Month: April 2009

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a middle-aged couple, standing on the street corner, carrying a tell-tale unmarked silver plastic bag, and grinning the naughty/sneaky and thoroughly adorable grins of two people who’ve just bought something from The Stag Shop for the first time.

(Bonus un-picture!)

This is a video I did not take of an employee at Big Al’s, on the phone with a customer, reeling off all the kinds of shrimp they stock, sounding exactly like Bubba from Forrest Gump (…ghost shrimp… pearl shrimp… cherry shrimp…) while I stood there trying desperately not to burst out laughing. (Though after he got off the phone I grinned at him and told him he sounded like Bubba, and he laughed and said that pretty much summed up the whole call. Hee!)

The “ex” factor

I was looking at this job post the other day (no, I’m not applying), and several things struck me about this:

Our founders are ex-Amazon and ex-Microsoft rockstar developers and both are ex-Waterloo.

So, okay, those items are intended to imply coolness and cred on the part of the company, its founders, and the job being advertised. Hrm.

Maybe that works to a point for some demographic, but to me that sentence tells me nothing about what those people would be like to work for or if they know how to found/grow/run a company.

Certainly, the rest of the ad can help fill in those details, but then… what’s that line for? Yeah, my experience of working at larger, non-tech companies between my startup stints colours my attitude here, as does the fact that I’m 30-something and not a developer. But again, job ads aren’t the only place I’ve seen this “ex cred” language.

Ex-Amazon and ex-Microsoft. Okay, so they both worked in enormous tech companies. In dev roles. What kind of development? Infrastructure? Performance? UI? Were they in management at all? Did they work on getting new products to market, maintaining old ones, some completely unrelated operations function? As for being a rock star… that gets thrown around so much these days it’s pretty much lost meaning.

Also, those companies are US-based. Big market, lots of money. So these guys probably worked south of the border for a while? There are some differences between business here and in the US, especially in founding and running businesses. Did they get experience that’s going to help them with this new endeavour? It’s been a long time since Amazon and Microsoft were startups. Lotta resources at hand there.

Ex-Waterloo. Sooo… good Canadian boys, probably went to U of W? Lots of geeks there, plenty of entrepreneurs. So what? Were these founders entrepreneurial while in school? Did they develop good networks? Did they get degrees in Engineering or English?

Ok, yeah, I’m picking on one ad for one startup, and I’m not who they’re trying to attract with that role. But I see this “ex cred” used more and more, and I don’t get it. Kinda reminds me how apparently being able to throw around web jargon makes you a social media expert. But hey, they got funding, so there must be something behind the concept and the hipster geek lingo.

Certainly you can only make the ad so lengthy, and you can always ask about the founders’ pedigrees if you’re granted an interview. I guess my issue is the stereotypical nature of it. Feels like we should be passed that by now, since we’ve had two booms and a bust and a half to figure out who we are (in the tech and startup worlds), what we value, and how we build our cultures.

And what I still see a fair bit looks immature to me, and hard to take seriously. We’re not sure what to base credibility on, so we pick things to advertise that sound good (or at least recognizable), at the expense of the real education and experience we’ve earned.

In the last year I’ve met a LOT of people in tech in Canada, and many of them are quite young (from late teens to late 20s). These people are smart, savvy, social, and I firmly believe they can achieve just about anything. They have ideas and they make them reality — fast.

And with that view on this world of ours, I just think we can market ourselves much better.

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a litter-collecting city worker moseying down the sidewalk, then pausing to poke his long-handled pincher stick into some pushes and pulling out a furry Santa hat.

Introducing: Home Cents!

My friend and former co-worker Chaya Cooperberg’s new Globe Investor blog, Home Cents has launched! Couldn’t be more excited for her (and to read her stuff — she’s brilliant, funny, and wise beyond most people’s years).

How the woman found time to add blogging to the schedule she keeps, I haven’t the foggiest… 🙂

Technology in infancy

I don’t recall it even occurring to me when Cadence was born, though we were all breaking new ground there (and high as kites on endorphins…), but a few minutes ago I was perusing one of my sister-in-law’s albums on Facebook.

And I realized that within 24 hours of being born, Cassidy, niece #2, had been digitally photographed by camera, video camera, and cell phone. Emailed by smartphone, blogged about, uploaded to Facebook, tweeted, and had participated in her first Skype video chat (with her other grandma in BC).

Hell, had they wanted to (and thankfully they didn’t), her birth could have been streamed live online. I know people who did do that.

When I arrived at their apartment to stay with Cadence while they went to the hospital, I asked if they’d remembered everything they needed to take, and jokingly added, “Did you remember to update your Facebook status?” Both of them said yep. Heh. Within hours, dozens of people in all of our networks not only knew Cassidy had been born, but had seen pictures of her. It would have taken months to eventually see all those people and let them know.

On Thursday morning, Mom asked me where Chad and Patience keep their phone book. She’d already emailed the friends and relatives who are “on email”, but had to find phone numbers to call the others (she hadn’t brought her paper address book with her to Kitchener). Of course, I hadn’t a clue where their phone book might be (haven’t touched one in years), so I pointed to their MacBook. I mean… where else would you look up information?

And then Mom surprised me by saying, “Oh, Canada 411?” Uhh, yeah. She knows about that site… but still asked where the phone book is? 🙂

So then we looked up all the numbers and she wrote them down… in crayon on Cadence’s big book of drawing paper. Heh. Can’t stay high tech all the time…

Unphotographable

This is a picture I did not take of a blind man, wearing sunglasses, walking toward me on the sidewalk, accompanied by two black Labs, one on duty and wearing his work harness, and the other wearing a regular leash, clearly just enjoying being out for a walk and letting someone else “drive”.