Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thank you, Ian Clatworthy

A strange thing about the Internet and the free software community is that a person who you've never met can have a profound impact on your life.  Ian Clatworthy, a person I've never met, inspired a startup and changed my life.  Sadly, I'll never be able to thank Ian in person as he recently died from cancer.

May 7th was my last day at Red Hat.  My freeIPA teammates are awesome and Red Hat is a truly amazing company, but for family reasons, I simply couldn't juggle Red Hat and my personal life, so I had to move on.  So I would live on my savings for a while and then eventually find another job, perhaps contract work, just something with a much lower time commitment.

Whenever I'm between jobs, I always catch a case of startup fever, usually around the time I need to start looking for a new job.  I've been fortunate enough to land some amazing jobs I've truly enjoyed, but lets be honest: a startup would be way more fun.  So around July, startup fever set in, and I started thinking along these lines:

My friends and I all love TV. We watch a lot of it. Well, we watch the things we really love many times over (because there just isn't that much that meets our standards).  And we only watch TV on iTunes or on the web because we can't stand commercials, can't stand a network dictating our TV watching schedule.  We also love Joss Whedon and were all royally pissed off that Fox yet again canceled a promising Joss Whedon show.  Plus my wife shoots with a 5D Mark II and we've talked endlessly about ways in which HDSLR cameras can help artists like Joss Whedon make money making the TV they want to make, without those pesky networks interfering.

And then one night in July I was re-reading Ian's Community-Agile Software Guidance essay and suddenly it all clicked: I could help artists by writing software that brings the agile, distributed workflow to video production.  There was even a clear business model (something my startup ideas tended to lack).

So thank you, Ian, you played a key role in inspired my friends and I to start Novact.  I never meet you in person, but I will also never forget you.

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