Bad Voltage: Live @ SCALE13x

As regular readers of my blog will know, I rather like the SoCal Linux Expo, more commonly known as SCALE. I have been going for over eight years and every year it delivers an incredible balance of content and community spirit. I absolutely love going every year.

Other readers may also know that I do a podcast with three other idiots every two weeks called Bad Voltage. The show is a soup of Linux, Open Source, technology, digital rights, politics, and more, all mixed together with reviews, interviews, and plenty more. I am really proud of the show: I think it is fun but also informative, and has developed an awesome community around it.

Given my love of SCALE and Bad Voltage, I am therefore tickled pink that we are going to be taping Bad Voltage: Live at SCALE. This will be our very first show in front of a live audience, and in-fact, the first time the whole team has been in the same building before.

The show takes place on the evening of Fri 20th Feb 2015 in the main La Jolla room.

The show will be packed with discussions, contests, give-aways, challenges, and more. It will be a very audience participatory show and we will be filming it as well as recording the podcast, ready for release post-SCALE.

So, be sure to get along and join the show on the evening of Fri 20th Feb 2015, currently slated to start at 9pm, but the time may adjust, so keep your eye on the schedule!

Designers Needed to Help Build Software to Teach Kids Literacy

Designers! Imagine you could design a piece of Open Source tablet software that teaches a child how to read, write, and perform arithmetic, without the aid of a teacher. This is not designed to replace teachers, but to bring education where little or none exists.

Just think of the impact. UNESCO tells us that 54 million children have zero access to education. 250 million kids have rudimentary access to education but don’t have any literacy skills. If we can build software that teaches kids literacy, think of the opportunities this opens up in their lives, and the ability to help bring nations out of poverty.

The Global Learning XPRIZE is working to solve that problem and help build this technology.

A Foundation of Awesome Design

This is where designers come in.

We want to encourage designers to use their talent and imagination to explore and share ideas of how this software could look and work. Designers create and craft unique and innovative experiences, and these ideas can be the formation of great discussions with other members of the community.

We are asking designers to explore and create those experiences and then share those wireframes/mockups in the XPRIZE community. This will inspire discussion and ideas for how we create this important software. This is such an important way in which you can participate.

Find out more about how to participate by clicking right here and please share this call for designers widely – the more designs we can see, the more designers involved, the more ideas we can explore. Every one of you can play such a key role in building this technology. Thanks!

Global Learning XPRIZE: Call For Teams!

As many of my regular readers will know, I joined the XPRIZE Foundation last year. At XPRIZE we run large competitions that incentivize the solution of some of the grandest challenges that face humanity.

My role at XPRIZE is to create a global community that can practically change the world via XPRIZE, inside and outside of these competitions. You will be reading more about this in the coming months.

Back in September we launched the Global Learning XPRIZE. This is a $15 million competition that has the ability to impact over 250 million kids. From the website:

The Global Learning XPRIZE challenges teams from around the world to develop open source and scalable software that will enable children in developing countries to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic within the 18 month period of competition field testing. Our goal is an empowered generation that will positively impact their communities, countries and the world.

Many of my readers here are Open Source folks, and this prize is an enormous Open Source opportunity. Here we can not only change the world, but we can create Open Source technology that is at the core of this revolution in education.

Not only that, but a key goal we have with the competition is to encourage teams and other contributors to collaborate around common areas of interest. Think about collaboration around storytelling platforms, power management, design, voice recognition, and more. We will be encouraging this collaboration openly on our forum and in GitHub.

You will be hearing more and more about this in the coming months, but be sure to join our forum to keep up to date.

Call For Teams

Since we launched the prize, we have seen an awesome number of teams registering to participate. Our view though is that the more teams the better…it creates a stronger environment of collaboration and competition. We want more though!

Can’t see the video? See it here!

As such, I want to encourage you all to consider joining up as a team. We recommend people form diverse teams of developers, designers, artists, scientists, and more to feed into and explore how we build software that can automate the teaching of literacy. Just think about the impact that this software could have on the world, and also how interesting a technical and interaction challenge this is.

To find out more, and to sign up, head over to and be sure to join our community forum to be a part of our community as it grows!

Bridging Marketing and Community

In the last five years we have seen tremendous growth in community management. Organizations large and small are striving to build strong, empowered communities that contribute to and support their work. These efforts are focused on a new form of engagement, one that builds engaged communities that are part of the fabric that achieves success.

This growth in community management has been disruptive. Engineering, governance, and other areas have been turned upside down with this new art and science. This disruption has been positive though, producing new cultures and relationships and a new feather to our collective bows in achieving our grander ambitions.

If there is one area where this disruption has made the strongest lightning bolt, it has been marketing and brand management.

Every year I run the Community Leadership Summit in Portland, and every year I hear the same feedback; the philosophical, strategic, and tactical differences between marketing and community managers. These concerns have also been shared with me in my work as a community strategy and management consultant.

The Community Leadership Summit

This worries me. When I see this feedback shared it tells a narrative of “us and them“, as if marketing and brand managers are people intent on standing in the way of successful communities.

This just isn’t true.

Marketing and brand managers are every bit as passionate and engaged about success as community managers. What we are seeing here is a set of strategic and tactical differences which can be bridged. To build unity though we need to first see and presume the good in people; we are all part of the same team, and we all want to do right by our organizations.


For most organizations, marketing operations are fairly crisply defined and controlled. You specify your brand and values and build multiple marketing campaigns to achieve the goals of brand awareness and engagement. This is usually pretty tightly controlled in terms of brand, values, mission, and campaigns, by the organization. This is designed to assure consistency across brand, voice, and messaging, and legal protection with your marks.

This kind of brand marketing is critical. We live in a world dominated by brands, and brand managers have to balance a delicate line between authentic engagement and feckless shlepping of their wares. There is an art and science to brand marketing and many tremendous leaders in this area such as Brendon Burchard, Aaliyah Shafiq, and Gary Briggs. These fine people and others have guided organizations through challenging times and an increasingly over-subscribed audience with shorter and shorter attention spans.

Community management takes a similar but different approach. Community managers seek to build open-ended engagement in which you create infrastructure, process, and governance, and then you invite a wider diversity of people and groups to join a central mission. With this work we see passionate and inspired communities that span the world, bringing a diverse range of skills and talents. Philosophically this is very much a “let a thousand roses bloom” approach to engagement.

The Spider and the Starfish

I believe the strategic and tactical difference between many marketing and community managers can be best explained with the inspiring and excellent work of Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom in their seminal book, The Starfish and the Spider. The book outlines the differences between the centralized methods of organization (the spider), and the decentralized method (the starfish).

I don’t like spiders, so this was uncomfortable to add to this post.

In many traditional organizations the structure is very much like a spider. While there are multiple legs, there is a central body that is in charge. The body provides strategy, execution, and guidance from a small group of people in charge, and the outer legs serve those requirements.

Brand management commonly uses the spider model: the parameters of the brand, structure, values, and execution are typically defined by a central hand-picked team of people. While the brand may be open to multiple possibilities and opportunities, the center of the spider has to approve or reject new ideas. In many cases the center of spider has oversight and approvals over everything externally facing.

There are two core challenges with the spider model: innovation and agility. You may have the very best folks in the middle of that spider but like any group of human beings, they will reach the natural limits of their own creativity and innovation. Likewise, that team will face a limit in agility; there is only so much the center of the spider can do, and this will impact the spider as a whole.

The other organizational management model is the starfish. Here we empower teams to do great work and provide guidelines to help them be successful. This doesn’t lack accountability or quality, but we achieve it by defining strong standards of quality and trusting the teams to execute within them. We then deal with suboptimal cases where appropriate. Many modern organizations work this way, such as YouTube, Wikipedia, and many start-ups, and this is the inherent model in the community management world.

Now, let’s be honest here. I am a community management guy. Much as I like to think I am an objective thinker and unbiased, everyone is biased in some way. You are probably expecting me to pronounce these spider-orientated marketing and brand organizations dead and to hail the new starfish king of community management.

Not at all.

As I said earlier, brand management is critical to our success. What we need to do is first understand we are all on the same team, and secondly bridge the agility of community management with the consistency of brand management.

Focus on the mission

In reality, we don’t want an entirely spider model or an entirely starfish model, we want a mixture of both; a spiderfish, if you will.

I am a strong believer in Covey’s philosophy of “begin with the end in mind“. We should sit down, dream a little, and then rigorously define our mission for our organization. With this mission in mind, every project, every initiative, every idea, should be assessed within the parameters of whether it furthers that mission. If it doesn’t, we should do something else.

Always think about where we want to get to.

When most organizations think with the end in mind they want their audience to feel a personal sense of connection to their work, and therefore their brand. The world of broadcast media is withering on the vine: We don’t just sit there and mindlessly devour content with a bag of Cheetos in hand. We want to engage, to interact, to be a part of that message and that content. If we are passionate about a brand, we want to play an active role in how we can make that brand successful. We want to transition from being a member of the audience to being a member of the team.

Most brand managers want this. All community managers want and should achieve this. Thus, brand and community managers are really singing from the same hymn sheet and connected to the same broader mission. Brand and community managers are simply people with different skill-sets putting different jigsaw pieces into the same puzzle.

So how do we strike that balance between brand and community? Well, I have some practical suggestions that may be useful:

1. Align strategy

Your marketing and community strategies need to be well-understood and aligned. Both teams should have regular meetings and a clear understanding of what both teams are doing. This serves two key functions. Firstly, it will mean that everyone has an understanding of what everyone is working on. Secondly, it will clearly demonstrate the importance and value of both teams, be able to identify positive and negative touch points, and bring balance to them.

Now, this is easier said than done. Strategy will change and adapt and it can be tough to keep everyone in the loop at once. As such, at a minimum focus on connecting the team leads together; they can then communicate this to their respective teams.

2. Your future won’t be 100% of what you expect it to be

There is a great rule of thumb in project management of “you will achieve your goals, but what it will be different to what you expect“. We should always remind our brand and community managers that part of bridging two different skill sets and philosophies means that our work will be a little different than we may expect.

Our goal here is the consistency of an awesome brand manager with the engagement of an awesome community manager. This may mean that a community manager’s work may be a little more tempered and conservative and a brand manager’s work may be a little more agile and freeform. This will feel weird and awkward at first, but sends us in the right direction to achieve our broader mission in our organization.

3. Have a flexible brand/trademark policy and communicate it clearly

One of the key challenges in balancing brand and community management is that communities typically want to use brands themselves in their work in a freeform way. This can include printing signs for events, using the brand on websites and social media, printing t-shirts and merchandise, creating presentation slides, and more. The brand is our shared identity, both for the organization and the community.

It is important that we clearly define the lines of how the brand can and cannot be used. We want to empower our community to freely utilize the brand (and associated trade dress, fonts, colors, and more) to do amazing work, but we want to avoid our brand being cheapened and diluted.

To do this we should create a rigorous brand and trademark policy that outlines these freedoms and restrictions and clearly communicate it to the community.

A good example of this is the Ubuntu Trademark Policy; it crisply states these restrictions and freedoms and has resulted in a large and capable community and fantastic brand awareness.

4. Focus quality where it really matters

As I mentioned earlier, we really want to take a “spiderfish” approach to our organizatons. This means that we centrally define some aspects of policy, but we focus those central pieces on the most valuable and important areas.

The trick is that we want to focus quality assurance on the right places. The way in which we assess the brand consistency of a keynote presentation that will be beamed around the world should be different to how we assess a small presentation given at a local community group. If we treat everything the same we will burn our teams out and limit agility and creativity.

Likewise, our assessment of quality should be around consistency as opposed to stylistic differences. We want to encourage different styles and voices: our community will present a multitude of different narratives and ideas. Our goal is to ensure that they feel consistent and connected to our central mission.

As such, focus your spider body on the most critical pieces. If you don’t, those teams will be overworked and stressed as opposed to creatively inspired and engaged.

5. Always focus on the mission

I know I have banged this drum a few times already in this article, but we have to focus on our mission every single day.

Covey teaches us that we should collaboratively define and share our missions and that these missions should guide our work every day, not just be shoved in a cupboard or stuck to a dusty wall, never to be seen again. We should assess every idea, every project, every motivation within the parameters of what we are here to do.

This is critical at a tactical level (“should project foo be something we invest in?”) but also at a strategic level (“how do we balance marketing and community management to further our mission?”).

Enforcing this is a key responsibility for senior executives. Is is senior leadership that really defines the culture and tenor of our organizations so it can trickle down, and reminding and inspiring everyone of the bigger picture is essential.

I hope you find some of this useful. My primary goal with this article was to help bridge the divide between what I consider to be two critical roles in successful organizations: marketing and community management. While the cultures may be a little different, both have much to learn from each other, and much to bring to the world. I look forward to hearing from you all about your experiences and perspectives on how we continue to work together to do interesting and important work.

Your new Community Manager Hire: 5 Areas to Focus on

So, you have just hired that new community manager into your organization. Their remit is simple: build a community that wraps around your product/technology/service. You have an idea of what success looks like, but you are also not entirely sure exactly what this new hire will be doing at a tactical level.

Lots of people are in this position. Here are five things you should focus on to help ensure they are successful.

1. Think carefully about the reporting line

When a new community manager joins a company the question is where they report. In many cases they report into Marketing, in some cases (particularly for technology companies) they report to Engineering. In some cases they report to the COO.

Much of this depends on what the community manager is doing. If they are managing social and forums, marketing may be a good fit. If they are building a developer community, engineering may be a good.

If however they are building a full community with infrastructure, processes, governance, and more, they are going to be working cross-team in your organization. As such, having them report into a single team such as Marketing may not be a good idea: it may restrict their cross-functional capabilities and executive buy-in.

Also, and how do I say this delicately…there is often a philosophical difference between traditional marketing/brand managers and community managers. Think carefully about how open to community success your marketing manager is…if they are not very open, they may end up squashing the creativity of your new hire.

2. Build a strategic plan

A key part of success is setting expectations. With rare exceptions, right out the gate the difference in expectations between senior execs and a new community manager are likely to be pretty significant. We want to reduce that gap.

To do this you need to gather stakeholder requirements, define crisp goals for what the community should look like and map out an annual strategic plan that outlines what the community manager will achieve to meet those goals as well as crisp success criteria. Summarize this into a simple deck to review with the exec team and other key leaders in the organization.

The community manager should make a point of socializing the strategy with the majority of the organization: it will help to smooth the lines to success.

3. Provide mentoring

The is a huge variance in what community managers actually do. Some take care of social media, some respond on forums, some fly to conferences to speak, and some built entire environments with infrastructure, process, governance, and on-ramps to help the community be successful.

I believe the latter, is the true definition of a community manager. A community manager should have a vision for a community and be able to put all the infrastructure, process, and resources in place to achieve it.

This is tough. It requires balancing lots of different teams and resources, and your new hire may feel they are drowning. Find a good community manager who gets this kind of stuff and ask them for help. Encourage an environment and culture of learning: help them to help themselves to be successful.

4. Have an “essential travel only” policy

I see the same thing over and over again: a new community manager joins a company and the company spends thousands flying them to every conceivable conference to speak and hang out with attendees. This is usually with the rationale of “spreading the word”.

Here’s the deal. Every minute your community manager is on the road, at conferences, preparing talks, and mingling with people, they are not working on the wider community vision, they are working on the scope of that event. Travel 2is incredibly disruptive and conferences are very distracting, and at the beginning of a new community, you really want your community manager putting the foundations of your community in place which typically means them being sat at a computer and drinking plenty of coffee.

Now, don’t get me wrong, conferences and travel are critical for community success. My point is that you should pick conferences that match closely with the strategy you have defined. This keep your costs lower, your new hire more focused, and help get things up and running quicker.

5. Train the rest of your employees

The word “community” means radically different things to different people. For some a community is a customer-base, for some it is engineering, for some it is a support function, for others it may be social media.

When your new community manager joins, your other staff will have their own interpretation of what “community” means. You should help to align the community manger’s focus and goals with the rest of the organization.

In many companies, the formation of a community is a key strategic change. It is often a new direction that is breaking some ground. In these cases, this step is particularly important. We want to ensure the wider team knows the organizational significance of a community, but also to get them bought into the value and opportunity it brings.

I hope this helps. If anyone has any questions I can help with, feel free to get in touch.

Discourse: Saving forums from themselves

Many of us are familiar with discussion forums: webpages filled with chronologically ordered messages, each with a little avatar and varying degrees of cruft surrounding the content.

Forums are a common choice for community leaders and prove to be popular, largely due to their simplicity. The largest forum in the world, Gaia Online, an Anime community, has 27 million users and over 2,200,000,000 posts. They are not alone: it is common for forums to have millions of posts and hundreds of thousands of users.

So, they are a handy tool in the armory of the community leader.

The thing is, I don’t particularly like them.

While they are simple to use, most forums I have seen look like 1998 vomited into your web browser. They are often ugly, slow to navigate, have suboptimal categorization, and reward users based on the number of posts as opposed to the quality of content. They are commonly targeted by spammers and as they grow in size they invariably grow in clutter and decrease in usefulness.

I have been involved with and run many forums and while some are better, most are just similar incarnations of the same dated norms of online communication.

So…yes…not a fan. :-)

Enter Discourse

Fortunately a new forum is on the block and it is really very good: Discourse.

Created by Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange Network, Discourse takes a familiar but uprooted approach to forums. They have re-thought through everything that is normal in forums and improved online communication significantly.

If you want to see it in action, see the XPRIZE Community, Bad Voltage Community, and Community Leadership Forum forums that I have set up.

Discourse is neat for a few reasons.

Firstly, it is simple to use and read. It presents a simple list of discussions with suitable categories, as opposed to cluttered sub-forums that divide discussions. It provides a easy and effective way to highlight and pin topics and identify active discussions. Users can even hide certain categories they are not interested in.

Creating and replying to topics is a beautiful experience. The editor supports Markdown as well as GUI controls and includes a built-in preview where you can embed videos, images, tweets, quotes, code, and more. It supports multiple headings, formatting styles, and more. I find that posts really come to life with Discourse as opposed to the limited fragments of text shown on other forums.

Discourse is also clever in how it encourages good behavior. It has a range of trust levels that reward users for good and regular participation in the forum. This is gamified with badges which encourages users to progress, but more importantly from a community leadership perspective, it provides a simple at-a-glance view of who the rock stars in the forum are. This provides a list of people I can now encourage and engage to be leaders. Now, before you get too excited, this is based on forum usage, not content, but I find the higher trust level people are generally better contributors anyway.

Discourse also makes identity pleasant. Users can configure their profiles in a similar way to Twitter with multiple types of imagery and details about who they are. Likewise, referencing other users is simple by pressing @ and then their username. This makes replies easier to spot in the notifications indicator and therefore keeps the discussion flowing.

Administrating and running the site is also simple. User and content management is a breeze, configuring the look and feel of most aspects of the forum is simple, and Discourse supports multiple login providers.

What’s more, you can install Discourse easily with docker and there are many hosting providers. While Jeff Atwood’s company has their own commercial service I ended up using DiscourseHosting who are excellent and pretty cheap.

To top things off, the Discourse community are responsive, polite, and incredibly enthusiastic about their work. Everything is Open Source and everything works like clockwork. I have never, not once, seen a bug impact a stable release.

All in all Discourse makes online discussions in a browser just better. It is better than previous forums I have used in pretty much every conceivable way. If you are running a community, I strongly suggest you check Discourse out; there simply is no competition.

Announcing the Community Leadership Summit 2015!

I am delighted to announce the Community Leadership Summit 2015, now in it’s seventh year! This year it takes place on the 18th and 19th July 2015, the weekend before OSCON at the Oregon Convention Center. Thanks again to O’Reilly for providing the venue.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the CLS, it is an entirely free event designed to bring together community leaders and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. The event provides an unconference-style schedule in which attendees can discuss, debate and explore topics. This is augmented with a range of scheduled talks, panel discussions, networking opportunities and more.

The heart of CLS is an event driven by the attendees, for the attendees.

The event provides an opportunity to bring together the leading minds in the field with new community builders to discuss topics such as governance, creating collaborative environments, conflict resolution, transparency, open infrastructure, social networking, commercial investment in community, engineering vs. marketing approaches to community leadership and much more.

The previous events have been hugely successful and a great way to connect together different people from different community backgrounds to share best practice and make community management an art and science better understood and shared by us all.

I will be providing more details about the event closer to the time, but in the meantime be sure to register!

Mixing Things Up

For those who have been to CLS before, I want to ask your help.

This year I want to explore new ideas and methods of squeezing as much value out of CLS for everyone. As such, I am looking for your input on areas in which we can improve, refine, and optimize CLS.

I ask you head over to the Community Leadership Forum and share your feedback. Thanks!

Bad Voltage and Ubuntu

I know many of my readers here are Ubuntu fans and I wanted to let you know of something neat.

For just over a year now I have been doing a podcast with Stuart Langridge, Bryan Lunduke, and Jeremy Garcia. It is a fun, loose, but informative show about Open Source and technology. It is called Bad Voltage.

Anyway, in the show that was released today, we did an interview with Michael Hall, a community manager over at Canonical (and who used to work for me when I was there).

It is a fun and interesting interview about Ubuntu and phones, release dates, and even sets a challenge to convince Lunduke about the value of scopes on the Bad Voltage Forum.

Go and listen to or download the show here and be sure to share your thoughts on the show in the community discussion.

The show also discusses the Soylent super-food, has predictions for 2015 (one of which involves Canonical), and more!

Finally, Bad Voltage will be doing our first live performance at SCALE in Los Angeles on Fri 20th Feb 2015. We hope to see you there!

Happy Holidays

Just a quick note to wish all of you a happy, restful, and peaceful holidays, however and whoever you spend it with. Take care, folks, and I look forward to seeing you in 2015!

The Impact of One Person

I am 35 years old and people never cease to surprise me. My trip home from Los Angeles today was a good example of this.

It was a tortuous affair that should have been a quick hop from LA to Oakland, popping on BArt, and then getting home for a cup of tea and an episode of The Daily Show.

It didn’t work out like that.

My flight was delayed. Then we sat on the tarmac for an hour. Then the new AirBart train was delayed. Then I was delayed at the BArt station in Oakland for 30 minutes. Throughout this I was tired, it was raining, and my patience was wearing thin.

Through the duration of this chain of minor annoyances, I was reading about the horrifying school attack in Pakistan. As I read more, related articles were linked with other stories of violence, aggression, and rape, perpetuated by the dregs of our species.

As anyone who knows me will likely testify, I am a generally pretty positive guy who sees the good in people. I have baked my entire philosophy in life and focus in my career upon the core belief that people are good and the solutions to our problems and the doors to opportunity are created by good people.

On some days though, even the strongest sense of belief in people can be tested when reading about events such as this dreadful act of violence in Pakistan. My seemingly normal trip home from the office in LA just left me disappointed in people.

While stood at the BArt station I decided I had had enough and called an Uber. I just wanted to get home and see my family. This is when my mood changed entirely.


A few minutes later, my Uber arrived, and I was picked up by an older gentleman called Gerald. He put my suitcase in the trunk of his car and off we went.

We started talking about the Pakistan shooting. We both shared a desperate sense of disbelief at all those innocent children slaughtered. We questioned how anyone with any sense of humanity and emotion could even think about doing that, let alone going through with it. With a somber air filling the car, Gerald switched gears and started talking about his family.

He told me about his two kids, both of which are in their mid-thirtees. He doted on their accomplishments in their careers, their sense of balance and integrity as people, and his three beautiful grand-children.

He proudly shared that he had shipped his grandkids’ Christmas presents off to them today (they are on the East Coast) so he didn’t miss the big day. He was excited about the joy he hoped the gifts would bring to them. His tone and sentiment was one of happiness and pride.

We exchanged stories about our families, our plans for Christmas, and how lucky we both felt to love and be loved.

While we were generations apart…our age, our experiences, and our differences didn’t matter. We were just proud husbands and fathers who were cherishing the moments in life that were so important to both of us.

We arrived at my home and I told Gerald that until I stepped in his car I was having a pretty shitty trip home and he completely changed that. We shook hands, shared Christmas best wishes, and parted ways.

Good People

What I was expecting to be a typical Uber ride home with me exchanging a few pleasantries and then doing email on my phone, instead really illuminated what is important in life.

We live in complex world. We live on a planet with a rich tapestry of people and perspectives.

Evil people do exist. I am not referring to a specific religious or spiritual definition of evil, but instead the extreme inverse of the good we see in others.

There are people who can hurt others, who can so violently shatter innocence and bring pain to hundreds, so brutally, and so unnecessarily. I can’t even imagine what the parents of those kids are going through right now.

It can be easy to focus on these tragedies and to think that our world is getting worse; to look at the full gamut of negative humanity, from the inconsequential, such as the miserable lady yelling at the staff at the airport, to the hateful, such as the violence directed at innocent children. It is easy to assume that our species is rotting from the inside out, to see poison in the well, and that the rot is spreading.

While it is easy to lose faith in people, I believe our wider humanity keeps us on the right path.

While there is evil in the world, there is an abundance of good. For every evil person screaming there is a choir of good people who drown them out. These good people create good things, they create beautiful things that help others to also create good things and be good people too.

Like many of you, I am fortunate to see many of these things every day. I see people helping the elderly in their local communities, many donating toys to orphaned kids over the holidays, others creating technology and educational resources that help people to create new content, art, music, businesses, and more. Every day millions devote hours to helping and inspiring others to create a brighter future.

What is most important about all of this is that every individual, every person, every one of you reading this, has the opportunity to have this impact. These opportunities may be small and localized, or they may be large and international, but we can all leave this planet a little better than when we arrived on it.

The simplest way of doing this is to share our humanity with others and to cherish the good in the face of evil. The louder our choir, the weaker theirs.

Gerald did exactly that tonight. He shared happiness and opportunity with a random guy he picked up in his car and I felt I should pass that spirit on to you folks too. Now it is your turn.

Thanks for reading.

About The Author

Jono Bacon is Director of Community at Github and formerly led community at Canonical and XPRIZE. He wrote The Art of Community, founded the Community Leadership Summit, and writes columns for Forbes and

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