When the GLC came to town, I had a specific purpose and deliberate angle to work. Simple and direct. They are users, and I’m a product manager. The transaction is clear and age-old: Tell me what you want, I’ll try to make it happen. Sure, I joined the group for some other sessions and some bike riding, but my full intention was to squeeze out all the input and feedback I could get. But this community, as it has before, once again surprised me. They are (almost) as committed to the NetSquared platform as I am.
It is a unique thing to work in a place, for a community of users, who want you to succeed. I knew enough about these guys to expect honest, constructive feedback. I didn’t expect, and was blown away by, their interest in and devotion to building a good platform.
What You Expect: Schadenfreude
What I’m more used to is the reactions we always see when something new happens in the tech world. Take Instagram. When Facebook announced on Monday that it was purchasing Instagram for a billion dollars, social media predictably exploded with doomsayers and malcontents. From “Dear Facebook, please don’t ruin instagram” to an avalanche of snarky tweets, some Instagram loyalists and Facebook detractors were clearly resigned to -- even gleeful about -- the prospect that the site will fail in new hands.
Anyone who lives in the web world expected this. You see these reactions on the social web pretty anytime a big change happens -- and you see it through a fun-house mirror when you're the one who made the change happen. Before coming to TechSoup and joining the NetSquared team, I was working in Silicon Valley on Amazon.com’s search group. I was senior software engineer on the team that built query completion (you know, you start typing a search and it finishes your thought for you -- like magic), and I remember the reactions when we first rolled it out. It was annoying, intrusive, inaccurate; how could we possibly know what you wanted to search for? What were you wacky Amazon engineers thinking?
You get used to it. Then, of course, people starting using it and they came to love it. An inflection happened sometime after the first few months, a true indication that the feature was doing well -- if we had turned off query completion, users would have been even more annoyed than when we turned it on.
What You Get: Better Together
And this is what I learned from the face-to-face time with GLC. NetSquared folks not only have great ideas and constructive feedback, they want the new NetSquared platform to be good. They want it to be awesome. Their contributions for copy/content, themes, and design were just as useful as I was hoping for, but the real lesson for me is that this is a real community, in every sense of the word. We’re all in it together. We’re rolling out the new platform in July. Keep an eye here on the blog, or follow @laneystrange on Twitter to keep up and weigh-in. Stay tuned -- we make for a good team.