When I was recently in Salt Lake City for Domopalooza, one of the aspects of that event that was particularly important to me was being a founding member of their user community, which is called Dojo . Among the thirteen badges that are currently available for people to have (twelve of which I have personally), one of them is being Founding Member of Dojo. It is a badge I take particular honor in, as it has always been pleasurable for me to reflect on entering somewhere at its foundational stages, to be present at the beginning, and to have had a role, however modest in helping establish the culture of an institution I am a part of. Today, in light of explaining what it has been like to be a founding member of the somewhat obscure and technical Dojo community, I would like to in a larger sense discuss the role of founding members in institutions at large and to point to the role that founding members have in modeling a culture for others.
For those who are familiar with martial arts, a dojo is a place where someone learns the craft of a fighting style. There are often various belts among the students that show a progress of mastery. As of this writing, for example, I am a yellow belt, which is the second lowest rank. Given that Dojo is fairly new, I am at the highest rank among the current users, though there will doubtlessly be greater separation of levels as matters progress. There is also a sort of master-apprentice level of understanding as those who are well-versed and have reached a certain level of mastery train and develop others along the same path. Dojo happens to be a community for the users of a data management software that has just been released to the general public, and there is an East Asian flair to the idea that their community would be a place of graded rankings, and slow and paced development towards mastery, not something to be rushed, but something that requires effort. It should be noted that reaching a level of mastery in the Dojo is dependent on a secret blend of qualities that includes being active, being well-liked by one’s peers, and being seen as helpful to others, and so the importance of peer recognition is vital in being seen as an elite member of the community at large. This is a sort of egalitarianism I am keen to support.
So far my activity on the dojo has consisted of the following sorts of behaviors. I make posts to ask questions or make comments. As might be expected, my questions are of a wide-spanning variety, ranging from querying my fellow founders on what part of Domopalooza they liked best, to pointing out corrections on the labels that need to be made on the forum page, with attached screen shots (and for suggesting a solution to my own question I received my first solution badge), to asking questions about whether it is possible to set columns in a hierarchical relationship with other columns at the data source level. Given my widespread reputation for hostility to hierarchies, this sort of question may seem somewhat ironic. As I am not an expert at SQL, and one of my colleagues is bringing a SQL textbook so that I can read up on the material for myself and get a better understanding of it in self-study, I tend to shy away from technical solutions. By liking ideas on developing Domo, as well as the gamification of the Domo Dojo, and by giving encouragement to other users and showing gratitude for good answers and friendly conversation, I do my part in encouraging a culture of friendliness and gratitude, and that is a culture that is always worth building.
When we are founders in a given institution, we face different questions than if we carry on a legacy. As a founding member, it is our behavior that sets the tone for others. This is a tremendous responsibility, and a pleasure if we want to see a culture develop that acts similar to ourselves or that embodies similar friendliness, politeness, and openness. I do not know how long or how glorious my own time as a Founder of the Domo Dojo will be, or whether I will have any cause to write about it again. I do ponder often what sort of example I set for others, and whether I live in such a way that others would want to be like me, the way I have consciously modeled aspects of my own life on living and historical models that I have come across. There is a thrill in being a pioneer, in entering the unknown, and in laying down the norms and traditions and patterns of behavior that will be followed by others in turn. May those traditions be good and noble ones that others are blessed to follow in.
 See, for example: