Fri Mar 20 17:30:50 EDT 2009
Two status messages in a single year is a record for 2009. (yey me!) Next week, I'll write about our struggle against Goliath and how we're rooting for the big guy to win. The week after, I'll probably write about formal parameters in Perl or how people are reacting us ending our hosting service. La Presidenta KZ and I are just back from a http://JerichoRoadProject.org board training cleverly disguised as a focus group. I learned (duh!) of research that says that easy to recruit board members tend to do more and better work than hard to recruit board members. Another useful bit was that many non-profit board members don't know the mission statement of the organization they govern. It's a bit embarrassing to admit how true this last bit is. In the last two months, (2) CSL board members approached me and said approximately: "I think we're doing great work, Here is a $150 check. What is it that we do again? I know don't host websites any more." Part of the problem is that sensible people would rather eat a plate of live cockroaches dipped in rat poison than attend a retreat to develop a mission statement. See: http://web.mit.edu/jcb/humor/scott-adams-mgmt-consultant My brief period of bitterness with http://Habitat.org started when I learned the official mission statement was **not**: Eliminate poverty housing from the face of the earth, by making simple decent housing a matter of conscience. ...which was what founder Millard Fullar kept telling people. It was something a lot more complicated which I still can't remember. Anyway lately at conferences, bars and weddings, I've been telling people: We write open source software to run web directories of social services. You search on food, you get the locations of food pantries, food stamps and WIC. ...This seems to go over a smoother lot better than the previous mumbo jumbo about how Richard Stallman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman ... is the greatest prophet since the old testament. Still this lacks vision. I'm thinking our medium term mission: (new! I'm just making it up now!) is: To exploit talent that would otherwise be ignored. We've had our share of privileged, white, male programmers, but most of them have been a little bit out of the mainstream. (College dropouts, jobless, juvie jail alumni, "at risk", medicated, vegetarians,etc) We've always been about 50/50 male/female which is way more PC than tech industry as a whole. In the last 2 years 4/5 of our programmers have been Indian women. --not a group traditionally known for their position of power and influence. The use of the word "exploit" is deliberate. The goal is to get stuff done. Most of the people with talent that isn't ignored want $50/hr. It sure is nice to build skills and help move on to market rate jobs, but that is a side effect not a goal. Longer term, our secret mission/ulterior motive is of course to bring about the post scarcity society: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_scarcity ...by making the values of the hacker sub culture (transparency, meritocracy, generosity, etc) the values of the entire culture. I suppose this will do until we hire an expensive consultant to obfuscate it.