One of the most prominent Utopians, recently promoted to an executive position in the company, @espoem is a serious, determined and organized 24-year-old in the Czech Republic. Though he dubs himself “unlikable”, those who work with him know him as helpful, professional and (almost secretly) fun.
On Github: https://github.com/espoem
Who are you, @espoem?
I am a 24-year-old man who has been studying in Computer Science field. You may ask "Why he has only so little knowledge about open source?" or "Why is he not engaging in the development process?". The truth is that even though I have knowledge needed in the field, I was not yet able to fully utilize it. I could say that I did not want to slow the development down as it required immediate actions to unexpected events. Still, new technologies and writing code are of my hobbies and interests. Utopian is perfect place to discover so many new projects built with large variety of tools and languages. One does not need to wander around to find something new and interesting as it comes to us in Utopian.
I mentioned it before, I would say that I am more of the observing type that is better to have access to as many information sources as possible. Sometimes, I feel like there's too much to it but at the same time, leaving anything out of the view would make me feel that I deliberately ignored it. Knowing about the daily routines and what people talk about is part of our work in Utopian.
I am hard to share anything from my “real life”. Although we are not able to avoid not to share personal information in today's world, I would keep other interesting aspects and periods of the life to myself. It is not that it could not be shared but I would say that it is one of my bad characteristics. It may not look like it but it is difficult for me to do anything that I do not see as profitable to me, and I am not talking about money. Sharing more than necessary is therefore not of my interest here.
Believe me or not, I am not really a likeable person and not many people are willing to stick around. But it is also them who slowly change my attitude and perception of the world.
I don't have pets as they would want to run away from me. 😃 Nah, really I am bad at taking care of someone else. I have to take care of friend's plants which for unknown reasons resist to grow. I like music like Damien Rice, Of Monsters and Men, Daughter, and Keaton Henson. I can't name a genre to pick the music I like and I am ignorant enough to actually remember the lyrics but this kind of music is soothing to me. When I need to stop thinking, I play something from these interprets. I think that for many people it could be depressive, perhaps it is, but for me it is calm. There is something special about these. It is hard to grasp it and properly name it but they are unusual artists.
As for the shows, I like anime movies. They look simple yet they are often thousand times better than any western animated movie. If I were to pick some, Howl's Moving Castle or Your Name. (Kimi no na wa.) could be good examples. I don't know why but I admire strong relationships between people and when a person is willing to give up something of theirs for someone else. That's something that I am far from able to do, or at least I feel that way.
What was the path that led you to Utopian.io?
You could say that it was a coincidence that led me to the Steem blockchain. It was in August last year, when the Internet was full of YouTube demonetizing video content creators. I came across an interview with @heimindanger talking about DTube, at that time not yet an open source project. Checking the site required an account but unlike on other websites, this one required an account on Steemit. I was really curious what that was about, as they claimed that the authors can earn some money for the content.
Not long after I joined, I was given an opportunity to work for the Busy.org team. They were working on the private beta. One of @fabien's friends was asking for help with some Czech string translations, and I sent him what I thought was best. My response to this simple request opened the doors for me to Busy.org and I knew from the beginning that I liked it more than Steemit, even though they had only few features compared to Steemit at the time. Still, it looked better and was more user friendly. That moment could be the second coincidental event that pulled me into the open source world.
The third coincidence, as I see it, was the moment elear literally took the code of unpublished Busy version 2, and made a new project out of it. The early times of Utopian. At first, I thought that it was bad of him, since he published a project that revealed the work done on another project and kept somewhat secret from users. But after I talked to fabien about that, I understood that it was really alright, and it was the principle of open source code that allowed @elear to use the code published to create something new.
What made you want to get involved?
Although I was familiar with some open source tools, I did not really make my own before, nor was I involved in any open source project. I would say that almost all my experience with open source projects come from the Steem ecosystem and projects that are built on top of it. So before Utopian, my involvement in open source was more that of user, and genuine contributor of translations and bug reports for Busy. This pushed me towards Utopian.
You were, up until recently, the CM of the blog category. How did you find yourself in that position?
Since I’ve gotten involved with Utopian.io, I have been assigned different roles within the moderation team, the latest of which was the role of the Community Manager of the Blog Posts category. Long before that I was one of the first moderators to help keep Utopian in shape. It was not an easy task because the ideas and view of Utopian progress were different. To be honest, I had few moments when I considered leaving. One of the reasons was the degree to which the moderator position was time-consuming and I was not able to efficiently manage it.
But you decided to stay, fortunately for us all. What changed your mind?
I would say that my involvement in Utopian was highly affected by our team, the people who I could work with everyday, their engagement and ideas on how to make Utopian better. To me, Utopian is full of inspiring people, and it is them who have impact on me and my day-to-day decisions. We would not be able to get so far without some of them. Moreover, I can't forget elear. He is the man who could convince me to endure the tough times and he is the man who came with the brilliant idea of Utopian. I believe that it has been him and his passion for the project over those months that made me want to be a part of Utopian. I did not see a project like that before and I am happy to help this project move forward. It's become a kind of addiction for me. Still, I am really glad I had not left.
Not only did you stick around, but you continued to climb up the corporate ladder before it was even there. How did that happen?
After working hard as a moderator, I was asked to oversee the team as the first supervisor. Back then, everybody basically worked on all kinds of contributions. The role was very similar to that of a Community Manager, but involved managing a smaller group of people. It was only later, when we needed to recruit more people, that we created "specialized" groups of moderators. A few months later, the role of Community Managers replaced that of Supervisors, as we slowly changed our approaches, and strived to engage the community more throughout the contribution evaluation process.
Since we had so many amazing people in the team who fit their positions, I somehow assumed the blog category would be some kind of leftover. Not in a bad way, of course, but because moderating blog posts does not sound as exciting as working with developers and watching their progress with projects. Luckily for me, I was wrong. I have worked with so many great people, some whom remain in the category moderation team still.
Now you have a new role in the organization. One that was obviously needed. What can you tell us about it?
Utopian has grown into a serious and large project that is backed legally by a registered company. Although everyone in the team has their own role in the whole system, it was not enough. Utopian consists of tens of people who work on different tasks and many of them live far far away and the communication is not always easy. There were so many occasions where a simple task could be left undone simply because the focal point for most activities in the company was only one man - @elear. He was involved in literally everything Utopian, but as we all know, one can't do everything on their own. So to help remedy this situation, I was offered to step down as a Community Manager and to accept a new position: Operational Manager. In short, my job is ensure everyone in team (moderators, CMs, developers) to do their work it a timely and coordinated fashion.
Sadly, we are still behind on the delivery plan. But as I said, it is now my duty to make sure that the tasks are completed and nothing is blocked. The results may not come immediately but I believe that they will be visible soon. I am not a person who can provide years of experience in such a position but I believe that I will be able to do it as best as I can, and that we will get all things organized and done.
How do you see the future of Utopian? What would you want it to be, and where would you like to see yourself in it?
I would like to see Utopian as stable and globally recognized company and initiative, with its aim to support and fund open source projects. While our path to realizing that vision has changed quite significantly in the past half year, the idea remains. Utopian is a place for enthusiasts and professionals working on open source projects, and unlike other platforms, which do have similar roots, Utopian is not focused on developers only, but it is open to many of types of contributions and the list may grow in time.
There are many areas in which Utopian could offer support by utilizing its rewarding system, and there is always room for better definition of the guidelines and processes for reward. Although, further generalization will require more people involved, both in the Utopian team and in the community.
We are in the process of rebuilding the front end, which is an important part of Utopian, and serves to identify and differentiate it from other Steem apps. I believe that when we are able to present it, our users will want to contribute more, as they often told us that they are not satisfied with the current process of contribution submission through alternative blockchain frontends.
From my point of view, I feel I have been more of a supporter and observer who alerted and warned team members if anything went wrong way. With this new position, I suddenly face new responsibilities that will help me decide if I am suitable and capable to lead people efficiently. That position is not that far from leading the organization, right? 😄 Just kidding!
The responsibilities I got are huge, and I am yet to see what the outcome will be. If there is another opportunity to go up, I would take it with gratitude.