What I will not be doing next

In January I had an opportunity to turn Hack Tyler into something more than it is today. It was a chance to elevate the effort to a higher profile, pursue larger projects and even gain some modest financial support. I planned extensively for this chance, wrote a careful announcement letter to the city council and solicited advice from many friends and colleagues.

I have decided not to pursue this opportunity.

Though my decisions are beholden to no one (more on this in a moment), I feel I should justify this choice, in part because I believe if I had pursued this opportunity the scope and impact of Hack Tyler projects could have expanded tremendously. In short, I’m walking away from the chance to do more good.

Hack Tyler, is andI intendalways will be, a rabbit hole for me. It is an opportunity to experiment and scratch my own itches. When I built Tyler Transit I knew it could be useful to many people, but that was not why I did it. I did it because I wanted it. I was my own user.

Were I to formalize Hack Tyler it would cease to become an outlet for my creative whims and intuitions. I would be making things because they are needed and not because I am passionate about them. This is a often a minor distinction, but the cumulative result is that the effort would begin to seem more and more like work until eventually I lost motivation.

I know this, because it’s already happened. I’ve forced myself to work on things, not because I was excited about them, but rather because I believe they are what Tyler needs most. This has dulled my interest in them and ultimately caused me to put them aside. This is entirely my own fault. In my enthusiasm for a good idea I began to view myself as a revolutionary instead of a tinkerer. I was wrong and the result is that I ceased to be personally invested in the projects. This isn’t good for me and it would almost certainly be fatal to any organized entity I might endeavor to form around the project.

I want to create great things for Tyler and I hope others are equally eager about the possibilities. However, I won’t turn Hack Tyler into something that I must manage. If I am to be excited about it, it must be for my own reasons—the real ones, not the ones I made up.

I can’t tell you how frequently I will be updating the site in the future, but I can guarantee that when I do it will be because I’m excited to share something I’m passionate about, not just something I believe is objectively important.

As an example, today I’d like to share with you a new, albeit minor, project:

2010 Census: Age diversity in Smith County

This is a map I made of Smith County age demographics using census data. It is also an experiment in designing a dot-density map to be color-blind friendly.

In addition, this map was a response to interest from Glory Development Corporation, a Tyler non-profit dedicated to building and rehabilitating affordable housing. This map was built to help them identify areas where there are concentrations of elderly residents. (I also made a separate, less busy version more specific to their needs.) They have big dreams and good ideas and I’m helping them because their passions overlap with mine. That, I believe, is where I am at my best and it is where I shall engage my efforts from this point on.

  1. hacktyler posted this
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