PDH & Events Impacting The Future Of The Internet

[This post was sparked by two emails I received today. One was about people who are working to change what the internet looks like. The other was about the Personal Digital Home concept (PDH). Both these topics could have a big impact on events wranglers.]

Events That Could Change Internet’s Future

How do you find out about or keep track of events that are coming up?

This question is relevant to all events wranglers and to every person that wants to go to events involving topics of high interest to them. Each events wrangler and every event goer has some way to find out about events and keep track of what’s coming up.

internetThe topic of high interest to me today (and on many other days) is the future of the internet. The internet is still in its early years and will continue to change as technological innovations happen, as more of the world becomes connected through the internet, and as governments and corporations develop new policies affecting the internet.

Do you know what events are happening in the next four weeks that will impact the future of the internet? How about events in the next three months? In the next two years?

After reading my email about people working to change the internet, I dove down the rabbit hole and read a slew of related posts and articles. That rabbit hole excursion created a strong desire to develop a better way to find out about and track events impacting the future of the internet. Of particular interest are events focused on the decentralized web and on giving people more control over their digital lives and their activities in cyberspace.

decentralized webIf the decentralized web is of interest to you, the event you should have been at was the Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco, California, USA, on June 8 – 9, 2016. Chances are good that a second summit will be held next year about the same time. Watch the Internet Archive blog — the 2016 event was announced on that blog.

(Further reading about the Decentralized Web: “How To Break Open The Web,” “Locking the Web Open: A Call for a Distributed Web,” and “Decentralized Web Server: Possible Approach with Cost and Performance Estimates.”

Personal Digital Home

So people are working to change the internet, but what does that have to do with the PDH initiative? Well, the future of the internet will very directly impact what a PDH is and how it works.

WordPress Personal Digital Home, tagline[Previous posts on Events Wrangling, such as “WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH),” have talked about the Personal Digital Home (PDH) concept. The PDH is meant to be “the starting point for your digital life.“ The first step for each person who wants a PDH will be to create their own website. That website will give them more control over their web presence and make them more effective at interacting with all things digital.]

The PDH email I received today was from a smart computer geek who’s also an internet tech wizard. He cautioned against building the PDH on popular existing website platforms that have recognized technical debt from their overextended legacy systems (my interpretation of his email). His actual words were,

I’m an old school sysadmin who wants to work closer to the file system. I want to store pictures, music, videos, documents as objects in the native file system, not have their access paths held hostage in a database…”

His email got me thinking about the foundations of a PDH and how it will need to:

  • Be designed for effective data import and export.
  • Be designed for adapting to future technologies.
  • Be aware of, and design around, key limitations of existing website platforms.

PDH Involvement With Internet-Changing Events

2016 2017 calendarTo the extent possible, people involved with the PDH project need to be aware of upcoming internet-changing events which are likely to influence PDHs. This includes events like the Decentralized Web Summits and IndieWeb Summits.

A new goal for me is to learn more about upcoming events designed to change the internet in ways relevant to the PDH initiative. An associated goal is for me or others on the PDH project to assist on or participate in those events when possible. And when it’s not possible, we need to stay informed on what happens at the events.

A tall order, but an interesting and enjoyable one…

*****

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Events Wrangler Interviews: Regular Feature

New Regular Feature On Blog

Today’s post serves two purposes:

  1. To announce to readers of this blog that “Events Wrangler Interviews” is being added as a regular feature.
  2. To force me to connect with lots of events wranglers and interview them for blog posts.

I’ve wanted to do “interview” blog posts for many years. But interviews seem like much more work than regular posts, and it will probably be challenging to find appropriate regular featurespeople willing to do an interview for an obscure blog. Since it was easier to do non-interview posts, that’s what I’ve mostly done for my blogs. (I think I’ve only done one interview post in my life.)

Other Potential Regular Features

Other regularly featured post topics I considered adding to the Events Wrangling blog were:

  1. Humorous, Irreverent, Or Non-Serious Event Stuff
  2. Event Partners & Sponsors
  3. High-Impact Event Outcomes
  4. Commentary About Recent Events
  5. Event Technology

Reasons For Events Wranglers Interviews

I see value in each of the above potential regular features. At a future date, I might add one of them to this blog as another regular item. But for today I had to decide on one feature to add, and the reasons I decided to add interview posts are:

  • interview silhouetteThe interviews will add value to this blog, giving events wranglers another reason to read Events Wrangling.
  • Information in the interviews can help us improve the quality of our future events.
  • It will be interesting for me to hear ideas, opinions, and observations from other events wranglers.
  • Events wranglers are usually interested in more visibility, even on an obscure blog.
  • It’s another way for readers to get to know more events wranglers and to expand their personal networks (and mine).
  • Interview posts will expand my blog publishing comfort zone and force me to learn new skills.
  • I’ve wanted to do regular interview posts for a long time. My class assignment was a good reason to start on that now.

Here is the point where I put in the caveats, aka escape clauses. I don’t have experience with doing interview posts, and I don’t have a bunch of events wranglers lined up for the next few months. My plan is to do a monthly interview post, but early on I might miss a month here and there if I have troubles getting interviewees lined up. Also, the first few interviews may not ask the best questions — so I’ll be working to improve the Q&A quality over the first six months as I establish a routine for interviews.

Requests For Blog Readers

help wantedIn order to kick off this new feature and to make the blog more valuable to visitors, I have four requests for readers of this blog post:

  1. Events Wranglers.  If you’re an events wrangler willing to be interviewed by me, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com, or leave contact info in Comments below.
  2. Friends of Events Wranglers.  If you know an events wrangler willing to be interviewed by me, please have them contact me.
  3. Interview Questions.  If you have questions you’d like me to ask events wranglers for the interviews, please email them to me.
  4. Regular Features.  If you know of regular features you’d like to see on this blog, please email me about that.

The tagline for this blog is, “connecting people, one event at a time.”

The tagline for the Events Wrangler Interviews feature is, “connecting with people, one interview at a time!” 🙂

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Day Fourteen: Create Your Own Feature

blogging universityMy virtual assignment for Day Fourteen (have I already been a Blogging U student for two weeks??) in the Blogging: Fundamentals class is:

  • Work on inspiring reader loyalty by publishing consistently and giving your readers something to look forward to! Today, develop a regular posting feature for your blog.
  • Think of the type of regular feature you can commit to — something you’ll publish weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
  • This post can be the first installment, or an announcement of what’s coming.
  • Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

I actually already have a regular feature on this blog — doing a News & Views curated aggregation of recent, relevant, and meaningful post and articles from events wrangler blogs or events news sites, such as “June 11, 2016: News & Views Roundup For Events Wranglers.” But for quite a while I’ve wanted to do interview posts on a regular basis, and today’s assignment gives me a good reason to start doing them. So as of July 2016, I’m adding interview posts as a regular feature!

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Diligent Digital Homesteaders, Natural Born Bloggers, & Motivated CyberWriters

Website Content In Their DNA

WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineIn the past couple weeks, I’ve worked a bunch on the WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH) initiative and the Blogging: Fundamentals virtual course from Blogging University. Those two projects have caused me to think long and hard about who the ideal candidates are for launching PDHs and for starting and maintaining blogs or other websites for writers.

It seems worthwhile to develop generic profiles for three general classifications of high-potential website owners who would be good at creating website content:

  1. Diligent Digital Homesteaders
  2. Natural Born Bloggers
  3. Motivated CyberWriters

Events Wranglers & Website Owners

An events wrangler benefits in several ways from being able to understand if someone fits events wranglers & website ownersinto the above categories. Consciously figuring out whether an event goer is a diligent digital homesteader, natural born blogger or a motivated writer will be low on most wranglers’ to-do lists, but consider these three scenarios concerning an event participant who fits into one of these categories:

  1. If they don’t already have their own website, they’re likely to be thrilled if you put them on the path to establishing their site, thereby making your event a special moment for them.
  2. If they enjoyed your event, they’re probably open to publishing cyber content about the event which could help your SEO, provide a compelling story about the event, or make your event more successful by catalyzing or facilitating post-event follow-up activities.
  3. If they have or develop a highly successful site, they might be able to help you improve your own website.

As an events wrangler, you’ll have opportunities to see the websites of speakers, attendees or vendors. Be aware of how you or your event might interact with or learn from those sites. If you are conscious of the criteria for the three groups described in this post, you can probably spot five or ten people involved with each event who are perfect fits for one of the three groups. Once you’ve identified those people, whether you personally connect with them depends on your motivations and interest in exploring a mutually-beneficial relationship that begins with a focus on them as a website owner.

The three lists below are admittedly draft versions, being incomplete and inelegantly worded. Over time I’ll edit this post to improve the lists. At some future time, I also plan to write an impactful post that more effectively communicates the jumble of thoughts found in a rough form in today’s post.

Diligent Digital Homesteaders

A draft list of criteria for diligent digital homesteaders (as of June 2016).

  1. digital homesteadersEnjoys having a place online that they can call their own.
  2. Early adopters
  3. Enjoys playing the domain name game.
  4. Wants to earn money through online activity.
  5. Willing to pay money for their own domain name and hosting service.
  6. Probably has a long term cyber-viewpoint. If younger than 20 years old, probably still transitioning from short term digital thinking to a long term cyber-viewpoint.
  7. Has a strong sense of digital or online content ownership.
  8. Willing to learn the technical skills needed to create their desired online home.

Natural Born Bloggers

A draft list of criteria for natural born bloggers (as of June 2016).

  1. bloggersEnjoys having a place online that they can call their own.
  2. Probably doesn’t hate writing assignments in school, at least not when they pick the topic.
  3. Writes at least partly for their own enjoyment; doesn’t need constant feedback from others.
  4. Interested in developing a regular writing and publishing routine or schedule.
  5. Probably knows others bloggers or reads blogs occasionally.

Motivated CyberWriters

A draft list of criteria for motivated cyberwriters (as of June 2016).

  1. cyberwritersEnjoys having a place online that they can call their own.
  2. Has written at least a moderate amount in the past; not starting their writing career from scratch with their website.
  3. May have ambitions to be an author, journalist, poet, or other type of professional or dedicated amateur writer.
  4. Has a specific desire to benefit from some aspect of online writing or publishing.
  5. Probably doesn’t have a desire to publish their writing online on a frequent or regular basis (such as a blog).
  6. May know other people who write or publish online.

The value of developing these profiles is that they will:

  • Help the PDH initiative be more successful.
  • Help me more effectively introduce WordPress to people who are likely to enjoy it and benefit from using it.
  • Reduce the abandonment of new WordPress websites.
  • Help improve the overall quality of active websites.

If you know of criteria I should add these lists, or revisions I should make to them, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

Democratize publishing more effectively by connecting high-potential website owners with WordPress! 🙂

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Day Thirteen: Build Your Brand

blogging universityHere’s my Blogging U class assignment for today:

  • Reinforce your blog’s image and brand by creating a custom blog icon.
  • Create an icon to represent your blog — a small photo, your initials, or a piece of your header image all work well.
  • Go to your blog’s General Settings tab by typing /wp-admin/options-general.php on the end of your blog’s address.
  • Finally, click “Choose File” under the Blog Icon tools on the right to upload your image, and follow the prompts to save it.

wrangler iconWell, even though I suspected the results would be disappointing, I tried using a small section of my header picture as my custom blog icon. The results were…disappointing. A tiny new personal goal is, therefore, to be aware of custom blog icons on other blogs I visit. I’m hoping to spot one or several custom icons that inspire me to create an icon for my blog that makes me smile. (My custom blog icon is the graphic on the left — it looks ok when it’s that size, but…)

If my virtual instructor for Blogging: Fundamentals asks — tell them I finished the assignment completely and promptly.

Developing a custom icon that truly makes me smile may have to wait until I take Custom Blog Icons 101 or until I meet a designer who wants to collaborate on little projects. Who knows. Maybe I’ll even connect with a designer who wants to consider BIG projects…

*****

Initial Chat Interview For Events Wrangler Application: Part 2

[This Part 2 post title is worded slightly different from the Part 1 post. Liberal application of literary license…Also, for any blog readers who ended up on this post because it was linked from The Daily Post’s prompt for A Storybook Day, I’m trying to figure out how to fix that. You should have seen a link to yesterday’s post, “A Storybook Day: An Events Wrangler’s Promptly Published Post.” I put a storybook link on yesterday’s post, but The Daily Post for some reason pointed people to today’s post as well as yesterday’s…]

Didn’t Find Canonical “Automattic Chat Interview” Post

As part of my quest to become an Automattic Events Wrangler, I’m writing posts about the company’s hiring process. This post relates to the first part of that process: the chat interview.

automattic logoIn the time since I wrote the “Initial Chat Interview With Automattic: Part 1” post, I haven’t found that special post I said I was hoping for — one which would give me lots of detailed information about initial chat hiring interviews with Automattic. No worries, though. I’m pretty comfortable with what I’ve read so far about the chat interviews and the type of people Automattic wants to hire.

In Part 1 of this series, I ended by saying, “I’ll continue my research on the initial chat interview and summarize my findings and thoughts on the topic in a few weeks.” Since my continued research didn’t reveal any striking new insights or especially helpful tips about the initial chat interview, for this Part 2 post I decided to briefly summarize my understanding of Automattic’s initial interviews, then present a few thoughts about two issues related to their initial hiring interviews in the upcoming years.

Chat Interview Summary

As of June 2016, here’s a quick bullet point list of what I think the chat interview is like.

  • Invitation to do asynchronous chat interview.
  • Chat on Slack, probably with two Automatticians.
  • Answer general questions.
  • Answer questions about your experience with WordPress.
  • Answer questions about your outlook or philosophy on topics related to good cultural fit with Automattic, such as customer service. (Customer service questions could be primarily for people applying for the Happiness Engineer position, and I might have questions related to events wrangling.)
  • Be informed whether your chat interview went well enough to move to the next stage of the hiring process.

If the initial interview went well, it sounds like you’re given a short project to work on, one that only takes a couple hours. Based on posts I’ve read about the Automattic hiring process, doing a short project is new within the past year or so. As Aaron Douglass put it, “This small unit of work will show the applicant’s domain knowledge and ability to communicate.”They likely added that after having too many applicants make it through the chat interview but then not do well on the paid trial project. If you do well on the short project, you have another chat discussion, then move on to the paid trial project.

Now let’s take a quick peek at how the hiring process might change in the future. Two questions related specifically to Automattic’s initial hiring interviews in upcoming years are:

  1. What are the pluses and minuses for having more transparency regarding the chat interview questions (and other parts of the hiring process)?
  2. How might the initial chat interview (and the rest of the hiring process) change as Automattic scales 10X, from a company of 500 to a Big Company of 5000?

Hiring Process Transparency: Pluses And Minuses

chart with upward trendAs a company, Automattic seems to lean heavily toward transparency. As they scale from 500 up to 5000 employees, many things may need to adapt or change.

Transparency, both internal and external, is highly valued at Automattic. That’s likely a legacy of Matt Mullenweg’s personal style and a result of living the open source philosophy. Transparency will need to remain strong, and the focus on it probably needs to be increased in upcoming years. Transparency is a lot easier with a couple hundred people than in a company of a few thousand people. If the inner workings of the company are confusing to employees, avoidable conflicts will happen, and employees will be unsure where their efforts should be taking the company.

One company issue affected by transparency is the hiring process. Here are potential pluses and minuses regarding bringing more transparency to the hiring process.

  1. Plus: Allows Applicants To Self-Select Out.
  2. Plus: Applicants Are More Qualified.
  3. Minus: Easier To Game System.
  4. Plus: Easier To Improve Process.
  5. Plus: Standardizes Process.
  6. Minus: Applicants Less Passionate About Automattic.

[Almost every one of my blog posts ends up being longer than intended, so to counteract that, I’ll just comment briefly on the first three points above.]

Allows Applicants To Self-Select Out:  If people who consider applying for a job at Automattic know the questions asked during the chat interview, they’ll be better informed about the job and may decide to not apply because the job wouldn’t be a good fit. If the hiring process is less transparent, that may encourage people to apply who might not if they were better informed. I’ve seen quite a few postings online from people who said they won’t apply to Automattic because of the trial work requirement. That’s an example of applicants self-selecting out because of transparency.

Applicants Are More Qualified:  Automattic has a reputation for encouraging people to apply again in the future if they lack certain qualifications when they first apply. Transparency in the hiring process means people would know the criteria for qualified applicants. So if they’re passionate about becoming part of the Automattic team, they can work to achieve the minimum criteria before applying, resulting in applicants who are more qualified.

Easier To Game System:  A downside to transparency can be making it easier to game a system. If the criteria for passing the chat interview includes knowing answers to specific technology questions, it doesn’t make sense to publicize those questions. An applicant who doesn’t really meet Automattic’s intended minimum criteria may be able to answer widely-known chat questions. Whether transparency makes it easier to game the chat interview depends on what questions are being asked and what other aspects of the chat are evaluated by Automattic.

In his post about applying for a job with Automattic, William Kowalski said,
In the interests of fairness to new applicants, as well as to Automattic, I won’t get into the details of that here, but I will say that it posed a challenge.” When he mentions fairness to Automattic, he may have been referring to applicants potentially gaming the hiring process.

500 ⇒ 5000: Hiring Process Changes

  1. Chat Interview: Ensure Consistency.
  2. Chat Interview: New Chat Criteria.
  3. Other: Matt Must Clone.
  4. Other: Better Understand Each Hiring Step. What works and what doesn’t. Feedback re: why employees who aren’t good fit were hired, why employees who probably would be a good fit didn’t get hired.
  5. Other: Additional steps in the hiring process such as have the applicant create a blog, use a “hire candidate” O2 blog to simulate Automattician O2 interaction, use IRC for part of the hiring process if 25% of internal communications is via private chat in IRC. Experiment and figure out a couple more hiring process activities that are good predictors of successful Automatticians.

[As with the transparency list, I’ll only address the top three points about hiring changes as the company grows.]

Ensure Consistency:  To develop a repeatable and reliable process, the chat interview needs to be consistent from one interviewer to the next. As the company scales from 500 to 5000 people, a lot more chat interviews will be needed, which means a lot more people will probably have to do chat interviews. Those chats need to have a certain amount of consistency if they’re going to be an effective hiring tool.

In my mind, it’s essential to have the chat interview done by someone representative of the people with whom the applicant will be working. That means you can’t have one or a bunch of HR people do chat interviews. The reason for the asynchronous chat mode of interviewing is for Automatticians to get a feel for how well the candidate will communicate with them after they’re hired. Having an HR person do chat interviews all day long is unlikely to help ensure the candidate will communicate well with his fellow Automatticians.

New Chat Criteria:  I don’t know what the criteria currently are for successfully passing the chat interview. But if that part of the hiring process is going to remain relevant as the rate of new hires increases, maybe different or additional criteria are needed. The best people to come up with additional chat interview criteria are the people currently doing the interviews. They can develop a large set of potential criteria and rate applicants on them, then see which criteria turn out to be good predictors of applicants successfully doing the short project and the paid trial work.

Matt Must Clone:  A third hiring practice that will have to change as Automattic scales in size is having people other than or in addition to Matt be the initial reviewer for applicants’ emails. This may have already changed, but I have yet to read an account of the hiring process that doesn’t say “…the first step is Matt Mullenweg reads every applicant’s email…” The super-high quality and good cultural fit of employees that Matt has hired have been instrumental in making Automattic successful. That was a strategic advantage for Automattic when they had 10 employees and when they had 50 employees. I don’t think having Matt be the sole gatekeeper for all applicants’ emails will be a strategic advantage when Automattic has 5000 employees. I don’t know where the shift occurs between 50 and 5000, but Matt only has 24 hours in a day…

I’m Ready

The Part 1 post and today’s post have covered the topic of the chat interview pretty well from an outsider’s point of view. I’m looking forward to the next post I write about this topic being from an insider’s point of view.

I’m ready for my initial chat interview! 🙂

** If you’re ready, consider applying today to Automattic. They’re hiring! **

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blogging fundamentalsIf you’re a blogger who hasn’t taken a WordPress.com Blogging University class , consider taking one. They’re free, and they’re mostly fun. As fun as anything can be that takes a scalable generic approach to helping thousands or millions of people become better bloggers and internet authors. I’ve been blogging for over ten years, and I’ve acquired new knowledge and skills while taking the Blogging: Fundamentals virtual class. Here’s my assignment for today:

Day Twelve: Make Some New Connections

  • Go to The Daily Post’s Prompts page and look for the prompt you used for Day Eleven.
  • Click on the prompt and scroll down to the grid. Those are the other responses.
  • Look for post titles that catch your eye. Read six other responses to the prompt you wrote about on Day Eleven and leave comments on at least two of those posts.

After I publish this post, I’ll head over to the other Storybook Day posts, read six and comment on at least two…

*****

A Storybook Day: An Events Wrangler’s Promptly Published Post

What Is A Storybook Day?

storybook dayIt’s a common goal for events wranglers:

Have this event be like a storybook day for the attendees!

That’s a mighty ambitious goal which will take a lot of work and luck to achieve. So…let’s start at the very beginning — a very good place to start…

What is a storybook day? This phrase means different things to different people, but for most of us, it will mean something special, out of the ordinary, almost magical will happen to us. An example of this is Melissa Hunter’s Instagram post, where she says:

Walking to our car after a storybook day in the English countryside, I said, “Could this be any quainter?” and a rainbow exploded into the sky.

storybook rainbow, Melissa Hunter

Wide Spectrum Of Event Types

Creating and delivering an event that makes something special and magical happen for even one attendee is an ambitious goal. Expecting and hoping for it to happen to many or most of the attendees is downright preposterous. And yet, that is the goal for many events wranglers.

A storybook day seems most likely to happen at events which involve celebrations, entertainment, and emotions, such as weddings or parties, much more so than at events like industry trade shows or a training class. But even the generally unemotional trade show or seminar can have a storybook element.

spectrumWeddings, New Year’s Eve parties, annual company picnics, plumbing industry equipment expos, unconferences, and three-day environmental regulations training classes includes such a wide spectrum of settings, attendees, and specific objectives that it seems impossible to offer general suggestions or strategies to delivery a storybook day.

Each of those different types of gatherings can present unique opportunities for something out of the ordinary for its attendees. The events wrangler in charge should already be aware of most of those event-specific opportunities or should figure out what they are.

But there IS one magical ingredient you should focus on, regardless of the type of event you’re wrangling. Personal relationships!

Create New Relationships & Celebrate Old Relationships

Every event, regardless of where it is on the spectrum, involves people coming together. And anytime people come together, new relationships can be created, interrupted relationships can be rekindled, and old relationships can be celebrated and strengthened.

The events wrangler is responsible for those relationship opportunities in three ways:

  1. Including specific event agenda items or activities focused on relationships.
  2. Working hard to enable serendipitous connections or collisions.
  3. Becoming acquainted with many of the participants and connecting a few people who seem to need a bit of help or those whom you just “know” will instantly bond with each other, spend a long time talking together, and probably stay in touch long after your event is over.

Traditional Relationship-Builders

The first item on the list involves the typical networking or icebreaker activities. These can be perfunctorily added to the agenda and just allowed to happen like they have for many years. Or you can seek out new twists on the old standbys and work hard to make the activities fun and relevant parts of the event that actually do help people connect and enjoy themselves.

Serendipitous Collisions

serendipityThe second item, enabling serendipitous collisions, will depend on your budget, imagination, and research into how serendipity works. You and the event goers need to be open to unexpected outcomes and activities which aren’t totally scripted. The serendipitous moments can be sort of like playing a game where the only rules are how to start the game, and maybe a couple rules for interacting with other players. After all, when two people meet for the first time, the only rules that should apply is that they listen to each other and that they be kind to each other. What happens after that is Life!

Personal Connector

The third item is where the events wrangler can absolutely have an impact and can work the hardest to ensure that at least two people walk away from the event with a storybook day. This item requires you to get acquainted well enough with some of the participants to know whether they have a lot in common, including personalities that are compatible enough to potentially lead to a long term relationship. Find out what people are interested in, what they’re working on, what they need help with, what they’d like to help others with.

introduce peopleIntroduce a few of these highly compatible attendees to each other, get the conversation started, then let them chat on their own. The two people may be a session presenter and an attendee at the session. You might talk with two different attendees who are passionate about the same topic. Maybe you notice two like-minded people whose situations may get in the way of them beginning a conversation, such as a big age difference, a social or financial status difference, or other personal factors. Give life a helping hand and initiate those connections you see just waiting to happen. If the people you connect do have interests in common and their personalities work well together, you may be responsible for a relationship which endures for years.

The other half of the third relationship item is connecting the attendees whom you can see need a nudge or are totally out of their environment. Figure out which other person at the event can connect well with the attendee who’s not fitting in. Turn the event from a failure and an unenjoyable experience for an attendee into an unexpected bright spot in their week. Maybe they never enjoy going to events. Maybe they have a personal issue which was preventing them from fully participating in the event. Put yourself in their shoes. Take the time to make sure someone else at the event acknowledges them as a person so they feel like more than just number 47 on the attendee list.

Storybook wineMay every event you wrangle be a storybook day for at least two of your event goers! 🙂

PS — if your event includes alcohol, you might want to include a few bottles of Storybook wine. That will help ensure your event is a storybook day for at least a few wine lovers!

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Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Eleven: Make a Prompt Personal

Today’s class assignment (on a Sunday?!!) is:

  • blogging fundamentalsLearn to work with outside inspiration so you never have to deal with blogger’s block.
  • Publish a post inspired by a writing prompt.
  • Visit our Daily Post site and check out today’s prompt — it’s in the dark blue box on the right.
  • Include a link to the prompt so that others can find your post on the prompt page.
    Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Homework done. One prompted post published promptly. What’s Next? 🙂

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A Storybook Day

Road Kit: Events Wrangler & Digital Nomad

Peace On A Plane

Today’s post takes a look at what constitutes a respectable road kit for someone who is both an events wrangler and a digital nomad.

In her recent post “The week we had,” Pam Kotke highlighted two pieces of air travel kit she bought to have a more restful plane trip from the USA to Spain.airplane big pillow

“…Saved up some Amazon gift cards and got some amazing (and eye-wateringly expensive) noise cancelling earbuds. I feel quite confident that I’m going to snooze like a baby on the airplane next week because of these as well as this travel pillow I bought. YES I DID.

I don’t care in the least how goofy this looks if it means I can get a few hours of sleep on the plane. Erica and I arrive early Friday morning, and that night we have a presentation to give. So if I don’t sleep on the plane, it could get really ugly…”

Pam’s post got me thinking about stuff I take on a plane trip, an assortment of airline accompaniments put together over years of travel.

The gear, services, and practices one person needs to have the optimal experience, or at least an acceptable journey that leaves them smiling, from the time they walk through the door of their airplane until they walk back out that door upon arrival at their destination, will vary greatly from what many of their fellow travelers need.

Seven Items For POAP

boarding, peace on a planeHere’s a general list of the Seven Items I consider extremely helpful for achieving Peace On A Plane:

  1. Preparation.
  2. Attitude.
  3. Comfortable clothes and shoes.
  4. Smartphone & glasses.
  5. Boarding pass (hardcopy or on smartphone).
  6. Red backpack that will fit in overhead compartment.
  7. Personal bag that will easily fit under seat.

Preparation is the top item on the list for me. It’s on everyone’s written or unwritten list, but each person will prepare differently. And what you actually carry through the plane door isn’t preparation — it’s the end result of your preparations for the flight and for the overall trip.

peace symbolPeace is tremendously influenced by your mental and spiritual situation, so I also listed Attitude as one of seven carry-on items you’ll need — and this item applies to every passenger and crew member. One section of a single blog post isn’t going to change anyone’s attitude, but if you’ve never looked into mindfulness meditation, consider it. I’m certainly no expert on the topic, but I think most people could benefit from it if they got acquainted with mindfulness meditation through guided sessions and regularly practiced it. You’ll be able to use it whilst waiting for the flight to board and when sitting in your less-than-perfect aircraft seating.

Comfortable clothes and shoes, smartphone, glasses, and boarding pass are all items without which I would feel slightly naked, or at least uncomfortable. And they’re sort of “worn” rather than carried onboard. No explanation needed for clothes and shoes, and everyone has a different idea of what’s best for those items. A smartphone has become indispensable for digital nomads, as well as for many non-nomads around the world who can afford one and have available cellular or WiFi networks. For me, the glasses are needed to be able to use my smartphone… 😦 The boarding pass has two functions — the gate agent seems to want to see it before letting me board, and it shows my seat number.

Items Six and Seven are the two which get physically carried aboard, although they may be over your shoulder or on your back rather than in your hand. My goal is to have only two items to handle when walking onto the plane — a backpack and a personal bag. The backpack should contain most anything I’ll need for a couple days when my checked lostbaggage gets misplaced or we get stranded on an island like in Lost, Wrecked, or Swiss Family Robinson. My personal bag has everything I might want to access whilst seat-belted in during the flight or don’t want squished and squashed in the overhead. That includes a bottle of water and a paperback, as well as a couple survival items in case my backpack goes missing in that Lost scenario…

So that’s my list of boarding essentials. In future posts, I’ll spend more time on the details for each of the Seven Items.

Digital Nomad

As a digital nomad, I’m keenly interested in having quality tools (within my budget) that make connecting to the ‘net from (pretty much) anywhere an enjoyable and effective experience. Having been a digital nomad since the early 2000s, I know that having the right gear, tools, services, and practices can have a huge impact on your digital productivity and overall cyber-experience.

digital nomad backpackI’ve seen a number of posts over the past ten years about what digital nomads carry with them. A good recent example is Matt Mullenweg’s post, “What’s in My Bag, 2016 edition.” A couple others are “What’s in my pack?” (see picture on left), “Essential Entry-Level Work Gear for Digital Nomads,” “The Ultimate Digital Nomad Packing List for Travel,” and “The Digital Nomad’s Packing List (From a Girl Who Knows).”

I’ll describe my Digital Nomad Bug Out Bag contents in a future post, then update this post with a link.

As they say at Capital 1, “What’s In Your Digital Nomad Backpack?”

Road Warrior

road warriorUsing the term “road warrior” in this post is presumptuous on my part, but since that title is one to which I aspire, I used it anyway. I did much more airline travel in the corporate world than I’ve done in the past few years. Now all travel expenses are paid for out of my own pocket, and I don’t have a company paying me to work in different cities. When my goal of becoming an Events Wrangler is realized, I’ll likely be flying here and there more often. At that point, I’ll be leveling up my road warrior skills and kit.

As Abraham Lincoln is reputed to have said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” So this blog post and the future post wherein I will itemize my roadtrippin’ essentials are snapshots of me creating my future as a road warrior.

No links are included here for others’ posts about Road Warrior Gear because people’s needs and equipment lists vary so widely that it’s hard to find posts which relate well to my current situation and to the future I’m creating. This post will be updated with a link to my “road warrior essentials” post that I expect to publish roughly six months after being hired as an Automattic Events Wrangler…

Inspired By Neighbors

opte map of internet

Locate my neighborhoods on this Opte Project map of the internet?

As extra credit for my Blogging: Fundamentals course at WordPress.com Blogging University, I am launching an online search project to find (and get inspired by) cybercitizens in three neighborhoods — the ones inhabited by Airborne Adventurers, Digital Nomads, and Road Warriors. To help me find those neighborhoods, I’ve got Blogging U’s suggestions for finding good neighbors. Maybe it would even help to use some of the internet’s maps, like the colorful Barrett Lyon / Opte Project map mentioned by Kasperksy, or possibly xkcd’s map of internet communities (although that’s a bit dated).xkcd map of internet communities

 

It’s good to see new areas of the metaverse, meet new like-minded and complementary-minded people and stretch one’s knowledge, skills and comfort zones. Now if there were only a couple more hours in each day. Sigh…

Bon voyage! 🙂

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Blogging U Homework

Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Nine — Get Inspired by the Neighbors

  • For Day Eight, you left comments on four other blogs.
  • Write a post that builds on one of these comments, and link to the other blog.
  • Give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Ten: Build a Better Blogroll

  • Use a widget to create a blogroll, a list of links you love that you want to share with your readers.
  • Decide what kind of widget you want to use: the Blogs I Follow widget, or a Text widget.
  • Open the Customizer, then select Widgets, and add the widget you want to use.
  • Customize the widget’s settings and/or add your text, then click Save & Publish.

blogging fundamentalsYesterday’s post just didn’t lend itself to Day Nine’s assignment, so I combined Nine and Ten for today’s post. The Blogging U instructor said that was ok, and gave me ten points of extra credit for using my discretion rather than blindly following the course assignments…

A minor issue regarding the blogs listed in the blogroll text widget I added to Events Wrangling today is that I haven’t truly developed a list of cyberneighbor blogs that I want to advertise as “These Are My Favorite Blogs On The Internets.” What I put in the widget are #bloggingfundamentalsassignment blogs and a couple #eventswranglers blogs on which I’ve seen good posts. Six months from now, I’ll feel more comfortable about highlighting blogs which should be checked out by Events Wrangling readers.

Caveat: Publishing this post completes the Day Nine Assignment. I still have to create the blogroll text widget for Day Ten, which I’ll do after I publish today’s post and then figure out a couple blogs to list in the widget.

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Potlucks & Events Wranglers

Potlucks & Barbecues

I did a previous post about barbecues, and in yesterday’s post I mentioned meeting neighbors through a real world event. I’ll address both those issues in a bit. But first, let’s start with a definition for potluck.

potluck foodA potluck is a gathering where each guest contributes a dish of food that is to be shared…The word pot-luck appears in the 16th century English work of Thomas Nashe, and used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest, the luck of the pot.” The sense “communal meal, where guests bring their own food,” appears to have originated in the late 19th century or early 20th century, particularly in Western North America, either by influence from potlatch or possibly by extension of traditional sense of “luck of the pot.

Getting back to my BBQ post, how are BBQs and potlucks related?

  • bbqBBQs can include potluck food sharing.
  • Barbecued or grilled meat isn’t necessarily the central aspect of a potluck.
  • BBQs are usually outdoor events; potlucks are more evenly distributed between outdoor and indoor.
  • Either can happen anytime during the year, but BBQs are traditionally associated with summer.
  • BBQs generally have more central planning and financial aspects because of the main course meat(s).

Potlucks & Events Wranglers

I'll do itNow here’s where the events wrangler aspect comes in:

Potlucks will only happen if an amateur or professional events wrangler gets involved. To get the ball rolling takes that one person who sees value in the event and says, “we’re gonna do this!” Then an events wrangler, who may or may not have been the one to suggest the potluck, has to make it happen. A tradition of having potlucks can be established, and this will assist in repeat performances — if the first one is successful…

Even in an environment where potlucks have been done in the past, such as a church congregation which has had multiple potlucks each year, it still takes someone to lead the charge. We had a potluck brunch after church two weeks ago. But it didn’t just magically happen. One person, an initiator, had to say, “let’s do a potluck.” Then an events wrangler, either the initiator or someone else, had to lead the organizing and putting on of that church potluck. And it was delicious and fun — thanks, Carey! 🙂

Potlucks & Neighbors

potluck, neighborsRegarding meeting the neighbors, potlucks can be a great ad hoc way to welcome a new person or family to the neighborhood, or they can be annual events which provide an opportunity to meet new neighbors and to re-meet neighbors you don’t frequently interact with. If you’ve got some new neighbors, maybe you should organize an informal potluck to welcome them to the neighborhood. If you’re the new kid on the block, get to know one or a couple neighbors, then discuss the idea of a potluck as something you think would be a fun event to help plan. If one of your neighbors agrees, helping organize and put on the event might be the best way possible for you to get to know others living around you.

Potlucks are pretty much a real-life event, but here’s a cyberspace question for you:

Because it’s difficult to share food with the virtual neighbors discussed in yesterday’s post, can you think of any ways to do something along the lines of a “virtual potluck” that you’d be the events wrangler for if you connect with neighbors you’d want to invite to such a potluck?

To wrap up today’s post, ask yourself these three questions:potluck

  1. If you’ve been to a potluck before, was it a good use of your time and energy?
  2. If you’ve never been to a potluck before, does it sound like something you’d like to do?
  3. If your answer to either the first or second question was yes, when are you going to start finding people to help you organize a potluck in the near future?

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If you’re interested in organizing a potluck and haven’t done that before, use Google to search for answers to specific questions you have about doing potlucks. And get at least one co-organizer to help you. Below is a bit of background info and sources of potluck inspiration!

Reasons For Potlucks

There are lots of reasons for having potlucks, including:

  • Central event of a fun social gathering, like a block party or just a get-together for a group of friends.
  • Minimizing centralized food organization and expense for events.
    • Reunions or other large family gatherings.
    • BarCamps and other participant-driven events.
    • Church congregation gatherings.
    • Annual event for many organizations.
  • Optimizing personal or family meal preparation and variety.
  • Building or strengthening relationships and trust.
    • Connecting a neighborhood or starting a neighborhood association.
    • Starting a goods and services sharing group.
    • Starting a dinner co-op (sort of a recursive or seed potluck…).

18 Online Sources Of Potluck Inspiration

The public is invited to Pequot Library’s Great Lawn on Friday, June 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. for the 11th Annual Potluck, Outdoor Concert, and Campout…This favorite, traditional community event on Pequot Library’s one-of-a-kind Great Lawn is free and open to all. Potluck Supper begins at 6:30 p.m…Stay until 9 p.m. for The Big Pillow Fight and families are invited to pitch their tents and camp out all night… http://www.minutemannewscenter.com/articles/2016/06/10/entertainment/doc5756e1fb953e3709782335.txt

A meal with the neighbors — One Wednesday of every summer month, Carolyn Supinger and her neighbors come together to organize a community-based potluck…As neighbor Bill Bibbler said, “If it wasn’t for Carolyn this wouldn’t have happened…“It all really started with heirloom tomatoes,” said Supinger. Her husband was sure no one had ever tasted this unique variety of tomato…they invited all of their neighbors over to try it…
http://www.thesungazette.com/article/lifestyles/2016/06/22/a-meal-with-the-neighbors/

Hawai‘i Farmers Union United…is presenting its monthly locavore potluck…at Mill House Restaurant at Maui Tropical Plantation. This month’s featured chef is Kyle Kawakami of Maui Fresh Streatery, voted “Best Food Truck”…Kawakami will prepare a dish using a canoe crop, hemp seeds and moringa…The evening will also include a produce swap, a farmers market table, prize giveaways, networking and more…
http://mauinow.com/2016/06/01/locavore-potluck-at-mill-house-restaurant/

It’s Food Forward’s mission to not let such fruit go to waste..since he started the group…with a simple backyard pick, it has grown into an energized urban food-gleaning organization…It also mobilizes teams at…farmers’ markets, consolidating all produce that farmers don’t want to take back with them…putting up flyers on the surrounding Starbucks community boards announcing a pick and a potluck…
http://www.lamag.com/longform/the-crop-circle/

Actress Shailene Woodley will be stumping for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during a “Potluck For Bernie” event Tuesday night in her hometown of Simi Valley. Woodley has been traveling up and down the coast…The RV tour has been a grass-roots effort by the three actors and is not officially part of the Sanders campaign…
http://www.vcstar.com/news/local/simi-valley/actress-shailene-woodley-to-hold-potluck-in-simi-valley-to-support-bernie-sanders-341836b6-26b6-16f8-381335641.html

Farm Potluck at Mountain Bounty Farm — Mountain Bounty is a beautiful 50-acre farm, offering the oldest and longest running CSA in Nevada County! Join John Tecklin and Angie Tomey for this Mountain Bounty Farm potluck!…Farmer John will have some pre-packed CSA boxes for sale so you can get a taste of what it’s like to receive a fresh box of veggies every week!…We’ll circle up for dinner at 6pm…
http://yubanet.com/regional/Farm-Potluck-at-Mountain-Bounty-Farm-June-2.php

Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors — Whether you live on a quiet cul-de-sac or a busy street, it’s important to get to know your neighbors to build a sense of community. Hanging out with neighborhood friends is also a wonderfully convenient pastime – no car, travel or reservations required! Take advantage of the…warm weather and organize an old-fashioned block party…a collaborative potluck party or an outdoor game night… 
https://www.punchbowl.com/p/ways-to-get-to-know-your-neighbors

Building community for long-term prosperity …There is no clear path to building a strong community. Different nuances, different people…will all lead down a different path, but there are some common ideas that can be used to develop your…town into the community that you would like it to be…Here are some of the potential ways that you can work to build community…# 20. Throw a block party, community BBQ or potluck…
https://personalliberty.com/building-community-for-long-term-prosperity/

A free, block party in the Cariboo Heights neighbourhood…Highlights include: Free hotdogs…popcorn, face painting…refreshments and mingling with neighbours. It’s a potluck, so bring a dish to share…The main reason you should go is to meet your neighbours. The Vancouver Foundation conducted a study…and found the most pressing concern among Lower Mainland residents was a growing sense of isolation…
http://www.burnabynow.com/community/save-the-date-community-block-party-1.2276916

No matter how many times we make a menu…and plan ahead, there are going to be days…when we just can’t get it together to make a healthy meal for dinner…I’ve found a different solution: neighborhood dinner swaps. Think of neighborhood dinner swaps like the neighborhood potlucks…Another way you can structure your dinner swap is to collaborate with several neighbors, say three other families…
http://www.moneycrashers.com/potluck-dinner-ideas-dinner-meals-dishes-swap/
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/dining/23coop.html  http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/how-to-create-a-dinner-co-op/

There is a powerful social aspect to sharing…sharing works even better with three, five, ten or even 50 people all sharing in group format. Sharing is social…Call it trust-building. Trust-building is best accomplished face to face…Hosting a potluck is a great way to start a neighborhood sharing group…The potluck is an iconic community gathering experience that symbolically reinforces the idea of sharing…
http://www.shareable.net/blog/how-to-reinvent-the-potluck

Our [Neighborhood Association] Annual Potluck Picnic is right around the corner…We had such a blast last year we’re doing it again so, come join us, enjoy some music and good food and meet your neighbors. In fact, bring a neighbor or two with you!…Last year you took the word “potluck” to heart. We had so many wonderful side dishes I wonder what we’ll get to taste this year! Please bring a side dish to share with 5-10 of your neighbors…
http://mvneighbors.org/node/160

The Pollinator Potluck…featured oven-fresh pizza, fine wine, and an educational speech about the value of public gardens to migratory birds. In its second year, the Greenwich Garden Club (GGC) is using potlucks to bolster a sense of community….we thought the potluck was the best way to not have to charge for something, and everybody brings the beverages, the food, and it’s just a real community gathering…
http://greenwichfreepress.com/lifestyle/pollinator-potluck-brings-community-together-for-brick-oven-pizza-66125/

It was a potluck dinner unlike any P.E.I. had likely seen before: no meat, no cheese — not even any honey — were allowed in any of the dishes, because they were all vegan…60 people showed up Monday to the first monthly vegan potluck…The 23-year-old vegan said she thought the dinner would attract about 30 people…”I’ve been wanting to get a sense of the vegan community on P.E.I. — finding each other was the issue…
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-vegan-potluck-vegetarian-1.3615055

People of all ages, races and religions were invited to enjoy a potluck dinner at First Christian Church…The catch, people had to bring a dish representing their culture, and people couldn’t sit by anyone they already knew. “It’s been a rewarding experience for me to just see the different culture aspects…Hands Across the Table for Racial Healing focused on getting to know different types of people by breaking bread and asking questions…
http://wqad.com/2016/05/21/quad-city-potluck-serves-up-diversity/

Vineyard Voyagers, Inc…will host a film screening, potluck, and presentation of new projects on Sunday…The film explores the concept of “nature deficit disorder” in an age of technology and “stranger danger,” while examining the impact of outdoor activity on the health and development of toddlers, children, and adolescents…the gathering will include a zero-waste potluck meal…
http://www.mvtimes.com/2016/06/01/film-screening-potluck-will-launch-new-initiatives-vineyard-voyagers/

Potlucks are cropping up everywhere these days in a resurgence of popularity and it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Who would not enjoy an event where there are so many dishes to choose from?…The lure of potlucks is that people love to share their favorite dishes and in fact, I’ve tasted some of the best foods I have ever had at these gatherings. Plus I have gained the bonus of learning some new cooking tricks from fellow contributors…
http://www.unionvilletimes.com/?p=30037

The California City Arts Commission is sponsoring a drum circle and potluck to celebrate the Summer Solstice on Monday, June 20, from 6 to 9 p.m. The public is invited to attend and bring drums, rattles, singing bowls and/or their best voice or share available percussion to help raise a cone of positive energy and celebrate the spring equinox… http://www.tehachapinews.com/lifestyle/2016/06/03/pot-luck-drum-circle-to-celebrate-summer-solstice.html

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WordPress Personal Digital Home & Meeting The Neighbors

New Home, New Neighbors

welcome to neighborhoodMeeting the neighbors is a good idea when you move into a new home.

Even if it doesn’t require industrial-strength events wrangler skills, meeting the neighbors qualifies as a type of event. It can be fun and worthwhile to meet new neighbors, but it can also be a bit intimidating and easy to put off until “later.” For most people, it’s easiest to get to know those neighbors if someone helps you out or gives you a gentle nudge to get you started.

My WordPress.com Blogging University class gave me a gentle nudge today — my assignment was to meet my cyber-neighbors by leaving comments on a few blogs.

When someone creates their WordPress Personal Digital Home (PDH), there will be virtual neighbors they should meet, so today’s Blogging University class assignment is highly relevant to the PDH initiative.

Blogging: Fundamentals — Day Eight

blogging fundamentalsThe virtual assignment for Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Eight — Introduce Yourself To The Neighbors is:

  1. Browse the blogs and topics you already follow.
  2. Check the Recommendations and Discover tabs to find great posts we think you’ll love, or browse the bloggingfundamentals tag to see posts from other new bloggers.
  3. Leave comments on four of the posts you read.

Today’s assignment is one I find both straight-forward and of high interest. The part which is moderately challenging is writing comments to be of high interest to the blog author and to initiate a meaningful conversation. Writing that type of comment will take a non-trivial amount of effort, and it may generate replies of equal or higher quality only 20% or 30% of the time. But finding even a small number of simpatico souls is well worth the time and effort you put into writing your comments.

I haven’t completed the three steps above yet, but I’ll finish today’s assignment as soon as I publish this post.

WordPress PDH & Virtual Neighbors

WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineThe WordPress PDH concept is essentially One Site To Rule Them All, your data storage shed, control panel and cyberspace digital presence. A PDH website is intended to give you more control and make you more effective at interacting with all things digital. It is also intended to democratize publishing by helping you write and publish things of interest to you on your digital “home.” A significant part of the value and purpose of what you publish is helping you connect with like-minded and complementary-minded virtual neighbors.

One step in connecting with your virtual neighbors is looking amongst the millions and billions online to find compatible cyber citizens. You don’t need to locate a clone or near-clone of yourself, but it does make sense to find people who have one or several interests in common with you, people with whom you can have a fun, respectful, and mutually-satisfying conversation.

The Blogging: Fundamentals, Day Three assignment helped with finding compatible neighbors by having the virtual students use the WordPress.com Reader to locate other blogs of interest to them. Today’s assignment extends the compatible-neighbor finding skills by having the student use the Recommendations and Discover tabs for locating more neighbors they might like to get to know better.

neighbor nametagOnce you’ve located neighbors you might have something in common with, leaving comments on their blogs is the best way to get to know them. In addition to the excellent Day Eight lesson suggestions for writing comments, the lesson also pointed to the post “Making Conversation: How to Think Up Good Comments.”

If you write posts in line with the lesson suggestions and with the Making Conversation post, I guarantee the blog author will be thrilled. High quality comments will help start real conversations with the type of neighbors who are interested in building meaningful relationships with like-minded or complementary-minded people.

Blog authors who participate in an engaging conversation with you are the type of neighbors new owners of a WordPress PDH want to meet. During beta testing as the WordPress PDH is developed, the early users will be encouraged to go through the Blogging: Fundamentals class, with extra emphasis on Days Three and Eight to help get to know their virtual neighbors.

Tomorrow I’ll take a look at one real-world event which can have several purposes, one of which is meeting the neighbors.

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920_Sec: NE Wisconsin InfoSec Meetup, July 13, 2016

InfoSec Meetup For NE Wisconsin Launches

meetupThe first meeting of 920_Sec, a Meetup.com group for NE Wisconsin people interested in infosec, is scheduled for Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at The Bar Holmgren Way in Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA. More details are below.

I’m planning to go to the meetup wearing two hats — the Stetson of an events wrangler and the 1950s detective hat of a tech person highly interested in security.

Events Wrangler Hat

stetsonThe person who scheduled this event and took the time to organize a Meetup.com group had reasons for doing so. If there’s an opportunity, I’ll talk with the founder of 920_Sec to find out what their reasons were for organizing the event.

Also from an event standpoint, I plan to keep track of various details that make this event successful or that could be improved on for future inaugural Meetup.com situations I attend or help organize. It’s hard for me to go to an event and not observe those types of things…

InfoSec Hat

blackhat hatFrom a security aspect, I’m going to this meetup as a generalist tech person who’s very interested in digital and information security, but I am definitely not an InfoSec Professional or ninja coder. I’m so far from being either of those that I don’t even know when it’s preferred to use, or not use, various terms such as infosec, InfoSec, information security, cybersecurity, spy vs spy hatsecurity, NSA, Snowden, and hacker. I couldn’t even decide which infosec hat seemed most appropriate, the Black Hat detective type or the Spy vs Spy hat.

However, even though I’m not a security pro, I’m deeply interested in infosec for three reasons.

  1. Desire to learn about and achieve better personal digital security.
  2. Opportunity to meet infosec people who might collaborate on future projects, especially the Personal Digital Home and the NE Wisconsin cybersecurity initiative.
  3. Opportunity to expand and connect the region’s TIME community (Tech, Innovators, Makers, Entrepreneurs).

Details From Meetup Organizer

As of noon today, there were eleven people signed up for the group and four people RSVP’d to attend the July 13 event. Below is what the launch email for this group said, along with a few details from the group’s page on Meetup.com.

920_Sec strives to be the Green Bay and Fox Valley Information Security Meetup Network for Info-Sec Professionals, IT professionals interested in learning more about security related topics, Researchers, Hackers, and all things in-between! Unlike other meetings, there are no “dues”, nothing to join, and no exploits to present! We’ll be at the tables in front of the pool tables right when you walk in. Don’t worry about being late, people will begin to roll in after work.

This first meetup happens on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, starting at 5:30 PM, at The Bar Holmgren Way, 2001 Holmgren Way, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Click here for a Google Map showing the meetup location.”

If you live in NE Wisconsin and are interested in infosec, I hope to see you on July 13! 🙂

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Blogging U, Blogging: Fundamentals, Day 7– Start Personalizing Your Site

Today’s virtual class assignment was:blogging university

  • Add a custom header image or background (or both).

Well, that was pretty easy. I’ve already uploaded and been using a custom header image, so I can check the box for that WordPress skill.

In order to learn something new for Day 7 in my class, I went to the tools & tips for this assignment, and read today’s section. I read about different ways to personalize my blog’s appearance, but carefully avoided adding to my lengthy To-Do list. I did find three relevant posts mentioned that I’ll be reading later today:

Create an Awesome (Free) Header in Ten Minutes
The Web is Your Oyster: Where to Find Free-to-Use Images
Two Free Tools for Non-Designers: Canva and Pablo

Yay — homework done for today! 🙂

[But I’ll be doing extra credit work later this afternoon…]

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Day-After Report: June 20 Coder Cooperative, IndieWeb & PDH

Event Summary

appleton makerspace coder cooperativeThis is an event day-after report for yesterday’s Appleton Makerspace Coder Cooperative meetup to discuss IndieWeb and the Personal Digital Home (PDH) initiative.

See yesterday’s post for the meeting’s talking points.

It was a small group, but we had an encouraging discussion. Everyone at the meeting felt there’s a need for something like IndieWeb or PDH. Below is a list of questions and comments from the June 20, 2016 event.

  • IndieWebCampInfosec needs to be the foundation of PDH and IndieWeb-for-consumers, build other stuff on top of it.
    • Infosec foundation means we need to get infosec people involved in PDH early on.
    • OWASP involvement (Open Web Application Security Project)?
  • PDH is intended for 80% of internet users, so it must be simple to use, have plug-n-play operation.
  • Remote access and mobile device interaction need to be high priority design criteria.
  • WordPress Personal Digital Home, taglineFor PDH sites, can other webdev tools than just WordPress be used?
    • Yes, per principle of plurality, aka diversity or experimentation. But a PDH-Secure certified stack is envisioned, probably incorporating philosophy aspects of Debian Linux project and Google flagship Nexus Android phones.
  • Use proprietary webdev framework (like svnO) because site more difficult to attack than open source platform like WordPress?
  • How will increasing use of virtual reality affect the PDH concept and implementation?
  • Gravatar — good example of a publish once, syndicate everywhere.
  • MSPW (make stuff people want) — “yeah, I can make a website, but what would I want to do with it?”
    • Figure out highly-engaging “starter uses” for the consumer who takes the time to create their own PDH website.
    • If they have a compelling reason to start using PDH, young people will find plenty of unexpected ways to use it.
    • One potential starter use example is the Minecraft-Raspberry Pi neighborhood friends’ network.
    • PDH is envisioned as an umbrella site for personal residual revenue streams and ventures.
  • OYD server (OwnYourData) could be the next phase for consumer network hardware after home wireless routers.
    • Update OYD software like Chromebook, helping democratize consumer servers.
    • Incorporate traffic shaping or limiting so individual OYD servers are highly resistant to slashdotting if original content on that server goes viral.
    • Personal “Google Drive,” “Dropbox,” or file server.
  • Many BSD Unix community members have IndieWeb ethos — build own stuff, run own services.
  • Target early adopters and trend starters
    • Young people
    • Create beta tester student network
    • 3 levels of target demographics for beta testing and early users
      • 13-14 year olds
      • High school juniors
      • College juniors

Next Steps

  1. Schedule another event to discuss PDH and IndieWeb; maybe another Coder Cooperative session, maybe a different setting.
  2. Revise talking points and create 10-slide presentation. PDH pitch still in early stages of development — very rough, too much information, needs to be much smoother, more concise and impactful.
  3. Develop 100-word summary and one-page proposal for PDH initiative.
  4. Identify PDH concept basic principles.
  5. Identify several recommended options for registering a domain name, hosting a WordPress PDH website, and backing up all website data. Write up details regarding registration, hosting, and backup,including set-up costs and annual fees.

Keep an eye on this blog for announcement and details about the next meetup to discuss the PDH initiative and IndieWeb. Tentative timeframe for that meetup is August 2016. If you have questions about the discussion points or Next Steps, please contact me at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com.

Hope to see you at the next PDH event! 🙂

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Posts-As-Meeting-Resource Experiment

The two posts from yesterday and today, along with the six posts written earlier about the PDH and IndieWeb are pretty much a complete information package regarding last night’s event at the Appleton Makerspace. I was satisfied with the experiment of using the “Events Wrangling” blog that way as an event resource.

I need to dig into event themes for WordPress.com sites to see what others have developed into more formal event tools or platforms. When I’m the events wrangler for a future event, it’s likely I’ll try a slightly different WordPress website approach than what I used this time.

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Blogging: Fundamentals, Day 6 — An Irresistible About Page

blogging university[Good feeling about Blogging U and Blogging: Fundamentals class today. Not trying to figure out where classroom is, where my email for today’s assignment is, or whether I’m going to get my assignment done! Nothing but blue skies…]

Blogging 101, Day 6 assignment is:

  1. Create an About page on your blog.
  2. Write the content for your About page — use your Day One post for inspiration if you’d like — and click Publish.
  3. Go to My Sites > Customize, then select the Widgets tab. Add a Text Widget with a one- or two-sentence version of your story, and click Save and Publish.

Steps 1 and 2 of the assignment were pretty easy since I already had an About page with lots of content. Step 2 was good from the standpoint of causing me to take a fresh look at what my About page said. I made a few minor changes and decided I need to refocus the content to make it more relevant to my “ideal reader,” the subject of my June 19 post. Step 3 appears easy, and I will do that as soon as I publish this post.

While working on Step 2, however, I made the mistake of reading the two linked resources for writing About page content; “About Page 101: Making Them Care” and “About Page 201: The Meat Grinder.” Big Mistake. With capital letters, as you can see.

The reason it was a mistake is that my About page doesn’t feel even close to “making them care.” It will require several hours of writing down thoughts and sentences, trying a few on, seeing if any fit well enough to replace what’s already on the About page. Getting the words on that page to the point of Making Them Care will require the gracious but merciless assistance of a few wise and worldly wordsmith friends.

So, add About-improvement item to my To-Do list, which gets longer with every new Blogging U assignment. Blogging U is a probably-fantastic resource for a WordPress blogger. But, like everything worthwhile, there’s a price to pay. In this case, Price = Time. (Right now it’s almost 11 PM, and I usually go to bed by 10 PM.)

My virtual assignments for the Blogging: Fundamentals class seem to have three outcomes — I was really only looking for the first one…

  1. Straightforward Learning. Learn something, apply what I learned, complete that part of assignment easily.
  2. Complex Learning. Learn required skill, but also learn about many things related to required skill. Apply required skill and complete assignment. But — spend more time reading about related skills and capabilities, and make mental or written list of additional work needed on website or in future blog posts.
  3. Challenging Learning. The challenging stuff is like today’s assignment to create an irresistible About page, or the previous lesson that asked me to figure out what the ideal reader for my blog will actually spend their precious time reading.

I’m glad I clicked the Sign Up button for this Blogging U class. I just wish I would have clicked it ten years ago.

[I know — Blogging U and that button weren’t there ten years ago. Which makes me wonder: What do I wish Automattic offered now that they’ll probably have ten years from now???]

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Other posts related to IndieWeb and Personal Digital Home

WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH)
WordPress Personal Digital Home, Part 2: In The Year 2036
WordPress Personal Digital Home, Part 3: Pick A Problem
WordPress Personal Digital Home, Part 4: Baby Steps
IndieWeb Summit 2017 & WordPress PDH
Coder Cooperative June 20th Meetup: IndieWeb And Personal Digital Home
IndieWeb and PDH: Talking Points For Coder Cooperative June 20 Meetup
Day-After Report: June 20 Coder Cooperative, IndieWeb & PDH” — today’s post

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