About this Blog

About this Blog
Only about 4% of the total energy density in the universe can be seen directly.
About 96% is thought to be composed of dark matter or dark energy.
(Wikipedia)

July 2009: See my update on the topics covered in this post here.

I’ve been intrigued by the idea of dark matter for a while. But it was actually hearing about this thing called the Large Hadron Collider that helped me make the connection between what I do for a living and this concept of dark matter.

largehadronThe Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest particle accelerator. It was built on the border of France and Switzerland and is about 17 miles wide. One of the things that particle physicists hope to prove with this enormous project is that dark matter actually exists. As I understand it, the accelerator shoots protons at super high speeds around the collider, and, if these scientists are lucky, it eventually might produce a few wacky particles that will exist for only a few milliseconds and then disappear again. And these particles might prove that dark matter isn’t just a theory.

Might being the key word. In fact, Stephen Hawking has bet $100 that they won’t find anything.

Total cost to maybe prove the existence of dark matter? Between $4-8 billion dollars. And as of when I wrote this, the Large Hadron Collider isn’t even working. It broke the first time they tried to run it and it won’t be fixed until later this year.

Another attempt to prove the existence of dark matter used the Hubble Space Telescope. The picture below (which is also the picture I chose for the header on this blog) was taken by Hubble and first shown by NASA in May, 2007.

darkmatter2 In this picture, you are looking at a bunch of galaxies a really, really long way away. But you can also see a bunch of fuzzy gray areas all over that look like clouds. When the astronomers first looked at this photo, they thought the fuzzy areas were a problem with the image. But after analyzing it for over a year, they realized that the fuzziness might actually be evidence of dark matter.

Their reasoning? The fuzziness is actually a gravitational distortion of the light rays from distant galaxies that are being bent by dark matter on their way to Earth. The effect you see is kind of like looking at the bottom of a pond that is being distorted by ripples on the surface.

So finally! Some real visual evidence of dark matter. It’s the fuzzy stuff! Or rather it is something invisible that is causing the fuzzy stuff.

So now that we have proof dark matter exists, the galaxies can go back to moving and rotating and expanding… oh wait… they never stopped.

So that’s kinda my point here. In this day and age where ROI analysis and complex metrics and proof of effectiveness are all necessary in order to get budgets approved, we should never forget that there are things out there that are having an enormous impact that are difficult, or sometimes impossible to measure. And they will continue to have an impact, whether we measure them or not.

At Red Hat, this has been especially important. We don’t really have …

Dark Matter Matters

Test my theory… when it comes to community, are the words “monetize” and “kill” interchangeable?

Published September 10, 2009 community Leave a Comment
Tags: community, sharing, monetize, dating, mojo, kill
I was reading an article online the other day discussing how to “monetize” community. For those of you who don’t speak marketing, monetize means “to convert into money.”

Hey babe! Wanna monetize this community with me?

Am I the only one who gets a creepy feeling when I see the words monetize and community used closely together?

Bringing up the idea of monetizing stuff at the beginning of a conversation about community is akin to a guy going up to a girl he’s never met and asking her to sleep with him straight out.

Nothing kills community mojo like bad intentions. And when you lead with bad intentions in a community setting, best case people will turn their backs on you, worst case they’ll pour a drink on your head or get their boyfriend to beat you up. Metaphorically speaking.

Look, people, I’m not saying it is wrong to make a living off of good community work. Just like it’s not wrong to date in the hope of finding someone to love you forever. There are just some ways of going about it that are gonna work better than others. And if your own happiness/success is your only goal, you will fail. To be successful in creating community you must take pleasure in sharing something.

So here’s my theory. Next time you hear someone in a meeting use the words “monetize” and “community” closely together (or see someone doing it online), think of me. Try substituting the word “kill” for monetize, and see if it fits. Feel free to post your examples here, send them to me via Twitter, whatever.

Here are a couple of examples I found online to get you started:

Continue reading ‘Test my theory… when it comes to community, are the words “monetize” and “kill” interchangeable?’

Tom Sawyer, whitewashing fences, and building communities online

Published September 9, 2009 community 7 Comments
Tags: brand, catalyst, Chris Brogan, community, fences, GE, humility, mission, online communities, open source, Red Hat, Tom Sawyer, Trust Agents, Wikipedia
I spoke on a panel at GE today with Chris Brogan, author of the book Trust Agents (almost finished with it, more comments in a later post…).

Tom Sayer sez everyone’s fence gets whitewashed today, people!
Tom Sawyer sez everyone’s fence gets whitewashed today, people!
After hearing Chris talk about building trust in online communities, it hit me that one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen people make when trying to build communities online, even in the open source world, is that they think like Tom Sawyer.

Here’s how Wikipedia retells the story of Tom Sawyer and the fence:

After playing hooky from school on Friday and dirtying his clothes in a fight, Tom is made to whitewash the fence as punishment on Saturday. At first, Tom is disappointed by having to forfeit his day off. However, he soon cleverly persuades his friends to trade him small treasures for the privilege of doing his work.

When thinking about building communities online, are you thinking like Tom Sawyer? Why are you building a community in the first place? When it comes right down to it, …