This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Coworking Book Out + Google Tech Talk on Earth-Like Exoplanet Detection Posted

Hey folks, I've been super quiet lately. I'm either posting on Ajaxian these days or mostly hunkering down coding the SVG toolkit I'm building.

Two cool things: there is now a coworking book out, called "I'm Outta Here!" (I originally started coworking). Buy it now or check out the blog.

Also, I invited Travis Metcalfe, an astrophysics researcher, to give a tech talk at Google recently entitled "Sounding the Stars With Genetic Algorithms" on his unique work involving earth-like exoplanets. The tech talk is now up on Youtube.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Article on Coworking in NYTimes

Another article appeared on coworking in the New York Times today; they have a few things wrong but its ok.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Coworking Roots, Coworking on CBS, and Cubes and Crayons Blogging Panel

Some coworking updates as I actually cowork with some friends out in Oakland; what's nice is we are actually doing some of the original ideas behind coworking. Any movement shifts and changes as it goes mainstream, dropping various aspects and picking up others, which is fine. However, one of the original ideas I had when I created coworking was to make it a bit more conscious around work. We've had checkins today, set goals, and asked for support in keeping them. Taken walks, did a silent lunch that was meditative, and more. I found with the original coworking space that folks didn't necessarily like the hippie aspect as much, but I do :) I wanted to pull some of the bohemian work atmosphere when I was at Esalen into a more traditional workspace.

CBS has a nice news piece that is syndicated nationally on coworking:

As the coworking meme continues to spread, its morphing into all sorts of interesting forms. The Cubes & Crayons is a really unique idea around creating coworking space for adults and child-care for your kids. Its a great way to get out of the house and get work done without getting distracted by your kids + knowing your kids are nearby having fun and getting childcare. I'll be speaking at Cubes & Crayons on a Blogging Basics panel happening soon. Here's the details, taken from their website:

Thursday, May 8 - Blogging Basics
Registration deadline May 6

7:00 - 7:30pm Cocktails and Networking
7:30 - 9:00pm Workshop
Are you interested in knowing more about the blogging phenomenon? Do you blog and are looking for inspiration and community? Come join us for a panel discussion with experts of the Blogosphere! Enjoy delicious desserts, meet our great panelists and have a fun evening! You will learn:
* The many purposes of blogging
* Blogging tips & tricks
* Which are some of the best blogs
* What to avoid when writing one
* About the panelists' expertise (such as monetizing and promoting one's blog)
Panelists include:
Jill Asher of SVMoms, is Partner and Co-founder, Silicon Valley Moms Group and mother of two daughters. In addition to SVmoms, Jill is a Human Resources consultant.
Stefania Pomponi Butler of CityMama is a professional writer and blog editor/producer who covers style, food, pop culture, and parenting with a cheeky twist. She often speaks on blog-related topics.
Eric Case currently is a freelancer at Vedana Consulting, is a very recent employee of Blogger, now owned by Google, having handled product management and developer relations.
Brad Neuberg is an internationally recognized software inventor, engineer, and open source consultant. In addition, Brad Neuberg created coworking, an international grassroots movement to found a new kind of workspace for the self-employed. His blog is he also writes for
Cost: $25 or $40 for this & Build-A-Blog Workshop on May 22 with Beth Blecherman of TechMamas
Reservations: 650.323.2551 or


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Coworking Away

I'm working today from Sandbox Suites, a coworking space in San Francisco. Sandbox Suites is really impressive; check out their web site to see pics.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Coworking in the New York Times and SF Chronicle

Lots of news from the coworking world lately. First, the New York Times published a great article "They're Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side":

CONTEMPLATING his career path a couple of years ago, a young computer programmer named Brad Neuberg faced a modern predicament. "It seemed I could either have a job, which would give me structure and community," he said, "or I could be freelance and have freedom and independence. Why couldn't I have both?"

As someone used to hacking out solutions, Mr. Neuberg took action. He created a word - coworking, eliminating the hyphen - and rented space in a building, starting a movement.

While coworking has evolved since Mr. Neuberg's epiphany in 2005, dozens of places around the country and increasingly around the world now offer such arrangements, where someone sets up an office and rents out desks, creating a community of people who have different jobs but who want to share ideas."

The SF Chronicle also had a front-page story on coworking as well. Its nice to see all the mainstream press on coworking!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MotherJones on Coworking

MotherJones has a cool new article on coworking, "Works Well With Others."

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Friday, September 14, 2007

New Coworking Space in Berkeley

There's now a new coworking space in Berkeley. Looks cool; I'll have to drop by. I started coworking a few years ago to create more community and sustainability for myself when I went independent.

There's so much traffic and activity on coworking now it's hard to keep up; see what the blogosphere is saying on coworking.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Video on Coworking: Independent Workers Unite

Ryanne and Jay have put up a great video going over the coworking movement; there are interviews with Chris Messina, Tara Hunt, and I:

Many people strive for the freedom that working for themselves and freelancing brings. You can work odd hours in your pajamas at home, travel to exotic locals but still be on the job, not have to clock in at an office. After the initial exhilaration of being independent cools a bit, there is something missing- co-workers and the social environment that working for a company can bring. Enter Co-Working. Co-Working is an idea that independent workers still want and need social interaction and structure during working hours. Going stir crazy working in your living room? Canít stand that Madonna remix album they keep repeating at the cafe? Want to bounce your ideas off some other geeks? Co-Working!

We started our Co-Working experience at The Hat Factory here in San Francisco. The most unexpected benefit, besides meeting great people, was the ability to separate work time from relax time- not an easy task for a freelancer. Our day schedule looked like this: Get up, go to Hat Factory, work for 6-8 hours, come home, put the computer to sleep, cook dinner, watch a movie. Hey, we didn't end up working for 12 hours today! We have a sustainable, not-burnt out life outside our work! Thanks Co-Working!

Thanks to Brad Neuberg and Chris Messina and Tara Hunt, from Citizen Space, for sitting down with us and explaining how Co-Working got started and what it all means. Get involved in starting your own Co-Working space by connecting to the folks already doing it! Check out the Co-Working Wiki, Blog and E-mail list.

See the blog post.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

Moving On: Coworking, Really Simple History, and Flash Storage

Every so often I look back over the projects I'm doing and take stock. I have a little inner thermometer that I check in on from time to time, and if I'm feeling stressed out and not having fun anymore it gives me information and a clue that I need to revisit what I've been doing. When I feel this, I create a Not Do Do List and figure out stuff that I need to let go of. Lately, I've been feeling stressed out and not having as much fun, feeling like there is a monkey on my back, so I've been doing things like morning pages, meditation, visual journaling, and other stuff to see what I need to change.

On a deeper level, I've been looking over what I'm good at and what I'm not good at. It seems my natural role is as an inventor pragmatist. I initially create an idea that is different than what is out there, envisioning something wierd and different, then do the hard work of making it initially pragmatic and real to prove to the world that it should be taken seriously whereas before it was ignored. Then, about a year or two down the line, others show up who have other skills that I am not as good at but are very important at this stage, such as community building, event planning, and more. I'm really good at brainstorming an idea, prototyping it, and then taking it into the initial reality stage with working code that can be used in the real world, in real software. I'm good at release 1 and 1.5, but not as good at release 2 and release 3. I'm not good at organizing groups of people, creating events, or cranking on the same code base once the initial idea and implementation has been proven to the community. I used to beat myself up about this, but I've realized that I just have to focus on what I'm good at and create situations where others can help me at the things I'm not as good at.

I've realized there are a number of projects that I created that have moved beyond this initial phase and are now successful and standing on their own legs, and it's time for me to find new maintainers for them and let them go, put them on my personal Not To Do List so to speak. These are coworking, the Really Simple History library, and Flash-based client-side storage. I need to find new maintainers for some of these projects so I can focus more time and attention on Dojo Offline. Also remember that almost all of the time I spend on these projects is free-time that I don't get paid for, and I only have so many hours in the day to hack on cool new stuff.


I created coworking about 2 years ago. I had been working for a startup, Rojo, and wanted to go into business for myself as a consultant. However, I somehow wanted the community and structure of a workplace with the independence and freedom of working for myself, so I created coworking. Coworking was a way for independent contractors and workers to have a common space to work from, rather than hacking from home, with a more community minded focus. I rented some funky space from a small non-profit called Spiral Muse and ran it for about 8 months. Through a nice coincidence the Spiral Muse space was where I met my sweetheart, Bekka Fink, at a party months before. We couldn't store permanent stuff at the space, so I had to setup folding card tables every morning when I got there then break them down at the end of the day. For the first month I had no one, and just went to the space and worked there by myself, going through the action of setting up the folding card tables and wondering if anyone would ever show up. Eventually I had a full house, with an eclectic group of folks: a screenplay writer, a computer researcher, an open source hacker rolling his own computer language, and others.

From time to time people would drop by who were interested in the idea of coworking but weren't able to join the Spiral Muse space. I would tell them "if you were to steal this idea and make it your own, what would you do?" They would then wander off, a seed planted.

I had to close the Spiral Muse space after about 8 months since it was hard to grow within it's small size and it was getting hard to staff it; during that time those folks who had dropped by to check out the space started banding together to create an even better space, one that was larger and open more days of the week. This was the Hat Factory space, in San Francisco.

Since then coworking has spread around the world, with spaces already in or forming in New York, Paris, and more. There is an active Google Group with hundreds of members and a very active wiki. Coworking has been covered by Business Week, the New York Post, and more. Chris Messina and Tara Hunt are now the most active leaders of the coworking movement and are instrumental in moving it forward, creating events, organizing, and more. I've stepped out of an organizing role in the coworking movement to focus on other projects and am no longer a member of a space.

Really Simple History

I created the Really Simple History (RSH) library about two years ago. It was one of the first libraries to effectively solve the history and bookmarking issues inherent with Ajax applications. I had two goals with RSH: one, to show that history and bookmarking were important in Ajax applications (most developers at the time thought you could just throw this feature out and ignore that you were working in a browser); and two, that you could achieve this in contemporary web browsers using various browser tricks.

Today, RSH is used by a huge number of websites to solve Ajax bookmarking and history issues; it is also integrated into alot of other open source projects. Members from the Yahoo YUI team and the Google GWT team have told me that the BSD-licensed Really Simple History code base and techniques were instrumental in their own history libraries. RSH has been written up in online articles and books, and is now used by developers in their daily practice. Respecting the back button and creating a bookmark mechanism are now accepted practices in the Ajax industry, so I don't need to beat that drum anymore.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to do any real work on RSH for about 1 1/2 years. Important work remains: doing better QA on Internet Explorer 7, using one of the various Safari history/bookmarking techniques that have been discovered, fixing some bugs that can occur in various edge cases, and more. My focus on Dojo Storage and Dojo Offline have not allowed me to do work on this library; I am constantly getting emails with bug fixes and inquiries, and I feel terrible that I haven't gotten a new release out the door for awhile.

I am looking for a new maintainer for the RSH library. I want to make sure I find someone who will treat it well because alot of folks depend on it, so if you are interested please email me (bkn3 AT AT and give me your qualifications, open source experience, and where you plan on taking the library.

Flash-Based Client-Side Storage

I've been hacking on the offline web problem for a few years. I knew before I could work on offline access to an application's user-interface, though, I had to figure out how to store data permanently on the client-side, beyond the 4K cookie limit. About 2 1/2 years ago I started searching around for a way to do this, experimenting with giant bookmarklets and other wierd stuff to see if I could find a clever back door. I then realized I could use a hidden Flash applet to store megabytes of info.

I rolled a prototype of this Flash based storage called AMASS (Ajax Massive Storage System) to see if the idea was tenable, and it turned out to work well. I then rolled another version of it and refactored it into Dojo, and got it to work in Safari as well; I also did a bunch of (grotty/interesting) hacks to get it super-fast for storing large datasets.

Once Flash-based storage stabilized, I moved on to the other part of the offline problem, which is finding your user-interface when you are away from the network, and rolled Dojo Offline in partnership with SitePen. Of course, one month after we released Google released Google Gears, a similar offline solution, so we created a partnership with them to port the Dojo Offline APIs on top of Gears. I'm in the middle of coding that port now. The next release of Dojo Offline will include a Dojo SQL module to use SQL-based storage, and a new Dojo Storage provider that uses Gears to store its data. Dojo Offline will no longer be dependent on the Flash Dojo Storage provider or the Firefox 2 Dojo Storage provider, and I would like to find a new maintainer for those. My preference for client-side storage is now to use Dojo Storage in conjunction with Google Gears. There are a number of startup companies that are using the Flash storage provider, however, and many users have told me they want to keep it; there are a number of enterprises that are also using it. I will port the Flash Storage Provider to the new Dojo 0.9 release that is coming out soon, but moving forward I would only like to personally maintain the GearsStorageProvider and the public Dojo Storage API. There are a number of cool performance and bug fixes that folks would like to get into the Flash Storage Provider, and this would be a great way to get your feet wet with the Dojo project. Please email me (bkn3 AT AT your qualifications, open source experience, and future plans for the Flash Storage Provider if you would like to take this on.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New York Post Article on Coworking

The New York Post just published a great article on coworking on Monday:

"Coworking" is a relatively new term - it was coined a few years ago by Brad Neuberg, a 31-year-old open-source programmer in San Francisco.

"I was working for a start-up, and I really wanted to go into business, but I was afraid I would miss the community and structure of a workplace," he says.

So he founded a shared office space in a women's art center, and since then he's become something of a coworking evangelist, encouraging people to start spaces and managing a wiki page with its own blog, links to coworking spaces all over the world, and instructions on how to start your own space.

As Neuberg acknowledges, the concept of sharing office space isn't new. But coworking is more than just sharing space, he says.

"It's very specifically about creating a community," says Neuberg. "It's like the difference between a coffee shop and a restaurant. At a restaurant, you're there in your own little space; you may have a friend with you, but you're not there to meet people. People at coffee shops are a little more social."

Read more.

In the print edition there is also a sidebar with further info; read the sidebar online.

Quick note: the article implies I started the coworking wiki; in fact, this was Chris Messina's idea and action, and it was instrumental in coworking blowing up.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Hey Seth, you should try coworking!


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Coworking in Philly

The coworking train keeps rolling on:

dangerouslyawesome: "Weekends lose a bit of luster when you work at home.": "Enter coworking. Coffee shop culture, bohemian creativity, and migrant some of the structure and collaboration of an office-like setting. It's beautiful, really. Not only are you paying for a space at a desk (rather than paying for overpriced coffee with the hopes of having one of the comfy chairs by the window), but you're paying for exposure, you're paying for opportunity, you're paying for networking."


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