Last Monday I had the honor of sitting on a panel for the Introduction to Online Communities class for the Online Communities program at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. That’s a mouthful. If you’re paying close attention, this is the program where I earned my master’s degree (I was in the 2007 cohort).
The topic for the session was Online Community Tools and Platforms. At the end of the program, all students are given funds to launch their own startup or online community. Back in my day *crotchety old man voice*, we built our startups from scratch: we product developed a concept, hired a developer and designer to create it; we also did all the marketing footwork, etc. We were reinventing the wheel in 12 weeks. It was tough, somewhat miserable, and frustrating. Not because of the work, but because of the time constraints and our naivete. Anyway, in later years the cohorts got smart(er) and started using open source solutions to create their (alpha) startups. Not a bad idea.
The discussion took a few different forms. We discussed “reinventing the wheel” versus using WordPress, Buddypress, Movable Type, Ning, etc. In the end, I tried to make it clear that whatever decision you make, make sure it is an informed decision and make sure it helps you achieve your goal. I have seen people choose a platform like WordPress, and not understand that it requires frequent updates. Sure, WordPress evangelists will tell you to use WP all day everyday, but if you are in a situation where you can’t support frequent upgrades, then WP is not the tool for you.
If you didn’t know, let me tell you: it is hot in Los Angeles. This weekend felt like the first weekend of summer for Los Angelinos. I didn’t want to go anywhere. Just walking outside made me feel like I was going to sweat too much and mess up my hair.
I ended up hanging out with some old and new friends, and I think I’ve discovered I am officially old. My friend Jus hosted a BBQ by the pool. I hadn’t seen him in what feels like years for some reason. It was great seeing everybody, and meeting a bunch of new people. After that, we walked over to campus where De la Soul and Lupe Fiasco were performing. De La had a good set. I think Lupe’s set was cool, but I can’t remember because my legs were in pain from standing around all day. All I could think about was how good it would feel when I got to sit down again.
Lupe took forever to get on stage. I was bitter. But, he performed Daydreamin’ and I felt better. I missed Superstar, but I’ll get over it.
At the late night hour of midnight, I was ready to go home. Beat. I couldn’t go any further. No after party.
It’s that time of year again: the beginning of another academic semester. For me, hopefully this will be my last semester in school for a long time. Emphasis on long. I’m wrapping up a Master’s degree, and I don’t believe in having multiple Master’s degrees, so the only other option would be to get a Ph.D. I am in no mood for Ph.D. talk right now, no matter how good of an idea it is.
Seriously, don’t let me go to school again. I know I said that when I was done with MIT, but I mean it this time.
I’ve got two classes and an independent research course on deck for the term. One of my classes is about building web startups, and the other is about social dynamics of the web/internet/whatever. I know who the professors are and I know the syllabi, so I think this will be a great semester. I still have my research class proposal unconfirmed, but I have an idea of what I want to work on.
And thus begins my third consecutive semester as a full-time graduate student and a full-time employee. Can you say burn out? Lately people have been asking me why I am not doing bigger things, when it comes to my job or career. They see all my potential, and previous accomplishments and don’t get why I am not doing XYZ instead. The answer is I can’t. I’m trying to finish this Master’s program of mine without failing or getting fired from my job. My personal projects and ambitions suffer, if only to maintain partial sanity for my day to day activities. It’s all good though. I sincerely believe that I am exactly where I should be right now when it comes to my career and education. Everything in my life feels like it is aligned perfectly, for some odd but interesting reason. It feels good, so I don’t worry about it for now.
This post is brought to you in part by the Navajo Nation, which helped pay my way through Graduate school. Danke.