Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Winding down

In Musings, News on Apr 22, 2013 at 00:01

The JeeDay 2013-04 event is over.

I would like to warmly thank the 40 or so people who attended on Friday and Saturday. It is clear to me from the kind follow-up emails that the event was appreciated by many of you and I really hope that everyone got something useful and stimulating out of this.

Allow me to also thank the “anonymous sponsor” at this point for funding the venue, the coffee and drinks, and Saturday’s lunch. I’ve passed on your and my appreciation, and it has gratefully been accepted. As several people have pointed out, this whole concept of an anonymous sponsor is really a contradiction in terms, so let’s all just cherish the fact that philanthropy (and mystery) still exists, even in today’s western societies.

This is probably the point where I’m expected to write sentences full of superlatives, self-congratulatory remarks, let’s-conquer-the-world type of pep-talk, congratulations for the speakers and their choice of interesting topics, all sorts of grandiose plans, and where I’d also describe how stimulating all the discussions on the side turned out to be.

I could, and it’d be true. But I won’t…

Instead, I’d like to give this a somewhat different (personal / philosophical) twist.

We’re focused on success. We crave rewards. We seek recognition. So when something good (for some definition of “good”) happens, we want to take it further.

Again. Better. More.

Yet to me, that’s not what JeeDay was about. Sure, we could do it again. In fact, I’d love to and I’ve even sort-of committed to organising another JeeDay a year from now. We’ll see.

But to me, JeeDay is not about the next step or some future trend. It’s about this event we just had. Some 10 talks from people describing what they like to do in their free time. That’s quite a special situation, when you stop and think about it: here we all are, a few dozen geeks with a common techie interest, and this what we choose to spend our time, our creative energies, and our money on. We could do anything, yet this is what we want to do. In. Our. Free. Time.

Now of course, everyone’s reasons will differ. But to me, it’s pretty amazing: there’s rarely a financial reward (heck, it usually costs money!). There’s often not much recognition. These are not TED talks, we’re not working on some high-visibility successful project and showing the world. We just tinker in private, we come up with stuff, we learn, and we like doing it.

In my view, this is about the top two tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:

Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg

The basic idea being that you can’t really get to focus on the levels above before the levels underneath have more or less been covered.

This is – again, in my perception – not about success, and probably not even about peer recognition, but about the intrinsic fun of discovery, invention, creation, and problem-solving. And about finding out how others deal with this. It’s no accident that most of it happens as open source, either: open source (hardware + software) and sharing is what floats to the top when the intrinsic puzzles and their solutions dominate.

In a world where so much is about ownership, money, and time, I think that’s precious.

I hope JeeDay has helped you find and follow your passion. Everything else is secondary.

PS. The mystery topic in my presentation was JeeBoot – more to follow soon.

  1. Being half way around the world I sadly couldn’t make it. I’m glad you had fun, though! Does your mystery topic refer to updating nodes over rf12? I wish that were possible!

  2. I wish I could come too. If I may recommend ‘virtual’ participants for future such events i.e. teleconferencing – that would enable many more to join you guys.

  3. Well said… I’m sorry I coudn’t make the saturday, but wish that I would have been able to be there. I also think a repeat, or more frequent gathering (which does not have to be organised by you) would be fun… groups that meet in the virtual world, and then expand into the real world are great, and foster a better community feel.

    Also thanks for linking into your tools section in the post yesterday!

  4. There have been a few requests for a video feed, and although it’s not that hard (given decent internet connectivity), I’ve held it off as option. One reason being that this get-together was really about getting together, shaking hands, having drinks and lunch together, etc (physical presence is incomparable to a video camera, IMO), but the main reason is really that this couldn’t have been one “feed”, with several discussions on the side taking place outside the presentations.

    For the presentations, I’ll see if we can collect some PDF’s and put it on the wiki page. For those who attended: feel free to add it yourself, or else send me a PDF and I’ll do it.

  5. Being distracted and in the opposite side of the Europe, I didnĀ“t even know about this JeeDay. Even though I knew, it would be impractical to be with you “on-site”.

    I have already took a look at the event post on jeelabs.net and gratefully have some PDF’s of your sessions. Would it be an abuse to ask if their owners are willing to share the rest of them? And about the proposed sessions that didn’t took place?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge, ideas, projects and personal thoughts.

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