It's not about you, it's about the community …
Happy New Years my readers! I hope the recent holidays treated you well regardless of your faith, persuasion, or geographic location. I wanted to take a quick break from all the heavy privacy chatter these past few months and tell a little story about the generosity of our community and one individual in particular.
If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed me cryptically tweeting “it’s not about you, it’s about the community” from time to time. I started sending this update as a subtle hint to a few folks who harp on and on about their accomplishments, products, and “research” in the Twitter #measure community … but sadly those folks never got the hint (so much for being subtle, huh?)
Over time the tweet became something larger — it became a reminder about what we all are capable of when we think about more than our own little world. “It’s not about you, it’s about the community” is about some of the greatest contributors in the history of web analytics, people like:
- Jim Sterne, who years ago realized that we needed a place to gather, and who wisely picked the Four Seasons Biltmore in Santa Barbara, California. While Emetrics may have become a profit-generating machine, those of you who know Jim and know history understand that the conference is as much about and for the community as it is anything else;
- Jim Sterne, Bryan Eisenberg, Rand Schulman, Greg Drew, Seth Romanow, and others who founded the Web Analytics Association years ago when it was clear that we needed some type of organizing body, committing themselves to hundreds of hours of work without thinking about how they would make money off of the effort;
- Jim Sterne (again!!!!) who has been making sure that we all know who is doing what where and when via his “Sterne Measures” email newsletter for as long as I can remember;
- Avinash Kaushik, Google’s famed Analytics Evangelist, who has long committed the profits from his books on web analytics to two amazing charities;
- Super-contributors to the Web Analytics Forum at Yahoo Groups, folks like Kevin Rogers, Yu Hui, Jay Tkachuk, and dozen more who still take the time to answer questions from newer members of this rapidly expanding community;
- Past and current Web Analytics Association Board members and super-volunteers, folks like Alex Yoder, Jim Novo, Raquel Collins, Jim Humphries, and so many more who give their time and energy every month to make sure the Association continues to evolve and grow;
- Activists and evangelists like my partner John Lovett, who in the midst of writing his first book on social media analytics has taken the time to shepherd our Web Analysts Code of Ethics effort through the Web Analytics Association Board of Directors;
- Everyone who has ever hosted a Web Analytics Wednesday event, including luminaries like Judah Phillips, June Dershewitz, Tim Wilson, Bob Mitchell, Emer Kirrane, Perti Mertanen, Alex Langshur, Anil Batra, Ruy Carneiro, Dash Lavine, Jenny Du, David Rogers, and way too many more folks to list who contribute their valuable time to help grow organic web analytics communities locally;
- All of the over 1,000 members of the Analysis Exchange, many of whom have contributed to multiple projects to make sure that nonprofit organizations around the world have access to web analytics insights;
- Dozens of others I am forgetting, and probably hundreds more I have never even met …
When I think about this list of people and their individual contributions to the web analytics community it is almost overwhelming — how lucky we are to have such considerate and giving friends! Still, people have been giving back for years and so it is rare that I see something or someone in the community that really blows me away …
Not everyone knows Jason Thompson, and I suspect he would be the first to admit that not everyone who knows him actually likes him, but if I had to pick one “web analytics super-hero” for 2010 Jason would be my hand’s-down, number one choice. See, Jason was smart enough to not just get the web analytics community to give back to our community, he managed to get our community to help provide clean water to an entire community in a developing nation.
Having worked repeatedly as a volunteer with Analysis Exchange Jason was introduced to charity:water, a nonprofit organization who’s vision is very simple: to provide clean, safe drinking water for everyone on the planet.
Not a great blog or free books, not data or solution profilers, but water that mothers can bring to their children. Clean, pure water that I would venture each and every one of the members of the web analytics community takes for granted and rarely even considers the source and its availability.
But Jason thought about it, and what’s more, Jason did something about it. Thanks to some cool new technology Jason was able to donate his 36th birthday to help raise $500. By leveraging Twitter and his web analytics community he was able to raise that $500 by December 18th. Having met his goal before his birthday Jason didn’t stop and settle, he set the bar higher, working first to raise $1,000, then $3,000, and finally $5,000, enough to provide water for an entire village – 80 people for 20 years.
Jason’s effort brought out the best in our community again, collecting donations from luminaries and lay-users alike … hell, he even got money from his mom! Some of the biggest names in web analytics helped Jason along, and donations large and small rolled in right up until Ensighten’s Josh Manion put in the last $300 on Jason’s birthday, putting him over the top and completing his final goal.
Honestly I don’t know Jason very well, but I do know passion and greatness when I see it. Jason once again served as a reminder that “it’s not about you, it’s about the community” and he did more than just tweet obnoxiously … he put his time and money where his mouth is and did something real.
Bravo, Mr. Thompson. Bravo.
If you don’t know Jason I highly recommend following him in Twitter (@usujason, if you’re into Twitter) and, if you see him at a conference or event do like I will and buy the man a drink. I for one am going to let Jason be an example of how I can work even harder to make a difference both inside and outside of the web analytics community in 2011 and beyond.
Hopefully some of you will do the same.