KNIME UK meetup at Mozilla London

On my very first day at Mozilla there was an email to all staff in the London office looking for someone to sponsor an evening event in the (amazing) community space.

The Mozilla London Community Space
The Mozilla London Community Space

It was a meetup being planned for users of an open source tool for data analysis, KNIME.

I don’t know much about KNIME, and had no idea what ‘sponsoring’ the event would actually entail, so it seemed like a good idea to say ‘yes’ and find out more about both.

I’m thinking the worst that can happen is I learn some new things and meet some new people who like working with data.

If you’re interested in coming to a free event, including free beer and pizza, and a useful ‘New to KNIME’ talk, join the meetup group and RSVP here:

http://www.meetup.com/KNIME-User-Group-UK/events/160310442/

 

The immediate value of working in the open

I’m both excited and a tiny bit nervous about how “open” Mozilla are about the way they work.

As I’m getting to know the Foundation, and the projects and priorities, and to make sense of what exactly I’ll be doing here I’ve been reading lots of Etherpads. If you don’t know what an Etherpad is, it’s a bit like a Google Doc (the ‘word doc’ variety) but less slick and more open. If you give someone a link to an Etherpad, the barrier to them contributing to the document is almost non-existent.

Anyway, the value of this open working process somewhat blew my mind today. While lots of these docs have been useful in a general sense, today I read the documents from the initial planning around MoFo metrics that led to recruiting for my role (so it was pretty relevant!). The final document is a fine and very useful thing, like most summary documents, but what was really useful was the option to ‘replay’ the creation of the doc.

As I watched it being outlined, revised and then shared for comment I was able to see many of my new colleagues jump in to add the points they care most about and to challenge and contribute to the rest of the document.  Better than just seeing the final document is seeing how it started and where it changed direction and who was involved.

Even watching the hesitations and re-phrasing of particular sentences tells you something about where the subtleties and complications in the process exist.

I probably spent 15-20 minutes watching the replay of the writing of this document, and think I got more indirect information than I would otherwise pick up in even two-weeks of introduction meetings.

There is so much information in the history of that document that would be lost in any closed system. If for example, that document was a PDF on an intranet behind a password, the value I would have gotten from it as a new employee today would have be greatly reduced.