Bill Gates: Welcome to the party

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Today is Bill Gates’ transition day from employee to community member.

Well, actually, Bill Gates will still be inexoribly connected with the company. He’s still a major shareholder, chairman of the board, and will be working on a couple projects within the company. But let’s play along with the game that he’s leaving–in part because physchologically people inside and outside Microsoft are seeing this as a seminal event. It is.

So with that, here are the top 10 things you’ll love about being part of the community rather than a Microsoft employee. Consider it your Community Survival Guide.

1. Now you can start a blog and say–uhm, rant–all you want. A few blog post suggestions: “Why Education Sucks in the United States,” “Top 10 ways to Improve World Health,” or “What I would do if I were 16 Today.” Tell ’em like you see it. Why blog? Because it’s about participating. Not only will it create a record for your thoughts on what’s important to you, but it’s a great way to build and maintain your network. Expanding your network is a great way to learn, which is especially useful during a career change like you’ll be going through.

2. Parties. Yep, we have parties and tech gatherings at most major events. SXSW is the kind of the crop here. My style though is more geared around the Tablet PC Gatherings at CES. I’ll be sure to send you an invite.

3. After you start your blog (might I recommend a WordPress blog by the way) definitely sign up for Twitter and I guess if you have to FriendFeed. Robert Scoble will give you props for signing up for FriendFeed, but personally it’s a bit over the top for me. You might enjoy it though. As Johnny Five might say, it’s lot’s of input.

4. Get a Nokia N95 phone and start streaming live on Qik. It’s the thing now. You don’t have to try to outdo Robert Scoble’s Qik interviews with heads of state, but that would be cool too. A Qik stream of you driving to the airport would be fine. We don’t care. Just interact, anwser some of the chat questions, and remember to have fun.

5. As a community member you’ll also probably change your reading habits. I recommend reading TechMeme, Robert Scoble (though more and more he’s on FriendFeed), and TechCrunch. When you can’t read anymore you can look at the pictures on Engadget and Gizmodo. And if you’re in an argumentative mood, there’s always Digg, but I recommend not using your real name as your sign on name. 🙂

6. Oh, yeah, get an iPhone. You’ll love it.

7. If you want to go to any industry events, be sure to sign up early. For instance, Microsoft’s Mix event has sold out the last couple times and they don’t make allowances for handling more people. For that matter Apple’s WorldWide Developer Conference sold out this year too. I’m not sure if the same fate is awaiting Microsoft’s PDC, but if you’re interested, again I recommend signing up for the early bird special. It’s expensive at $2195, but generally the event is pretty good. Oh, the other conference you may want to attend this summer is Siggraph. It’s sure to inspire. I guess Michael Arrington and the rest of the Web 2.0 crowd would give you a long list of other must-attend conferences; maybe you ought to check with them or watch Upcomming for other ideas.

8. Watch your identity. What do I mean? I suggest using your real name (or a consistent identity tied to your name) on your blog, when posting comments on other people’s blogs, on Twitter and the like. Anonymous blogs and postings are too much like kids dropping water balloons from midrises. It may be a blast for 10 seconds, but it really doesn’t do anyone a bit of good. And if you can’t sign your name to it, it’s probably not worth saying. Just keep it to yourself. Believe me, you’ll find lots of other things to post about.

9. Don’t take the flamers personally–especially the anonymous ones. This might be pretty hard to do, but all I can suggest is hang in there. Moderating comments on your blog is probably a good idea. Make firm rules and let everyone know what they are. If someone goes over the line, just delete their comment and leave it at that. Maybe because of your unique position, maybe you ought to hire someone to scrape out the unruly posts. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, maybe you ought to leave some of them in so while you blog about your philanthropic efforts around the world, people can see the contrast and judge for themselves. I’m so-so on this idea, but it might work for you. Just don’t get dragged into a flame fight. It’s not worth it and to those that don’t follow every jab, it seems petty.

10. The most important thing: Have fun. Do what’s of interest to you and don’t let anyone else get you down.