I'm exceedingly pleased with myself.
Not generally comfortable making long-term plans, I started out 2009 – my hiatus year; you know, the one I'd use to figure out what I want to do next – with one goal: to end up working doing something fascinating, with good people and not for a big company I'd feel terrible leaving after a couple of years when the novelty and idealism would wear off.
I just sort of left it at that, brewing at the back of my mind while I tooled around learning how not to work. (It took me four months to learn how not to work.)
Occasionally I'd have a flash of clarity and realize I was on the right track. Mostly this happened after having a spectacular coffee date. I had a lot of coffee dates with a lot of interesting people. It's people that lead to work, see. So in addition to having fun, I knew the more people I talked with, the more likely it would be that work would find me.
Then one day in August my friend Zak, who'd become a frequent coffee date, invited me to the office of his new startup to meet his business partner Martin and have a “tour” of their 8-square-foot office. The tour ended up being a mental one: they told me all about their big ideas. I left having essentially thrown myself at them. They were looking for some people to join the first team of volunteer contributors to LexPublica, their project to open source the law*. They thought maybe I'd be interested in being a non-lawyer word nerd to work with the lawyers and law students they'd already lined up to start drafting the first contracts.
The more I spoke with Zak and Martin, the more I thought their idea is brilliant, the more excited I became and the more I found myself trying to insert myself into some sort of everything. And then they asked me if I'd join them. Capital-J join.
I don't have a title or anything yet, and I don't much care. I'll be doing lots of different kinds of things, as one might expect from the first employee at a wee startup. For now I'll be blogging, tweeting, writing, hashing out lots of general brainstorming and I'm starting to get to know the first few people who will be working with us (see the * below).
And there you have it. Now I work full-time. Away from home every day for the first time in over eight years. Today's the first day in two weeks I've managed to have a lunch packed. I'm learning.
* You're familiar with open-source software, right (think of Firefox)? It's often released for free. The code (the source code) is made available for anyone to examine or use. When we say we're open-sourcing the law, what we mean is that we're working to create a community of volunteer lawyers, non-lawyers and lay people to draft basic contracts people and businesses often feel they can't afford to have drafted from scratch, and they'll do the drafting in public so people can see the drafts progress. The contracts will be made available for free under a Creative Commons license. Our first contracts (which will hopefully be ready in the next few months) will cater to small businesses and creative professionals, so if you'd like more info follow our blog or Twitter. Or ask me any questions right here. I'm still learning, and your questions will help me learn faster.