Backstage – Episode #1

Live at OSCON 2018

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Adam, Jerod, and Tim sit down to talk at OSCON 2018 about their favorite parts of the conference, meeting new people, seeing old friends, and telling people about all the new things happening at Changelog.



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So it’s Thursday afternoon here at OSCON, things are slowing down a little bit… Everybody’s enjoying their afternoons. Jerod, Adam and Tim here. What’s up, guys how are you doing today?


Very good, thank you. [laughter]

As you can tell, we’ve reached the part of all big conferences where you’re a little loopy, you’ve been going, going, going and going! how do you feel?

I’m tired…

And you’ve got.. well you’re running on fumes but it’s a good thing.

It’s a really good thing. It feels good.

We’ve met a lot of people here.

A lot of people.

We have met a lot of people here as you can see.

I’m shocked at how many people don’t know who we are… [laughter] But I think that’s a good thing, because that means that we’re talking to the right people.

Right. That’s because this is your first rodeo.

Yeah, it’s true.

I’ve found out earlier that lots of people don’t know what The Changelog is… Lots of them. So that’s why it’s fun, because we get to tell them what we’re up to.

Meet some new people.

That’s right.

Yeah, and that’s a nice thing… Lots of people don’t know who we are, find out who we are, and then they’re really excited about what we’re doing.

Get a bunch of stickers… Here’s one thing that I’ve learned, probably today, but at least this week - a lot of the listeners to the Changelog have no idea (no idea!) that we have any other shows besides the Changelog.

It’s frustrating…

But they’re kind of excited to find that out, that’s the good news. We tell them, “You know what, we’ve got five shows that we ship every week”, and they’re like, “Holy cow, do you have a master feed?” and then like, “Well, thanks for asking… Let me tell you about our master feed.”

Master feed.

The other thing is they think that you two are on all five of those shows.

That’s true… Although that’s only 60% the case.

Because I’ve heard a few people ask Jerod, like “Are you guys on all those shows?” [laughs]

No, we’re not.

No, we’re not.

We have amazing other hosts.

That’s right.

A new show, AFK…

Of course, AFK has been the hit of this show - Away From Keyboard, two episodes in and already a fan favorite…

Already a fan favorite.

Tim was telling us all about how the AFK stickers were out before any of the other stickers…

Oh, I was pimpin’ those all day yesterday…

It’s kind of like a GitHub star count, you know… Which tells you, of course, how good a project is, based on the stars…

Yeah, of course…

It’s objective, it’s definitive, it’s the only way you could possibly know how successful a project is…

Popularity AND importance.

Well, on the Changelog it’s sticker count… Only it’s the other way around, it’s the lack of stickers means better show.

This is how we know that Vue is better than React.

Objectively, definitively. I agree.


Stickers… [laughs]

So let’s talk about highlights and lowlights… Adam, why don’t you go first, man? What’s been the best and the worst for you here?

The best - alright, let’s roll with the best. The best would have been – I think Suz put the pressure on with the demo; that’s an easy win.

Live-coding on stage, during the keynote…

Live-coding, ticking clock, very intense… I was shaking in my boots.

Happy to hear a JS Party shout-out during that…

That’s right. We were coming down the aisle, going to our seats, we heard Suz’s intro, and… She is the co-host and panelist of JS Party. Can’t beat that. Audience like this… Gotta love that.

And the worst…

Worst… Right about now.

What?! [laughter]

Right about now.

Nah… Tell us how you really feel.

[03:59] You know, honestly – I mean, you just kind of get wiped out from a conference; it takes a lot of energy out of you, I would say… And I’m not super high-energy right now. I wish I was. A little coffee could do. So I would say now, because of no coffee, not because of the company.

Okay. Tim, what have you got?

Well, I think my highlight, because I haven’t actually gone to any of the talks… I mean, I went to the keynotes today, but… I think my highlight has been meeting people. I love to meet new people, and it’s been nice to get to know people that don’t know what we’re doing, but it’s also really nice to hear people that love our shows, and really like us, really like what we’re doing, and it’s nice to talk to them.

I think the low definitely is, man, this is tiring. It is. I’m feeling it today.

Right now?

Right this second. [laughs] But other than that, I’ve had a blast here… It’s been so fun. And actually, the other highlight for me has been meeting the both of you. That was really nice. I mean, I’ve talked to Adam for years, but I’ve never actually met him in person, and I’m finally meeting you in person…

That’s right.

…I’m not all he’s cracked up to be. I’m not what he expected.

I feel like we’ve jelled really well.

I’m jellin’.

I’m jellin’… I’m jellin’ right now.

I agree with that. It’s always great with distributed remote teams to finally meet IRL… Although Adam and I have met IRL plenty of times, but adding Tim to the team this year…

Many plenty.

Two is a couple, three is a… Party. See how I adjusted that?


Beautiful. So we’re having a party this year. I’d say the highlight for me is familiar faces, which I could say previously, because it takes time to build up relationships, friendships… With the people around here, we come to these events, and we used to not know anybody, and that was its own adventure and fun, but now it’s like, you see people and it’s like “Oh, we met last year” or “We met a couple years ago.”

Yeah, “We know you. You know us. How are you doing?” We catch up.

Yeah, “We’ve had you on the show.” Brett walked up to us - a long-time listener; he actually had suggested we do a show with Bertrand Le Roy year ago…

We made it happen…

We made it happen, we’ve sent him a T-shirt… I had never met him.

And in fact, when he told me “I’m Brett, and that all happened”, I was like “That’s amazing! I remember that!”

“We did that stuff! That was awesome!”

And then we hung out and chatted with him for 15-20 minutes. Awesome guy. So those were the moments that I think really matter the most.

Familiar faces.

Lowlights would probably be right now…

We all keep coming back to the same thing.

I mean, I was feeling alright until Adam ruined it… This moment.

Are you feeling it?

Yeah, it’s really bringing me down.


…so we’ve got that going for us, which is not nice.

I had another coffee too, and I’m not feeling nothing.

It’s not helping out.

My coffee did not do anything for me.

No… You need strong coffee. Espresso.

That’s what those people at Indeed promised me.

I had some of their coffee, it was very good. Maybe that’s why I’m doing better than you all.

It was great.

I had their coffee as well…

And it didn’t do it for you.

It did, but that was about an hour ago or so. Like two hours. Either way, more coffee is a requirement. You know, I think you’re right though, the familiar faces piece, because we’re getting to see Jessica again, we’re getting to see Beth again, we’re getting to see some of the different vendors here that we know of, different non-profits here… Even people who come to OSCON every single year, we caught up with them again.

You were at London a couple years ago… We came back to OSCON here in the U.S., at Austin… This is our second time to OSCON in the U.S., here in Portland now… So it kind of makes you feel like you’re at home.

But then it’s also nice to actually go home, and really be at home.

Which is what we’re also looking forward to, I assume.

Can’t deny that.


[07:59] That’s what’s gonna happen. What’s interesting too is we talked a lot about the five active shows, what’s going on, and our aura slowdown, I suppose, to growth of shows, to focus on the growth of those shows… It was interesting, too. The listeners don’t get to hear about that too often.

Well, tell them about it more.

Well, you know, we have five shows. If you only listen to one, you should listen to four more. is the way to get them all. I highly encourage you to do that. But you know, browse There’s lots of shows there. A thriving newsletter - a lot of fun there… Keep up.

Well, let’s talk about some of the strategy there, some of the decision-making, like you said, as opposed to – like, what do we do? What does content look like going forward? We’re trying to provide awesome stuff for developers; we’ve got stuff that we are proud of and also would love to consume… But then there’s the question of “How do you go about that?” and “How many shows is enough shows, or too many shows, or not enough shows…?” and really, one of the conclusions that we came to this week, as we all hung out together and talked is - this may sound like boastful - we’ve got good shows, and we’re gonna keep making those shows better by improving production, improving flows, great guests, continue striving towards better shows… But the current portfolio, we think, is pretty solid, and very well-rounded now that we’ve added Founders Talk back in, Practical AI and Away From Keyboard, rounding out really kind of a diverse set of shows, I believe, in terms of topic.

So the focus for a little bit now, maybe these next 6-8 months, is polish, growth, and really kind of nurturing those to be bigger, better, stronger, faster, like Daft Punk wants them to be.

Yeah. I think for me that’s what’s exciting about the fact that all three of us are working on this together… Because I’ve had a podcast before, but I never had the luxury of having two other people help me grow that. So I think for me this has been really fun, to talk about not only how do we continue to fine-tune and finesse, but also how to make the audience that we have grow over time… Because really, when you look at other shows, a lot of the times the two main problems that they have is first consistency, and second, getting the show to the right audience… And that’s a big problem that we’ll have to tackle as well - and we’re trying to - and I think in the next 6-8 months we’ll get closer to the solution that is gonna work for us.

Yeah. One thing that I’ve been feeling more lately - probably in the last year of Changelog - is that the community that we’re trying to build around the content, around the news, even all the way back from ping and listener-suggested shows, to the people who are involved in the livestream in JS Party every Thursday, hanging out in the chat… I’m starting to actually feel the community a little bit more. It’s not just like, “Let’s get it going…”

This idea…

Like, it’s there, and it’s burgeoning, and it’s fun. I like the idea of that healthy growth, not just of audience and listener, which we do want, but…

But interaction.

…the inner circle of that, which is the ones who interact, the people who are making the show better by giving feedback and making requests, and telling us “Hey, this is a great person, you’ve gotta have them on”, or “Heck, I’m a great person. You should have me on”, whatever it happens to be… I feel like that’s happening more in the last year. Is that something you’re feeling?

[12:01] I see the community side of it, for sure… You know, friendly faces, familiar conversations in Slack… Even on Twitter, seeing similar people mention things, or retweet things, or just whatever… I see it happen a lot more in Slack, but not so much in the issues, like you’ve mentioned…

In what?

In the issues.

In ping, you mean?

I think it started in ping… I think it’s moved to Slack more, probably, but…

Yeah. A lot more submissions to news, that’s for sure, where there wasn’t any, really, besides ping; you know of get lost… Now they actually have a system. If you haven’t heard, If you’ve got some news, or content that is great for your greater developer community, share it.

This might be a tough one for the three of us, because we’ve been in the hallway track so much… Adam and I went to yesterday’s keynotes, Adam and Tim went to today’s… That’s all we’ve had as far as sessions; we don’t get to sit in. We’re out here to do interviews, and that’s fine; that’s not what we’re here for necessarily… But despite that, let’s talk about what we’ve seen here in terms of trends, topics, what are people talking about, what’s exciting… Anything you’ve noticed that stuck out?

Two things - Kubernetes, machine learning.

Yeah. I’d say the excitement around Practical AI has been very strong.

Yeah. Almost every person I’ve talked to, as soon as I mentioned that show…

They’re like “Oh, yeah? Nice!

Yeah, yeah. “Give me one of the stickers.”

Especially when I say “We’re trying to make it so that developers can actually take this stuff and use it”, like in the name Practical - accessible and usable, right? There are so many big ideas, and high, lofty goals with machine learning, and there’s just a dearth (I believe), of content around and conversations of “Let’s put this to actual use in the real world and make things happen with it.” I tell people that’s what Practical AI’s focus is, and they’re all in.

I also think what you said to me - I don’t know if it was yesterday or the day before - is that there is some content around AI that exists, but a lot of it is enterprisy-feeling… Whereas I think Chris and Daniel are so approachable, such genuine people, and you can tell, from the show… I think that that naturally translates into people gravitating toward that show.

Their zooming into the details is a thing; they’re going into the details of the AI, versus the bigger picture. I think that makes it a little bit more easier… Where if you’re at a high level of overview of something, you’re not really getting practical uses of something. You’re sort of getting like “This is what could be.”

Big ideas.

Yeah, it’s more visionary than it is actually applicable…


…which, you need that.

Yeah, there’s definitely a place for that. I think they’ll have some shows that are like that.

Yeah, of course.

It’s not like it has to be all tactical.

I think the important thing is that they’re aware that you have to make AI a more practical conversation… Less so much like “You’ll get this, promise, every single show”, but more like “We understand your need for making it practical… Productive and accessible.”

[laughs] …scalable.

…to everyone. [laughter]

Scalable AI. That’s a bad [unintelligible 00:15:36.02] joke

That’s what I’ve learned today, or yesterday - the strength of a solid tagline for your podcast… Because when people ask you what it is, you don’t even have to think; you can just say the tagline, and they’re like “Okay, I’ve got it. There it is.” So I’m glad that we’ve been finessing those.

What’s the Changelog’s these days? Has it changed?

Interviews with the hackers, leaders and innovators of software development.

It used to be open source.

Yeah, what’s up with that?

[16:01] I don’t know… [laughter] It’s a deep subject. How deep should we go? I think what’s interesting is that, you know, that show has always been associated with only open source, whereas I believe - even if you go back into the archives - open source is a large portion of the conversation. It’s sometimes even the entry point into the conversation, but it’s not the conversation… You know what I mean?

So I feel like anybody who looks at the Changelog as simply a show on open source software is…

…missing some of the picture.

Definitely, because they’re missing out on some really awesome conversations we have that are just developer lifestyle, the way teams scale, how you might even go about getting funding for an open source project, or how things play out. It’s so much more than just simply the source control, or the license, for example. A lot more about actual software development practices that you just don’t get otherwise.

I really like the direction that the two of you have been taking with the Changelog recently… And I don’t know if this is 100% on purpose, but a lot of the conversations–

Nothing we do is on purpose… [laughter]’s probably 100% on accident

…a lot of the conversations that you’ve been having recently are on the sustainability of open source long-term, and I really enjoy those conversations.

I think that’s maybe perhaps less so a decision that we made to cover that, and more so that’s what there is to cover… Does that make sense?

Yeah… A lot of focus in the last couple years…

It’s definitely been an emphasis, and even one so that like, as I look at our catalog, I start to get maybe even jaded to, or I try to look for variety against it, because I feel like so much that we do is that conversation… Like, funding, sustainability, burnout, maintainability…

On-ramping, growth…

Yeah, right. But the fact is that these are the challenges today. So many people are facing these, and so these are the conversations we’re having… Not because we necessarily are choosing to have those, but because those are the ones that are out there, and so that’s important, and so that’s what we’re here to talk about.

I think to a certain degree though that’s good, because that provides kind of like a story arc for the Changelog, to a certain degree.

And everybody has a different perspective on that, too. Your burnout isn’t my burnout; my team scaling isn’t your team scaling. Everybody has a different angle for that, and everybody has a different aspect of community. I always appreciate being able to share with somebody like, “Hey, if community is a big part of what you’re trying to do, then make it accessible on the homepage easily. Tell somebody where the community lives, so they can actually join… Not hide it, or obfuscate it and make it not very clear. It’s an easy win.”


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