This is one of those that I force myself to write. No posts in three months is not good… I guess it has to do with the fact that I’m working hard, but still I have the feeling that I’m doing a lot of things besides work. I think it may be good to put those down.

Gijón. Just because…
Really think we –in general- should go more to Asturias. Great weekend checking out Lastres, the city, and both Covadonga and Lagos. Years since last visit, always good memories.

Not only travelling but also receiving friends here in SNT such as Diego and Marta.

con Diego

In Mallorca there are waves. We shoot those at El bunker, Son Serra de Marina in March.

No words to describe how special it was getting together with the old folks in Valencia… Love y’all!

More recently, I hit the road to do Zaragoza (some conferences there) and Madrid to see beautiful mom and dad Fla and Chris (you look sexy!), @aaraguz (prob not on twitter anymore –good for you-), Raúl and Suvi + some funk.

Finally, surfing France South on Easter break with Malén. Oh, yeah.

Tell ya’… feling much better right now. Still need to find some time each day (Hoppe dixit) to do on a regular basis what I miss most: write, read (both fiction and non fiction) and, specially, playing music.

All love, crew :)

Starting the engine (again)

This is my first week working at the Marcelino Botín Foundation.  Although I worked as a freelance for the creativity in education focus group, I just join the educational branch of the Foundation on a full time position. I am extremely thankful for the opportunity I have been given and I really expect this collaboration to be great for both parts. The work done by the Foundation on creativity and social and emotional development is truly amazing and I just expect to learn from them and, to the extent of my abilities, bring my experience on training, elearning and project/community management.

Such mixed feelings… On the one hand, I am very happy for coming back to my homeland (Cantabria) and catching up with all the good friends and family. It is also great to see that plenty of friends from the city 90’s scene are coming back, thinking on it, or just doing cool stuff in Santander.

On the other hand I am very conscious that I leave behind one of the most amazing working environments one could ever have. These 13 months at RIATE have been the perfect storm: The diversity on our profiles, the emotion on the projects developed, and the different personal/working stages we were at set up this big time momentum.

The best picture to explain that is the visit to Santander made by my ex-coworkers Sandra and Raúl (actually my ex-boss) for New Year ’s Eve. We had a blast with Ana and Arantxa (Caviedes rules), Alfred, the Fouz Jazz guys (@areciosmith, Íñigo, Iván and Javi) plus all the crew. Can you believe we launched Águeda with these guys playing almost 15 years ago? Now, they even talk about us on a historical perspective! (Page 190).

The party hosted by Javi Cantera at la Casa del Sol for New Year’s Eve, deserves a separate mention. I just expect the event and the vibe of the night to be representative of the new SNT days. Fingers crossed…

I truly hope you all face 2011 with energy and emotion. Just remember that is us that we will be building it up.

All the best, family.

On wisdom, tolerance and knowledge

A few days ago I was having a beer with some good friends at Pepe el Guarro, an amazing place on the outskirts of the city. Straight to my top three tapas bar in Madrid with El Descanso and El Pezcador at Las Infantas street, for sure…

Among others, I was there with Jesús, a very old friend of mine, and Diego one of my coworkers. Jesús is one of the most talented graphic designers I have ever known. His way of looking at things from a whole new perspective is truly amazing. Design for him is everything and he always approaches things on an emotional and aesthetic manner. Still he is so pigheaded… Big time pigheaded. Diego is amazing too, but in a completely different way. Formerly a music teacher, he has reinvented himself as a technical solutions provider. He is a self-tough professional and he always put things to work through his Diegish approach: “If we want it, we’ll be able to do it”. I am so thankful for having him by my side.

Jesús is a Windows user.  After many years, he realized that he needs such an amount of professional software that there’s no other way. Don’t ask me what side is he at, but considering he is a Spaniard freelance you probably make a guess. Last time I went to his place he had about 200 software applications on his computer. And believe me, he actually uses all of them.

Diego cannot hear of Windows. He is a Linux user (Ubuntu 10.4 in particular) and a big fan on open-source software. Long time on the dark side, he confessed he can’t remember the last time he cracked an app and that he will never do it again. He can’t stand big corps so don’t mention the possibility of using either Apple or Microsoft products.

I am a Mac user. I can’t stand their “think different” shit but  for my stuff their machines work just better. They help me to reduce computer hours and they make them more pleasant. Enough.

We all three have tried extensively the three OS and then we decided. What I am bringing here is how we all three, being that different, we respect and understand each other. For my Anglo-Saxon friends this may be weird, but in Spain we love to entrenched in a particular point of view and go the Taliban way. I am right you are wrong, this is good this is bad, mine is bigger yours is smaller.

It happens all the time and it is particularly sad with the circle politics-entrepreneurship-society. Let me put it this way… Public administration learning from good private initiatives? Private projects (particularly with +50 years old bosses) with a true social spirit? Don’t even mention it. Why is it that tough for us to bring things together, see the good contributions on the work of others and, specially, be open to new ways of thinking?

Surfing Portugal

I have just come back from Portugal. It has been such an amazing trip… Although my parents run a restaurant/motel on Jaén in the seventies and they travelled extensively with me throughout Andalusia I was really looking forward to get back to those southern landscapes. Malén and I setup the route Madrid, Seville, Puerto de Santa María, Cadiz, finishing the first part of the trip checking out the hippish town of Caños de Meca and enjoying its chill out scene for a couple of nights.

We started surfing down there at El Palmar meeting true free spirits such as Moja (he has his little surf shop down the road from the camping site), who fixed my keel and gave us some good surfing advice. All the way towards Cabo San Roque, the farthest West European peace of land, we found great spots on the shouthern Algarve cost such as Meia Praia and, specially, Zaival. There we enjoyed beautiful small to medium swells with perfect wind conditions (gotta love North wind down there).

From Cabo to North Portugal it was the other way round; extremely consistent swells but very exposed and easily blown out. Still we loved Cordama and Castalejo, both with impressive cliffs. South Carrapateira (Praia do Amando) was the last wind protected spot we found and it was a very fun ride. North Carrapateira (Bordeira) was amazing but too big for newbie riders.

This trip has helped me a lot, mainly to get down this train of pseudo-social craziness. Something –definitively not my plans- kept me away from facebook, mail, twitter and iPad all these days. Only the iPhone Stormrider Guide was used occasionally to check out spots, and that was not even as much as the paper version. One of the most beautiful sentences I have read in years (@aaraguz at http://aaraguz.posterous.com after her summer brake) came over and over to my mind: “I have the feeling that everything got frozen, and that the same tweets kept up flowing as the water in these tacky Zen fountains throughout a close-circuit”.

Don’t get me wrong. I definitively think connectivity and connectivism are the new paradigms. I truly think that we are walking towards a better and more authentic society due, among many more things, to this kind of “sensitivity swell” that we, as a society, are experiencing -more on that on next posts-. But still, please… Stop mithiphying each new tool that comes out and just take it for what it is: a tool. If after finishing this article you are still going back to tweet, please be responsible. Share only what you truly think that it’s worth to be share.

Chronicles of an inverse cultural shock (OK, not that bad ;))

I love my job, no kidding… Well, I mean my main job at RIATE (work in progress, excuse us). Main job as since I came back from California last summer I’ve been working for other clients such as Fundación Marcelino Botín and some schools here and there, always coaching on how to achieve change through community and technology. I love my job because, among many other things, I work with a small group of highly talented people, from developers to social communication people, from educational psychologist to teachers. We are young and quite in a good shape ;)

However, there are many things I don’t like or, to put it in another way, things that I would change. Still, having this feeling is good, innit?! Most of those happen because our team is part of a giant: The Institute for Educational Technology at the Department of Education of Spain. If BIG companies have peculiarities due to their size, Spanish public administration has even more… Among them:
1) People are rarely hired based on their talent, work, and passion. Exams are the main way to get a position into the system and in most cases there is no connection between competences and job positions
2) There are not evaluation systems to measure the performance of teams and individuals. Once that people become public employees, their position is guaranteed besides their merits
3) As a result of all this there are a few features that I often miss in da house –again, not in my tiny team-: Innovation, risk, collaboration, transparency, SPEED.
BUT… it happen that today we got our wifi running (besides our classical network and almost after a year asking for it) and believe me, I’m very happy. For a person that considers himself an independent contractor this means a lot. It will give me freedom to work with my own equipment and avoid most of the inconvenients caused by 1, 2, and 3 (more on that on next posts ;))

As I am saying, I love my job. It will be like this as long as I enjoy seeing pals in the morning and having a good cup of coffee with them.