Recently I have been attending bikey and techy events/Meet Ups and have begun to find that I have a problem when it comes to easily and quickly transferring my contact information to someone. In the "mature" world of business this task is accomplished with the handing over of a "business card", and while I am looking to keep touch with people outside of work-related services I decided it was time for me to make an equivalent "contact card" of my own.
There are a lot of clever people out there who have taken the craft of contact or business cards to surprisingly creative levels, and while it is inspiring to see lockpicks, a trebuchet, or a functioning iris I think this is all overkill. For my part I want a card which I designed from scratch, that reflects my passions, and reinforces the connection with the card to me so the recipient can remember me later. I decided to include something bike related and a QR code pointing to my website's About page, I considered this appropriate since cyclists and tech-savvy folks are the most likely people I will hand one of these cards to.
Earlier last week I placed an order with Botanical Paperworks for their double-sided business cards that can be planted to grow wildflowers, and hopefully later this week I will be receiving them. This will be what I ordered to be printed on them:
I'd like to go a little in to the process of the design process I went through to create these cards, I had a lot of fun working on them and I'd like to think there are some elements which are interesting to share.
My day job is as a software developer for a flight tracking company in Boston. We do not have anything to do with air traffic control; however, some of what we do involves receiving flight data from various sources, including the FAA, and working with it to provide it to the public in a way that may be useful.
While I think mentioning the name of my company would not be negatively received, or if I wrote more about the culture (great) and day-to-day happenings (often boring), I am not looking to turn this into a space to offload my work stresses. I am making an exception in this case.
Sometimes the work I have is not routine, and it may require on-the-spot data munging and specialized code to be written to perform some task or analysis. This kind of work can cause a flurry of activity and bring out the best in my team's individual and group-oriented capabilities. I usually look forward to this sort of activity as it is stimulating and engaging on an intellectual level, and can sometimes lead to new ideas on how to improve and grow.
Dealing with flight data can also mean rare moments of non-routine activity which are tempered with seriousness and situational gravity. On Thursday there was an event which caused flight N48DL to crash into the Gulf of Mexico a couple of hours after contact with its pilot had been lost. As this situation was developing I found myself working with another colleage to collect and analyze the data for this flight, and as we were doing so I reflected on the humanity of the moment, as well as on the unusual position I found myself in to have access to the particular information around me, which had in some way allowed me to connect with the drama while it was developing.
Two forces are simultaneously at work in my mind when I prepare this kind of work. There is the sensitivity to the people involved and their feelings on how they may perceive seeing information like this broadcast widely while not knowing how the events will proceed and conclude. There is also the determination to share the information so that the situation can be better understood by the general public, and perhaps also those more closely involved as they may be looking to know this information, too. The interplay of these two concerns has timeless attributes resulting in a decision to provide the information so long as it does not risk causing escalation of the situation, or lead to some general panic.
In short order, my Thursday became personally stressful as I worked on cultivating and preparing ways to present flight information on what ultimately was a fatal plane crash. We are not the only company with access to this information, and many news organizations that were looking for a graphical representation of the flight's path found better examples elsewhere than with my company. My work was not completed in a timely enough manner to be used in its originally intended purpose; but, I think that it may still be released publicly as it may still provide use in research or education on the behavior of the plane.