Blog - thoughts and ramblings...

Making a Difference Inside & Out WIth NHBSR...

I'm sitting in the New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility 5th Anniversary Spring Conference (PDF) in Bedford, NH. This is my second session year coming (last year I was part of a panel) and the numbers are astounding. What I love about NHBSR is that it's not just about "being green," it covers social responsibility in a multi-dimensional way. Making a profit and treating your employees right is just as important as a recycling program and carbon offset calculations. This is core to Lucidus as a business.

I'm in a session now about communicating your good work. Of primary concern is making sure what you put out in the world is authentic. "Make sure there is a nexus between what you are communicating and the nature of your business." So many competing voices are trying to stake a claim on being green, you better think long and hard whether you want to invest resources in gaining attention for being green; it may take a LOT of resources. Then, when you do gain the attention, it better be authentic.

We've done the simplest things like adding recycling bins and using as little paper as possible but there is clearly more we can do.

The State of the (Drupal) Economy

Jeff Whatcott at Acquia has published a great page that shows Drupal economic indicators. It brings up an interesting question as to how you judge the health and success of open source software projects. More importantly to business, is there a connection to long term viability of the project.

Community Planning - How Should it Be Done?

Keene is going through a community visioning process right now to update the city's master plan. This is great and I'm thrilled that a)our municipal government would be this forward thinking and b) that so many constituent groups would get actively involved. For our part, the Chamber of Commerce is getting heavily involved with the businesses in the region to discuss what we really need.

I ran across an article in that talks about a marketing company that decided to move from Miami to Boulder, Colorado. The article itself is about the "creative culture" and that the world is "beginning to run on creativity." The interesting part for me was how the author, Alex Bogusky, describes Boulder's plan. The fathers of Boulder have planned 1% annual business growth and aren't looking for any new businesses...except for creative businesses.

Wow! For a community to actually decide what their economy should look like, manage (vs. limit) growth and pursue companies that are in line with the plan is fascinating. Kudos to Boulder. My hope is that Cheshire County, great as it is, will get this kind of focus.

The Microsoft / Yahoo Deal (or NOT) and Where We're Headed

With the news this morning of the Microsoft pulling back from the Yahoo deal, I'm thinking a bit more about where we're headed in terms of desktop vs. "cloud" computing. While pulling back from Yahoo may have been the right move, Microsoft is in trouble.

They are built on being everyone desktop system first. Second, they are built on being every business' server system. Here's the problem...the desktop O/S is becoming less relevant AND the internal server system is becoming less relevant. Moreover, software is going through a colossal shift from value being based on the number of features that could be rammed into the package to streamlining it to the simplest way to get a job done. (What a novel idea...just doing our work rather than becoming a software guru). Microsoft is known for power, not simplicity.

With the advent of Software As A Service and cloud based computing, organizations have the ability to choose the services they need without worrying about how many MCSE's they have on staff. The problem for entrenched, traditionally desktop software vendors is that they are less agile to take advantage of SAAS opportunities. Moreover, their brand is so vast that any SAAS offerings they might try to bring to market gets lost in noise of all their other brands, e.g. I know that Microsoft has a SAAS offering that I think might be Office(?) through the web but I'm not quite sure if that's what it really is. It's all too confusing to me and how will it compare to the MS Office I have on my desktop.

Google Apps or Zoho, however, does not have the same comparison. I don't expect Google Docs to have all the features of MS Office. As a matter of fact, I'm kinda glad it doesn't. For me, it's all about collaboration. I can focus on content, not formatting, and I can include my colleagues in the editing without worrying who has what version. Wow!

Most recently, we built our 3-year strategic plan through a collaborative "Book" using Drupal. It had revision control, commenting/annotation, etc. and was accessible anytime we needed to look at it. We're doing all of our proposals moving forward with a similar kind of tool. This beats the pants off of sending MS Word docs back and forth.

Entrepreneurial Book Club

Every month my wife gets together with her friends for book club. Appropriately named, "Between the Wines", they have a great evening talking about the book (some) and life (a lot). In the end, it's as much an excuse to share life stories as it is to discuss the book. I think it's great.

For me, I'm passionate about reading entrepreneurial and/or inspirational books. I overwhelm my wife and my friends with the latest Guy Kawasaki book I'm reading or the biography of Theodore Roosevelt. It occurred to me that those with whom I share would have a great deal more to share if they too had read the book. So...I'm starting an entrepreneurial book club here in Keene. We'll read books like Good to Great, Art of the Start, The E-Myth Revisited, etc. It'll be a breakfast club where we share coffee and thoughts on both the books and our businesses. Really looking forward to it.

Why the FairPoint Deal Is Important to Rural New Hampshire

We need ubiquitous broadband to every household in New Hampshire. I'm not certain that FairPoint is the company that can get it done. That remains to be seen. However, I am certain that the economics of rural broadband didn't make sense to Verizon.

We need ubiquitous broadband for several reasons:

  • While the businesses and residents of Keene have easy access to high speed, always-on Internet access, the folks who live in surrounding towns have inconsistent coverage. The majority of workers live in the surrounding towns. Try recruiting a new executive when you can't guarantee he can find a home that has broadband.

  • In urban and suburban areas, multiple broadband options are available to everyone. High speed Internet access is as assumed in a home as running water and electricity. This creates an image problem.

The good news is that in typical Keene form, the leaders of the community are once again coming together and creating real momentum to solving this problem. We are not a community that waits for handouts from state or federal government. We step up and get it done for the betterment of everyone. We are so fortunate to have groups like Cheshire Medical Center, Keene State College, etc. who are so invested in the success of the community. Even better, they're just the tip of the iceberg.

The Monadnock Broadband Committee, a committee of the City of Keene, brings together municipal government, educational institutions, business and some really great geeks to move this initiative forward. Good stuff...

What Drupal Needs...

We had a great lunch conversation with a couple guys from a political advocacy organization based in Northern Virginia. I'm finding MANY companies who are actively supporting political advocacy groups here. It seems weird to me that the majority of folks fall into two categories, political advocacy and news. Interestingly in terms of the industry meetup sessions from last night, there was none for corporate or business. Shame on me for not suggesting.

It does bring up an interesting point re: Drupal, there is a tremendous need (and, hence, opportunity) to package and market Drupal to the business world. In my mind, the single biggest need for drupal in the next 6-12 months is pursuing widespread attention and adoption. To that end, usable (and understandable) interfaces must be developed. To me, it's more about configuration than coding into core.

The conversation we had at lunch was based on Drupal being like a tragic hero, its biggest strength is its biggest weakness which is this: Drupal + contributed modules can be morphed into most anything. Therefore, is it a...

...CMS? Sure!

...Intranet? Sure!

...Project Collaboration Site? Sure!

It can be most anything but lacks a "best configuration" for many different functions. It has unlimited potential but limited pre-built applications. This has been something we've discussed extensively internally (and even begun building the "showroom" for) but it has been reinforced here at the conference so I thought I'd share.

Drupalcon Discovery - Node Queue Module

Sitting in on the Popular Science Case Study session at Drupalcon. Discovered a very cool module for displaying arbitrary lists of nodes as teasers developed by the folks at PingVision. It's called Node Queue and it could be a great way of offering a rotating billboard page, list of specific press releases, etc.

Coupled with Node Carousel, it's a pretty amazing combination that allows for a rich scroller of teaser images or other paginated listings.

DrupalCon This Week...

So I'm thrilled to be at Drupalcon this week. It started disastrously as I was slated to speak on Monday morning with my "PROFITABLE Web Development Process" presentation. However, a ride that normally takes me under two hours took me more than three and a half! I could not have been more embarrassed; they had to cancel my presentation. ugh! (Note to self: no matter how close, never "commute" to deliver a presentation).

However, the conference itself has been fantastic. More than 800 Drupalites sharing ideas and concepts. Thankfully, my second presentation (a collaborative panel) went very well. What a tremendous community! Biggest take away for me so far is to talk to one or more of our regional colleges and universities re: the Google Summer of Code and building open source based programs for CS degrees.

My eKeene Interview with Jon Udell

Jon Udell is a widely known "uber-geek" who was a columnist for InfoWorld until early last year and a chief architect for O'Reilly's Safari online book service. He lives right here in Keene so we've bumped into each other a few times over the seven years I've been here. In one of my previous blogs, he read about my vision of an eKeene and we found that we had a shared interest. He suggested an interview as part of a series called "Jon Udell's Interviews with Innovators." It came out pretty well so I thought I would share. :-)