I'm joining O'Reilly

As GM, Radar.

I started a new job last week. I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined the O’Reilly team to focus on Radar.

My arrival here is the latest step of a long journey that probably began at ETech in March of 2007. I recall having dinner with Sara Winge at the show and a year later she asked me to contribute to Radar. Despite stuff like this she kept letting me hang around, and now here I am.

Starting someplace new is equal parts thrilling and exhausting. I’ve been drinking from a fire hose since I walked through the door, but it has been great. My first week just confirms that I landed my dream job. The team is fantastic, the opportunity is exciting, and right away my MTBIC plunged to near zero — if you haven’t seen me mention that on Twitter before, that’s mean time between interesting conversations. When it’s high, I can tell you, work is a dull dry desert. But it will be neither dull nor dry here. Working with people like Mike Loukides, Brady Forrest, Edd Dumbill, Sara Winge, Roger Magoulas, Alex Howard, Mike Hendrickson, Mac Slocum and of course Tim, Dale and the entire O’Reilly team will guarantee that.

Oh, and I stopped by the Make offices the other day. That might be the coolest few thousand square feet in corporate America — with more toys per square inch than I’ve ever seen in an office setting. Also, it smells like wood shavings and hot plastic, which is weirdly comforting. Right now the place is jumping as they get ready for Maker Faire later this month, so to get out of the way I wandered over to the build space to watch them test build a gadget that will automatically throw a ball to your dog. For hours. Genius.

Since you are reading this here, I should probably take a moment to clarify that Radar isn’t (just) a blog. It’s a broader sense-making function to tease signal from the line noise (aka press releases). It serves the rest of the O’Reilly Media businesses and will also continue to grow as a business in its own right.

As implied by the word “Radar,” we don’t view it as a passive activity. A radar return is the reflected energy of a directed pulse. We are listeners for sure, but if we are doing our jobs well it will be a kind of active listening where we prod and engage and stimulate reaction. Sometimes we’ll pick up the echo we expect, but we’ll be surprised a lot too. Which is good, because the absence of surprise is entropy.

Speaking of entropy, open systems can play a trick on the universe and maintain order by consuming energy and exhausting disorder. I’m making a sloppy analogy here, but I like to think that O’Reilly makes order from disorder through the ravenous consumption of ideas.*

Plugged into networks like Foo (Friends of O’Reilly), we create order for our businesses in the form of explanatory narrative. We shape, test, tell, adjust, and then re-tell stories that explain the future to ourselves. Then of course we share those stories here and through our books and conferences to test them and expand their reach. Which ones have the momentum of inevitability? Which need the nudge of a good meme to propagate? Which ones do we think will end up too attenuated by friction of the real as-is world to meaningfully effect the state of any realized future? And of course, what are the business, societal, and personal implications of these ideas in the wild?

This blog will keep on being an important public manifestation of our work on Radar and I hope that we can live up to the expectations of its history. We’ll be making some editorial focus tweaks in the near future to keep big themes that matter even more central, but at the same time we’ll try to keep things eclectic, unexpected, and just plain interesting, too. As things unfold please let us know what you like or don’t like in the comments. Thanks!

* The careful reader will have noticed that my analogy falls down a bit because unlike a biological or thermodynamic system we don’t exhaust disorder (I hope you agree).

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  • Kathy Sierra

    Wonderful news for Radar readers, Jim. And your description of the Make space was inspiring. While in theory *any* publisher could have seen the first glimmers of the current DIY trend, it was O’Reilly / Dale, etc. that understood it was far more meaningful than a fad.
    Looking forward to continued forward-thinking (and backward sense-making) work on Radar.

  • http://timewarnercable.wedocable.com/time-warner-cable-voice/ Mark_Vj

    That is a great news. Congrats on your new venture. Hope it is filled with success.

  • Steve Blackmon

    Very cool. I predict a good fit. Hopefully we will get to catch up at OSCON.

  • John B

    You exhaust disorder by tiring it out, overloading it with idea-floods and innovative concepts. Nothing wrong with that. *wry grin*

    (I love English… so many ways to play with words…)

  • http://kitplummer.github.com Kit Plummer

    Congratulations Jim. Maybe the Make(r) connection will prod you to actually do something with that freebie Arduino you’ve got sitting somewhere in your home office/dungeon. ;)

    Look forward to reading more of your intelligent postings.

    Kit

  • Bupkus

    Thank god for my Jim to English dictionary! Congrats on the new gig, they got a good one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mikebechtel Mike Bechtel

    Consider me subscribed.