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EDA360: Cool People Creating Cool Stuff

Comments(1)Filed under: Systemm Design and Verification, Embedded Linux, OpenStreetMap, EDA360, Embedded Software Engineer

Now that we have had some time to reflect on the meaning of EDA360, it occurred to me that one of the goals of EDA360 is to make EDA cool (or cooler than it already is). One way to do this is to contribute to the cool parts of products people see, like the software on the screen, versus the traditional role of EDA which contributes to the parts of products people don't see, like the chips inside. One thing I picked up is that JohnB thinks Apple stuff is cool.  On the way to CDNLive! last week I took a few minutes to reflect on what makes some products so cool and others so uncool.

I don't own any Apple products. One thing that is cool for me is Linux. In thinking about why Linux is cool I remembered a book I read some time ago by Linus Torvalds called Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary that tells the story of Linux. Near the end of the book Torvalds shares his thoughts on what motivates people. He concludes that there are three motivational factors:

  • Survival
  • Your place in the social order
  • Entertainment

Everything trends toward entertainment in the long run, but I think it's the social connection to what we do that plays an even bigger role in coolness. To read more about what makes things cool and how to create cool things checkout Coolfarming - How Cool People Create Cool Trends. It's not easy to identify a single factor to guarantee coolness, but it seems the ability to relate to others with similar ideas and interests is key.

Embedded software engineers think Linux is cool because they can see the source code, compile it, run it, and learn from it, but open source alone doesn't guarantee coolness. Many projects never attract enough people to form a community. Benevolent dictators like Steve Jobs, Linux Torvalds, Mark Shuttleworth, and maybe even Yoav Hollander also seem to be contributors to building communities around cool stuff.

How does all this relate to EDA360? Besides all of the verbage about integrators and various kinds of realization, it's meaningful for me to think about the social connections that are formed as EDA vendors and customers do things together. For me EDA360 is not only about expanding the market served by Cadence by using a problem, requirements, solution approach and then "partnering" with a company to create a "solution". For me it's about the social connections that form when engineers come together to work on ideas in an open way, interacting without barriers, and having fun doing cool stuff.

Last week during a group dinner I was talking with an engineer about how embedded software engineers work. We talked about open source, Linux, gdb, and the general fun engineers have creating and debugging software. We also discussed how they are not connected to the culture of EDA, and that they know little or nothing about it. So far the profile was about what I expected. One new thing I learned is that OpenStreetMap is one of the popular things this particular group of embedded software engineers likes to do. There was an immediate connection for me because I have been working with my 11 year old son to learn how GPS and maps work. We learned about how the maps are divided into a grid of tiles and assembled into a map at a particular zoom level. It turns out we also spent some time looking at OpenStreetMap and saw that our neighborhood map was incorrect.

Photobucket

 

We proceeded to take the GPS and Nokia n800 running Maemo Mapper and drive around the incorrect area to record a track of the actual road. We uploaded the track to OpenStreetMap and used it to edit the map and correct the trouble. See if you can spot the corrected area.

 

Photobucket

 

Making this connection to discuss OpenStreetMap won't solve all of the challenges the electronic industry is facing during this time of change, and maybe this is just Sales 101 to connect with your customers interests, but communities around technology will play a key role in determining the long term impact of EDA360. Places like ovmworld.org are great, and JohnB asking for feedback on EDA360 from the Deepchip community is also a positive step toward less emphasis on boring press releases to provide "air cover" and more emphasis on the fundamental motivation of engineers to do cool stuff.

For more details about how to build communities take a look at The Art of Community by Jono Bacon, the community manager of Ubuntu. The book is available from your favorite book seller or free to download as a .pdf file. It contains a lot of information about how to enable people to have fun working on cool stuff.

Jason Andrews

Comments(1)

By Chris Dietrich on May 19, 2010
cool blog Jason :-)

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