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Come Aboard: Inspiring an Empathic Future-friendly Army

By Lyza Gardner

Published on June 19th, 2012


This past weekend, Jason and I were fortunate enough to participate in the second installment of "Mobilewood", a retreat-like gathering of hardcore mobile web nerds on Cape Cod. Last fall, we gathered in rural Tennessee to create the Future Friendly manifesto and web site. This time around, we spent some time revisiting the core tenets of Future Friendly and iterating on some of its values.

One of the outcomes of the weekend is the new Come Aboard page, which replaces our original "resources" page. In this new section, we’re aspiring to lay a groundwork of the championing of the Future Friendly concepts. That is, we want to "teach to teach", to build a happy family of Future-friendly mobile web adherents.

We invite you to come aboard the Future Friendly rocketship and be a part of the crew!

A chief concept of our Come Aboard mentality? Don’t be an asshole. It’s easy to get sucked into the deflating grind of Internet fury and become dogmatic or reactive (or, like me sometimes, retreat altogether in the face of trolls). Instead of taking a rigid stance, we want to encourage thoughtful conversations across teams, across organizations, across the earth.

Of late, I have been in several meetings at large organizations that have similar themes. A dozen or so smart people are sitting around a large conference table, brought in from multiple disciplines in the company to discuss mobile strategy. Each time, I see the two or three developers in the room enthusiastic, simmering with impatience to start hacking away on some of the mobile techniques they’ve recently learned. On the other side of the table, the strategic leaders of the company are also keen to move into the mobile web, but are frustrated with what seems like an invasive, entire overhaul of the company’s infrastructure just to make small steps. The marketing folks, on the other hand, are wary about how to translate their processes and metrics (key analytics that drive the shape of the company’s goals) into this new realm.

So the main question I had in mind while participating in the discussion that lead to Come Aboard was: How can we help all of these smart people communicate with each other?

One of the criticisms we faced after the first launch of Future Friendly was that the manifesto and site were long on lofty ideals but short on rubber-meets-road tactics. In fact, I recall being one of the vocal ones at our first Mobilewood—I wanted to see more links to more specific examples of how to build this beautiful mobile web of which we spoke.

But the thing is, as Brian LeRoux points out: all specific techniques deprecate—it’s the principles that endure. Our charter is concerned with forging these principles; the implementation(s) will continue to evolve. Not that implementation doesn’t matter. We’ve updated the various pages of the site to link to specific people and content that address how to actually pull this stuff off.

But I realized that Future Friendly’s greatest strength is in its touchstone qualities. A set of core principles, that, when combined with the goals of a project, lead naturally to a set of applicable techniques and technologies. Cool!

Honored to be involved. Let’s go!