Growing Up Facebook

Growing Up Facebook

Facebook was such an interesting thing when it started really. A great way to see how people were doing, what they were up to, a few pictures here and there. Maybe a daring video. Self generated content to a captive audience of people who wanted to see it.

A great way to stay in touch.

But times change, and kids need new toys. I’m fortunate enough to have two great teenagers. They can be a bit much sometimes, but all in good humor. It struck me though when I caught an off-hand conversation between the two of them which, I’m pretty sure, they didn’t think we (their mother and I) could hear them:

15 year old: “Who uses Facebook anymore?” 14 year old: “Old people…like mom and dad.”

And just like that, the realization came to me. Social media, as it’s called, is already seeing itself aging. It’s already seeing a generation of people who are ready to curate its antiquation.

This stemmed conversation with the teens. I asked, if they aren’t using Facebook, how do they stay in touch with people. The youngest looks at me (yes, I already know how smart she says), says “Daddy, people don’t stay in touch on Facebook, they just rant. I talk to friends via Instagram (a Facebook product, but I don’t mention that to her) or ooVoo.”

And it strikes me…selfies aside, the best part of Facebook was the statuses with the pictures. Not those shitty ecards that have text from a FW:Fw:fw:FW: Re: Must Read Hilarious email my gram sent me 12 years ago, but the pictures of real people doing real things. Somehow, these items have meandered over to Instagram and, while some make it to Facebook, most just stay on Instagram.


To get to the heart of this, let’s understand teenage culture throughout the industrialized world. Teens want stuff now - in the order it happened. If they want to see what happened a few hours ago they’ll scroll. Instagram, up to a few weeks ago, had that nice, ordered timeline. Facebook abandoned it before today’s teens would get a chance to experience it. They essentially ignored a large population of young people in order to follow the directions of an algorithm that would make “better flow” or whatever.

With Instagram (or “Insta” as the kids say) moving towards a more Facebook model, perhaps the kids will move on. It doesn’t take look for a $2bn phenomenon to play out with today’s youth. It’s not about business to them, it’s about the social part.

Basically, we have a situation where the social aspect is reflected by the person using the technology. Teens are more flexible in their use of applications calling for social interaction. We should learn from this.

Maybe the kids are alright.

Community and the World of Tech

Community and The World of Tech

There is no single, over-arching way to do the job I do. There are many parts to it. There’s the exciting traveling and speaking, being on stage with really smart people in really cool places. There are the parts people don’t see, developing applications that may never see the light of day, that proof of concept or for demo purposes. Then there are the tough parts, hours spent on planes and in airports, away from home, away from family.

So why do I do it?

The people.

I’ve heard from some folks that conferences are about the software, the tech, the IoT info, or even the sales. This is wrong. It’s about the people. What are the people in any given community doing? What do they want to learn or hear about? What’s missing that they might want to know?

At a previous job, whenever we had an all hands, one of the Directors or VPs or C levels always started with the same slide: “People are the point”

Sure, it sounds cheesy and corporaty, but I think this person was right, if I took it out of context. What we do in technology, be it as developers, makers, designers, support staff…whatever, it’s done by and for people.

Let’s be brutally honest: 99% of what we do in tech is not life saving. Hell, it’s not even life changing. It’s about working to do something people want but probably don’t need. But, it’s still important. Serving wants has its place as well.

But we inflate the things we do as “making the world a better place”. We rarely focus on what it is that would make the world a better place. Maybe treating people like people instead of commodities and statistics (or “users”) is a step in the right direction. This is why I do my job the way I do it.

You may not think making people think differently about what they do and how they do it is important. You may not believe a talk about cognitive improvement and interference based on small decisions in the work area are a big deal. You may not think Mental Health is something we need to discuss at a Tech conference.

I’d argue you are wrong.

These things we do, the things we create, they won’t last for the rest of your lifetime. The world of tech has no permanence, it’s constantly changing. We do better to focus on making the lives of people better than focusing on how to make an app faster or see how a tech talk can lead to more ROI.

There’s a time and place for everything. I guess I’m just saying, keep thing in perspective. And maybe a “soft talk” is what more people need instead of a shiny new tech thing sometimes.

The Thing Conferences: Codes of Conduct

Another Thing About Organizing Conferences: Codes of Conduct

As I may have mentioned, a couple of times actually, I organize a couple of conferences. I, frankly, love conferences. It’s the people.

The Other Thing About Organizing Conferences

The Other Thing About Organizing Conferences

The Thing About Organizing Conferences

Organizing Conferences

Bloc Party - Hymns

Bloc Party - Hymns

The Thing About Me

About Me

Ruby Conf Portugal 2015

Ruby Conf Portugal

After Engine Yard

We had a time…

The Code Test Failure

The Thing about Code Tests

Top 3 Things You Thought You Knew About Dev Evangelists

They’re at every event. Speaking, chatting, hanging out at the party. They wear their company’s name and logo on their sleeve (or hoodie or t-shirt). These people live for the tech communities they interact with. But few really know what it’s like to be a Community Engineer or Developer Evangelist.

The Blue Streak

The Blue Streak

When You Aren't Sure If You Are Who You Thought You Were

###”I think I’ve lost my identity…”###

So begins a conversation with a friend and fellow developer. We are sitting in a brightly lit cafe the day after a conference where both of us have given presentations. The interesting thing, mine was the “soft talk”.

“Not like it’s been stolen or someone is impersonating me…I just don’t know who I am as a developer anymore”

With this statement comes a mixture of relief and concern. Relief because at least it’s not literal identity theft, though in comparison that’s a mere inconvenience. No…what we are now discussing is impostor syndrome.

The Story of the PJ Pin

The Pin Thing

A Look at Rails 5

From the start, Rails was praised for being the easiest way to get Ruby on the web. It was the easiest option, and the best. Since then, many other options have arrived, but Rails is still the industry leading framework for Ruby developers.


Harbour the Band