on giving back
Last year I set some personal goals to be a better mentor to the makers that have helped me along my journey into my professional role today.
I’ve had developers spend their Friday evenings in lieu of long holidays helping me solve head-bashing brain-fogging issues 🐛on slackin communities to publishing hours worth of free content to learn in return for nothing – but a friendly tweet to my followers. It’s the only probable explanation to why my twitter feed is filled with experiences, products, and content I promote. It goes without saying, while there is an abundance of information on how to start startups, build and market products or learn to code – this is a reflection of the ethos and values the startup community symbolizes. They teach to learn and learn to teach.
Having spent the past two and half years on facilitating work at Cleopatra Realty on the construction of a multi-story condo, I can only speak of the privilege the technology arena gains that aren’t inherent to other industry verticals; while tooling can be disrupted, the parties and behaviors involved often take years to adapt. The ideal case is to simply automate the people in the process and it’s easy to spotlight the rise of D-to-C brands evolve. Technology is a handful of levers you can pull to truly gain such disruptive momentum. I’m going off topic here.
As makers and engineers, we’re used to automation and as we get more equipped with these thoughts, those habits trickle into our personal space; the rise of biohackers and soylent filing our counter space isn’t happenstance. I’ve personally been guilty of whether the impact of an hour has scaled to justify the means to my work. In some ways, it helps me guard myself on prioritizing ruthlessly but innovation is rarely a linear curve. Learning new things, learning ways to teach things and adhering to a consistent cadence to teach hasn’t been at all scalable.
So what’s the point of this? I’ve found some channels more impactful than others and a preference that is more sustainable and scalable than the days of my 1:1 chat conversations. I’m here to share some activities individuals, companies, and communities can deploy that are more efficient and scalable. No matter the amount of information, how people learn varies by their level of experience, medium, the value in time, and their style so it’s never enough to stop helping.
While the platform is still nascent, if you’re growing a community on a tool or project or helping others learn the ropes Spectrum Chat, is a more streamlined approach to scaling a 1:1 conversation. This isn’t to take away the urgency enabled in Slack, but the search benefits on thread queries are more powerful long term to finding answers. Spectrum, also now being owned as a subdivision to Github is a probable successor to better integration with their issues and rising open source community projects.
Sharing your expertise. A while back I spent almost three solid months improving the build performance of a very large architectural intertwined beast. It took me countless hours asking questions, reading through issues to dig up my specific use case. At some point, I surpassed the knowledge in the documentation. If you find yourself in that situation, try to fill those gaps by contributing back to the official site; it’s easier to maintain where most users will come looking to ask. I spent a few hours a week answering alerts to the domain by tags set up via StackOverflow responding to queries and linking Github Issues that were resolving the same queries. I found this enormously impactful and improving my own domain knowledge.
Selling your by-products. While this is a work in progress on my part, there are few authors and makers that crop up in mind. Many side projects are undoubtedly just utilities, tools or boilerplates that people create to scratch their own itch. What sets the really useful ones apart is clear documentation, strict boundaries on scope and abstractions. I’ll try to cover that in another piece. And don’t forget the artwork!