post-mortem: my presentation at impact hub

a portion of my tech-savvy friends give talks. software developers get together for show-and-tell sessions that serve as networking and hiring opportunities (the events that i have attended have been very casual). some friends give their talks at conferences (e.g. deconstruct conf), and others at meetups (like donut.js). one of the best talks i’ve seen was one in which the speaker showed us how they used code to create the most dissonant music possible. they were followed by a woman (a banker by day) who used code to sort through produce plu codes.

so talks are happening and they’re useful and cool – i wanted to get in on the hype. so i put together my presentation using what i had learned from interviewing folks on ‘the orbit’. i asked my contact at impact hub if they could fit me into the calendar, and they said yes. easy peasy.

the hard part was making / rehearsing the presentation. i really had no idea who would show up, which meant that i didn’t know if my talk about seem stupid or inaccessible. i figured it would be best to not overthink it, and just focus on the things i liked and thought were useful.

i outlined the presentation in notion several times, then put together a google slides document. i went through three drafts before i settled on the one i was going to give. i practiced out loud in front of my girlfriend, and then video’d myself and sent it to lito who has a lot of experience with giving talks. both of them gave me meaningful and constructive feedback, which helped me further tune in the talk.

eight people showed up (less than i expected but still good). this meant that i could get to know my audience deeply and learn about their businesses and what they were hoping to get out of my presentation. my favorite bit was hearing about their projects. i find that many folks are embarking on really interesting, individual projects and i am always happy to see ways i can help (usually it is recommending a tool or a book).

if i were to do this again, i would really want to lean into the data more. i want to show hard and true facts that will illustrate my point: the future of work is coming, and its for everyone. if we figure out how to adjust to sustainable work structures, we’ll be well positioned to have meaningful careers that are fueled by our individual interests, passions, and talents.

decentralized, software-enabled, and independent

this past week i interviewed sahil lavingia, the ceo of gumroad (an online selling platform). he told me that he believed the future of work was going to be decentralized, software-enabled, and small. you don’t even have to predict the future on this one, he told me. it’s already starting and you can see evidence of it around us.

my whole mission is to assist with the transition from the “old trappings” of 9-5. one friend i spoke with said that it was almost like i was a doula for the future, which i don’t think is too far off as a metaphor. what i appreciate about sahil is that he welcomes the future of work with open arms, and encourages others on twitter to try and fail and try and fail again and again, because together we are proceeding into uncharted territory.

this week, i’m excited to speak to an audience of my peers about some of the things i am working on. i am afraid that some people may not understand where i am coming from, or not recognize the importance of adjusting to the impending changes to the structure of our workdays. the talk is fun, informative, but i think it scratches the topmost layer of what i am thinking most weeks. i hope it goes well, and at the very least i am pleased that it is happening.

i’ve been promoting the hell out of this thing (it’s this week on july 31st in seattle, washington, link here) but worry not if you can’t make it – at least two people will be filming it and we’ll push it to youtube as soon as possible.

my friends inspire me

perry is a co-worker of mine. he’s in his twenties, and makes a living doing cafe maintenance. i asked him what he does for fun and he told me, “well, i’m building a boat.”

“what? how?”

perry laughed. “you can pretty much learn anything on the internet these days. sure, if i was formally trained i could probably do a better job and make less mistakes. but you can learn a lot of the basics on youtube.”

next, i talked to nelson, a friend who likes to talk about philosophy. “i know a lot of philosophy isn’t immediately useful, but i like learning about it because it’s stimulating.” nelson picks up dense philosophy books from the bookstore, and uses youtube and google to further research terms and concepts that he wants to know more about.

lastly, my friend nat tells me that they are so impressed by how much their friends know. “it seems like everyone knows so much stuff about random subjects. i want to be one of those people, but i don’t know where to get started.”

more and more, when i ask friends how they got good at their hobbies or work, they’ll tell me “youtube” or “google”. this is super exciting to me, and also checks out with how i’ve been learning to program. i embark on a project, get stuck, then google my problem. i look at other people’s code, watch people on youtube, then try again. soon, i am better than i was before without having to set foot in a physical classroom.

the people i want to help are the people like nat – they know they can learn anything but need someone to help them figure out their interests. cultivating curiosity, building your own curriculum, these things don’t necessarily come naturally to folks who are used to sitting in a classroom and having a teacher tell them what they need to learn. i am lucky to know so many interest-driven learners, and i am currently inspired to lend a hand to those who want to become one.

building a car as it is moving

this week i’ve released a couple experiments. one is web app, one is a video essay. neither is perfect, and that’s hard for me to deal with. however, i know i have more to lose by agonizing over the quality of my work than by actually sharing it and moving on.

in this video, i challenge some of cory doctorow’s ideas about copyright, based on my amateur understanding of how the internet works. i am fully aware that i am likely wrong on a lot of points here, and if anything this video is my best attempt at putting my interests into words. i hope to get some feedback or to do further research on copyright so that i can speak more eloquently on the subject. but, in the interest of posting videos weekly, i felt compelled to settle and say ‘welp, this is good enough for now’. it exists and it’s not terrible, and i know it can be better.

This is a screenshot. Check out the live app here.

secondly, this is an app that i made using glitch. it takes data from your most listened to song on spotify and makes guesses at your personality based on that song. it’s funny, not necessarily built out to its fullest, but it works. writing and learning code is hard, and the majority of the effort was figuring out how to get spotify data from individual users (‘authentication’ they call it). i managed to do it, and the app works for most of the people that try it out. i could have made it more expansive, deep, or user friendly, but again i hit the ‘good enough’ point and knew that i needed to move on to the next thing.

as a perfectionist and a performer, i am often uncomfortable with releasing half-baked work. but, i am putting my focus more on the process rather than the product, and i know by continuing to release my experiments into the world, i will get immediate feedback and learn ten times more than if i were to build private projects and theorize in private.

books books books

here is the aforementioned vloggo, in which i discuss two books that i recommend most often, ‘whiplash’ by joi ito & jeff howe, and ‘the circle’ by dave eggers.

in other news, i just bought the book ‘the knowledge economy’ by roberto mangabeira unger, which came up on joi ito’s summer reading list. it’s a very… crunchy book, and aligns with a lot of my studies of the future of work.

anyway, i’m a bit shy about this new video because it is my foray into the world of video essays. i am inspired by the big players that have changed my life with their content, and sometimes releasing mine own thing make me feel small and feeble. but, the plan is to snowball some momentum and to keep these coming, similar to how i’ve been doing the interviews.

vlogging is hard

yesterday i made an attempt at producing a video essay. it is not as easy as creators make it seem. inspired by lindsay ellis, jon bois, and jenny nicholson, i thought “hey, why not take a stab at it?”

it is very hard to talk to a camera. i took this for granted during my interview series. both me and my subjects alike probably seemed as comfortable as we were because we didn’t have to talk directly to a camera. instead, we chatted with each other and it was easy to forget that we were being filmed.

jaron and i filmed one interview where i sat out of frame and the subject sat in front of the camera. the resulting footage was unusable – our subject was visibly nervous the entire time and didn’t really answer the questions we were asking.

now that i am in the hot seat, i get it. being filmed can be very difficult for a novice. i talked to chey about this. chey is extremely comfortable talking to a camera, though she credits this to a combination of her acting training and also years and years of practice.

so, for me, i’m in practice mode. i’m going to continue to make vlogs and no one is really going to see them until i find out how to do it properly.

i’m baaack

i’m back in seattle and a lot has changed. for one, my boss got fired at my day job. i liked my boss and i liked my day job. but now i have the option to leave, and i really want to. so i’m looking.

i first applied to work at a bookstore (familiar stomping grounds). i quickly received an e-mail back, but they informed me that i would likely have to work during the holiday season. i really, really don’t want to do this – i’ve worked the holiday season for many years and i’d rather not do it again. i called chey an expressed my dilemma, and she recommended i look at other industries (“not retail”) so that i could have my holidays off.

further, i’ve been doing some solid reading and writing, which is culminating into some presentation projects. one of which is at seattle’s impact hub on july 31st. i’m very excited to share that i will be giving a talk about my work at “the orbit”. you can read more about the event here.

2019 is a big year for me. we’re already halfway through it and i feel like i’ve laid down a solid foundation for self-employment, though the path right now still seems muddy. all of my friends and family have incredible confidence in me and my ability to chisel out a career for myself, which helps a lot. we will see.