Tag Archives: University of Michigan

CodeMash … and Football!

Have I mentioned CodeMash? LOL! Even my conversations IRL these days seem to find their way to CodeMash. So no one will fall over when I mention CodeMash and football in the same blog post, right? Well, at least not my real life friends …

Yeah, we were being daring, putting together developers of all languages and platforms to learn from one another. Back when the conference planning started (ahem, discussions last spring!), we didn’t really THINK about football. But … it’s happened. One of the longest standing rivalries in college football has escalated to be The Game. Not just for the Big Ten Championship, but likely for rights to go to the National Championship. And it is coincidentally occurring on the same year that we’re putting together Michigan and Ohio programmers for CodeMash.

In this family, my 1 year old son signaled “touchdown” before he said “Mommy” (and I was OK with that). And my 3 year old daughter yells, “GO, GO, GO! RUN!”, and “NO!” at all of the appropriate times. Yup, we’re huge football fans. MICHIGAN football fans.

Sadly, even though Josh is an Ann Arborite, he isn’t really a football fan. So, on the organizing committee for CodeMash, it’s me against the Ohio guys (many of whom are in Columbus). They’ve been polite, even as they were apologetic in their hopes that Michigan would lose to Notre Dame in the early season, setting up a OSU/Notre Dame national championship. But alas, we know what happened (reminder to the Fighting Irish: it was 47-21 MEECHIGAN!). I didn’t gloat. I just quietly sat in meetings throughout the year, hoping that both teams would go UNDEFEATED into the UM/OSU matchup.

So on November 18, I’ll be cheering on Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Steve Breaston (no trash-talking on my buddy Breaston, Kirk Herbstreit!), and all of the other guys including the AWESOME defensive line. And then the following Tuesday, I’ll go back to our weekly CodeMash organizing meeting with “the Ohio guys”.

So come one, come all to CodeMash! We’ve got Java and Python and .NET … and even some people from both Michigan and Ohio State!

CodeMash – I'll be there! 

Social Networking for Professionals

Virtual Reciprocity Ring: web based tool for social networking in business

This morning, I attended a seminar for the Virtual Reciprocity Ring, associated with the Ann Arbor ITZone. It’s an interesting concept, borne out of the social networking movement and research by Dr. Wayne Baker at the University of Michigan. The seminar started with a presentation to explain the aspects of this web-based tool for social networking as it applies to professionals. The idea is to build weak links to a number of people with whom you have a common interest. In this case, it’s a business interest, and you build the relationships and trust, and start interacting within the community.

I’ve been to many networking events at the ITZone, but I have to say that I have never been to one as effective as this, mainly because we could solicit ideas, opinions, job candidates, etc. using the web-based tool, instead of the “cocktail party” approach, where you feel like you’re saying the same thing to everyone, but probably forgot to say it to the one person who could have helped you (or you missed talking to that person altogether). It’s all about fostering relationships.

I have seen this same sort of social networking in play in the physical world. I’ve attended conferences, where relationships were formed, and later continued via email. The tool that was presented at the conference today formalizes that a bit. Instead of having an email group, communication is done via the ring, where communications center around requests for help and offers of assistance. Most of the people that I communicated with today were people whom I still have not met. A few people, to whom I offered contributions (often meaning simply advice), came up and introduced themselves following the seminar.

This sort of computer-based communication is pretty effective for computer geeks (not surprisingly). We don’t even have to TALK. We can just communicate via the computer! Not altogether sure that’s good for our growth as communicators, but at least stuff gets done!

I like it. I think that this specific tool needs some refinement (opinions were solicited toward that at this seminar as well). I think that it could be effectively used in a lot of situations that I come into contact with (computer user groups, etc.), but I fear that the cost will be prohibitive. I think that the effectiveness of social networking tools like MySpace is due to the fact that they are free and widely available. By limiting the use of such a product to those who “pay to play”, I feel that the community won’t benefit as much as it could have. But this isn’t at all a MySpace equivalent. It’s an invite-only group, with stated objectives of sharing ideas, services, etc. and paying it forward.

The real key, of course, will be to see if people continue to participate past the few hour session this morning.

The Reciprocity Ring Website
Check it out yourself