a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

Why we’re building our new community. TechReckoning Dispatch V5N2

Hi Internet Friend,

We’ll take a break from our normal format of insights and jokes about enterprise tech, communities of practice, and the unintended consequences of social media for a little story about our new project. Do you want the truth? Son, we live in a world with technology, and that technology has to be explained by other technologists, because most marketing describes what something is good for, not what it does.

Tune in next time – we’ll clean out the stash of links. What I’m finding interesting is that much of my new material is coming in as Twitter threads, not as blog posts. Man, what a pain. It makes me wonder what if they’re having more fun in the alternate timeline where Twitter never killed off its 3rd party client ecosystem.

Here’s a little story about what we’re working on, originally published on TechReckoning.com.

Our new program, the TechReckoning Insiders, is a network for technologists who are active in their professional communities. This new platform connects Insiders with each other and with companies in their industry. With the private access to information and connections made as part of the program, members can be more successful at their jobs — and at helping and teaching more people.

The roots of the TechReckoning Insiders are grounded in the years that I helped the VMware community to grow. This community was born of necessity as practitioners came together to help each other learn how to use this new kind of tech. This happened both online in forum running on a server underneath a desk in tech support and offline as user groups began to form.

Over time, a group of practitioners emerged who were sharing their knowledge via blogs, user groups, and social media. We wanted to both recognize the hard work that was going on and support them in the future, so we created the VMware vExperts in 2009. Ten years later, the program has well over 1500 members.

As I worked with the community, I noticed that this community was actually about a lot more than the company:

  • People who participate tend to do well in their careers. One reason is that they raise their visibility, but they also become better at their jobs as they teach others and through the support of their network.
  • From the beginning, the criteria for entrance in the program was “contribution to the community.” Most were creating content — explaining best practices, making tutorials and study guides, covering announcements and new releases. The cultural values of the community stayed centered around helping others to learn, not just about advocacy for the company.
  • The community is about common interest and common contribution — not your employer. Active users work alongside people who work for companies selling to them, and in many cases competing with each other. Everybody’s a peer and a practitioner inside the community.
  • It’s also not about your degree or what country you’re from. At its best, the community is a way to increase diversity in the field and bypass traditional gatekeepers of opportunity. People often start contributing often only after they see an example of somebody like them doing it first.

Working with the vExperts was huge fun, extraordinarily rewarding, and we still keep in touch with friends and colleagues across the globe. The most gratifying part, however, was what the members got out of it. I’m always very grateful (and slightly embarrassed) when people tell me about the impact of the program. Careers have been permanently transformed within just a year or two of getting involved. It’s not just about the paycheck: folks have moved their families across the world, started businesses together, and traveled across continents to attend weddings in castles as a result of getting involved.

The ethos of helping and contributing remained, and as a result these folks developed influence even without huge social media followings. We saw that community members influenced buying decisions across the entire customer journey, from awareness through consideration to purchase and eventual success with the technology.

Companies who worked with the active members of the community saw increased word-of-mouth buzz and brand awareness, which in turn led to more and better leads at conferences. Many companies got great feedback and insight by offering hands-on experiences and early access, and the community practitioners often turned out to be pretty good sources for recruiting as well!

So that’s why we’re starting the TechReckoning Insiders: To create a group that helps tech professionals grow and thrive and help others. To leverage the dynamics we saw with VMware and the vExperts and bring it to other domains. To help our members with their careers, their visibility, and their service to others.

We will:

  • Connect them with other geeks.
  • Give them access to interesting information and deeper tech experiences.
  • Support them in growing their visibility and influence by helping other people and creating better content, not by social media marketing tricks.
  • Connect them with companies in their industry in a non-spammy way.

More coming soon… sign up for our launch list here!

-John Troyer

OK, I can’t resist including just one link – check out this NY Times on article on what the F happened with the Boeing 737 MAX and see if there’s anything familiar with project and systems failures that you’ve seen.

  • reuse of component for another purpose
  • assumptions and specs changed – not seen as an issue in dev
    • changed assumption that the component would be used rarely
    • changed assumption that it would be used often at slow speeds, so the output effect was changed to be larger
    • multiple, redundant inputs were removed
  • objections were overruled and people making objections were worn down
  • compartmentalized development and testing
    • didn’t disclose fully to test pilots, safety analysts, regulators
    • risk (frequency) was mischaracterized: angle of attack sensors are often damaged
    • different regulators had different information
  • problems clear in hindsight
  • political pressure to approve

TechReckoning 🔥

Check out Episode 12 of Real Job Talk with Amy Lewis on Imposter Syndrome. Do sales people get imposter syndrome? If not, why not? And how do you take a good look in the mirror to figure out what’s really there and what’s just your brain lying to you?

Just Hit Reply

Most pointless or pedantic technical argument you got into lately? Just hit reply and we’ll share next time.

Last time I asked, “What are you picking up and giving up?” Eric Wrightresponds :

Project(s) I’m picking up:

Virtual Design Master – time to ramp up for a different event and something that is meant to really open up new opportunities and learning for participants. Look for updates in June on the full details and how to participate.

RapidMatter – What does mentoring mean to you? How have you helped, or been helped by a peer or mentor in your life or career? This is my passion project that has begun to take form and will be a way for people to find and become mentors in the technology community thanks to the learnings and proof of years of mentoring practice by the founding team and our supporting community members. This is going to be a paired launch with Virtual Design Master

Giving up complacency and excuses :)

Thanks, Eric. I really like Virtual Design Master. The world needs us to produce more than white papers.







This is Volume 5, Number 2 of The TechReckoning Dispatch, a bundle of superimposed photons beamed directly into your brain from a 44-foot dish antenna on the Pillar Point Air Force Station. Always forward to someone if they need it, even if they don’t think they need it.