- When Facebook Calls
You’d think working in technology full-time for nearly two decades I’d have a better track record for spotting the new hot thing.
When I first saw Twitter I thought it was stupid. It’s become a place to hangout with fellow geek friends, brought in business, led to meeting new people in the flesh, and is a daily part of my word.
When I first saw Instagram I thought it was stupid - like we needed another place to share photos on the Internet? It’s become a place to share my photos, be inspired by other photos, find new places to go and thing to see, and brought another community into our world.
When I first saw Pinterest I thought it was stupid. It’s become a place…well, OK, I’ll confess I still don’t get Pinterest. I’ve tried it. I used it as a bookmarking & notation tool while shopping for RV’s and was serviceable for that purpose. I have an account for Ditching Suburbia, but it’s never gelled for me or become a way to find community (I have theories about this but that’s for another post).
A few months ago I was contacted by Facebook to see if I was interested in being included in a Beta program for a new app they were building.
The backstory for the app was that they were trying to recapture some of the original magic of the internet, of closeness of early communities, and that thrill of discovering that no matter your interest there would be more people who were actually interested in that same thing.
I’m showing my age a bit here but the story appealed to my sense of nostalgia and sentiment. I started doing web development in 1996. Not long after I found these group email ‘listserv’ things that allowed people that shared an interest to all email each other. There was one for Jeep lovers called the ‘Jeep-L”. Through the rudimentary email-based interface friendships grew. I even announced the birth of my now 17 1/2 year old son on that list. At one point I put together a website for the group, doing profile pages for each Jeeper (unbelieveably, the site is still online at http://www.jeep-l.net/ - complete with the animated Jeep dash graphic I created).
From that catchall group sprouted a subgroup of Jeep owners focused on the older iron. The internet had moved on from Listservs and web-based discussion forums were now available. Somewhere around 2000 a friend started a forum that became http://earlyc5.com. I became a moderator - and even though I haven’t owned a Jeep for 4 years I still check in there daily to catch up with friends.
Those early experiences spoiled me with regards to online community - it’s been hard to replicate. I’ve managed to find it at times in my professional work but core ‘magic’ required for a true, valuable, helpful community to form is tough to find, tougher to keep, and (in the tech world anyway) ever-shifting as developer interests change.
Ever since we began traveling fulltime I’ve longed for a really great online community of like-minded folks. Oh, there are websites that provide a directory of traveling families and there is a commercial ‘club’ effort complete with membership dues, newsletters and annual rallies, but it’s just not the same grassroots effort led by passionate volunteers. There isn’t a great, well-organized, well-moderated, central place for open discussion of traveling families.
All to say I was willing an anxious to try a new app that had developers behind it with some of the same desires for great internet community. I signed on to the Facebook beta, experimented with the early version of the app, provided some feedback, created a room for our Ditching Suburbia project, and was happy to see they launched the public version of Rooms yesterday.
It was fun to see USA Today drop a reference to Ditching Suburbia in this review of Rooms.
Will it be the next killer app? I really don’t know - I’ve given up trying to predict these things. But if it can recapture that early interest in the internet, and Facebook does a good job of keeping out the inevitable crap that shows up in any Internet property that allows user generated content, who knows?
So take a look at the Rooms app, and be sure to check out the Ditching Suburbia room by using this invite QR code:
Be sure to say hey!
- Ditching Suburbia
We’ve begun the legwork on a new project called Ditching Suburbia.
- ExpressionEngine Workshop
Need a quick leg-up on ExpressionEngine? Come out to the ExpressionEngine Conference in the DC area this October and take the Train-ee 1-day pre-conference workshop. We’ll cover the basics, code some DRY templates, look at EE’s categories and relationships, install some add-ons, and tweak EE for best performance. Register via the Conference Website.
- ExpressionEngine Class Announced
Hey - if you are looking for a great way to learn how to develop websites using the ExpressionEngine CMS from EllisLab, we’ve just announced the first Train-ee class of 2014. Come out to San Antonio, Texas the first week of February and spend 3 days with us having some great Tex-Mex and learning some EE skillz. Get more details about the class on Train-ee.com.
- ExpressionEngine Conference
I’m pleased to be part of the upcoming ExpressionEngine Conference in Portland, OR in October. I’ll be talking ExpressionEngine for just about the whole conference in one way or another. I’ll be doing three classes total, one 8-hour session split in half over the two days, and two half-day workshops opposite that.
The longer session will be a quick-start primer to ExpressionEngine targeted to those new to the platform. The other workshops will cover developing a EE content model, and reverse-engineering an existing ExpressionEngine site.
More details about the classes and costs can be found on the conference website at http://www.expressionengineconference.com.
Hope to see you there!