Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Archive for August, 2011

One Year

Just over a year ago, the day before my birthday, I submitted the paperwork for my first business. As I made the transition into self-employment, many people who had known me for years were surprised. They said, “I thought you were already a freelancer!” Nope. I got to live the life by working from home for a company based in the Bay Area.

I don’t talk about my work very much, which leaves people to guess or assume based on what I do or say. Even now, while I should be promoting my business, I find it too self-promotional and pretentious to talk about my work.

There’s a fine line, I think, between sharing and bragging. Between informing and self-promoting. I haven’t always avoided that line as much as I do today.

To the time machine!

“Let me show you how awesome I am.”

Around 5 or 6 years ago, I gave a demo at Refresh Phoenix Demo Night of a site I built for Nike (as part of a very talented team, of course). I was about 20 years old at the time. Even though I kept my age under wraps—hoping to avoid the young hotshot stigma—it was pretty obvious I was young. I couldn’t help but wonder, was I demoing or bragging? Perhaps it was in the eyes of the beholder…

“Do you know who I am?”

It was around that time when I realized that having clients like Mazda, Nike, Ford (SVT), Boeing, Twix, (etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah brag brag brag) didn’t mean much. What it did mean was that I wouldn’t have trouble getting a job if I needed or wanted one. It also meant that people who knew of my work were likely to respect my capabilities, which is an immeasurable feeling for someone who invests so much time and energy into his work. However, in the bigger picture, there’s value in having name recognition within a broader community. I realized I could use my portfolio as back pocket credibility and independently get my name out within the technology community. I became the guinea pig of a series of online social experiments, starting with making random crap techies would find neat and plastering my name all over it. Well, the experiments were an unimaginable success and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for those experiments. However, there were unintended negative consequences, including an outward-facing persona James Archer coined as “THE Brian Shaler.”

“So…. what do you do?” – People who have met me since, even after knowing me for 1-2 years

Some things have changed a bit since the early days in my career, and perhaps I’ve overcompensated.

I’m a data visualizationist. My forte has always been making stuff move with code, but I currently focus on data visualization and the many ways you can bring data to life. I’m not going to tell you I’m good at what I do, but I’m happy to show you my work and let you decide for yourself.

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