join the community discussion—or not frequently.

Groups without dedicated funding have participated regularly.

Both groups, for the most part, have their concerns and requests addressed. Groups with funding can demand timelines. Groups involved in the community are frequently vocal and pleasant.

Balancing the concerns of each leads to useful features for all.

The difficult group is the one without funding that does not join the community. Our base setup is easy, but prioritizing feature requests is near impossible when juggled alongside the previous two groups. This group quickly becomes an outlier for our workflow.

How do you convince that group to join the community?

 

 

Specific focuses and vague goals for 2017

Hello from 2017! I’m sticking with the title from last year because I like the idea of focuses rather than trying to define specific objectives when the year has barely started.

Reading.

My love of reading books has officially returned, and I’m now always on the lookout for things to explore. I set a goal of 26 books in my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge, an average of one every two weeks. It’d be great if I beat that!

I’m starting off the year in the middle of Neuromancer, so that should be done soon. I have a handful of non-fiction books that I’m excited about. After reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent Aurora from last year, I want to go through the Mars Trilogy.

A couple days ago I poked at Moby Dick, which I’ve never made it through, so that could be an interesting one for the year. I was already surprised by some of the material in the opening pages—”GRAND CONTESTED ELECTION FOR THE PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES”.

Joyce is still interesting, and if I feel like going crazy I’ll probably try Finnegans Wake again. There’s also Dubliners, which should be more approachable.

And other random things. The bookshelves at home are full of things that haven’t been read. 📚

Writing.

This will always be a focus. I preach sharing your work to everyone I talk to at WSU, but I don’t necessarily practice it so well myself. I’d like to spend more time stopping to explain some of the stuff I’ve done so that I remember and so that others may find it useful. This will also be important as part of our work at WSU to help ensure long term health of the community we’re building.

Learning.

I’m going to focus on learning computer science a bit more. I pick up plenty of things here and there during the development process every day, but it would be fun to go back and explore some of the history and some of the basics from the beginning.

The two books that I’m starting with are Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs and Foundations of Computer Science (C Edition). We’ll see where those take me, I’m already loving the beginning of SICP.

I also like the idea of being more familiar with cryptography. I got Bruce Shneier’s Applied Cryptography a while ago, but never really started past the first few pages. It should be fun to get past the first few chapters.

Aside: I’ll toss in a recommendation here for The Code Book, which is very approachable and an excellent introduction to the history of cryptography.

Speaking.

I’m not sure speaking will be a focus in 2017, but this is where one of my more specific goals exists. I’d like to find a new topic I’m passionate about and develop a talk around it. Once I have that, then I’ll be focused on speaking again.

Open Source

I should probably cover this as a separate blog post.

In general, open source will be a focus for me in 2017. I still believe open source is one of the most important things we have and it is worth the time we give it.

Most of my open source time is spent contributing to WordPress. I don’t expect this will change much, though I want to make sure I’m spending enough time thinking about and working on other things as well.

I had some inspiring conversations last year, as well as the opportunity to visit the open source lab at Oregon State University. It’d be great to turn some of those conversations into action. At the very least, it’d be great to continue having those conversations.

That’s a super vague way of saying “I don’t really know what I’m going to do, but open source is great everyone, let’s do more of it!” 😎

Washington State University

4 years in July! Whoa.

We’re still doing good work. I want to make sure that we make progress early this year on a couple things:

  • Have the best solution for monitoring web accessibility on all university sites.
  • Syndicate content throughout the university.
  • Give everyone a place to share their work with open registration for students, faculty, and staff. Free websites!

I’d feel a little weird making it through 4 years without at least having 2 of those 3 in a very good place. I think we’re close enough to say that.

Beyond those specific goals, my focus should be on documenting and sharing our work.

Activity.

I decided that focusing on “exercise” wasn’t really any fun. I want to focus on being active in 2017.

We got snowshoes a few days ago and I’m super excited about that. I’d like to spend almost every weekend between now and the end of snow season exploring snowshoeing possibilities.

Once spring comes, and maybe even before then, I’d like to spend many weekends hiking, camping, exploring, and just getting the hell away from the computer.

With activity will come exercise, just because.

Saying Yes.

I want to make sure I say yes to the right opportunities. This probably requires saying yes to a few of the wrong opportunities along the way. But I think I have a bad habit of avoiding some fun things just because it’s easier. If I do have that habit, then I want to be conscious of saying “yes” this year just to see what happens.

This might be freelance opportunities, career opportunities, travel opportunities, whatever. On December 31, there should be more “yes” than “no”.

And all of the other stuff that gets focused on.

Because why limit it to a list you thought of on January 1… Happy 2017, see y’all around!

Previously, 2016 and 2015.

 

2016 Reflection and Check-in

Every year I write one of these thinking that I’ll look at it throughout the next year as a guide to what I might want to be doing. Every year I write one of these and finally look back at the last one for the first time!

Oh well, it’s still fun for me to revisit see what was on my mind.

Reading was pretty great.

I originally set my Goodreads challenge at 15 books, then bumped it to 20 at some point. As of now, I’ve read 25 books this year with a chance of 26 by the end of the night. My hope for a split of 2/3 fiction was pretty close as I made it through 7 non-fiction books.

I read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and loved it. It was so easy to read compared to Ulysses and there were many parts of the book that I dogeared due to great passages.

I finished the original Foundation Trilogy as I hoped. I liked how the trilogy just kept getting better throughout. So many crazy things to think about while reading about the Mule while Trump was winning an election in real life.

I started on Finnegans Wake but ran away quickly on page one. I was definitely not ready for that yet.

And I’ll repeat this from last year—If you read, you should add me as a friend on Goodreads! If you haven’t used Goodreads yet, here’s a good explainer.

“Learning” didn’t go as I expected.

I never really even started on conversational German, but that’s okay. Vienna was very welcoming in English.

I never really focused on learning JavaScript deeply, but that’s okay too. I did pick up a couple of computer science books that I’ve started to dig into and another on intellectual property and open source. So I’m always learning, but we’ll see about next year.

I did figure out a better front-end development workflow that doesn’t require Vagrant or WordPress, even without using the REST API or JavaScript. We’ll see where that ends up next year.

I kinda did some writing.

There wasn’t really a specific goal here, but I did take the time to stop and talk about my work several times throughout the year, so that’s good. I did a bunch of writing to document things at WSU that hadn’t yet been documented, so that’s good too.

I did less speaking.

Unless I’m forgetting something, I really only spoke a couple times this year and took my own advice from last year by really just focusing on one talk.

At WordCamp Europe in Vienna, I talked about multisite in the Leupold Museum, which was super cool. There was a great turnout and—even with an unexpected moment where my laptop dropped off the podium—things went really well.

At WordCamp Seattle, I talked about multisite and sat on a panel talking about contributing to WordPress. The talk went well and the panel was an absolute blast.

At WordCamp Vancouver, I didn’t really speak, but hung out in Ian‘s session on contributing to the WordPress meta team and helped troubleshoot a few local environment issues with VVV.

And at WordCamp US, I also didn’t really speak, but led a session for first time contributors to WordPress core that was a lot of fun.

But I still got some travel in.

I always feel like I’m forgetting something, but here goes…

  • London, UK in January for the A Day of Rest conference. I got there a day early and stayed a day late so that I had some time to hang out. The conference was great, the contributor day may have been the most productive I’ve ever been a part of, and I spent the final Saturday walking 15 miles around London! I even drank in a couple of Orwell’s favorite pubs. 🍺
  • Portland, OR briefly in February as part of a visit to WSU’s Vancouver, WA campus. Still enough time to have a couple good beers and visit Powell’s.
  • Vienna, Austria in June for 3 weeks (!) to enjoy Vienna with Michelle and for WordCamp Europe. Vienna is a great city and we had a lot of fun.
  • Whitefish, MT – Glacier National Park for a couple days in July on a whim to meet my parents who were staying there for a week or so. That park is very beautiful.
  • Vancouver, BC in August for WordCamp Vancouver. Yet another amazing brew fest planned by Flynn. Great time hanging out with the Vancouver group, a great bunch of people.
  • Ocean Shores, WA in September for a combo birthday/anniversary hangout. We had fun and walked quite a few miles on the beach. Don’t tell anyone, but Oregon’s coast is cooler.
  • Portland, OR in September for another quick visit to WSU Vancouver along with a side trip down to Corvalis to talk with Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab.
  • Seattle, WA in October for WordCamp Seattle.
  • Philadelphia, PA in November for WordCamp US week. I arrived a couple days early, but it was super rainy, so I didn’t get too much sight seeing in. Had a great time with everyone at WordCamp though.

I burned out less this year.

It took me a few months into 2016 to realize how burnt out I was towards the end of 2015. I was then able to turn that into a conscious decision not to get burnt out this year—or to at least recognized when it was happening and to calm down a bit.

Thanks to that effort, the last few months of the year have been great and productive. I’m finishing with 1000 open ideas rather than wondering when it will feel normal. 🎉

I voted for Hillary.

And Trump won? Shit. 👎

WordPress!

We made multisite better! At least I think so.

As 2016 comes to a close, we have WP_Site, WP_Network, WP_Site_Query, and WP_Network_Query along with a handful of good decisions that we’ve made and documented in various ways. I’m pretty satisfied with the multisite stuff we got done, especially during the 4.6 release cycle. I’m really excited about the group of contributors that we have focused on multisite right now. I have a feeling that 2017 will be pretty sweet.

A fun memory that will be fun to look back on is the development of meta registration. A group of us spent the A Day of REST contributor day talking about the challenges of registering meta keys for inclusion with REST responses. The original GitHub issue is gone now (!), but it led to the creation of a ticket.

That ticket then became a hot topic during the 4.6 cycle once we decided it really was the time to get that included so that the REST API could have something to work with. I spent several mornings and nights hacking on our Airbnb couch in between walks around Vienna trying to get that in. Such a relief when we finally shipped it. 🙂

Washington State University

It’s been a great year for the web at WSU. We hired a second WordPress developer in March and have been able to make a lot of progress since. Some of it isn’t visible yet, but we’re ramped up to do some excellent things in 2017.

The numbers:

Numbers don’t really tell the full story, but they’re fun to look at.

Here’s an assortment of photographs that may represent 2016 for me.

I wonder why I haven’t done this before.

Okay, that’s enough.

Thanks for reading. Hope you had a great 2016 and see you next year!

Previous reflective posts: 20152014, 2013.