If you’re going to do something, make it meaningful

I was watching TV and USA Network was giving a bunch of celebs lip service for giving back and such. They showed a clip of Oprah saying (Paraphrased), “If you’re going to do something, make it meaningful.” That really struck home for me.

We’ve talked about our giving back, so I’m not gonna rehash, why we do it, and such, rather I’m going to talk about our next moves. We’re expanding our offering (finally!) to include the iPhone community.

This is a big step for us. Tom and I have had several conversations on where to go next? Should there be a next? Can we recreate the awesome community vibe that 360|Flex helped create in a different community?

We threw around ideas of the next community we’d like to be a part of in a meaningful way, and how to do that. Cell Processor developers (PS3 games), Silverlight, JavaFX, even events. None of those flew because:

1. Cell Processor – We’re not in that space. Tom tinkered a bit, but we’re not actively participating, which for us was of huge importance. We didn’t want to come in as if we’re some saving angels, “We’re here to help this god forsaken community to grow and prosper, as only we can.” We don’t feel that it’s genuine, or that we could actually know what a community we’re not any type of part of, wants or needs.

2. Silverlight and JavaFX – We’re not developers in those languages. We don’t have anything against either, but we’re not going to get serious or even tinker in either language as they don’t interest us. We may partner with some one who does, but on our own: no.

3. Events – This one was the front runner during a late night conversation in Indianapolis, where we were doing an onsite and an informal “corporate summit”. A lot of conferences suck; trade shows suck; The reason, we think, is the event planners and organizers. They see it as a cash cow ($2000 for a 10×10 booth carpet? Just the carpet! Not the booth, which costs even more) and so the experience reflects a love of money, not a love of the content. We found out that there are conferences on conferences, and thought, “This whole community, which we’re super into now, really needs a wake up call.”

Then we both started reading up and playing with iPhone development. My goal (lofty maybe, given my other obligations) is to have an iPhone schedule/program guide for 360|Flex Indy. I’m still hopeful, even though I haven’t picked up my iPhone dev book in about a month. We both looked at the iPhone developer community, growing as fast as it is and thought, it made sense. We both already love the devices, so we’ll definitely be participating. O’Reilly tried to offer an iPhone conference that failed for (to me) a few reasons. We saw this not as an indication of the community’s desire for a conference, but as O’Reilly missing the mark, which was good for us. And great (we hope) for iPhone developers.

Getting back to the meaningful part, we hope this gives you a little insight into our thought process. We don’t just pick a random topic and decide to 360-ize it. We look at ourselves and what we can do for the communities we’re a part of. If we can do it well and with the same passion we brought to 360|Flex, then we give it the thumbs up and move forward. That being said, we hope to see you all at 360|iPhoneiDev!

5 Replies to “If you’re going to do something, make it meaningful”

  1. I think this could be the biggest iPhone announcement since the announcement of the iPhone.

    360|Flex has become a lot more than the selfless community organizers and industry leaders that it started out as; it has become a community and even more importantly, it is now a big part of the Flex development culture.

    I am excited to see what will happen when the same people who were key community organizers during the growth spurt of the Flex community do the same thing with the iPhone community.

    As much as Apple has done an amazing job forming the iPhone developer community from the top down, there are certain parts of a developer culture that can only be created by like-minded developers leading each other. That’s what 360|Flex people have incubated that I am the most thankful for.

    What if the next great thing from Apple isn’t presented by Steve Jobs, but rather by iPhone developers? What if the iPhone community becomes such a significant entity that Apple’s employees start having 2-way dialogs with the community members when deciding what goes into the next iPhone product? What if the result of developers working together in a community produces more great software frameworks, more open source projects, and a faster spread of knowledge which takes iPhone apps to a whole new level?

    This could be big.

  2. @Tony We’re looking, but definitely not this go. iPhone has the developer numbers.

    @Harry Thank you for the very kind words. It’s an important leap for us and its nice to know we have support out there! We hope to live up to and exceed those expectations. Remember, though, it’s you guys that make the community great. We just put you in a room and say, “Go!” :)

  3. @Harry

    Thanks for the kind thoughts, that really makes what we do worth while knowing that it has that kind of an impact.

    We’re excited by the possibilities as well, this is definitely an interesting time as we reach out beyond 360|Flex, into something new.

    We hope it’s big!

  4. Hi Tom and John, I went to 360|Flex in ATL, and loved it. I’d attend the 360|iDev conference, but I’m gonna be out of the country. I am sure it’s going to be a hit.

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