Tag Archives: dawn foster

Joining Intel as Community Manager for MeeGo

MeeGo_logo_gmBig changes are coming my way in March. I will be joining Intel on March 1 as Intel’s community manager for the newly formed MeeGo open source community. MeeGo was formed out of a merging of the Moblin and Maemo communities, and I am really excited about the opportunity to work on this new project. As I dig into MeeGo and get more familiar with my specific role, I’ll post more details about exactly what I’ll be doing.

This is my second tour at Intel; I first worked at Intel from 2000 – 2006. At that time, I had never worked for a company with less than 20,000 employees. All of my work experience was in large corporations, but I had no startup experience. I left Intel specifically to spend a few years working in much smaller startups and to focus on roles where I would be building online communities. I worked in 2 startups, including Jive Software where I built and managed the Jivespace developer community. When I joined Jive, there were only 50 employees, and a year later when there were nearly 150 people, it started to feel less like a startup. At that point, I decided that it was time for me to break out on my own to do freelance consulting, which was something I had been wanting to do for a while. Freelancing was another first for me, since I had never owned my own business or done any outside consulting.

I have been consulting for almost 2 years, and there are parts of it that I love and parts that aren’t as awesome. I love working with clients to build communities and having copious amounts of flexibility in my schedule and working arrangements. However, I don’t enjoy doing business development, invoicing, and many of the other tedious business tasks. As a freelancer, I pay more in taxes and many things become much more complex, difficult and time consuming: health insurance, retirement savings, etc. There are also the inevitable ups and downs that cause plenty of stress when you are trying to line up that next gig to replace the one that is wrapping up.

The biggest challenge for me is one that sounds almost counter-intuitive, but it is the biggest issue that I have with my freelancing career. By becoming a freelancer, I took my hobbies and turned them into paying gigs. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, it was great … at first. Recently, I realized that many of the things that I used to do for fun now seemed like work, and they became less fun over time. All of a sudden, activities like blogging, attending events, speaking at events, and more felt like a big weight on my shoulders, since I needed to use these as ways to generate more business. They started to feel more like marketing and less like something that I was passionate about and doing for fun. All of a sudden, my hobbies had mostly disappeared, and I was spending all of my time doing things that felt like work, which has left me burned out. This is the primary reason that I recently decided to go back to corporate life.

I’ve been doing a bit of consulting at Intel, and I’ve enjoyed seeing some of the changes that have happened while I was gone. I’ll be joining the Open Source Technology Center, which has grown since I left, but I still have many friends working on open source at Intel, and I am eager to work with them again. I’ve also been really impressed with how other groups at Intel have embraced social efforts through the work of people like Josh Bancroft, Kelly Feller, Bryan Rhoads and many others.

I’m looking forward to working on MeeGo and am truly excited to be going back to Intel.

A Look Back at 2009

It’s really nice to look back at the past year to see what you’ve accomplished and come up with ideas for how to be even better the next year. I started doing these as a way for friends and family to keep up with me without the hassle of doing holiday cards (2008 and 2007 editions). I’m going to try to make this one shorter than in previous years and focus on just a few things.

2009 in Review

Some thoughts on what I want to do in 2010

  • Continue to do interesting work on fun projects where I can collaborate with cool people.
  • Start a few more websites, like I did with The Crazy Neighbor. It’s a great learning experience, a good way to practice my skills and fun to experiment with something new.
  • Stay healthy by continuing to work out and eat healthy food.
  • Spend more time reading a combination of fiction and business / technology books.
  • Take more beach vacations! I haven’t taken a real vacation that didn’t involve visiting family, since I started my own business. In my defense, I did take two beach vacations the previous year, but it’s time for me to start planning another nice vacation.

2008 Year in Review for Dawn and Plans for 2009

I gave up on a holiday letter or cards a few years ago; however, last year I started doing a year in review post, and it seemed to work pretty well. Here’s the 2008 version …

Let’s start with the negative.

What did I want to do in 2008 that didn’t quite make it?

  • Didn’t quite achieve 501(c)(3) status for Legion of Tech. The paperwork is nearly done and will be submitted in January.
  • Didn’t get the O’Reilly Art of Community book published. For too many reasons to list here, we finally decided to can the project.
  • Didn’t do anything spectacular enough that it prompted someone to write a Wikipedia article for me. :-)

Now on to the fun part.

2008: A year of change

My personal hopes for 2009

  • Grow Fast Wonder Consulting into a more successful business with a few more clients.
  • Achieve 501(c)(3) status for Legion of Tech.
  • Continue to help organize more awesome events in Portland.
  • Finish my eBook about Companies and Online Communities.
  • Learn more about Yahoo Pipes.
  • Continue mission #GetOffButt to get healthier, stronger, and in better shape.
  • Again, I want to do something spectacular enough that it prompts someone to write a Wikipedia article for me. :-)

Another thing I’m excited about for 2009

  • The Portland tech community. I rave about it almost constantly, but I do expect the Portland tech community to continue to produce exciting new companies, projects, and community organized events to become even stronger in 2009.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

The Great Portland Interview Project: Dawn Foster Edition

I’m participating in the Great Portland Interview Project, and I was recently interviewed by Grant Kruger. According to the rules of the project, I’m posting the results of the interview here for your reading pleasure. Grant even slipped in a few extra questions, including an obscure question about Sausage the goat. The questions came from Grant, but the answers are mine.

  1. Tell us the short version of who you are and what you are up to.
  2. I am a Consultant, Community Manager, Event Organizer, Blogger, Podcaster, Vegan, and Technology Enthusiast. I help companies build online communities and social media strategies through Fast Wonder Consulting. I am also the community manager for a small, bootstrapped startup called Shizzow, which is a social service that we built with the goal of making it as easy as possible to find and hang out with your friends in the real world. I am also the co-founder and chair of Legion of Tech, which holds free events in Portland for the technology community. I spend a fair amount of time blogging on Fast Wonder, Shizzow, various Legion of Tech blogs, and occasionally elsewhere. The first venture (Fast Wonder Consulting) is how I earn my living, while the other pursuits are things I do for fun because I am passionate about the Portland technology community and love to do what I can to make Portland a better place for technology enthusiasts.

  3. First time I met you you were part of the team running BarCamp and you volunteer elsewhere. Volunteers get paid in two ways, ego and thanks. Have you been paid? (more than a yes or no answer).
  4. The first event that I ever organized in Portland was a Monthly BarCampMeetup event. It came out of the desire to get together with a group of cool people doing interesting things with technology in a very informal setting. I couldn’t find anything quite right when looking at the existing Portland events, so I decided to organize a new event. The other events that followed came out of similar desires for something that didn’t already exist in Portland (BarCamp, Ignite Portland, etc.) Basically we organized events that we wanted to attend. We eventually formed Legion of Tech to have an organization to manage the logistics and sponsorship dollars for the events.

    My “payment” is that we now have some very cool events that I love to attend, and I’ve met amazing people and formed friendships that I never would have formed otherwise. I learn so much from these people at every event and every gathering. These friendships and knowledge are my payment in exchange for organizing and volunteering at events.

  5. Are you an Open Source evangelist, or a pragmatic Open Source lover?
  6. Can I be a pragmatic open source evangelist? I am a firm believer in using the right tool for the job and finding the solution that works best for you and for your situation. The evangelism part comes into play when I try to make sure that people at least consider the open source alternatives. I also try to get people to look at open source applications, not as cheap knock-offs of proprietary apps, but as great applications with their own merits and strengths. Firefox, for example, has innovated way ahead of Internet Explorer and other browsers, and OpenOffice has some great features that I prefer over Microsoft Office. People won’t always select the open source alternative, and I don’t always select an open source product. However, I try to use an open source solution wherever possible.

  7. What about the PDX tech community do you love most?
  8. I love the openness. The Portland tech community as a whole is very accessible, and it is easy for new people to get involved in the Portland tech community. We try to make people feel welcome and included.

  9. What about the PDX tech community do you think needs the most improvement?
  10. I would love to see the tech community be more unified and less fragmented. We get an amazing crowd of freelancers, independents, and really interesting people at the Legion of Tech events and other less formal events around town. However, we also have some other great groups of people who attend the SAO and OEN events, but we don’t see enough overlap and integration of the two audiences. I would love to see more people who normally attend SAO and OEN events coming out to the informal events, and I would like to see more events being held by the SAO and OEN that attracted a broader audience of independents and freelancers. We’re starting to do this with the ThrivePDX events, but we have a long way before we accomplish this integration.

  11. The Open Source Bridge project is well underway, but remains a fairly modest proposal. What do you think we are capable of here in PDX and what can we realistically attain within the next five years or so?
  12. Events in Portland tend to exceed our modest expectations for them. I remember thinking that if we could get 75 people at the first BarCampPortland, we would have a successful event: the final count was ~250. For the first Ignite, we thought we would have 150 people: we filled the W+K atrium with 300 people. We’ve had Ignite Portland events with over 750 people. It seems to be easier to plan small and expand as needed if the demand grows. I like the modest start to the Open Source Bridge event, and I think that in a couple of years, we could end up with something amazing that brings people into Portland from around the world with attendance in the thousands.

  13. I see you enjoy reading SF&F. Have you ever been to OryCon, a local SF&F convention with 1,500 to 2,000 attendees, run entirely by volunteers. Or one like it. If yes, what was it like, and if no, why not?
  14. I’ve been on a science fiction kick lately, but I tend to read in phases. I even spent a couple of years where I read business and technology books, but little to no fiction at all. I love science fiction, and I am a huge Star Trek fan, but it is really more of a way for me to wind down and relax. Technology is something that I get passionate enough about that I want to work with people and attend events. Since science fiction is a way for me to relax, I’m not really motivated to attend SF&F conferences or events. I’m more motivated to lounge on the couch with a book or a Star Trek rerun.

  15. On OryCon and other conferences like it: As a conference it is more complex than most professional tech conferences and many of their attendees are techies who attend both kinds. As an all-volunteer-run event, they may have many tricks to teach us, and we them. Should different gift-economies work together more, sharing ideas and concepts?
  16. Absolutely! I think we can learn quite a bit from each other, and I am a big fan of sharing ideas across disciplines to make both more successful. It would be interesting to talk to one of the lead organizers for OryCon to learn more about how they organize their volunteer run events and share what we have learned.

  17. Outside of professional and community-building spheres, what is your greatest personal achievement?
  18. I have a really hard time separating my “personal” achievements from my “professional” ones, since technology for me isn’t really a job. It’s a passion, a hobby, and something I spend quite a bit of free time doing. I am fortunate that I can also make a living doing something that I enjoy. I am most proud of what we have built with Legion of Tech, which I do in my free time because I love it, and I would consider that my greatest personal achievement.

    Outside of technology, I have a bunch of small achievements that I’m proud of: I make my own jewelry; I’ve managed to stay in pretty good shape for a 37 year old woman; I’ve never missed my nephew’s birthday (he’s 10 and lives in Ohio); and I make a damn good vegan apple crisp.

  19. Again, away from work, what are a few personal goals, e.g. travel, write a book, etc?
  20. I would love to spend more time traveling for pleasure, especially in locations where I can lay on a warm beach in the shade and read books. I started fulfilling this goal with a trip to Cancun for Thanksgiving last year and trip to Maui with my mom in May. Before last year, my vacations involved big cities or trips to visit family in Ohio, and these two trips were my first beach vacations. I think maybe we’ll hit Jamaica next year.

  21. I see you are a vegan. Is this for health reasons, ethical reasons, habit, etc?
  22. Once I started thinking about what I was really eating, it was all over. I grew up on a farm, and I’ve participated in the entire process, so maybe I had a more intimate knowledge of the origins of my food. It was a gradual process based on when I started getting grossed out by certain foods. I stopped eating hot dogs and red meat in 1987 or 1988, went vegetarian in 1989, and I’ve been vegan since 1995. At this point, it is habit, and I don’t really spend any time thinking about it. I feel healthy and the doctor says that I am doing everything right, so I feel pretty comfortable with my choices. I’m also not a preachy vegan. We all make our choices about how we want to live our lives, and this is the right choice for me, but I’m not going to tell others how to live (or what to eat).

  23. Do you like to get back to nature, and if yes, where do you like to go when you need to recharge.
  24. Absolutely not! I’m allergic to nature (OK, maybe not allergic, but I’m definitely not fond of roughing it). When I relax on a warm beach with a book, I expect to see someone walking around with a cocktail tray and tropical drinks.

  25. Tell us a little more about Sausage the goat.
  26. I don’t think I’ve ever put the Sausage the goat story in print, so this will be a first. As I mentioned earlier, we grew up on a farm where we raised chickens, rabbits, goats and a few other animals. Most of our goats were milk goats, so we kept them around for a while, and they become more like pets. We’d milk them a couple times a day, they would have more babies, and some of them stuck around for years. We also occasionally bought meat goats at a livestock auction in Kidron, OH (Amish country). When my step-dad bought this goat, he told us that her name was Sausage because that’s what she was going to be when he took her to the slaughterhouse in a few weeks, and he didn’t want anyone to get too attached to her. She was a huge goat, and we thought we’d get quite a bit of sausage out of her. On the day of her “appointment”, my step-dad was outside getting the truck ready to take her away, and he heard terrible noises from the barn. He ran over to find her lying down, thrashing around in the pen and making awful noises as if she was in pain. At this point, we thought that she was probably dying from some horrible disease that would make her unfit for sausage and just a huge waste of money. A few minutes later, she gave birth to two healthy kids. I still have no idea how nobody noticed she was pregnant, and Sausage had some very fortunate timing. Anyway, we kept sausage for years as a milk goat, and she bacame more of a pet. She continued to occasionally produce more kids, and we continued to call her Sausage for many years.

It’s not too late for you to participate in the Great Portland Interview Project!

Finally, A Fast Wonder Redesign

Ahhhh, I have finally finished my redesign of Fast Wonder. Same logo, but with a different look and feel.

Have a look, let me know what you think, and be sure to let me know if you see anything wonky.

Special thanks to:

  • Todd Kenefsky for sitting through many rounds of eye exam type feedback of the “which is better: this or that” variety as I tested various colors, sizes, and shapes.
  • Justin Kistner for convincing me that K2 rocks, providing various bits of advice, and letting me steal his rounded corner graphic 🙂

As a part of the redesign, I’ve also obsoleted fastwonder.com for major pages and moved them into WordPress to make template changes easier. I still use that site for presentations, data files, or other stuff not requiring stylesheets. The what I’m reading and about Fast Wonder pages fall into this category.

Hippies, Atari, and Tequila aka 8 Things You May Not Know About Dawn

I was just tagged by Fred on the 8 things you may not know about me meme. Hmmmm, I live most of my life online, but I’ll try to come up with a few things you may not know.

  1. I was raised by hippie parents (Hi Mom!) and grew up in rural Ohio on a tiny organic farm with chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, a variety of other animals, and lots of organic vegetables. We even had a goat named Sausage for a few years, but that’s a long story 🙂
  2. In college, I got pretty good at playing pool and even won a few tournaments. I still have my own pool cue (a Meucci), but I haven’t used it in many years.
  3. I played the clarinet from 5th grade all the way through high school in various capacities, including marching bands and various wind ensembles. I even played a the flute and classical guitar very badly and for very short periods of time.
  4. I love to cook vegan food (stir fry, pizza with homemade cornmeal crust, pasta, etc.), but I never make dessert. I can make a decent apple crisp, but beyond that I’m better off buying something from a vegan bakery, like Sweet Pea.
  5. My first computer was an Atari 400 (later Atari 800XL), and I loved writing stupid little programs in Basic that did something cool, but had no practical use whatsoever.
  6. In college (many, many years ago), I carried a flask of tequila and a lime in my pocket most of the time and knew where all of my friends kept their knives and salt shakers.
  7. I have a real weakness for questionable music. My most recently played iTunes list includes Rammstein, Godsmack, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Madonna, The Go-Go’s, Rob Zombie, Blondie, The Offspring, INXS, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kajagoogoo, David Bowie, Rancid, the Kinks, the Prodigy, and more.
  8. At the end of my senior year in high school, I held the records for the 100m and 300m hurdles.

Now the hard part … tagging another 8 people: Todd Kenefsky, Justin Kistner, Paul Biggs, Adam Duvander, Scott Kveton, Josh Bancroft, Selena Deckleman, and Aaron Hockley.

Portland on Fire: Meet other cool Portlanders

Raven Zachary just launched a really cool new project yesterday, Portland on Fire: a daily discovery of PDX people. The idea is to profile one interesting person a day from Portland (not just techies, either) with information about how to connect with that person. I was lucky enough to be the second profile featured on the site.

If you are interested in participating, you can fill out the form and answer a few simple questions about yourself. You even get to choose some of the questions!

So, if you ever wanted to know what I was like as child, what my personal interests are, or what I like most about Portland, you should take a look at my profile on Portland on Fire!

2007: Non-Stop Excitement … what about 2008?

I thought it would be good to do a year in the life of Dawn for 2007. What the hell, everyone else is doing one, so I will jump on the trend.

As I think about 2007, I can’t help but be a bit surprised by how much fun and excitement I was able to cram into a single year!

2007: Non-Stop Excitement:

Now what? How in the hell am I going to top that in 2008?

  • Achieve 501(c)(3) status for Legion of Tech?
  • Get O’Reilly Art of Community book published?
  • Help organize a bunch of other community events in Portland?
  • Improve Jivespace to make it a really kick-ass developer community?
  • Ultimately, I want to do something spectacular enough that it prompts someone to write a Wikipedia article for me. 🙂

Have a Happy New Year!