What’s up with me, mid-January edition

After taking a couple of months fairly completely off (sleeping, doing some writing, and plenty of hanging out with Deborah), as January gets going I’m starting to re-engage, so I figured it’s about time for another “what’s up” post….

The biggest news is that I’m going to be starting a consulting gig in early February. Before we get to that, though, I want to put it in context: my top priorities for 2008 are working on Tales from the Net — we want to get a solid draft done and a contract in place by the end of the year — and training to to climb Mount Kilamanjaro in early 2009. Yes, really.

We’ve talked for ten years about trekking in the Himalayas (and in fact when my company got acquired by Microsoft 8+ years ago, I specifically called out that I’d want to take a six-week unpaid leave of absence for this) and it never happened. A bunch of people we met on tribe.net started talking about Kilimanjaro last fall and the more we heard the more intrigued we got; so now we’re act the active planning stage. Of course, plans like this have fallen through for us in the past, so who knows for sure … however, we’re both really psyched about it — and now I’ve blogged about it, so I’m committed!

After a lot of early discussions, in the last couple weeks we’ve started buckling down and getting to work on Tales from the Net. We’re outlining it and dividing up the ares we’ll focus on, flagging some of the potential stories we’re interested in, and starting to discuss with others in-person and online — witness my current intervention in the Economist’s debate (better links coming soon). We’ll be heading down to LA in early February and spend some time there talking with my brother (a screenwriter, kid’s poet, and blogger); that should help clarify our thinking a lot. I’m blogging about this on the book’s blog, so in general expect to see a lot fewer social computing-related stories here on Liminal States. Although of course many stories cross the boundaries …

And now onto the consulting gig … we’re still finalizing the details, but as of February 1 it looks like my new as-yet-unnamed consulting practice specializing in strategy and social computing has its first client. It’s a startup in the software engineering space, and so it’s also great chance to take another look at some areas I hadn’t spent a lot of time on in the last couple of years … and, speaking of culture change, help pursue the kinds of changes that were discussed by the National Academies/CSTB Sufficient Evidence Committee I was on a few years ago. So expect to see more software- and systems-related stories, such as the Boeing 787 network coupling. It’s also a great chance to catch up with the stories from the static analysis field; I’ve heard that companies trying to sell to Cisco are still up against the entrenched competition from Intrinsa’s PREfix, even though it went off the market 8 years ago. I have mixed feelings about being a ‘grand old man’ of any field but as they say, if the high-heel fits, wear it — and there’s no question that it’s a major asset. Speaking of which, I’ll be using a lot of asset-based thinking (abt) techniques in this initial gig — for example, we’re planning an “asset discovery workshop” — and will try to find the time to blog about them.

I’ve been doing a lot of writing — as well as the blogging, the short story I’ve been working on (on a wiki, of course) turned into a treatment for a novel. Gulp. In a discussion on a message board, I had remarked that “the artist needs to realize that his Muse has control, not him” and as the name implies The anomaly and the goddesses has many Muses, so I guess I should have expected it. Still. There are worse problems to have.

One of the good reasons to do posts like this is it makes me realize just how much I’ve got going on. One of my goals for the year is to keep things at a much more sustainable and lower-stress level, and at least for me too much time pressure is always a huge source and magnifier of stress. So it’ll be interesting to see how I balance things. [Or do I mean “if”? No, no, I definitely mean “how”.]

It’s all good though … and in general, I’m in a great mood — excited, optimistic, and surprisingly relaxed. 2008’s off to a fine start — and we’re already planning for 2009 to be starting off with a peak experience. Get it? Peak experience????