On the third day of devlink, I spent the day in Open Spaces.

Growing Your Community

I started the day at this discussion, where there were talks of ways to grow your community no matter how you define community. Membership drives were encouraged, as it’s a way to get more people to the group and encourages current members to get the word out. It also helps to find umbrella organizations or generic technical sites – like Cleveland Tech Events or TechLife Columbus – and to have them get the word out about your groups. It was great to hear how others are growing their communities, and I hope to see other communities growing after hearing these ideas.

Advancing Your Career

As it has been said many times:

YOU are responsible for your career, not your employer.

So the question came up…

How do you control your destiny?

When it comes to advancing your career, there were several points made:

  • Where do you want to be? Self-employed? Management? Lifelong code monkey? Something totally different? There are plenty of paths out there.
  • Something that is useful to us developers in advancing our careers is have strong soft skills.
  • If you want to further your career while benefitting your current employer, consider chatting with HR and/or management to see if they have opportunities that could help further your career. Suggest possibly going to conferences, launch events, or user groups related to topics that could impact your projects at work.
  • Get involved in the community. Networking and interacting with others helps get the word out about who you are and can also lead to opportunities you may not expect.

There were other points made as well. Hopefully, the convener got a lot out of the session to help further his career.

Using Twitter Professionally

Jeff Blankenburg convened this Open Spaces discussion on Twitter. At one point, they talked of clients that work with Twitter, including TweetDeck and bDule.

One of the questions that came up was:
If you could follow only one person, who would it be?

Some answers included Alan Le, Scott Hanselman, Rainn Wilson, Darth Vader, and Cobra Commander. I couldn’t really figure out which *one* I would follow at that time. But the more I think about it, the one account I would follow (just on variety alone) would be Guy Kawasaki.

Other things that were discussed were things that shouldn’t be tweeted, including:

  • “I’m eating a bagel.”
  • “I hate my boss.”
  • “This company sucks.”
  • “This person is a ….”

Jeff mentioned something about a study where employees who use Twitter are more productive, but he wasn’t sure where he saw it. I did some searching, and this is what I found:

I noticed that one of the ladies in the discussion – Kathy Malone – was new to Twitter. So after this talk, I chatted with her a bit and showed her how I use TweetDeck, to really get the most out of my Twitter experience. I use columns to track what’s going on at events (like a devlink column when I was here), to see what’s going on with things I care about (like my DigiBookmobile column), and to track other accounts that I’m a part of (including PyOhio, Cleveland Tech Events, TDPE, and Cleveland Day of .NET). Sometimes, I think it’s easier to understand Twitter if you see it in action, which is why I showed her my TweetDeck in action.

Analog Gaming for Geeks

Step away from the computer, and no one will get hurt.

Seriously, though, I’ve always found it a lot of fun to walk away from the computer and play board games with my fellow geek friends. Be it playing Settlers of Catan with the Cleveland guys after Startup Drinks, Apples to Apples with my LAN party friends at New Years, or Killer Bunnies with my friends down in Columbus… gaming away from our computers is a lot of fun. Even at family gatherings, we laugh over games like Phase 10, Trivial Pursuit, and Scattergories. After one of the .NET groups here, we’ve started playing games like Ticket to Ride and Bananagrams while chatting at Applebee’s.

So what happens when I happen to be on a trip with one of my gaming friends? Both of us pack our games and end up having an Open Spaces session on “analog gaming”. We had a good game of Settlers of Catan going (that Jeff won):

Settlers of Catan at devlink

And then we had a game of Ticket to Ride (that Dean Weber won):

Ticket to Ride at devlink

Malachi also brought a box full of games which included Say What?, Polarity, and RoboRally. I think there may have been some Fluxx (maybe Zombie Fluxx or Monty Python Fluxx) going on as well. Overall, it’s a great way to wind down after a technical weekend, and it’s a good way to socialize with other geeks.

Conclusion

I enjoyed my devlink experience this year. I look forward to seeing what John Kellar, Leanna Baker, and their team can come up with for devLink 2010!

Special thanks to Alan Barber for taking so many pics at the event, as they really helped in writing this recap.