Reading Rainbow for the Next Generation

I was extremely excited to learn that there was a Kickstarter project to bring back Reading Rainbow. Watching it absolutely crush it’s funding goals has been quite the experience. I grew up watching the show. I want my kids to be able to experience the joy of learning and reading it gave to me as well. If you haven’t backed the project yet, think about it?

Sharpening Creativity

At some point during my life I stopped drawing. I don’t remember when it happened exactly, although I’m almost certain I stopped because of computer-aided design.

As I’ve been preparing for my talk at GIANTConf next month, I realized I hadn’t been pushing myself much lately. I stopped doing things that I loved because I was too hard on myself — and frankly, too lazy to continue pursuing them. Once I realized this, I started drawing again. Some of it’s been based on pictures I’ve found online. Some of it’s been based on toys I own. Some of it’s been completely freeform. But all of it’s been incredibly liberating.

Creativity, left unused, is a blade that dulls over time. Practice is the only way to sharpen it and improve.

Am I where I want my skills to be at yet? Nope. But I know that the only way to get there is to keep trying. I’m still overly critical of what I’ve been working on lately, but I know that I’ll get better if I keep with it.

Deciding not to do something because you can’t do it well is a cop out. I’m tired of having a dull blade.


Building a Better Community.

When I started Refresh Augusta in 2008, I had no idea what I was doing. (Hell, I still don’t.) In the past six years, the one thing I’ve learned is that running a group of any size and keeping its members interested month after month is a lot of work. Having the right tools makes it easier to make things happen.

One of the challenges I faced early on was creating a site that’d be able to capture a record of our past events and enable me to communicate future events with members. Early on, I had a basic static site that I manually updated from time to time. Then I switched to using WordPress + BuddyPress?—?a combination that worked well enough, but getting people to use the social network parts of it was a challenge. I posted recordings on Vimeo. I posted photos on Flickr and Facebook. Some of it made it onto the site. Most of it did not. Trying to manage all of this stuff as the only organizer wasn’t fun. I half-assed it.

Two summers ago, I killed the BuddyPress-powered site and started using Meetup. Paying monthly/quarterly for something I could potentially host on my own sucked, but I quickly came to the realization that I wasn’t ever going to have the time to build what I wanted on my own. has served our group well. Several members wouldn’t have heard about Refresh Augusta if not for Meetup. But in trying to appeal to groups of all kinds, it can’t and won’t be able to meet the needs of them all.

I’ve long admired what’s been done with the Atlanta Web Design Group. I’ve made the drive from Augusta to Atlanta countless times to hear their speakers. This past February, I even had the opportunity to speak in front of them. They’re using Meetup for their community only because viable alternatives don’t exist.

Here are some of the reasons I’m excited about their Kickstarter project:

  • As an organizer, I’m excited because of the plan to open source whatever gets built for AWDG. That could help me eventually create a website that better serves the groups I’m involved with.
  • As an out-of-town AWDG member, I’m excited because I’ll be able to access talks I’m not able to attend (when they’re able to archive them properly).
  • As a designer/developer and former full-time freelancer, I’m excited that those working on the project will be compensated for their time. If you had to choose between work that paid your bills or work that helped a web community, most of us would probably opt to earn money first, right?

Success in Atlanta brings greater attention to the rest of Georgia. Great things are being done in our state and cities like Augusta, Athens, Columbia, Savannah benefit from the exposure.

Contributing to the AWDG Kickstarter will help them grow and it’ll benefit groups similar to theirs far and wide. I’m in. Are you?