Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

17 May 2007, 12:10 p.m.

The Social Net and Working

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2007 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I dragged Leonard to a Chris DiBona talk at Google NYC last night. I didn't hear much that I hadn't already known (the topic: Google's use and promotion of open source software), but I did see some interesting PR behavior. DiBona can politely apologize when Google corporate policy prevents him from answering a legitimate question, e.g., on Google's use of and strategy regarding software patents. I usually only see "No comment" deployed wearily and defensively. DiBona actually sounds sorry when he says, "I'm sorry, I'm not at liberty to talk about that." Refreshing!

Leonard got to meet Rohit Khare, and I got to meet Benjamin Stein (it turns out we'd already met online when I'd been wondering what shredder to get). Mr. Khare and I saw each other's name tags and thought we had met before, but kept making near misses as we tried to figure out where ("Oh, so you know Anirban!" "No, I know an AnirVAN...") -- I think he and I must have just seen each other's names in Leonard's blog. The name badges could have been better.

There's a bit in Quicksilver where Stephenson describes Daniel Waterhouse's reluctance to drop in on his welcoming relatives -- he can't imagine someone would want to open the door and see him there. Face-to-face social networking at these events means getting over that quite natural diffidence, and since I'm more extroverted than the average techie, that means I often make the first move. I start conversations using boilerplate small talk ("Did you have to walk a long way here in the rain today?"), and if friends see me doing this, the patent artificiality of the behavior can embarrass me. Geek/business networking me is not just friendly me. I understand better now why friends in the audience at your play distract or dismay you -- they'll find it harder to suspend disbelief and enjoy the theater, because they know you so well in a different role.

A lighthearted link to round this off - in the deleted scenes on the Office Space DVD, we see hints that blue-collar workers don't in fact have it better than cube slaves.


Beatrice Murch
18 May 2007, 5:36 a.m.

Rohit is a sweetheart and a very smart man!!! Glad you got to meet.