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Chris G. Williams Beware: I mix tech and personal interests here.

This week, I'm chatting with Rachel Reese, ASP Insider. We've never actually met in person, but it seems like we know all the same people. Funny how that works. Rachel and I emailed back and forth for a few weeks so you could have something to read this morning. I'm off to find coffee, so please enjoy these NINE Questions with Rachel Reese:

image 1. Where are you from?
I was mostly raised in Wyoming and consider that my "home", but I've also lived in Maine, Florida, New York, Maryland, Arizona and a few places overseas.

2. What do you do? Who do you work for? What is your product? Give me the 10 second pitch.
I work for Merchants Information Solutions, in downtown Phoenix, AZ. They build residential and pre-employment screening tools which run credit reports, check criminal histories, etc. I've worked on a few different products for them since I began with the company, but I think my favorite is their pre-employment questionnaire -- it's pretty incredible what some people will admit to having done!

3. I would imagine so. Ok so how did you end up where you are now?
I was a math/physics major in college and had a job as a research assistant in a physics lab (the Super-Kamiokande group, if anyone wants more information on the project).  My first summer there, they sat me down with a C book and said, "You won't be useful to us until you can program.  Take the summer and learn."  That was far and above the BEST job I ever had.  By the time I graduated, I had acquired only one useful, real-world applicable skill: programming.  So, I took the first web job I could find.  It was using Classic ASP, and I've continued down that path ever since.

4. I see you on Twitter a lot. What's your take on the whole Social Networking boom of late?
Oo, I'm going to have a lot to say on this one. Personally, it's a perfect fit for me -- I'm a ridiculously social person; I've always belonged to a bunch of different clubs and had different groups of friends doing different things, as far back as I can remember.  The idea of staying casually in touch with a group via emails, newsletters, occasional meetups, etc. was normal for me.

Facebook/MySpace, etc. is a perfect medium for casually staying in touch.  Twitter, I think, just ups the ante here from "casually" to "constantly".  It's a natural evolution of being social. One of my favorite features is discovering/meeting people and, really, helping them connect with each other.  When you see Person A asking a question about a topic that you just know Person B knows really well, one tweet introduces them both to each other.  Once they're following each other, they can interact on their own, either immediately or some random time later, say if Person A asks another question, and Person B has time to answer.  Or, even better, when they both realize they enjoy something entirely unrelated to the original topic.  With email, Person A would strike up a one on one conversation with Person B about the specific question they had, and Person B would answer if they didn't feel too put out that they'd been forwarded this email to answer.  They might never have realized any connection.

Also, culturally, I think the time is right.  Have (any of) you read the book Generations, by William Strauss and Neil Howe?  If you haven't, stop reading and go buy it.  It is an EXCELLENT book.  For those who haven't read it, I'll just say it's at least partially a generational thing.  As a cohort, the Gen-Ys tend to be more sociable, more "group-focused", etc.  So, I think there is a push from them which is driving this Social Networking "thing", both as users and as creators.  That was extremely over-simplified; but at the risk of typing for hours on this, which I would positively love to do, I'll leave it at that.

5. Speaking of Twitter, you live in the Great SouthWest but from watching you on Twitter you obviously know a ton of folks from the East Coast, how'd that happen?
Partially from moving around, and partially through the ASPInsiders group.  I'd explain who they are and what the group is about, but I don't think I could possibly write something better than what Rob Chartier posted on his blog: http://weblogs.asp.net/rchartier/archive/2008/08/01/who-are-the-aspinsiders.aspx. Since they hail from wherever one can find ASP.NET being written, I've met several folks from all over the US and the world.

6. Since you mentioned ASPInsiders, obviously that's one area of expertise, but what other areas would you claim?
This week, it's Reporting Services.  Basically, I'm an expert in whatever it is that my company needs me to know, like, yesterday.  I fiddle with a LOT of things here and there (I'll take on just about anything) but I don't know that I'd call myself an expert in most of them.  Heck, even in ASP.NET.  :)

7. So a lot of folks know you from your blog, and twitter, but what's something the world at large doesn't already know about Rachel Reese?
Most people probably don't realize that I own turtles.  There was a time when there were several dozen in and out of the house -- I assisted with rescue and adoption.  It finally just became too much to handle myself, and I've since adopted out almost all of them, but I still have a pond at my house with two Diamondback Terrapins.

8. I heard you're part of something called "the Rachii" what's that all about?
Ha!  Rachel Appel and I together form The Rachii.  We're both part of the ASPInsiders and, with such a small group, it's the first time that two of us chicks have had the same first name. I've had a lot of fun with it.  For the record, I *am* keeping my eye out for more Rachels to speak at user groups, blog, attend conferences, and to generally attain .NET superherodom.  I believe the Rachii CAN take on all those pesky Scotts.  ;)

9. Good luck with that. So finally, last question... any tattoos? What/Where?
Nope, none.  I'm not particularly against them; I just have apparently ended up without one.

Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008 6:57 AM General Interest , NINE Questions | Back to top


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