While the Word-A-Day Challenge has only completely it's second year, it is already a labor of love for me. Last year the idea struck (as they so often do) in an unanticipated "a-ha!" moment, and with barely enough time to see it realized. As I explained at the time, the words were re-cycled from another word-a-day challenge I take part in yearly.
This year was different. I had time to think and plan, and that was especially true of the list of words I wanted to present to the THWACK community. I knew they had to be special. Important. Meaningful not just as words can be in their own right, but meaningful to us in the IT world.
As I selected the words for the word-a-day challenge, I looked for ones with a particular feel and heft:
- They had to be clearly identifiable as technology words
- More than that, they needed to be words which have an enduring place in the IT lexicon
- And they needed to also be words which have a significant meaning outside of the IT context
In addition to hoping that words with those attributes would inspire discussion and offer each writer a variety of options for inspiration, I was also curious to see which way the ark of conversations in the comments would bend for each. Would the community focus solely on the technical aspect? Would they avoid the tech and go for the alternate meanings? Would there be representation from both sides?
To say that the THWACK community exceeded my wildest imaginings would actually be understatement (a crime I've rarely been accused of). Here at the end of 31 days of the challenge, the answer to my question is a resounding "all of the above". In writing, images, poems, and haiku, you left no intellectual stone un-turned.
More than that, however, was how so many of us took a technical idea and suggested ways we could use the same concepts to improve ourselves; or conversely, how we could take the non-technical meaning of a word and apply THAT to our technical lives. And through it all was a constant message of "we can do better. we can be better. we have so much more to learn. we have so much more to do."
And even more fundamentally, the message I read time and time again was "we can get there together. as a community. we can help each other be better."
For me, it brought to mind a quote by Michael Walzer:
"We still believe, or many of us do, what the Exodus first taught...
- first, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt;
- second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land;
- and third, that 'the way to the land is through the wilderness'.
There is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching."
I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their hectic end-of-year schedules - sometimes in their personal time over evenings and weekends - to comment so thoughtfully. And in that same vein I'm deeply grateful to the 22 writers who generated the 31 "lead" articles - 12 of whom this year came from the ranks of our incredible, inimitable, indefatigable THWACK MVP's. If you missed out on any of the days, I'm listing each post below to give you yet another chance to catch up.
Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the dedicated THWACK community team for helping manage all the behind-the-scenes work that allowed the challenge to go off without a hitch this year.
I am humbled to have had a chance to be part of this, and I'm already thinking about the words, ideas, and stories I hope we can share in the coming year.