Thanks to all who contributed responses, it has been quite interesting to see what people have written. While this is only a small sample of responses I've gone through and identified mentions of companies where people have expressed an interest in working:
Hmm, I feel like Acunu and Mixpanel would let me focus on my first love (C/systems hacking), Acunu and Fastly would let me be the most active in open source, and ThoughtWorks would have the most travel (that's right, folks, I actually want to travel for business - I like going places but vacations bore me).
This is all conjecture of course as I've worked at exactly 0 of the places I've listed :)
Thanks for the response Ben. That's a really good point actually. In my initial responses I left off a couple of companies because I have known people who have worked there and then moved on. Not always because they didn't like the place, but more because they felt their goals had changed and were now different from their employers...
Definitely I agree, lets you be creative with code in a way that actually matters. If no one saw your code being creative & clean wouldn't matter a whole lot, depending on who you work for it might be better job security-wise to produce more obscure code haha.
I opensource most of the code I write because I think it's one of the best accountability mechanisms that we have in coding. Just knowing that someone is going to be looking through my code makes me work harder to ensure it's "good".
Getting to the point of contributing code to an existing project (usually via submitting a pull request or the like) always felt more intimidating than writing my own small libraries, but I eventually started doing this and I have to admit it has a "warmer, fuzzier" feeling associated with it. This is generally regardless of whether the patch is accepted or not. Helping out feels good.
In short, writing opensource software feels "right". That's why I keep doing it. Knowing people are using it (or think it's cool) helps, but it's not the main driver for me...
I think what the guys is done is fair enough, although I can definitely see the point you are making. The thing for me about this that makes it more kickstarter like than ready for an online store presence is the fact that it's going to be a few months before I get my hands on some shiny Ninja Blocks.
For some reason I feel more comfortable with pledging money to a small business on kickstarter than through an online store having them say "we'll get it to you in four months time". I realise it's just a slight mental shift, but it really changes the way I look at things.
Perhaps it's time for KickStarter to adapt to the growth in this area, by spinning of a products and projects site (still kickstarted branded and hosted) which does help folks bootstrap small companies that actually need to buy stuff in quantities to make something viable.
The attraction for me is that although I've always been able to hack electronics and stuff (and did quite a bit when I was younger), I just don't have the time.
I'm a software hacker through and through, and that's where I want to spend my most limited resource. Having some hardware that takes care of most of the heavy lifting in that space is very appealling.
I agree it does seem similar, and I backed both projects because I think these lightweight data collection devices have a big future.
Definitely agree on getting some kind of standard API across the various devices, although I expect we are probably a couple of years away from having that. Still with both Ninja Blocks and Twine getting some traction I think it's something that will happen sooner rather than later...