open investments

I recently read “Why I wouldn’t invest in open-source companies, even though I ran one” by Wolfram Hempel and started to write a very long comment, but decided I’d just publish my own counterpoint instead.

build off

I’m lately watching The Great British Bake Off on my lunch breaks. Today I wondered what I found so appealing about the show, and I believe it’s best summarized as the calm of watching people perfect their craft. I’ve never baked anything more complex than brownies (and don’t really have any desire to if I’m […]

intractable problems

I think I’ve always been a curious learner. Learning about how complex a thing is has rarely deterred me. If anything, it’s tended to spur me onward. When I think about how I ended up being so fixated on the problem of people interacting online, I think about how I would summarize the greatest mysteries […]

real community

I don’t think many of us understand what a community is or how to support one. It’s a bit ironic, given how “hot” it’s become in large companies this last decade. You need a “community manager” now, and a “community platform”, and your marketing team is either breathless or befuddled by it. Many mainstream voices […]

unsemantic versions

Are you old enough to remember Firefox 2.0? It was a huge deal. I was excited about it! My friends talked about it. When’s the last time you talked about a browser release? What happened was the browsers all moved to semantic versioning. It’s a great concept, and it solved a major technical problem in […]

10x developers

The myth of the “10x Developer” (a developer that is 10 times more productive than the average — the unicorns many startups believe they need to succeed) is rooted in pure technical fluency and short-term growth metrics. Someone who deeply understands their language & stack can create greenfield code extremely quickly. This is the narrow […]

one year

Some months ago, we decided I would be the one to take Kyle’s computer and put it to use. My decade-old PC is clearly on its last legs, but I don’t use it enough to justify replacing it with something modern. I was more likely to simply stop playing the few games I still enjoy […]

using forums

The Internet was just a communication tool. It connected a few remote sites and let them talk to each other using an agreed upon protocol. Nodes were added, complexity grew, and millions of new tools were built on top of it. Today, it’s a utility. Young people regard it like an abstract idea, its existence […]

context puzzles

Life is a 1000 piece puzzle, but we only have 980 pieces or so and they’re not all from the right puzzle. Micah Haun, 2005 Are you old enough to remember when The Facebook asked you for your favorite quotes? If you dig deep enough, they’re still there. If you’re of a certain age, you […]

binary consensus

Most substantive community work is about consensus seeking, and software is naturally very bad at this. Bits want to be toggled on or off. I have permission to delete this thing, or I don’t. I am an administrator, or I’m not. I can view this discussion, or I can’t. And atop this mountain of toggles […]

black box

The greatest sin of any developer is thinking they are cleverer than the users of what they build. “I can guess what you want.” In truth, guessing what someone wants is far easier than helping them achieve what they actually want.

platform syndicate

I was reading Working in Public: The Making and Maintenance of Open Source Software by Nadia Eghbal (which I highly recommend) and was particularly struck by the section How Platforms Broke Apart The Commons. In it, Eghbal compares the 2006 advent of Facebook to the first highway system and uses Anthropologist Michael Wesch’s term “context […]

attention management

In the last year, I’ve repeatedly come across folks (especially fellow developers) sharing their experiences with diagnosed ADHD as an adult. After a lifetime of speculation, I’ve read enough now to say I am dead certain I have undiagnosed ADHD. Since many folks have very outdated and narrow views of what that means (and I […]

spring reading

From time to time I enjoy collecting the best articles I’ve read that added something to my perspective recently. I previously did this on the Vanilla Forums open source community where you can peruse the backlog. Responsive Design Turns Ten (Ethan Marcotte) Open Source Beyond The Market (DHH) Is Your Work Truly Essential? (James Kaelan) […]

tipped scales

Last week I plunged back into the coding deep end. I spent a full day refactoring something I knew nothing about a few short weeks ago, and my brain went to that mythical “zone” for the first time in a long while as it all clicked into place, almost effortlessly. I was burning again with […]

project folders

My ADD-infused creative process is something I’ve struggled to accept. Too many times I’ve tried to control it in a way that ended up burning me out. Late nights of “work” that accomplished nothing. Hours forcing my brain to follow the path I decided it needed to, only to discover it was the wrong one. […]

social graph

In September 2006, Facebook became available to anyone in the world. At their developer conference the following May, they invented a term that made their venture capital-funded runaway bumper car sound like noble science: “the social graph”. There’s even a Wikipedia page about it. The idea is that mapping everyone’s relationships in the world would […]

mental models

Our brains are kinda magic. We hold in them virtual representations of the world around us and go about our daily lives without thinking about them very much. Your brain is spending tremendous amounts of energy just to get you to square one functionality and you don’t even notice. Those virtual representations take many forms. […]

square one

“Late to the punch” doesn’t really do it justice. It’s been more than a decade since blogs were in vogue. I wanted to be one of the cool kids so badly: Gruber, Coudal, Fried, Zeldman, Meyer, Marcotte, Kottke, Storey, Veen, Moll, Mall, Molly, and Santa Maria. They were building this amazing web according to their […]