Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hello. Would you like some data with that opinion?

Now that I've posted several pieces, it's clearly past time to introduce myself.

So, who the hell am I? (h/t tlg)

I am a lifetime (GNBs lifetime, not mine) reader of GNB. I'm sorry to say that I was not a regular reader of the original NB, largely because my Google Reader page (after trimming) has 139 feeds and 693 unread postings. I'm going back over Gilly's writing now wherever I can find it.

You might think of me as an information junkie.

But let's be slightly more formal, shall we?

My name is Evan Robinson. I am an American citizen living (as a Permanent Resident, the Canadian equivalent of a green card) in the Lower Mainland (that's the Vancouver, BC metro area) for the last four years. I am one class, 1.5 semesters, and a "project" (thesis equivalent) away from completing my Management of Technology MBA at Simon Fraser University's Segal Graduate School of Business. I blog elsewhere as well, but it seems crass to pimp my own blog here, so I won't. Although "Robinson" and variants is at least the 12th most common English surname, it is no coincidence that I share that surname with the witty, talented, intelligent, and beauteous redheaded blogger Sara Robinson, because we've known each other more than two decades and lived together for almost 13 years. And I love her dearly.

Before coming to Canada (for the weather and the cheap housing, and that's no lie), I had a 20+ year career in Silicon Valley as a programmer, game developer, technical director, project manager, engineering manager, and consultant. I've worked for, with, or consulted for Electronic Arts, 3DO (r.i.p.), The Sierra Network/I.N.N./AT&T, Adobe, Rocket Science Games (r.i.p.), Linden Labs, and the Internet Chess Club. I believe I've been part of six startups (but that number is fuzzy, as is my memory of some of those short-lived startups).

As I child and teen, I tried very hard to work my way through the entire 940.53 and .54 sections of the Eugene, OR, public library system. That led to and complemented a deep interest in what were then called "conflict simulations" and now we would refer to as "wargames." Largely sold by SPI and Avalon Hill, they were the precursors to today's real-time-strategy computer games, and they led me directly into a long period of paper gaming, from boardgames to wargames to early role-playing games (somewhere in storage I have a tattered and decrepit copy of one of the first 1000 of the original 3 volume D&D sets, complete with rat pee stain upon the cover of volume 2).

Before moving to California I spent a memorable year working in Lake Geneva, WI, for TSR Hobbies, the publishers and distributors of Dungeons & Dragons, where I got my first taste of writing and editing for a living. I didn't care for it. That job exposed me to computer games for the first time (Computer Quarterback, the legendary Dan Bunten/Dani Berry's second game) which led me back to California to get a BA in Computer and Information Sciences from UC Santa Cruz with the intent of working in computer games.

Do you have any idea how embarrassing it was to talk about post-college job plans? "I'm going to work for IBM." "I've got a job at Victor Computer." "I'm going to Apple." "I've got a job at this new startup called Borland." "I'm going to write computer games."

What Nietzsche said.

As I mentioned in my health care post and comment, I practice Kenpo 2000 (a variation of Ed Parker's American Kenpo) at Shayne Simpson's Pacific Northwest Karate Center in Bellingham, WA. I also work out at my local USSD dojo in North Vancouver, BC. I studied American Kenpo under John Sepulveda in Santa Clara for about four years in the early 90s. I love this study: it provides me with physical exercise, mental stimulation, an opportunity to use my analysis skills, to learn, mentor, and teach. Adjunct studies include fitness, diet, physical motion, and weapons (notably sticks and knives).

I love Zombies. If you haven't read Max Brooks' Zombie Survival Guide, you should. Just in case.

I'm a voracious reader. I've just finished Gary Taubes' fantastic book on the science and studies of obesity, diabetes, and diet, Good Calories, Bad Calories and H.G. Wells 1904 cautionary tale The Food of the Gods and how it came to Earth. In my bag right now for daily reading is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman's On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. In the last few months I've also read: The Mind Map Book (Buzan), Fighting Science (Sprague), Why Most Things Fail (Ormerod), The Innovator's Dilemma (Christensen), The Black Swan (Taleb), Fooled by Randomness (Taleb), The Tipping Point (Gladwell), Linked (Barabasi), Emergence (Johnson), The Wisdom of Crowds (Surowiecki), The 4-Hour Work-Week (Ferriss), Ubiquity (Buchanan), and Made to Stick (Heath & Heath). Some of this reading is informed by the MBA program, some is just because I like to read.

Left to my own devices, I use Macs exclusively. I've spent most of my professional career (since 1985) programming, working on, and working with IBM PCs and Wintel machines. I didn't care for it. So I carry an iBook or a PowerBook and have a dual G5 tower at home for the big screen or CPU intensive tasks.

Penultimately, (and if you've made it down this far, I thank you. No, I thank you!), what's that title all about?

I love analysis. Taking numbers, divining the nature of reality from them and using that divination to inform decision making is something I've recently discovered that I love. It's not surprising, because I was raised by Statisticians (it's like being raised by Wolves, except that dinnertime conversation involves more numbers and less howling), but it's something I wasn't given much of an outlet for until the MBA program. If I could get a job (and I'm trying to) with a team doing strategic analysis for a living, I'd be very happy. Few if any of my posts will require extensive math to read, but I hope that many of them will have a solid background of data distilled down into easily digestible chunks.

Lastly, my apologies for my love of parenthetical remarks. Consider it a foible of an old c/c++ programmer, and hope that my editor will be able to cure me.

I'm happy to be here. It's an honour to join "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers" at GNB.

And post-ultimately, I must disclose that I suffer from occasionally severe bouts of paronomasia. You have been warned.