International Genius Program: Dom Sagolla

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

When we launched the Appsterdam Overwinter, we added to the organization a commitment to raising the level of quality and training of App Makers in the Netherlands and beyond. That included redoubling our efforts on existing infrastructure, like the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lectures and the Appsterdam Guru Sessions. We also added things like designer retraining through the BNO.

It brings me great pleasure to launch another initiative in that vein. The International Genius Travel Grant Program is a joint venture between Appsterdam, local government, and the university of Amsterdam. The idea is to select the world’s most interesting technologists and bring them to Amsterdam to recognize their achievements and learn from their experience.

Normally speakers of such quality require lengthy notice, high fees, and other requirements. With our network and the pull of this glorious city, we’re able to break down barriers and bring costs inline to provide high bandwidth conversations to people, like students and healthcare workers, whose growth is good for society and of benefit to us all, but whose connections into our industry are otherwise sparse.

Our first International Genius is famed Twitter Co-founder and all around great guy Dom Sagolla. Aside from literally writing the book on Twitter, Dom is known for contributing to the Obama ’08 iPhone app, and for his founding and continued involvement with iOSDevCamp. He is a source of many great insider stories, dating all the way back to his adventures at the MIT Media Lab.

On a personal note, Dom is not only one of the smartest people I have ever met, he’s also one of the nicest and coolest people I know. I consider myself very lucky to call him my friend. I love this guy so much I want to introduce you all to him, to let you get to know him, that you might benefit from his insights, as I have. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet one of my favorite people.

Dom will be in Amsterdam from February 25th to March 2nd. He will receive formal recognition by the City of Amsterdam, and speak at a number of private and invitation-only events. If you’re a UvA student, don’t miss his talk to the schools of Humanities and Software Engineering on the intersection of those two fields.

Dom will also be making public appearances all over town that week. You can count on catching him at our usual Wednesday activities—the Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lecture and Meeten en Drinken at Bax. You can also catch Dom the night before, February 28th, at a special event at Pakhuis de Zwijger. Here’s a flier we made for that event:

This is a flier for Dom Sagolla's appearance at Pakhuis de Zwijger on February 28.

Be as Gardeners

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

I used to work on this really cool Twitter client. I wouldn’t have made a Twitter client, since I have friends who already make a great Twitter client. I inherited the project, but I am who I am, so my team adopted it wholeheartedly, and made it into our favorite Twitter client. When someone helped us make our tableviews smooth like butter, we payed it forward and passed it along to our friends.

That act is what separates the community of App Makers from most other industries. We do not have competitors. We have colleagues. It’s OK if we have similar projects. We each have our own visions, and our own way of doing things. If we wanted the same things and thought the same way, we would merge the projects. You can never find enough skilled people to work with.

The reality is there’s plenty of work to go around, plenty of customers looking for lots of different things. If they think like us, they’ll buy our app. If they think like them, they’ll buy their app. Regardless of how they think, they deserve buttery smooth tableviews. We fundamentally reject the practice of hoarding every morsel of advantage. We win races by running our hearts out, not by tripping the other runners.

Appsterdam is an organization of volunteer gardeners. We tend to the ecosystem because we work in the ecosystem and we want it to be nice. We organize events and provide resources for App Makers, but we’re just as happy to help other people make their events awesome, and to help other people provide resources for App Makers.

Apple doesn’t have a monopoly on awesome, and Appsterdam doesn’t have a monopoly on collaboration. There’s plenty of work to be done. If someone else wants to pick up a shovel, fantastic. People who think otherwise obviously didn’t read Ars. If 2012 is to be the year the App Makers unite, we have to work together, whether you wear our T-shirt or not.

Joining Appsterdam is free as in beer and freedom.

Weekly Wednesday Bonus Lecture

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

Fill your noggin and get your fill of nog in, at a very special Weekly Wednesday Lunchtime Lecture.

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it was too close to Christmas. They said we were crazy to even try.

Then it turned out Josh Clark was in town. Josh is the author of Tapworthy, the definitive explanation of why your app sucks. Josh graciously agreed to speak at next week’s lecture.

Then, for some reason, eggnog was mentioned.

Come see Josh Clark, drink some eggnog, and watch Josh Clark drink some eggnog.

Normally we bring broodje toppings to the lunchtime lectures, but I suppose this time we should bring our favorite holiday treats.

Same time, same place: Wednesday, Dec. 21, 12:30 at Innovatielab on the top floor of Vijzelstraat 20.

RSVP to guarantee there’s room for you!

Behold, A White Elephant

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

People own a lot of crap, and people give a lot of gifts, so it stands to reason that people give and get a lot of crap as gifts. As such, we all own things that we don’t really want, but that we can’t really get rid of, because they were gifts, and there’s a social contract. These are the white elephants.

You can probably think of something like that in your life. Now imagine wrapping that thing and giving it to someone who will love it—or at least share in your horrible fascination for it. The white elephant gift exchange is an attempt to shuffle the gene pool of crap, because one person’s crap is another person’s craving, or something like that.

The best way to determine who gets what is of course in armed combat, but due to Dutch nautical regulations, we’ll end up playing some sort of silly game instead. It should be a lot of fun, and you’ll be surprised the things people will end up fighting over. This is one situation where the giving is definitely better than the getting!

This American tradition will be at the centerpiece of the Appsterdam Holiday Gathering this Sunday, Dec. 18., which will take place at Appsterdam Noord, the Appsterdam Approved Hangout at NDSM Wharf, with a meal on the fabulously adjacent Pannenkoekenboot, because it’s hard to think of anything more Dutch than eating pancakes on a boat.

So grab your unwanted crap and some enticing wrapping paper and RSVP for the family-friendly, crap-swapping, pancake-scarfing, boat-riding holiday extravaganza of a lifetime. Space is limited, but if you RSVP by Thursday afternoon, we can reserve more space on the boat.

Return of the Son

By Mike / On / In Appsterdam

I confess, I am a bit jaded as a public speaker.

I’ve given the talk I’m presenting tomorrow, “Product Engineering,” at least four times. I’ve spoken at the conference series I’m presenting at tomorrow, QCon, as many times as well. I don’t know the exact numbers because I speak a lot. I speak so much I had to start the Appsterdam Speaker Bureau to handle all the overlapping invitations.

I’m nervous for tomorrow like it’s the first time.

The importance and complexity of Appsterdam makes every job I’ve had, every product I’ve built, every team I’ve led, seem like practice stones along the road of destiny. So it is with my speaking career and the symbolism of my returning to Silicon Valley after a grand adventure to tell my former compatriots what I’ve found and what I’ve founded.

This may be the most important speech of my life.

QCon is pulling out all the stops for me. We’ve got the main stage, the mariachi band, and the Mexican food booked. This is going to be a full-fledged Themenote, like the one I delivered to 360iDev, but bigger. Oh my great pantheon of invisible gods do we have something planned.

Those are the facts. How about some superlatives?

Let’s keep this in perspective. I’m not addressing the civil rights movement, and I’m not launching the iPhone, but in the very large category of informational technical keynotes? Yeah, definitely, it’s going to be the greatest of all time.

What’s after this, retirement? Maybe pyrotechnics?

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