Adam Mico asked me to write about what the Tableau Community means to me. That inspired me to create a blog and make this piece my first post.
I used to roll my eyes at the thought of identifying myself with any corporate product. I have friends who love Apple and would wait in line for new iphones when they came out; or who love Disney and go there again and again as adults. While I respect my friends and appreciate the value of beautiful technology or movies, I never quite got why they *felt* so strongly about an entity that is simply selling products.
So I’m surprised to discover the fierce warmth and loyalty I do now feel for the Tableau community, which has given me so much in recent years, and which I hope to support to my utmost ability. It took the amazing and selfless contributions of many, many people for me to finally realize that a real community could, in fact, be centered around a company and a product. First off it was Andy Kriebel and Eva Murray contributing hundreds of hours to run Makeover Monday, a community project that has allowed me (and so many others) to improve enormously in my Tableau and data visualization skills. They are relentless contributors, motivators, and teachers, who work tirelessly week after week to create a structure that I know has made a huge difference in my own work, and inspired me to work on projects I’m incredibly proud of and would not have done otherwise. Andy and Eva are the gatekeepers for my Tableau community experience, and I can’t thank them enough.
I soon realized that after Andy and Eva, it’s selfless contributors all the way down. It’s Viz for Social Good, Project Health Viz, Sports Viz Sunday, Iron Quest, and other community projects run by hard-working and talented volunteers, which develop skills and often help worthy causes. It’s innovators creating new visualization techniques like Kevin Flerlage’s “no polygons”, Neil Richards’ petal chart, Alexander Varlamov’s animated parliament chart, and so many others just in the last year or so, all of whom have freely shared their new techniques. It’s bloggers like Lindsay Betzendahl, Rosario Guana, and Ken Flerlage, to name just a few, who take time to explain techniques and even develop and share templates to make complex chart creation easy. It’s all the people who take the time to give me feedback on my Makeover Mondays. It’s all the people who post answers to Tableau questions on the community site so that when I google a Tableau question at work, I get an answer 99% of the time. It stuns me how many talented and busy people put so many hours into helping me (and others) out.
The thing that really cemented the community aspect for me was meeting all the people I knew through twitter at my first Tableau conference last year. They recognized me, and seemed happy to see me! That was the best feeling in the world.
Even though we all live in the Boston area, I first got to know Kate, Paula, and Michelle through Makeover Monday/twitter, which led to us meeting in person at the Boston TUG. That has led in turn to getting to know other Boston TUGers and deepening my involvement. As someone who doesn’t do well in large rooms of people I don’t know, I really appreciate having folks I know and who welcome me; I hope I can do the same for other folks I don’t know.
The Tableau community is special, and I appreciate the things that Tableau has done to encourage this community to grow. Salesforce, please don’t mess it up!