Monday, March 02, 2015

A lesson Adam Chowaniec helped me to learn

This was going to be a set of tweets, but ended up being a little long.

I'd been reading observations and recommendations from Adam Chowaniec for over ten years when he died a couple of weeks ago. He was one of the leading figures in the Ottawa tech community and had spoken at at least a couple of Communitech events over the years.

He was always worth hearing, and at the same time, would occasionally say things that made me think we lived in alternate universes.

It was an important lesson to learn. Tech communities—even in the same province—have different experiences and priorities. Chowaniec was very Ottawa, very telecom. Ottawa and Waterloo collaborate a lot, and aren't that far apart in distance, but are also very different.

You have to be cautious when drawing conclusions for the province or the country based on your one region. You can't avoid it—most of us live in one place, and that shapes our experiences—but you can watch out for your own overgeneralizations.

(At the same time, the reverse problem may be even more dangerous: refusing to learn from other communities because they're not you. I've seen way too much of this over the last few years. But that sounds like a 2,000-word post that I'll thankfully never get around to writing.)