Congregating in Cong with CongRegation

CongRegation is a social media conference taking place in Cong, County Mayo this Saturday. It has the novel attendance requirement that entrance to the event can only be had by the prior submitting of a blog post.

The net effect of this strategy is to recreate the online level playing field that you find on services such as Twitter and Facebook on the ground, in real life, with real people.

It is a safe assumption that anyone reading this would be using social media for a number of purposes, probably on a daily basis.

We know it is not a perfect medium. There are concerns with privacy issues, intrusive advertising, control over how far and how fast a post can propagate, and so on.

But there are also tremendous benefits of the sort that often lead me to reflect on how I ever got by without the life enhancing ability to share a passing thought or a fleeting experience with friends and strangers as I go about my day.

On top of that is the killer plus of being able to easily and cheaply stay in touch with loved ones and old friends who are distant in time and space but not in my heart.

To help assemble your thoughts there are four general themes:

Research Stream: For those into analysis
How to Stream: For the sharing of tools and techniques
Social Stories: Share your edifying tales of derring do
Social Media Rants: Who doesn’t have one of those to share?

Eoin Kennedy instigated CongRegation as a response to two specific challenges.

The first one is that at many conferences and seminars when it comes to consider the material presented in conversation with others and discuss any gleaned insights it is time for everyone to go home. A vital opportunity to share information is missed.

“By creating a structure where people can share what they are going to talk about [beforehand] they can use the blog as a catalyst to share insights. People would learn from each other rather than from the ‘experts’.”

His second challenge was to prove that rural locations in Ireland could host and support activities such as this. “If they coordinate everything effectively and are creative about it, they can run these type of events.”

The cost of entry is simply to take half an hour or so to jot down a few words on a service that, very likely, you use daily and, equally likely, have an opinion that is just calling out to be shared. Plus, I can personally vouch that Cong is one one the nicer places to spend a day out in Ireland.

The Secret to Getting Others to Cheer for You

My younger brother was the nicest guy one could ever meet. Everyone loved him. He was a good listener and after he heard what someone was up to, had a phrase that he always repeated. The phrase was, “I’m so happy for you, man.”

It could have been a new car, a new girlfriend, a new job or winning the lottery, his response was always the same, “I’m so happy for you, man.” The thing was, he was always happy with others’ success. He cheered for others, so others cheered for him. He was one of those rare people who did not suffer from Schadenfreude.

Schadenfreude is a complicated word that is simple to explain and a malady from which we all suffer. Schadenfreude is when we derive pleasure from the misfortunes of others. It’s when your buddy didn’t get the promotion and you tell him how sorry you are but your heart is bursting with joy at his disappointment. It’s when the Facebook IPO doesn’t go well and you can barely contain your happiness.

We all have it, a little secret glee in another’s troubles; some have it more than others. A component of Schadenfreude includes when we suffer quietly at the success of others. Gore Vidal put it best, when he said, “Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.” Which brings me to the Twitter IPO. Good for them. Whether they deserve the success or not, good for them.

Sometimes the fall from grace was deserved and Schadenfreude is justified. That’s a rare occurrence.

Who hasn’t read with too much interest the plight of lottery winners after they collect the dough. Some of us are just a little happier after the story of the lotto winner who then suffers from drug addiction, ill-behaved relatives and health problems. People Magazine usually features these lotto winners just to play on our sense of Schadenfreude.

Dictionaries have a hard time with the antonym for Schadenfreude because the emotion is so complex. One could be compassion, maybe. I don’t know what the opposite word for it is, but it couldn’t be more simple: If you want others to cheer for you, genuinely cheer for them. Like my brother so often repeated, “I’m so happy for you, man.” That includes all the new millionaires at Twitter.

This post was originally posted on LinkedIn. You can also follow Rich Moran on LinkedIn for more posts.

Gilt Invites Irish Web Community to Participate in Free Tech Courses

While we often associate the burgeoning ICT sector in Ireland with the big corporate names like Google and Facebook, we must also remember that there is an ecosystem of players ranging from multinationals and startups to consultancy firms and research centres, providing synergies and exchanging skills, knowledge and talent. One such effort is a series of tech courses from premier online fashion retailer the Gilt Groupe, the next of which is an introduction to the Hadoop platform on November 18.

Dr Michael Hausenblas, Chief Data Engineer at MapR Technologies and formerly of DERI, NUI Galway, will give the next free eight-hour course, which is open to the public to attend. Running from 10 AM to 6 PM on the 18th of November at the Clarion IFSC, the course will educate attendees on all major aspects of data processing with Hadoop.

In late August and early September of this year, Gilt offered two eight-hour “Introduction to Scala” sessions, which were taught by their own engineers. Developers from Amazon, Roamware and other companies joined Gilt’s own engineers in learning the fundamentals of the Scala programming language. A similar effort run by Gilt in New York taught the R statistical analysis environment to 60 attendees.

Gilt picked Dublin as the location for its first European software development centre two years ago, and employs 150 people across its Dublin and Limerick locations. We asked Lauri Apple from Gilt what was the motivation for running this series of tech courses in Dublin.

“We’re passionate about the technologies we use, and curious about emerging technologies that might help us innovate faster and better,” said Lauri. “Hadoop is a technology we’re exploring, so we wanted to give our engineers the opportunity to gain some basic skills and also invite others in the Dublin tech community to learn with us. It’s our way of giving back to the community.

“A few months ago we offered a beginners-level course in Scala – the programming language that we’ve been migrating all our services to since 2011. More than 50 non-Gilt engineers signed up for that course and learned fundamental Scala skills from our engineers, in our office.

“Everyone learned something: the attendees learned the fundamentals of one of the most exciting new programming languages around, and our engineers got to brush up on their teaching skills. As it turned out, we hired two of the Scala course attendees – that was a nice bonus effect!”

The course on the 18th November will go through all of the underlying principles for Hadoop (e.g. data locality, schema-on-read), explaining the main Hadoop components (including distributed file systems and MapReduce) and reviewing the Hadoop ecosystem (Hive, HBase, etc.), as well as touching on upcoming projects. Being a practical tutorial, Dr Hausenblas will also lead the audience step-by-step through an end-to-end Hadoop application – from data ingestion to manipulation and serving – following the Lambda architecture.

You can register now for this free course on Hadoop here.