Changelog & Friends – Episode #30

Future of [energy, content, food]

featuring the hallway track at THAT Conference

All Episodes

We’re taking you back to the hallway track at THAT Conference where we have 3 MORE fun conversations: one with Samuel Goff about the future of energy, one with YouTuber Jess Chan about the future of content creation & one with Vanessa Villa / Noah Jenkins about ag tech & the future of food.



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Notes & Links

📝 Edit Notes


1 00:00 Let's talk! 00:39
2 00:39 Sam Goff 00:51
3 01:30 Mics & instruments 01:06
4 02:36 Music & life 04:51
5 07:27 Music & AI 08:03
6 15:30 Elections & deepfakes 04:16
7 19:46 Pessimism & hope 05:48
8 25:34 Big Tech & power 06:18
9 31:52 Moderation & good faith 07:50
10 39:41 Blockchains & PoW 05:46
11 45:27 Bitcoin & Netflix 06:40
12 52:08 Flat & crowded 07:45
13 59:52 Grids & subsidies 01:22
14 1:01:14 Efficiency & compute 05:36
15 1:06:50 Tooling & packaging 04:53
16 1:11:43 Sponsor: Vercel 02:44
17 1:14:27 Jess Chan 00:27
18 1:14:54 Good taste (part 1) 03:11
19 1:18:06 Good taste (part 2) 02:06
20 1:20:11 coder coder! 01:18
21 1:21:30 The algorithm wins 02:23
22 1:23:52 9-month break retro 04:47
23 1:28:39 Jess' why 07:36
24 1:36:15 Advice to creators 04:35
25 1:40:50 Where the people are 04:03
26 1:44:53 Sponsor: Read Write Own 01:21
27 1:46:14 Vanessa Villa & Noah Jenkins 00:32
28 1:46:46 Breakfast talk 00:58
29 1:47:44 Ag tech 06:23
30 1:54:07 On-prem vs cloud 01:48
31 1:55:55 A homelab for Ag 01:29
32 1:57:24 Ingredients != meal 01:55
33 1:59:19 Hydroponic greenhouse 01:39
34 2:00:58 Bust out the drones 02:54
35 2:03:51 Temple Grandin 05:01
36 2:08:52 Tech coming to farmers 02:10
37 2:11:02 Open source! 01:34
38 2:12:36 HEB vs local 02:43
39 2:15:19 The space between 07:09
40 2:22:27 What a system might look like 03:52
41 2:26:19 Plugs 00:54
42 2:27:13 Coming up next (Dance Party!) 01:28


📝 Edit Transcript


Play the audio to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧

Okay, so the these are SM57s, or something?

Are you an audio nerd?

I have a recording studio.

These are pretty prime for recording studios.

Yeah. I write and record music. I play five instruments.

Nice. Which ones?

Piano, cello, guitar, bass and drums.

Not at the same time, though…

It’s difficult…

[laughs] One man band, right?

I am ambidextrous, though… That does help.

Okay… So you can go two at once. [laughs]


That’s cool.

[unintelligible 00:02:01.11]

Yeah… When I was younger, I traveled to New Orleans, and you’d see the one man band, and they’ve got the –

The foot thing…

The foot thing. What do they call it? The tambourine on their feet…

The tambourine, yeah.

And horns, and stuff that. Yeah. Is this just for a level check? Is that what’s going on here?

This is you down here.

This is what we do, is we just talk to people… So it’s very relaxed…

It’s not gonna feel an interview, it’s gonna feel the three of us are just talking. I’m interested about your musical aspirations, or life…

Okay. So… Life. So I had an offer to come out to the Twin Cities, and be professionally produced… Some of the people that I was working with had worked with Janet Jackson…

Nice. Yeah.

But I got out there and discovered that the music business was not how I would to make my living. And I pivoted to the other thing that I was pretty decent at the time, and that was computers. So I started with typography… I couldn’t afford a book on QuarkXPress, and I couldn’t afford extra gas to drive to the library to discover that they didn’t have anything modern.


So my girlfriend had a job at the Mall of America, so I carpooled with her, and then I went to B. Dalton, and walked in there and memorized as much of the book as I could over the weekend.


And then I aced the interview on Monday, got the job, and then people who were using QuarkXPress, you know, 8-10 hours a day, 40-50 hours a week for years, they were asking me “Hey, what’s the keyboard command to do blah, and blah, and blah?” And I knew it, because I’d memorized as much of the book as I could, in one weekend.

So that’s how I got my start in –

That’s an interesting way to ace an interview.

Yeah. And then when this new thing called the web came out - I think it was ’93 or ’94 - I saw a presentation by Guy Kawasaki, who was an evangelist for Apple at the time… And he was demonstrating - I think it was [unintelligible 00:04:13.17] product, but basically, the thing that blew my mind is they had a WYSIWYG, and you could toggle between that and a code editor, and you could do a split screen. So if you have a large enough screen, then you can actually see your code, and you can see the effect on those changes in real time. Kind of with hot module reloading, and stuff that these days. But yeah, back then - I said, it was probably ’93 or ’94. That was kind of revolutionary. But yeah, we were using tables, and clear [unintelligible 00:04:47.20] and all kinds of unnatural things back then.

For sure.

I became obsessed with performance back then. Oh, do you have to worry about stray sounds, or anything that?

Not necessarily. It’s a new for this show.

We’ve got a baby filter. Don’t we have a filter for that, somehow?

We’ll gate that baby out.

[laughs] We’ll gate that baby out.

They make baby gates, don’t they?

I recently uncovered there’s RipX DAW. It allows you to take any audio source, throw it in there, and you can actually see how all the different audio sources are spread out across the spectrum, and you can select them, you can interact with them… You can take a flat note and you can –

RipX. No way.


We’ll have to try the baby gate then, on that one.

Because it allows you to, let’s say, take an existing recording and you can take out all the instrumentals, or you can just take out certain - you know, the vocals, and put in your own…

I’ve always wondered how that works, because there’s a drummer I pay attention to. I’m gonna [unintelligible 00:05:50.15] He’s a phenomenal drummer on YouTube.

I saw him on TikTok at first… And he’s just phenomenal. But he’s playing to music, but he’s the drum, right? So how do you get that whole track without the drums?

Everything minus the drums?


So it must be something that. I don’t know.

[00:06:09.03] Exactly. So I discovered this fairly recently… And of course, I use logic, and I use a bunch of other stuff, but this is exciting to me, because it would allow me to take and experiment. If I want to experiment with music - yes, I can perform everything from scratch. But it’d be really awesome to be able to isolate, let’s say, just a Billy Cobham beat from an old recording. Or a little funk bass, or whatever. Be able to feed that in as a seed… Here’s my frustration about – okay, I’m so deprived with caffeine, I’m going to just jump around topics.

Pause. Take a drink.

Well, it’s too hot to chug right now.

Oh, it’s too hot.

He keeps glancing at it, he keeps thinking about it…

Will it cool off enough to drink…?

Is it too hot for your hand? Because you can sit over there.

I feel as if having my hand on it is drawing some of the heat out of it, because of the thermal mass… So I’m accelerating –

Very intense… Thermal mass…

Yeah. I am accelerating the timeframe.

You’re actively cooling it. It’s active cooling.

You’re a conduit for the heat exchange.

Exactly. I’m a heat sink. I’m a heat sink for the coffee.

There you go. [unintelligible 00:07:22.14] over here. Nice.

Well, we’re here with the [unintelligible 00:07:25.03] talking about his frustrations, and - what now?

Okay, so we were talking about AI.

Were we? [laughs]

I was talking about AI.

Oh, you hadn’t said that part yet.

Yeah. So Generative AI, as it pertains to music, is so frustrating right now.


I was reading Ken Wheeler, I was apparently doing a talk about this subject, and he did a bunch of research on it… And he was disappointed. A lot of us who are involved in music, and AI, are highly frustrated with – there’s a huge blind spot around the types of solutions that are being pursued. They can generate audio of a particular style, they can give you subject matter, whatever… But what I want to do as a musician, as a recording artist, is I want to be able to seed an AI with my own sample. Or - you know, with Midjourney you can take two images and you can blend them together, and get amazing results, right?

Now, I want to be able to do that with my own music, plus anything that I can hear, be able to isolate it and say “Okay, I want my loop, plus this other loop, to have a love child together. And I want it to be expressible as audio, but I also want the MIDI file, so that I can pipe that to any instrument, and I can get any kind of sound, and then I can isolate it, I can process it, I can do whatever I want with it.” So that’s what I want to be able to do. a really talented session artist, that you would have to pay not a small amount of money to, you’d be able to give the AI an idea of what you’re going for, and it would elaborate on it. And then you’d be able to give it feedback in the same way that you can talk to ChatGPT, or even Midjourney, where you can vary a region. It’s “This is great, but I want you to change that one thing”, and you can have that interactive feedback, and then quickly iterate on it. You know,, that Vercel created - they have the same thing, but for UI, where you start with “Hey, this is what I’m going for. Okay, this is cool, but I need you to tweak the one thing over here…” And to be able to have that kind of a conversation the way you would with a peer or a colleague, and collaborate with them. So…

What do you think explains the gap between what you wish existed, and what actually exists today? What explains that?

[00:10:01.21] Audio content is not as popular, at least on Twitter, and a lot of other social media platforms. I think the visual catches people’s eye. It’s eye candy. Video and still image format is easiest to gobble up attention. And so right now, I think we’re seeing a distortion in the pursuit of different areas of AI based on what gets engagement on social media. So whatever is most popular is going to be incentivized. So I think, eventually, we will get there with generative AI for musicians and recording artists, but…

Yeah. I was gonna say, music is pretty popular. I don’t disagree with you, but man, you’d think that music would be coming up next, or high on the hit list for what gets attention.

Well, and that’s the interesting thing though, because I think professional recording artists are probably scared in a lot of situations, because they now have a way to train a model on, let’s say, Taylor Swift, or Beyonce. And it will basically reperform a song in the style of the artist who actually recorded it, but because it is not an actual sample - and I’m holding up my fingers for an air quote/scare quote… It’s not an actual recording of Beyonce or Taylor Swift, it’s a reinterpretation.

It’s a brand new thing.

It’s a reinterpretation. And so it doesn’t set off the DMCA, it doesn’t trigger any takedown notices or anything else, because it’s AI-generated.

Yeah. It certainly is scary, I think, to a certain extent… Especially if you’re one of these session artists that you’re talking about, right?


Who used to be able to take their skills, which are very valuable skills, and hire them out for a fee that was sustainable for their lives… Now all of a sudden, you know, I want you to add Carlos Santana playing the guitar onto my – and it’ just as good, or close enough.

Right, exactly.

I think the ones who lose though are probably the lower down in the spectrum, the session artists. The non Taylor Swifts. If - I don’t know, does Taylor Swift really lose if… Would somebody be able to make a version of Taylor Swift through AI? Through their own work?

Oh, yeah.

You know what I mean?

And would they take her down? Would it change her lifestyle, would it change her fame? Probably not.

Here’s the dirty little secret when it comes to the music industry. It used to be that you could be a recording artist who sometimes tours, and you could make a decent living off of that, right?

Now you have to, right?

But now, because of the realignment of the incentives, and the pricing model of the streaming business - you know, Apple, Spotify, all those guys - basically what you have now is it is almost impossible to get paid for your streams… Unless you are a Taylor Swift, and you get into this –

Hundreds of millions.

Yeah, you get into the situation where if you’re not in the top 10, or however many artists, you get pennies. Everything in the music industry right now comes down to touring. So this is how artists actually make their money, because that’s the only way that they can actually control the flow of revenue, compared to their recordings. And recordings are just a way for them to get people to attend their concerts.

Exactly. You used to tour in order to sell your CD. Now you have a CD - that’s music, for those of us who…

Compact Disc…

Yeah, there are no longer compact discs. Now you write music in order to bring people to your tour. It’s completely the opposite.

Which i not a fun lifestyle, right?

It is, but you also – talk about non-sustainable. I mean, some people can pull it off, The Rolling Stones, for 20-40 years, but very few people… Like, talk about burnout…

The road, man. The road.

I was reading this thing about Taylor Swift’s workout program, preparing for her Eras Tour… And it’s insane. Because if you think about what she has to do every night - roughly every night - it’s three and a half hours of song and dance, and being here, and changing your clothes, and all these things… And the way that she actually had to train for that was she would get on a treadmill for three and a half hours, and she would sing her entire set every day, on a treadmill, while she ran and walked, ran and walked… And she had to sing through it. I mean, she’s healthy, and of an age that she can do that. 30s, right? But I mean, it’s not a very sustainable lifestyle, right?

[unintelligible 00:14:40.12] cannot do that.

Maybe she could, I don’t know. She’s hanging in there… [laughs]

Could she run though, and –

No, I know what you’re saying. I agree with your point.

Like, at some point you just can’t do that… You can’t be the same artist and age, and maintain the requirement to perform.

Well, it’s kind of an open source maintainer, right? It’s like, “I write software that people value, and I give it away, and they take huge value from it… And in order for me to do that”, just like, people give their music away pretty much, “now I have to become an influencer, and a marketer, a businessperson, and all these other things in order to do that.” That’s how it is with music now; you have to be touring, you have to be a businessperson… And to a certain extent, it’s kind of always been that, but it’s just getting harder and weirder. And you have to have the name recognition to bring people out.

Exactly. Yeah< so that’s just what occurred to me when it comes to generative AI as it applies to audio. Things are about to get really interesting, because we’re heading into an election season, the ability to use generative AI for deep fakes, and to be able to create a world where you can’t trust anything that you see online… I mean, a lot of us haven’t been trusting what we see online for a while, but there’s still, I think, a part of our animal or lizard brain that looks at a video as something that confirms our biases… And we’re just looking for an excuse to feel a certain way. And we’re about to enter into a situation where we can actively reinforce our prejudices, and actively reinforce our biases, or we can take a step back and go “Okay, what do I actually know? How do I know it? How do I trust these information sources?” Because I think it’s going to be very interesting over the next year or so.

Well, random person on Facebook may not be the best person to pay attention to for deep fakes. If you see your friend post a video – I would say that’s kind of where in a way mainstream media does lend at least a name recognition reliability… But then you also have indie outlets you could pay attention to. And I suppose, where are they getting those videos [unintelligible 00:16:55.05]

Your friend could get duped, and now you’re duped by your friend’s duping.


That happens.


For sure.

So what does society look when everybody’s always skeptical of everything? Because that’s kind of where I’m getting to, where I’m “I don’t believe much of anything.” And that’s not a really healthy way of viewing life…

Exactly, exactly. So I am a very optimistic person. I recognize and I see the danger, and - in fact, I was off of social media for over a decade, because I didn’t the impact that it had on me. You know, the self-reinforcing pleasure cycle in your brain, to get that dopamine hit - it’s not healthy in the long term. So you have to – at least what I had to do is I had to figure out a way to find balance, because I have a highly addictive personality. So I’ve put in safeguards, so I don’t get…

Sucked all the way in.

…sucked all the way in. But basically, in the process I watched a lot of people get influenced by things that later turned out to be a just a scam, or a deep fake, or something. A very well-photoshopped thing.

[00:18:10.14] I think I have faith that people are going to have to evolve past where they are right now in terms of their sophistication of their media consumption. We’re gonna have to get to a place where we’re more intentional about the diet of the mind that we feed ourselves. Because right now, everybody is competing for everybody’s attention. It’s all about manipulating, and bludgeoning people into giving up their attention, whether it’s for a minute or an hour, and then reinforcing that habit, and then monetizing it.

So something has to change. This is not sustainable in the long term. And that’s the beauty of how human beings and living systems evolve… You push things beyond a breaking point; you push things into a problem state, and something changes. And either it changes in a way that you hoped for, or it changes and you’re just going to be left with the repercussions. And it might not be something that you would hope for… In fact, it might be the very thing that you fear. But that’s the thing about equilibrium. When you stress people, when you put people into a situation where it’s unsustainable, something has to change.

Or break.

Or break.

Breaking changes.

But when they break, it still causes a change.

For sure.

Exactly. So it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens with automation as it applies to our industry in the near future.

Yeah. So I’m a pessimist, but here’s something hopeful based on what you’re saying. The conversations that we’ve been having amongst techies over the last 18 months, almost all of them have some form of this conversation that we’re having with you in it, inevitably.

For sure.

In fact, we’ve started to have chapters, I’d call it “The obligatory AI chapter.” Becaue it’s going to work its way into all of our conversations. Even when ostensibly the conversation’s about an entirely different thing, here it comes. And so the reason why that’s hopeful is because I feel this is permeating our Zeitgeist, and we’re all thinking about it, and we’re all concerned about it, and we are being, you said, more mindful of our media diet, and what’s changing around us… And I think that we are also well positioned in a place where we can affect change in that space. There’s my hopefulness.

Yeah, absolutely.

That is hopeful. I’m being very mindful of my media diet. To the point where I don’t really have – I suppose my wife might disagree that I have an addictive personality… I “healthy obsession”, more than addictive… [laughter]

This is a marketer here. He’s convincing himself it’s healthy obsession.

Yeah, I [unintelligible 00:20:50.17] and I cannot even allow myself to go on TikTok. It’s just too much. There’s just too much things –

It’s too good.

It really is, it’s too good. There’s a lot of things I want to know and I have a curious mind. So I’m just naturally curious. And about things I don’t even really necessarily care about, the main thing, so to speak. And so I will find myself, “I’m bored. Let me give myself permission 10 minutes.” Well, that won’t be 10 minutes. It will be an hour.

Oh, yeah.

And now I just don’t even allow it. Don’t even allow it. Because I just know that I’m gonna go on there and find interesting things, and be entertained, or be educated, or whatever… And I just don’t allow it anymore.

What’s healthier for you?

I’m a teetotaler. It’s a zero.

Sure. But I mean, then what do you – when you have that ten minutes, when you want to decompress, when you –

Go to sleep. Go to sleep instead.

Just sleep it out.

Ten-minute nap.

Not necessarily… [laughter] I would go on TikTok when I should be –

[00:21:56.23] When you’re going to bed. Before bed.

Right. It’s a reading thing. So instead –

What about you’re on lunch hour, you’re having a sandwich… What do you do?

Never. Nah. Something productive. Probably check email, organize my to-do list…

So you work through your lunch.

Oh, not necessarily. I mean, this is an example of what I do.

Or I would just be present in the moment… I do have books I listen to a lot, so I’ll listen to – I’ll re-listen to books… Like, if I liked that book, I’ll relisten to it again. I might give it six months, and I’ll re listen to it again. But I go back to books, or read books, or catch up with someone via the phone, or something that… I’m just not diving into social media that is really not that important to me. It doesn’t really need to feed the, you said dopamine beast; basically, I don’t want to do that anymore. That’s not how I want to operate. And I know that I’m less healthy mentally when I allow myself to be in that zone.


And so the more I’m in control of, I guess, my present state of mind, and my present feeling about whatever’s around me, is the better for me. Because there’s an easy way you can go on there and just lose your time. In a lot of cases, social media really is about losing your time to something else that’s in full control. And in TikTok’s case in particular, very much at the whim of the algorithm. Whatever it’s going to give to you next… And it’s all designed on swipe, engage, swipe, engage, you know…

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, they’ve really got that feedback loop oiled. A well-oiled machine.

It’s also a good thing, too. I’m not gonna say that TikTok’s bad. I just need it to be more mindful of how I use it, and when I allow it to be used by me. I’ll still hop on here and there, but just way –

Do you still tell everybody they should start a TikTok?

Yeah, yeah, totally. I still think it’s a great platform. But I think it begins really even more so with a smartphone being in my pocket. I have access to anything I want. I can be on ChatGPT way more, because it’s got an iOS app. And the iPhone does a great job of taking my voice, turning it into prose… I’ve said this before on podcasts, where I would just talk to ChatGPT via the iOS app, versus typing it out. So I could do the same thing there. It’s just, at a state in humanity today, we have access to literally a lot of communication, whether it’s positive or negative, in our pocket, for the most part. Most modern society folks have access to that. And I think when you’re talking about balance, I think we could all exercise a healthy balance with that.

Yeah. So it’s interesting that you bring that up, because - yeah, somebody posted a meme the other day… I saw it, I think, just yesterday. It said at one point we used to think that the problem with the world is that people just don’t have access to information. Well, now everybody has access to all the information, whether it’s true or false… But I mean, essentially, that theory has been disproven. But what I would say is, now people have access to their own alternate facts, their own alternate version of reality, because in the case of Google, let’s say I’m going to conduct a Google search on, let’s say something that borders on the political. The results I’m going to get are going to be completely different than an uncle or a cousin or somebody on the opposite side of the political spectrum. So that’s going to reinforce their version of reality, or their existing biases.

Right. And yours as well. They feed us ourselves,


Tucker Carlson, love him or hate him, he was on a debate with one of the Young Turks hosts recently. I saw it, and I think the headline was Tucker Carlson beats this guy, dunks on him basically; demolishes him, from an argument standpoint. But one thing he said was about government - and this is kind of getting political to some degree, but he was saying about government, and he was saying in no time in history have we ever had a private company be more financially stable and well-funded than our government is, and how much power Google in particular, you mentioned, has. We’ve never had the algorithm, the search algorithm be so in control of society, that we can be – you just said, your results are different than your uncle, or your aunt, or whomever… That we all have this sort of – they have just so much power over what we can see, and what our filters are, and what our bubbles are, and our spectrums are…

[00:26:33.14] These are private companies, that are for profit, and they could be good, or they could be evil. But that’s something that we’ve never really experienced in all of human history, having so much power, and yet when I go into Safari on my iPhone, and I search something, whether it’s a product, I’m looking for something at Home Depot or whatever, it begins with a Google search, in a lot of cases.

Or you’re asking ChatGPT, which is a different company, but in the same scenario, right?

For sure.

So much power – when that thing answers all your questions, pretty much, and then you can’t trust them all, but you can trust them for the most part…

But his point was how much control that company not only has over what we see, but how it sways political with lobbying, with all the money…

Well, it sways everything.

Yeah, exactly. So much power; not only as a utility, that is very much for good, or very much for evil if you want to go that route… But then it also has so much power over our government.

And you multiply that by Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon… It’s not just one, it’s many.


And they all have similar sway over our government. And back to the whole pessimist, “I don’t trust anybody”, what does that even do if you’re already there? If you’re already “I can’t trust anybody, yet this is true.”

Pull the plug. Pull the plug.

So here’s the interesting thing. I think at one point, if you go back enough decades ago - you’d probably have to go back more than 40 years ago. But basically, I believe that even if you were of a completely different political persuasion, we at least had a commonly-accepted set of facts that we could all agree about. We might disagree about what to do about that reality, but at least we could find common ground on “Okay, the Earth is not flat.” [laughter]

It’s not flat…?!

And unless you’re of a particular persuasion, you believe that the Earth is a little bit older than, say, a few thousand years, right? So starting with certain fundamental, foundational, common points of agreement, the range of possibilities that you could arrive at about “What should we do, given this reality that we can all agree upon?” isn’t so night and day. Compared to when you have a completely separate set of facts, and a completely different understanding of reality. And that reality - the Venn diagram is broken, because there’s no overlap between one political reality and another political reality. And it’s causing people to arrive at vastly different – but I want to say by design - irreconcilable conclusions about what to do with two completely different realities.

So I think the solution is for us to trust our eyes and ears less, and start going back to original sources, and get to a place where we can actually trust the information that we see and hear and consume. And we need immediacy of that in our media, and in every other source, where as you’re consuming something, there’s a way for you to evaluate “Hey–” Almost a real-time fact checker. And I feel as if this is where AI could be unleashed, to give people contextualization of the information. Because you look at Twitter; somebody says something outrageous. Eventually, community notes will come in there and say “Oh, by the way, you’re missing this crucial context, which basically flips –”

[00:30:24.08] Flips the narrative.

…flips the narrative, so the thing that you agreed with and liked and shared got completely turned upside down. Imagine if you could have that kind of accountability to a broader context, in real time. And up until now, it required people who are experts, or people who are freaks of nature who just happen to have certain subjects memorized, so that they could provide that accountability, and they had to be available, and their attention had to be trained on that. But imagine if you had AIs that can provide that for you, and provide that accountability in real time, and actually reduce disinformation, before the disinformation has actually had a chance to do its damage.

Quicker. Yeah.

Because right now, all of the incentives are aligned around the people who are doing the worst in our society. The people who are saying things that are clearly not true. They receive benefit of it, because it spreads across the internet immediately. What was it - a lie can spread around the world before the truth is even laced up at shoes. So imagine being able to flip that economic incentive, so it’s actually painful for somebody to tell a lie in a public space.

Yeah. Community notes is interesting. Do you know how it works exactly? I know a little bit about how it works…

So there have to be enough people who have…

Disagreements on other topics…

Exactly. And so these are people who the community has decided that their feedback is worth up-voting, so they’re considered a trustworthy source of information. And the problem with that is if you get enough people acting in bad faith, you can completely distort that kind of algorithm. And it relies on people acting in good faith. So to me, that seems a critical vulnerability.

If I were trying to hijack a democracy, I would take advantage of that.

But wouldn’t we also have to assume that the AIs are acting in good faith? And isn’t there ultimately a puppet master for any piece of software?

[laughs] Well, yeah, that’s a really good point.

Somebody’s training the model, right? So you’re kind of rearranging the furniture, but it’s faster. I agree, that’s better.

I the way community notes works, because people have to have disagreed on other topics. They’re kind of saying “These are not all the same persuasion, but about this thing, they all agree that that thing is wrong.” So there’s a counterbalance there. I’m not sure how well it works in practice. It seems – when I read community notes, it seems pretty good most of time, but it’s late, you said. It probably is gameable…

It takes a day or two or three… And by that point, the people who read the original message, and either liked or shared it, retweeted it - they eventually get the notification. “Oh, hey, that thing that you liked, that thing that you shared, that thing that you retweeted - a community note was added.” Okay, great, but the damage has already been


The same problem in our publications as well. The correction comes days later, at the bottom of the page…

It’s definitely not a headline.

[00:33:49.05] And the headline has been consumed and moved on from already, and the correction gets a tenth, a hundredth of the viewership as the wrong thing was… So that also is – maybe AIs can help with that as well. I don’t know.

It gets even more interesting when you look at the reproducibility issue in scientific publications. Because that’s where the economic incentives are even more distorted, because it’s publish or perish in that world. So if you’re not publishing, then you’re not gonna get funded, and you’re not gonna have any means to be able to actually continue your research. So the incentive is to actually continue to publish, publish, publish, and if there’s a retraction, it’s an afterthought. And the thing I’ll never forget is there’s a gentleman - I think he was out of Stanford, and he founded something called The Reproducibility – Retraction Watch, that’s what it was called. But basically, what they discovered is over 50% of the landmark studies that have been done on the subject of cancer are not reproducible. And so you have huge companies spending billions of dollars on trying to cure cancer, or treat cancer more effectively, but over half of what they thought they could count on, is actually not reproducible. And it’s kind of frightening when you think it.

Yeah… Trust nothing. [laugh]

Well, it’d be awesome if we could get to a place where you could establish trust more quickly, and more genuinely.

Question everything is maybe another version of that. Trust nothing, question everything… I heard an adage that – I can’t recall the source necessarily, but that anytime a civilization creates social media, soon after it implodes on itself…

That’s what happened with the Romans, obviously. They started scrolling graffiti on the walls… And it was straight line –

Assuming the Multiverse, or assuming whatever…

Assuming the Multiverse… Was this one of your plausible science fiction books you’re reading?

I really wish I could recall the source, but it was interesting to think that if – you know, it may have been a book, it may have been science fiction, I don’t know… But it sounds interesting to me –

Is it reproducible? That’s the question,

Maybe not, but it’s at least plausible, or understandable, in the fact that when social media is introduced into a society, soon after it begins to overexpose itself to itself…


…and therefore begins to see the differences and the biases, and hate becomes the primary, versus the love… Which I think is somewhat true. We’ve experienced it, just based on our need for a diet. There’s something there that is not –


…normal. Yeah, it’s definitely something worth noting about. And is it social media’s fault? I wouldn’t say necessarily… But the internet is a very fantastic thing, but we’ve also layered on this social fabric onto the internet, the information superhighway, that now allows us to ad nauseam just share, and consume, true or not true things. And so that cannot be sustainable long-term. And if we have to say “Trust nothing” at the end of a podcast, is that a good thing? Not a good thing, I don’t think. So you have to agree with that at least… Even if the adage of “Every time a civilization invents social media, X happens.” That may be the science fiction side of it, but…

I’m gonna community-notes that quote, though.


I don’t trust it. [laughter] I agree with it, but I don’t trust it.

Interesting. Yeah, so I’m optimistic, because I see the potential for damage right now, and I see it getting worse before it gets better… But at the same time, we’re going to reach a breaking point. The current set of conditions cannot continue and accelerate.

What do you think would break, or what would be that potentially look like? Obviously, you can’t tell the future, but what would that look like?

[00:38:08.19] Well, I can look at the recent past. I can remember what happened on January 6th, and you had an attempted coup.

Yeah, I could see a post-election serious problem, breaking point.

Right. So if we have the world’s oldest democracy come to an end because enough people believe that the election is rigged, there are going to be changes. And they’re not going to be necessarily changes that the vast majority of people want to live through. So something has to change.

And he’s somehow spinning that as optimistic… [laughs]

I it, Sam. I how optimistic you are about that.

Because when there’s a safety valve, when there’s a minor pressure relief, people are “Oh, well, this is not that big a deal. It’s okay.” Right? And I feel as if the world of automation, the world of AI - up until now we’ve been distracted by a lot of little pressure release valves. Lots and lots of little things that have prevented it from becoming an apocalypse.

Something will change, either by our design, or because we have no choice, because something has broken. My theory is that in the near future we’re going to have better accountability, we’re going to have better ability to establish trust, and that the economic incentive to lie and act in bad faith in public is going to get undermined. It’s gonna be neutralized.

I’m gonna mention an ad, if you don’t mind. It’s kind of odd, but we have this ad for “Read, write, own”, from Chris Dixon… And I’ve read the copy of for it. I haven’t read the book yet. But the premise is pretty interesting. It says this about – at least in the ad spot. So we were paid to say this elsewhere, not in this context. It’s a recent ad we did… And it says “Read, write, own” is a call to action for a more open, transparent, and democratic internet, one that opens the black box of AI, tracks the origins (as you’re saying) we see online, and much more.”

“And it’s our chance to reimagine the world changing technologies we have, and to build the internet we want, not the one we’ve inherited” essentially. So I don’t know what the content of the book is, but there’s this similarity. I think he even mentioned one way to track some of this AI stuff is –

It’s blockchain.

Why in the world is blockchain always the solution to everything?

That’s how you track changes publicly.

You can’t alter it after it’s been computed.

It’s append-only, yeah.


It’s immutable.

It’s trustless… When done correctly, obviously.

Well, that’s the thing. It depends on whether it’s proof of work or proof of stake…

There’s a lot of ifs there, or it depends’es. But the math seems sound on it being able to have a trustless public chain of events.

Well, that’s the thing though, you’re still trusting something.

Well, you said, it goes back to math, right?

It goes back to having enough nodes on the system that concur with your accounting.

Consensus, yeah.

So just with the Onion Router, Tor, at one point, I think it was the NSA who actually owned a number of nodes. They had compromised enough nodes that they could do a timing-based attack where they would analyze the amount of time that it takes between the different layers, and they were able to figure out where somebody was in the world, and they were able to basically figure out who they were based on that timing.

The NSA…

Trust nothing… [laughs]

But theoretically, you could do that with a blockchain network. If you own enough nodes, then you can skew the results.

Totally. Because you can fake consensus, essentially.

Well, this is why the Bitcoiners go back to Bitcoin. They say it’s the longest-standing, most diverse, secure blockchain there is, because of how much value is there, and how long it’s been not broken.

Now, maybe there’s somebody with 51% of that. Of course, Satoshi has a whole bunch of Bitcoin that has never moved, and… Honestly, the moment that moves, I think the network falls.

I mean… Okay, yes.

Okay, yes…

I mean, maybe not – yeah, I think so.

Something changes.

Trust erodes.

So a couple of things. First of all, when it comes to blockchain, specifically Bitcoin and others that are based on proof of work, not proof of stake, I have a real issue with… Because the energy intensity of the computation is so high that you could power multiple countries now. Right? And so what’s happening is a lot of dirty energy sources such as natural gas, coal, oil, things that, where increasingly, it is economically unsustainable, because grid-powered solar and wind have completely leapfrogged them in terms of cost efficiency. If you’re building brand new energy sources right now, by far, you can build anywhere from six to nine times more grid-scale, solar or wind, compared to nuclear, which is the second cheapest, or third cheapest, I should say… But everything else is more expensive by comparison. But the problem is, you go to an oilfield where they have these toxic gases, and they set fire to those toxic gases as a way of making it safe. Well, that’s wasted energy.

So what’s happening here in Texas is a bunch of Bitcoin miners set up in the oil fields, and they’ve harvested that heat energy, what would normally be just waste heat. And that becomes an additional revenue stream for those oil extractors, those oil companies. And so it basically takes what was a dying revenue model, a dying, industry, and it breathes new life into it, and it slows down our adoption of renewables. And it takes – basically, it vastly increases our risk of transforming our environment to a place where it’s going to kill people to go outside, whether it’s due to the extreme heat and humidity, or the extreme cold, because the natural conveyor belt that used to exist has kind of collapsed, or it’s sometimes collapsing.

Yeah, potentially. I’ve also seen a lot of proponents of innovation around clean energy sources, because of the value in the network and the people that are willing to invest in. I think it’s probably a mixed bag. I don’t know enough about it to speak better than that. I’m just speaking to the security of it, which is what they – I don’t even know if that’s… I trust nothing. I don’t even know if that’s fair. It seems to be what they’re saying, but… How do you go back to origins with a chain of trust that you can actually prove out? I mean, so far, that seems to be the one good use case of blockchain.

Sure. Do you watch Netflix?

Do you know how much power they use?

It’s not small. It’s not small.

But you watch Netflix.

Yeah, I do.

This is where I have a challenge, because there’s such high value – and I’m with Jerod on this point, that it’s such high value that we need innovation around… I mean, we have a sun, right? It’s the out there right now. The only reason we’re here right now is because it’s there, right?

We need a better harness the most available energy source ever, and that’s solar. All the things that the Earth provides as its natural ways. I’m for Bitcoin. I understand the whole “It sucks a bunch of energy”, but let’s be humans and innovate and find ways around the dirty ways. And again, to Jerod’s point, I don’t know a ton about energy necessarily, but at the same time, the word I feel is more hybrid.

[00:46:14.27] There’s places where something Diesel-powered will trump, for the moment, the output of something that is electric-powered. Or LiPo battery-powered, or whatever it might be-powered. The world is more hybrid. I think we need balance, rather than cut-off.


At some point - yes, maybe those things need to be less available, but… If you just cut off the dirty ways, I suppose, you’ll see a crippled earth. Like, there’s so much reliance on diesel powered, gas powered, natural powered, clean powered… We need a more balanced process of it, rather than saying “It’s only this way, or only that way.” “Why not both?” is my best option when it comes to hard choices. Why not both? Can’t we do both?

And when it comes to Bitcoin and powering it, let’s find ways to use things that are more renewable; things that are not overly-draining the system it’s on. I’m all for that. If it’s clean… Or even this – like, what an awesome thing to reuse those off-gases, though. It was once waste, and now it’s not waste. It may stump the opportunity for renewables, but it also is a reuse of something that was previously just waste. Which is always a positive.

There’s so much opportunity with decentralized, non-owned-by-government-entity currency for the world that it scares governments. So just that [unintelligible 00:47:40.29] it’s almost worth exploring as trust nothing, you know what I mean? It’s almost worth exploring, because then the trust becomes the network itself, rather than simply “I trust my government”, or “My government trusts that government, and so therefore it is trusted…” You know what I mean?

So a couple of things… First of all, look at who is the primary beneficiary of Bitcoin. A lot of it comes down to these ransomware gangs, and people who want to be able to move illicit substances on the dark web, and things that. So believe it or not, if you map out the parts of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that are actually profiting and benefiting are different parties, it’s particularly nefarious when it comes to Bitcoin and other currencies that are based on that.

The other thing is, I’ve actually invented a blockchain-based technology that generates a ledger of renewable energy. In fact, part of the idea behind it - and I came up with this over a decade ago - is the idea that when you walk into a coffee shop, you don’t have to get approvals. You don’t have to go through a multi-step process to connect to the WiFi, right? It just automatically discovers, it’s zero config… It’s super-simple. Well, right now, if you want to add solar to your roof, or wind, or anything to the local grid, you have to go through a month-long process, and you have to get all kinds of different people involved, get different stamps of approval. Because our grid was designed over 100 years ago, and it hasn’t been updated since then.

So the concept was to basically take some of the brains of the Internet where it’s self-configuring, it’s able to automatically discover the capabilities of all the different devices around it, and it can also self-heal. So take that resiliency and put it into an electrical grid. So when you hook up your solar panels, you don’t have to go through all of the government red tape, and the solar panels communicate with the local electrical grid, using Blockchain as a way to actually preserve a historical record of the capabilities of the production of that system.

[00:50:03.28] So first of all, the right people get paid, but also, that’s more valuable to the grid, to know what that system is capable of historically. And then also to move more intelligence away from a command and control structure, and move more intelligence into the nodes around the electrical grid. So if there’s a terrorist attack, or if there’s a natural disaster, it becomes far more resilient, more secure, more fault-tolerant, and it’s able to respond much faster than one person, Homer Simpson, watching a dial and adjusting levers and knobs… You can actually automate a lot of that stuff in the way that a lot of the internet, the backbone of the internet is actually capable of self-healing and rerouting traffic. You can do the same with electricity.

Tell us more. Or tell us where we can learn more about that.

Oh, I licensed the technology a decade ago.

It’s come and gone?

I’m sure it’s being used by somebody, somewhere. I have no idea.

But the interesting thing about that is the intersection of the blockchain, because from my perspective, blockchain has a lot of potential to establish trust, and to basically provide historically-accurate, verifiable information in a way that cannot be forged after the fact. So then you can start to establish trust, and make use of historical information in a way that benefits everybody.

I don’t know how pertinent this is, but in my small town, Dripping Springs, we have a coop; our energy provider is a coop. And I’m still learning exactly what that means, but basically, they are for the grid itself, and if there’s money to go back, if they overcharge me, I get money back.

Yeah. That’s awesome.

And it’s actually better if I don’t get money back, because they’re doing their job.


But it’s an energy grid that is for the community, it’s powered by the community, it employs people, and that’s how it works.

That’s awesome.

And two books that I’ve read in my life, “The world is flat”, and “Hot, flat and crowded.” Those are a little dated. I think “Hot, flat and crowded” was kind of predictive to a lot of this stuff… “The world is flat” was about the workforce of the world being flattened. Like, you could be in Dubai and work for the Changelog, you know? Producing podcasts, kind of thing. And the “Hot, flat and crowded” was this prediction that we would, because of the energy grid, and it needs to be smart you talked about, we need to have more intelligence in the grid. I totally agree with that, but at the same time, what in the world is stopping it? Because you see deregulation in energy, you see randos being able to essentially hedge energy, make a lot of money… It’s such a weird, kind of wild, wild west in a way. I don’t know if it needs to be government-sourced, because I mean, who can trust our government as much? Like, maybe it needs to be regulated by something, but every state is different in the United States in terms of how their energy works. I don’t know how it works in Nebraska, but everybody’s kind of a little different. And who’s in charge of literally upgrading the energy grid? And we need it now, not incrementally, iteratively over the next decade. We need it almost immediately, but who’s in charge of that? What’s the consortium making that happen? Who’s agreeing on making that happen?

Yeah, so the federal government actually – here’s a fun fact. I don’t know if you were familiar with what happened a few years ago, when we had the cold snaps… I used to work at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, HPE. A ton of my co-workers are out of Texas. Austin, Houston, that whole area. And a lot of them were without power for days and weeks.

I live here. I was one of them.

Yeah, so you know what it’s like.

For a good week, at least.

[00:53:50.13] So the interesting thing about it though is that the ERCOT was built by the same people who built Enron. Okay? So the people whose theory is “Well, let’s just turn it into a free market experiment. Let’s see what happens.” Well, the thing is, the free market – free market pixie dust is not a cure for every ill. Okay? So just because you sprinkle free market pixie dust on an energy grid doesn’t mean that it’s always going to produce better results. And in the case of the winter, a couple/few years ago, it has disastrous impacts. But the interesting thing is, at the same time that ERCOT was collapsing, you have the panhandle of Texas, you’ve got El Paso, which are on neighboring grids - both of them were sustainable, and they survived all of those cold snaps because they had a larger grid, and the fundamentals of the grid are completely different than how ERCOT operates.

So here’s the thing… The thing that a lot of people use as a reason not to switch over faster to renewables - they say, “Oh, well, the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow.” Well, here’s the thing. That only applies if you have tunnel vision. If you’re zoomed in so close to your point of reference, that that’s the only thing you’re looking at. If you zoom out, all of a sudden you notice that – if you could look at the entire globe at once, the sun is always shining somewhere, and it is always blowing somewhere. And if you can basically generate energy on a large enough scale, and then ship that energy, using the magic of science and three-phase electricity, you can ship that energy anywhere. I mean, within reason.

For sure.

So on a large enough scale, there is more than enough energy. There was a study probably 20 plus years ago, where they looked at all the different wind sites that had ever been examined. At the time, they said “Oh, well, we have more than enough energy, wind energy to power the entire Earth five times over, just on the existing sites that we’ve actually surveyed.” And since then, it’s just gotten even better, and more efficient. So the thing is, there’s a way of measuring how much this stuff costs. It’s called the levelized cost of energy, LCOE. And it’s basically a survey of the actual projects that are being built every year, and how much it’s costing, and how much it’s generating. And all things being equal, you can compare these things and go, “Oh, well, let me see… New nuclear is anywhere from six times to nine times more expensive than new grid solar, or wind.” Natural gas, coal, oil - all of these things are many times more expensive than even new nuclear.

So I understand the idea of “Well, we can’t just throw a switch and cut it off.” However, every time somebody spends billions of dollars building new nuclear, I look at that and go “Yeah, well, we could do that in order to get X amount of generation capacity.” Or, if you took all that money that was spent on nuclear, or a natural gas plant, or anything else, switch it over to grid scale, solar and wind, with just a little bit of storage, we could build 5-10 times as much. Well, if we had five or ten times as much as we actually needed - that’s called over-provisioning. Here’s the thing - if you generate two, five, ten times more energy than you actually need, you don’t need to store nearly as much of it. So your costs of storage actually go down vastly. But with just a little bit of storage, and a little bit of over-provisioning, we could be switching over to renewables in a matter of just a few years. Like, literally, we have all the technology. We don’t have to have more research. Literally, we can take off-the-shelf solutions right now, and it would actually save us money. Because everywhere that this has been done, the cost of electricity actually goes down, the grid becomes more reliable.

[00:58:19.10] Look at what Tesla did with their massive battery that they installed in Australia. They said, “We can do this in–” I can’t remember what it was; under three months. It turned out they did it in 90 days, or something that. So they basically said “We can stabilize the Australian power grid during the worst of the summer months.” And it did. They stabilized it; they were able to install it within 90 days or something that, and their cost of energy actually went down, because it’s more reliable. And all of your equipment lasts longer because of that. All your heavy machinery, and stuff that… If you have a brownout, or if you have an interruption to your power supply, that’s really freaking expensive. I’m sorry, I’m a nerd… [laughs]

I love the rant. I just wish it would happen. I feel maybe in the case of that being effective, not necessarily at the end of this session, but Elon himself might pose a risk to that, because he’s so bombastic. He’s so polarizing…

You want somebody that, who’s willing to be risky with SpaceX and Tesla and Boring Company, these things… But at the same time, he’s kind of a weirdo. You sort of can’t really trust him very much, because he’s just so…

Trust no one…?

Yeah… [unintelligible 00:59:40.14]

I feel he’s fallen in with the bad crowd. [laughs]

Well, you know – because I want that. I want somebody to focus on that, and do well.


My question to that plan is how far do you have to zoom out realistically, inside the United States?

Not far. If you look at the scale of our grid - and we have an East grid and a West grid, and then you’ve got ERCOT, and you’ve got one or two other smaller grids along the way. But for the most part, it’s two big grids.

So we need a coop for all of US. Right? We need a coop that is for the grid, not against the grid.

That’d be lovely.

It’s not for higher costs of energy, it’s for stabilized, sustainable energy for everyone… And it needs to almost go side by side to it, and incrementally replace old with new. Similar to the way the internet has grown, from dial-up to fiber.

Exactly. The problem is the oldest sources of energy - coal, oil, natural gas, all those guys, they have permanent structural tax incentives built in. Everything that is remotely renewable always has a sunset. It always has – you know, EVs; up until the act that was passed by Biden within the last couple of years, Chevy, Tesla, and a number of others, all of the tax incentives went bye-bye…

Yeah, I heard about that.

…because as soon as you succeed to a certain point, then all the tax incentives went bye-bye. So anyway, I did want to bring it back to energy efficiency, and specifically the computing industry.

I’m down for that.

What’s that?

I’m down for that, too. I’m thinking about energy efficiency myself in my home lab, so…

Yes, we could build up more generation capacity, but what if we took what we’re already doing, and we made datacenters, and the fabric of the internet, hundreds or even thousands of times more efficient than they are right now? And that’s the kind of problem that I’ve been wrestling with for the last ten plus years, working in technology. For example, image optimization. Right now, something like three quarters of all images shuffled/moved over the internet are not actually optimized. And so there’s a tremendous waste of energy and compute resources and storage and bandwidth just with image optimization, or lack thereof.

[01:02:11.17] Microservice architectures - very, very popular; it’s kind of the tool that large enterprises use, so that they don’t have to worry about backend for frontend. Right? And the problem is, I had a view in an app that I was developing for HPE, and it required over two dozen REST calls before it could render a single view. So I reimagined what that would look if I did all my data fetching in edge functions. And then I optimized it, tree-shook it, and then, of course, encoded it using Brotli. By the time was all said and done, I was able to reduce bandwidth by 99.916%. So that’s interesting…

That’s a lot of percents…

That’s a big improvement, right?

99.96, did you say?


Yeah, that’s almost 100%. [laughs]


But here’s the thing. We still had real-time data, and we still were missing out on a tremendous opportunity to vastly improve the efficiency of even that system. Why? Because when you have lots of data changing all the time, every time you deliver data to the client, the client has no idea if its data is fresh or stale. So you always have to start with the assumption, “If five seconds have passed…”

It’s stale. So you always have to call back to the data source, and you always have to fetch, and then it has to exercise database queries, it has to do all the things that are expensive, and it’s a huge waste of resources throughout our entire industry. If you take and add just a little bit of intelligence, and move over to an event-driven architecture, where the data source knows what the data dependencies are, it knows when something has changed, and it pushes those changes, publishes those changes to, let’s say, an edge function… Instead of revalidating the data source at the edge, you can actually say “Hey, I know that you’re interested in this data. And by the way, here’s the delta. Here’s the set of changes.” And by the time you’re done applying that change at the edge, the hash of what that modified resource will look is included in the E tag that I’m including from the data source to the edge function. And the edge function can do a patch at the edge, and then update the cache at the edge. And then you use Server Sent Events to go from edge function to client, and then the client only updates when there’s actually a useful benefit to actually making a network request.

And so you’ve eliminated polling, you’ve eliminated all of this wasted resources, wasted infra bills, your AWS costs is off the charts… You go from - instead of 99.916% reduction, you can take that, and you can eliminate every single network request, every single DB op that does not produce a useful result. And in my previous role, we figured out that 99% of the time it was read-only. There was no mutation of the data. So what that means is you have 99% opportunity for cache hits. So only 1% of that would actually require a new database operation, and then you could just push the changes to the edge and update the cache right there.

[01:06:03.21] So imagine 99.916% more efficient, times an additional 99% reduction in infra costs, and all of a sudden you’re talking thousands of times more efficient, and saving yourself potentially millions of dollars in AWS or other infra costs. So those are the types of things that I get excited about, because if we just take the tools that are right now on the shelf…

Ah, that’s the key word right there.

No. Tools.

Tools. Hah! Okay.

Tools. If we just take this set of techniques, this set of architectural patterns that have been in existence for decades, we know that they work, and they’re actually easier to do now than ever before.

Right. But we don’t have the tools.

Yes, we do.

You got’em?

Yeah. I’ve been building with them for the last decade or so.

Well, you’re the only one who’s got’em.

No, no, no… There are other people who do it.

Give us the tools, Sam.

Give us the tools, Sam. Tell us.

Okay. So for edge functions, I’m a big fan of Vercel. And the reason why I’m a big fan of Vercel is because they basically built the same exact info that I’ve built at previous roles, where you evaluate best of breed. And in the case of edge workers, CloudFlare, those guys are amazing. All of their isolates mean no cold starts. So you don’t have to wait dozens or hundreds of milliseconds for your edge function to spin up. It’s ready to go right there. And so it’s fundamentally more efficient if you’ve got easy access to your data. And there are ways to architect that, whether you’re using CloudFlare, R2, D1, any of that; Planet Scale… There are ways for you to move your data into an event-driven architecture. Postgres has triggers. A ton of different message mesh solutions. You’ve got, you’ve got Red Panda, and Kafka, and RabbitMQ… You’ve got a ton of different options out there to be able to really wire up all of these parts without having to reinvent the wheel, without [unintelligible 01:08:22.23]

Alright, let me change my one word then.

Oh, sorry.

Because I know that all these tools exist. The word is not tooling, the word is packaging.


Because you’re talking about architecture, you’re talking about a practice, a technique that you can use tools in order to accomplish, right?

But that technique has to be packaged. That’s why I said tooling is the word, because if there was a tool that did all these things for you out of the box, [unintelligible 01:08:44.09]

So what you’re saying is really a SaaS that makes it an easy button for people.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a SaaS, but something that says “Hello, web developers in the world. Here’s a much better way of doing it.”


And you describe it. And then you say “And here’s how you do it. Out of the box, it just works.” That’s how you get that technique, which has to be moved around, permeate the industry for to actually have the huge order effects that you’d to see, right? Not just at HPE, but at every shop.


And that requires – my original word was tooling, but packaging of the tools that are existing, and education. And here it is.

Is there anything that, or is this your stealth mode startup, or…?


Well, I can tell you, but then…

But then he’d be out of stealth mode.

Exactly. So let’s just say that the next six months to a year are going to be very interesting.

Okay. Now we’re hopeful. [laughs]

Trust in something…

We totally trust you. [laughter]

[01:09:49.16] Well, okay, so let’s put it this way… What I’ve just described to you is – I’m not inventing anything terribly unique by describing what I just described to you guys. This is a set of patterns that I think a lot of people are very well familiar with. But you’re right, there is no easy button. It takes a lot more work and effort and experimentation and profiling… And there are a lot of foot guns; there are a lot of ways that even if you’re doing everything right, except for one or two things, instead of being a cost savings, it can be a cost multiplier. So yeah, individual results will vary. But I suspect it’s about to get easier within the next year.

Oddly enough, we think about this as a podcast, because we build our own platform, and we think about CDNs, and delivering mp3s around the world, and how to do it well. We’ve been working with Fastly for many years, we’re considering change… We’ve even considered on a podcast building our own CDN.

Yup. I’ve done that.

But this is kind of in a similar vein… And I agree with you; I think if we had more efficiency – it’s interesting to think about the client not pulling, but the edge pushing. It’s a whole push mechanism, because that’s where the intelligence is at of the data being changed or not, right?


Because it knows every time data is added, right? Every time it writes new data, it knows there’s change somewhere to its clients. That seems very smart to me. But Jerod said, how do we buy the package?

No, really, how do we buy the package?

In six months or so it’s gonna be very interesting. Let’s leave it right there on the tease. Thanks, Sam. This has been awesome. Appreciate it.

It’s been fun. Thank you.

Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. Thank you.

What’s your favorite thing in life?

Wow, that’s a tough one.

That’s a deep question. Off the top my head, tiramisu.


Yeah. [laughter]

Wow. My wife loves tiramisu.

It’s good. I had a college roommate who was from Italy, and she made tiramisu with – she made the real espresso, and everything…

the real thing.

It was really good.

Did that ruin other Tiramisus for you, because it was so good?

Almost, yeah.

You can still enjoy it, but it’s like, “You know, I’ve had better…”

Here’s what I appreciate about tiramisu, via my wife, who’s told me this, and she was correct, and I started to appreciate it… It’s a very complicated thing. Or it’s a - not complicated; complex, perhaps. It’s not the kind of dessert that just anybody can whip up, you know…

There’s a lot of different steps, and parts, and…

You have to burn the top, right?

I don’t know how you make it. Do you know, Jess?

Don’t you torch the top of it? Is that the one?

I think that’s Crème Brulée.

Crème Brulée, okay. My bad. Describe it then. Give me a description of tiramisu.

It’s like, lady finger cookies or whatever, soaked in rum… The rum is very important…

I love lady fingers. If that’s tiramisu, then I’m –

Do you rum? Soaked in rum.

Yeah, I love rum. I was married in Jamaica. I have to.

Some kind of cream on top… And also espresso. I never made it, so I don’t know how to make it. I just eat it.

You just it. I love espresso, too. So coffee, sweets, rum… Yeah. And pastry, right? There’s a pastry around it?


Isn’t it a lady finger pastry thing?

Lady fingers are soaked in rum, so they’re basically a cake…

They’re a cookie…


I’m way off then.

It’s not crunchy.

[unintelligible 01:16:29.12] Crème Brulée.

[unintelligible 01:16:30.00] Not this case. I was thinking a cream horn, which is a pastry with cream in it… And we’ve called those – I’ve heard them called lady fingers before, so…

Oh, maybe there’s multiple types of lady fingers.

An éclair type thing, maybe…

Yeah, an éclair. But smaller. You can have bigger ones… Kind of a cannoli, too. It’s similar to a cannoli.

Oh, yeah. Cannoli is great.

But not the exact same – shape-wise, but the pastry is different than a cannoli. Anyways, that got me excited… I would love to have me some tiramisu.


Or a cannoli, or a ladyfinger…

Well, let’s talk for 90 minutes about different desserts that we like.

No, no, no. This is just for the fun, right?

That was an interesting answer to “What’s your favorite thing?” though. Tiramisu. It’s a good answer.

Well, I didn’t want to ask her about her breakfast, you know…

Because we all have the same breakfast.

Yeah, you know…

It’s less exciting.

Do you breakfast?

I love breakfast food.

If we laid down the best breakfast for you right now, what would it be? You’re dying tomorrow, this is the last breakfast. What would it be?

Yeah. I’d say corned beef hash. But it has to be sort of crunchy on one side, because it’s been seared… And then


Yeah, of course.

I poached eggs.

Same. Yeah. And then some English breakfast tea with milk and sugar.

No pastries?

I’m not a huge pastry person normally.

No croissant?

I croissants.

I don’t want anybody who dislikes them.

Well, that’s – yeah, I guess it’s a pastry, kind of…

Maybe you don’t eat them, because you don’t want to have carbs or gluten or something, but no one’s “Croissants? Those are terrible.”

So we’ve established you have good tastes in food…

You do have good tastes.

So what else do you have good tastes in? Let’s talk about software, and tech, and stuff that. What are you into?

I mean, on my YouTube channel I pretty much deal with the basics: HTML, CSS, a tiny bit of JavaScript… But it’s really just about trying to talk about practical things. So it’s all the things that I wish I had known when I was just starting out… Because I’m a self-taught developer. I didn’t get a CS degree or whatever. So learning from me… And I learned on the job, because I got a job, first off of Craigslist, and then I landed a job a couple years later at an advertising agency… So I had to learn at kind of a breakneck pace. You know, while I’m frantically googling, trying to meet my deadlines… So it’s just kind of educating people who are trying to get into the field with the things that I wish that I had known when I was starting out, to hopefully make it a little easier and less painful for them. In terms of tech stacks, I’m not really up to date on the hottest technologies, and stuff. I kind of deal with the basics.

I think there’s not enough people talking about the – I don’t want to say this necessarily.. Boring stuff. the practical things.

Yeah, for sure.

In a vein, you might think “Oh, that’s not as cool”, because you just said that kind of yourself. What would you consider practical then? Give me an example of some recent videos you’ve done that’s been practical knowledge you wish you had when you first started.

I think some of it is research, and then problem solving. I started making some videos where I’m literally just building a website from a design file or whatever, and talking through my thought process, and being willing to show in the video the things that I get stuck on. And there’s some things that had to be edited out; if I’m just spending 45 minutes reading the documentation and trial and error kind of thing… But that kind of learning how to problem solve seems to be a skill that I think a lot of people starting out don’t know how to develop… So I think it’s helpful for them to sort of see that in action. So yeah, I would say problem solving is kind of a good practical skill to have.

[01:20:11.10] For sure. So Adam, to give you a little bit of background that I got before…

Please do.

Jess has built a channel since 2017. It’s called Coder Coder, and she’s built it to almost 500,000 subscribers.


And her husband is her editor.


And so this is now sustainable – it’s not like a software engineering salary, but it’s enough that she can do it, and it can sustain her… Pretty cool.

That is pretty cool.

I did subscribe. I haven’t watched any videos. I just met you five minutes ago…

That’s very cool.

But I did notice you’ve got the classic mouth wide open, excited thumbnail…


And I’d love to hear your thoughts on your thumbnails. It seems like most YouTubers I meet, they’re doing it because they feel like they have to. Is that pretty much you?

Yeah… I mean, it works.

“It works” is what you hear a lot.

I do try to not get overly sensational, like Mr. Beast style… But I think having the picture of yourself - it works. It works for people who recognize your channel, because… I was trying some A/B testing with thumbnails, and the ones that I’m not in the thumbnail, they don’t get clicked as much. So yeah… You’ve gotta get that lizard brain emotion to get people to click on your video, you know?

It’s interesting how the algorithm wins there for creators… Because there’s actually – have you paid attention to this? There’s a revolt. A lot of creators are stepping away from YouTube, that had been there for sometimes a couple of years, maybe even half a decade or longer, because of the treadmill of YouTube. And some of it is YouTube’s fault, and some of it, that they feel they have to create content that serves the algorithm, not so much their creativity. Like what they think should exist. And so they almost have to – this one in particular, his name’s Caleb, and he runs DSLR Video Shooter. And I’ve been paying attention to him for years, because I kind of get into video and photography, and it’s helped us over the years… And I like the guy a lot. I respect his work big time; he’s got great opinions. So he’s got videos on super-simple YouTube - you may have even seen him over the years… He was like “I just would procrastinate on my videos, because I would overly make them perfect, to not have to ship it. Because my identity would then be rooted in its reach. Like, did this one flop? I put this effort into it…” And he was just saying how the input doesn’t always match the output that he desires… Because he thinks “Creatively, this is what I want to put out there”, and sometimes the algorithm is kind of in control. So you’d mentioned the thumbnail… He’s got great thumbnails too, but you kind of have to fall into this algorithm “serve it” trap. Are you feeling any of that? Do you feel that at all? Do you resonate with that?

Yes, I understand that. I take kind of an opposite approach. I feel like a lot of creators who are stepping down are because they’ve done it for 10 years, maybe it’s time to move on to something new… But there’s definitely much like a treadmill mindset that I personally try to not sort of be driven by, just because I’m trying to do this as sustainably as possible. I don’t want to burn out. So I actually don’t upload very often. So I upload maybe every couple of weeks, or month, recently… But I did take a hiatus of nine months, because I’m working on finishing this course that I have… So I feel like you can get on a treadmill and feel you have to churn out content every week, but I think it’s possible to make it work without doing that.

[01:23:52.23] What did you find during that nine months? Did you find stagnation? Did you lose subscribers? When you posted that first one back, was it bigger or smaller? Did it feel like it had real ramifications on your channel, or was it just like “Nah, you can take nine months off. It’s no big deal.”

I think I did have some slowdown in the views for the first few videos… But then I released another video that has done really well, so… It’s really hard with YouTube, because you don’t you can’t truly A/B test something… Because a video might not succeed. And a lot of people kind of blame the algorithm; they’re like “Oh, I’m getting shadow-banned”, or whatever. But in all honesty, it’s like, the video kind of sucked.

So I had to look back at the videos that weren’t doing well, and be like “You know what? Those videos kind of sucked.” So you kind of learn from that and you move on, and then you do better. So I think I’m doing okay, taking a nine-month break.

Obviously, I’m losing a lot of views in that meantime, but I think YouTube is actually one of the more forgiving platforms, where you don’t have to necessarily keep churning that content and running on that treadmill… So yeah.

How do you feel, Jerod, about out our treadmill?

So we just post clips –

I pay attention to the stats less. It doesn’t make me get more or less excited about what we’re doing… Although I do pay attention to “Okay, that one–” We look back at stats, and we’re sort of like “Okay, that one trended higher than others…” What’s your lens on–

So we’re not putting a lot of work into our stuff. It’s all side effects of our podcasts. We’re not crafting videos, we’re making clips. You can see them here. So it’s people talking with captions, right? So we’re putting work into it insofar as we’re taking interesting parts of our podcasts and putting them in a video. Completely different kind of channel.

I find that if we post consistently, daily, a clip a day basically, five days a week, maybe on a Saturday if I’m bored, that everything goes better… And if we don’t, then everything just kind of chills out. And I just figured that’s the way the algorithm wants you to post more… So it’s easy for us, because again, they’re just clips. But I don’t know how much of that is just my intuition, or accurate, or wrong… But that’s just the way it feels.

It might be the audience that you’ve kind of trained to keep watching you… If you are uploading clips every day, then your audience is kind of expecting that. So then those are all the people following you. And if you don’t, if you sort of don’t meet those expectations, then things might slow down a bit.

Yeah. Plus a lot of our stuff is short. And I know that 10 minutes people consider to be the right length of a YouTube video… And I have noticed we’ll post some longer ones – like, a long clip for us is five minutes. A lot of ours are inside 60 seconds, so we’ll go vertical and put them on Shorts and Instagram. And if it’s over 60 seconds, we’ll go horizontal. But there’s still 90-second clips… You’re just not gonna get a lot of watch time, because even a full watch is just not a lot. And I know they look at watch time quite a bit. But the ones that are longer generally –

Completion is a big deal for the algorithm… Like, did you get past 50%? That’s a big deal. That’s engagement.

Right. So that’s good for shorter content, because you’re more likely to get past, but… The longer ones tend to do a little bit better. But we’re counting hundreds and thousands of watches, and not huge amounts. So it’s also sample size, I don’t know. Is it even a big enough sample size to be meaningful…? I don’t know.

Right. Well, there’s a lot of clips, too – there’s some that went viral on different platforms for us… Which - those ones should. But I think we even wrote a post “The Changelog podcast has never gone viral”, to some degree. What was that title?

Yeah, “The Changelog has never gone viral.” Podcasts don’t really do what YouTube does, and what TikTok does, and Instagram. It’s always slow and steady… And I think people get burnt out a lot, because they don’t see the impact that they’re having with podcasts as much… I think YouTubers are really happy in that way. I’m sure you get lots of comments, lots of watches, and you get a lot of immediate feedback of like “People are watching my stuff.”

Well, podcasters don’t really get that quite as much, but it’s still a lot of work. So the burnout happens because you’re putting the work in, but you don’t see the impact as well, because there’s a disconnect with the audience that the platform really grease those skids for you, which is great.

Yeah, for sure.

[01:28:03.17] And so the post I put out was basically encouraging podcasters that just because you’re not having this huge impact in terms of numbers that you can see, there’s still a depth there that’s really meaningful. And so that’s what the post was about. But it’s easy to burn out in the podcasting game, because it’s a lot of work, and because you don’t necessarily

know if you have an audience or not…

Yeah, it’s a bit more disconnected, it seems.

Yeah. And even if you have an audience, you’re probably not hearing from them very much, because they have to email you, or follow you on social media, and these kinds of things, where it’s really nice to have the comment threads right there with the video, and there’s just a very nice interaction with your audience that way.

For sure.

What makes you do it? Why do you do YouTube at all?

Yeah, so I worked in marketing and advertising for several years, and I loved it. I like learning. But I felt like, at least toward the end of the time working a regular corporate job, that I was just spending a lot of my time building these marketing landing pages, and if I do a good job, I make the company money, but I’m not really necessarily benefiting from that, and I don’t feel like I was really helping people, because I’m just encouraging people to buy something… So making content that’s educational, and can give people marketable skills has been way more satisfying. And also, like you said with the comments, getting direct feedback - I’ve gotten comments from people who said I’ve helped them get a job, and now they are working as a software engineer, and that’s incredibly motivating. I feel like I am actually helping people in the little space that I have… And so that’s been good. And yeah, I just enjoy helping people get from a point of not understanding something, to understanding something, and helping them achieve excellence in a certain skill set.

Yeah. So you said when you look back at some of your videos that didn’t do as well, it’s because they sucked. And then you have some that do well, and you think they’re probably better. So what makes a good a video, on your channel specifically, versus a sucky one? What’s good to you?

Good I think is you need to be giving value to your audience. So I think success on YouTube, and probably any kind of content creation, is understanding your audience and what are their struggles, what are they trying to do, and speak to those specific pain points. And I think that videos that haven’t done as well have been either too focused on me… For example, we made a video a couple years ago where it was like “Office tour. Check out all the gear that I use.” That didn’t do very well.

That’s surprising. Those usually tend to trend.

Yeah… Which is why I tried.

You were experimenting, right?

Yeah. But I think my audience is not there to see my gear.

“Nah, we don’t want that, Jess. Can you go back to the thing?”

“Can you teach me something new?”

It seems like that’s more for maybe lifestyle influencer and stuff, and not so much as like teachers. Because you’re a teacher, effectively.

Yeah. So if my channel was focus on different keyboards, or gear, then that would make a lot more sense… But I think it was too tangential to what my normal niche is. So yeah, you want to make your viewer the hero of their story. You don’t want to put the focus on yourself as a creator. So you are helping your viewers on their journey to, you know, at least in my channel’s case, become a web developer, or get better at your career. So it’s just a matter of understanding what your audience is hoping to see. And it can be difficult, or maybe even limiting sometimes, because I do think that YouTube is not super-forgiving when it comes to being experimental… So I actually just created a second channel, because I have two types of videos. One type is a shorter, super-edited short tutorial, and the other kind was four to eight-hour-long live coding, where I’m just building a website from scratch… And it’s not super-edited. And those were just not doing well. And my theory that - I’m still in progress, is that the two formats are too different. So I’m putting all the long videos on a new channel, hoping that it’ll attract an audience of people who are looking for those kinds of videos… And the shorter videos will stay on the main channel.

[01:32:14.04] That’s interesting, because I think that you often, Adam, have talked about YouTube people being able to put everything in one channel and experiment right there… But it seems like she’s maybe thinking that’s not working for her.

Well, I’ve seen them experiment in the channel, and then they would say “If you like this, I’m now creating a new channel.”

Oh, so they would create new channels.

I’ve seen that happen too, but I’ve also seen like three or four different format styles within a channel to succeed, too. So I don’t think there’s really a recipe that’s like “This is the way.” But I do agree with that. In the case of freeCodeCamp, for example, I was talking to Quincy Larson about - they have courses on their YouTube, and their YouTube is just insane.

It’s huge now, yeah. It took them a long time to get there, he said.

It did. But they focused on this super-long format. It wasn’t concise, little educational things. It was full-on 12-hour courses with chapters. And he was like “No, no, no, this long format is thriving there.” And I don’t know why, I can’t remember what he said, but I was surprised by that, because I didn’t expect that this longer format… And I guess in their case, compared to yours, theirs is a bit more curriculum and edited, probably to some degree. At least chaptered. Whereas maybe the other channel you’re talking about is a bit more like…

Live streaming?

It’s sort of like your exhaust in a way. It’s like your byproducts that you think are valuable, that you want to probably still share, because “Hey, you get to see everything”, versus this zoom in version of the problem only.

Right, exactly.

They get to see the whole problem.

Yeah, it’s like a bird’s eye view.

Yeah. Do you live stream those, or are you are just recording them yourself?

They’re all pre recorded, yeah. I don’t really do live streaming.

Yeah. I never really understand live streaming, I suppose… I mean, I get it for the community and the person, but it seems ephemeral, like Twitter spaces even, or X spaces…

Well, yes and no, because there’s tools in order to capture them and turn that into something else. I think that’s what a lot of people do. They’ll live stream on Twitch, and then they’ll pull sections out of that into YouTube. And that kind of thing seems to work.

It seems really good if you have a tight-knit community of people who like to hang out and talk, and hang out with you as a personality… As a viewer, I don’t have any time for that. Synchronously watch somebody else code? I would love to have time to watch me code. [laughter] That’s just where I am in my life. I understand for young people, especially if you’re learning, and you’re learning a lot from somebody watching them code live can be very powerful.

Yeah, exactly. As a young person getting in, if I could find somebody I resonated with, somebody I identified with, and I can just be a fly on their shoulder, as they all say, that kind of thing… Or the fly on the wall… That’s kind of what Twitch is for –

Or a fly on their microphone… [laughter]

Yeah, that’s kind of what Twitch is, and in that case then I can see a lot of value. But the live streaming thing is just… It’s not my game, personally.


But as a young person, if I was trying to get in or I was trying to learn, I would want to see Caleb Pike; I mentioned him earlier. I would totally be like “Just live stream your whole YouTube setup that you’ve just done. Don’t give me the video, give me the behind the scenes of the video. And don’t even worry about editing it. I want to see you turning those knobs, I want to see you attaching the thing… I want to see how it works, not the finalized thumbnail that YouTube blesses as good for the algorithm. Give me the unpolished version of it.”

Yeah, I think I just don’t have the personality to be a live streamer. I feel like you need to really lean into that entertaining side.

Yeah. I think successful live streamers are definitely more entertainers than anything else. Not that they aren’t good at their coding or what they’re doing, but –

The show folks.

They are. They’re putting on a show. And they can do it for long periods of time. It’s very impressive, in some cases, that you can command an audience for that long.

For eight hours a day…

Yeah, for like eight hours a day, with Vim and Tmux, or something. That’s impressive. But definitely not for all creators. That’s why it’s great that there’s different kinds of things to do.

[01:36:14.25] Here’s a question for you… If there’s listeners out there listening right now, is it your advice to go and create a YouTube channel? What’s your advice for those thinking “I like what Jess has done, and I’ve got a version of that for me.” Are you encouraging to say YouTube is the hub, and you have spokes? How should someone, or should someone even get into this kind of thing? What’s your recommendation?

Yeah, we always think that the content creation space is super-saturated, which it is… I do think that YouTube, for the programming niche, has gotten more competitive in the last six, seven years since I’ve been there… But I do think there’s always room for more people. Yeah, I do use YouTube as kind of the main hub, and then I sometimes post on Twitter, sometimes I post on Instagram… Not really on TikTok… And then I have email, an email newsletter… So YouTube is kind of the main bread and butter. And the reason for that is – and I actually started out on Instagram, and then I did YouTube later.


But I felt like Instagram was a little bit too ephemeral. I think this was mentioned before. And they will really punish you if you don’t post a certain number of times a week, and I was trying to not have to feel like I had to do that… So I feel like YouTube is nice, because you can get that immediate sort of viral traffic, but you can also get a lot of traffic later on down the road, with SEO type keyword titles, and stuff like that… So there’s a lot more, I would say, longevity on YouTube, which is why I’ve kind of planted my flag there.

Have you experimented with shorts? Short-form video?

I’ve done some shorts… I feel like that’s, again, with the different types of formats - this is all anecdotal, but I’ve heard of people who have felt that shorts has kind of killed their channel… But I’ve also heard of people who felt shorts has really helped grow their channel. So I’m not really making shorts at the moment, and if I did, I might actually – I would put that on another channel. And I don’t really want to make a third channel.

You’d have three channels.

Just, again, if you have a lot of shorts, you’re sort of training your audience to expect these 60-second videos from you, and they might not want to watch your longer eight to 20-minute videos. So I don’t know… It’s a mystery how YouTube works, and things are changing all the time.

Have you considered open platforms? PeerTube is one that I’m thinking about for us…

Okay. Not familiar.

We haven’t jumped on it yet… Okay, so it’s a decentralized thing. It’s a Fediverse kind of thing. Decentralized video platform. Which for a long time languished in obscurity, I think, in the world of people who like decentralized things and open source things… It’s gotten a bit of a bump of late, because Mastodon has done kind of well, and because people are starting to say “Okay, what if we actually have open, decentralized, non-algorithm-driven platforms?” And so for instance Flipboard, which - remember Flipboard, the digital magazine that was so cool on an iPad?

Yes. That was awesome.

They’re still around, they’re still making moves… And they have a lot of publishers on their magazine app, and they’re all going in on the Fediverse now. So they have, which they also post to YouTube, but it’s the same videos… And they put them on their PeerTube, and it’s all federated, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m not sure how the bandwidth requirements and stuff are. I haven’t gotten that far into it. But it’s interesting - this is an established, high-quality company and brand who are now posting their videos onto YouTube, but also on the PeerTube. And the one they embed into their blog posts is the PeerTube one. They’re pushing people towards, a domain that they own, which is not algorithm-based-driven… And maybe that’s a future for YouTubers, or a potential side-future.

[01:40:06.24] I don’t know much more beyond that. But I’m curious - I always ask YouTubers, “Are you considering that kind of a thing?” Because if you are a slave to the algorithm, and you can somehow find freedom somewhere else… Obviously, the audience is why you’re there, and maybe decentralized web doesn’t have the audience, or maybe the same audience… But if there’s enough people there that you can help them, and it’s just a matter of uploading twice, or whatever it is, maybe it’s an idea worth pursuing.

It’s interesting. I’ve honestly not heard of that, but I think that’s really interesting.

I think a lot of people have not heard of it.

I have not heard of it.

PeerTube? They’re on my list of people to bring on the show and talk to about it.

That’d be cool.


I think my perspective is creating a business and a product - do you care about where you sell your thing? No, I must sell it in this brick and mortar store. And if I don’t sell it in this brick and mortar store, well then I don’t care about making the thing. I’m more like “Okay, I make a thing, I want distribution.” So wherever distribution is happening for me, and I suppose the long-term freedom, and I suppose the shackles being taken off in terms of the algorithm, I think if over time PeerTube was better for distribution… Like, where’s my audience? I want to tell people what I have to say in the world. As all creators, it’s not necessarily the topic, it’s that you have something to say. Or you have something of value to give back to the world. And I think for me, with podcasts, it is the freedom.

I was asking Jerod earlier what he thinks about our stats and how that plays into feelings, basically… And I don’t really feel that pressure and stress of having to match numbers every episode. I kind of get bummed, like “Oh, I loved that show”, but the listenership wasn’t there for whatever reason. Maybe that was summertime, and people were on vacation. Who knows why. I might feel bad, but my identity is not crushed by it. But I feel like I would be of the mindset to be wherever distribution is, I want to put my product there. And that’s a podcasts. Or that’s my words, or my prose, or whatever; that’s probably how I would approach it. Rather than saying “Nah, it must be YouTube, versus PeerTube, or whatever.” Wherever I get freedom, wherever the audience wants to go… Kind of like your thought too with Twitter versus X versus Mastodon… “Where should we post to social?” Wherever people our people are, we want to be there.

Yeah, that’s our current strategy, is go where the people are.

That makes sense.

That makes some sense, right?

Give them give them what they want, and go where they are.

Yeah. Go where they are, and give them what they want.

That’s right.

But one example, I think, which is a nice analog to YouTube, and potentially PeerTube, I don’t know, is that on Twitter we have a following, and on Mastodon we have a following… And the following on Mastodon is about a 10th of the following on Twitter. But we can post the exact same poll on Twitter and on Mastodon, and get double the responses on Mastodon with 1/10 of the audience.

So there’s something about that, which to me is like “Okay, less people, but they’re actually there.”

Yeah. They’re more engaged.

They’re not a number. Most of your subscribers don’t get to see your videos. That’s lame, right? Like, you work really hard to get new subs, and you have to say “Subscribe and hit the notification bell.” It’s like, I’m not gonna hit the notification bell, sorry. I’m just not going to.

I’ve never hit the notification bell. Not on time.

Literally zero.

And I have lots of – I’m big time on YouTube for lots of things.

But I do want to see the new videos of the people I’m subscribed to… And the fact that YouTube doesn’t just show me those things makes me mad as a viewer, and as a creator even more mad… Like, you worked real hard to get that sub, and now they’re never going to – I had a few subscriptions on YouTube, where I was going through my subscriptions one day and I’m like “I forgot I subscribed to this channel. It’s been nine months since I’ve seen their videos.” I go click on it, oh, they’ve got plenty of new videos in the last nine months. Why am I not seeing those? So to me, that’s lame…

And that’s the kind of stuff that we could get away from if we had enough people on these alternative networks. Maybe PeerTube will never get to the point where that matters for that network, but it’d be really cool if it did…

The analog you’re drawing is the Twitter versus Mastodon poll thing, where maybe it’s smaller in terms of subs, but you’ve got higher engagement. Yeah.


Always food for thought.

Food for thought.

Touché, man. Jess, we podcast together way too much, so… That’s how it works.

I can tell.

[laughs] Thanks for talking to us today.

Yeah, thanks for having me on.

Coder Coder, check it out on YouTube. Hit that notification bell [unintelligible 01:44:26.12]

Subscribe and notification bell… Do it. Do it now.

Do it.

Break: [01:44:33.08]

Okay, so there’s this huevos rancheros thing; so it’s like tortillas, and salsa, and then you’re putting –

[unintelligible 01:46:51.17] huevos rancheros.

Oh my gosh, I love it.

That’s our icebreaker, by the way…

We just ask people about their breakfast… Everyone’s passionate about breakfast, right?

You have a favorite breakfast, or a favorite dessert… So pick something like that, and that you usually gets you…

Going… But it also gets you hungry.

This is true. Well, I think there’s a barbecue tonight.

There is a barbecue tonight.

So I think it’ll be good.

Yeah. We can eat the barbecue. The ag barbecue, right?

So we’re here with Vanessa and Mike. No, sorry…

Noah. All good.

Noah. There was a mic over there, that’s why I said Mike.

There was a mic, yes.

That’s why I said “How’s your mic?” And sorry about that. We’re here with Vanessa and Noah.

All good.

Noah was in the home lab session with us, and then the podcasting - well, I think just by happenstance.

Yeah, I just kind of stuck around after.

But then Vanessa came on purpose. The only person who came on purpose, [unintelligible 01:47:37.07] of course…

Really? Oh…

And just talking about podcasting, and tech… And then we started talking about ag tech, which is a podcast you’re thinking about creating with a friend of yours, that has heads of cattle, or head of cattle, as you said, in the thousands. And you care about agricultural because you went to school for this… What’s the story there?

[01:48:01.11] Yes. So I grew up in a really rural, agricultural town, and the only industry in that town was oranges. They partnered with Sunkist, and everybody that I grew up with was basically an orange grower for Sunkist. The packing house was literally across the street from my house for all of the oranges that were growing in my town, and so I was like “This sounds like an opportunity for technology”, especially at the packing house, so you don’t have to have manual labor to sort through oranges.

So I originally went to school for computer engineering at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, which is half agriculture and half technology, in order to study ag tech. So that’s kind of how I got into it. And I met my roommate there, and she has cattle, and so that’s how we started talking.

And do you live near each other now, or you have you moved on in your careers, and stuff like that?

We’ve moved on in our careers. I’ve been in tech now, I think full-time, for about six and a half, almost seven years, and she’s been in cattle as well. She’s doing cattle and she’s doing veterinary science.

And what’s your story, Noah? So this began because we were knee-deep in good content, and I’m like “Always be recording.” That’s my philosophy. ABR. And our audience knows that. And so we had a whole conversation outside of this, but you were talking about hydroponics, you were talking about precision… What was the precision thing?

Precision agriculture.

Precision agriculture, yeah.

Where you can like shoot the –

The fertilizer…

…the fertilizer directly at it with computer vision.

Yeah. So I forget how the conversation started, but we were talking about agriculture technology, and I think we actually started with distributed agriculture, and we used the analogy of load balancing, right? Instead of having centralized pockets of agriculture, distributing it among communities and households.

To kind of empower, right? Isn’t that like a means of empowering people to be in charge of their own production?

Yeah, so it’s a few things. Number one, you’re empowering the consumer to produce their own food. You could argue that could help fight rising costs, especially as you grow your – because at the same time, you’re growing supply, right? Maybe on a smaller scale. But you’re also lowering demand, because people are now producing their own food, so their demand is lower, while the supply is higher, because they are producing it. They might be trying to sell it. And then also, it makes the entire existing ecosystem of agriculture more durable. When you have these centralized locations, if there’s a natural disaster, a war, for example, the war in Ukraine - that drove wheat prices up. So if you have it more distributed, it’s more durable, and it’s more sticky.

Right. So what is your story? How are you into ag?

4:i I’ve always just been fascinated with agriculture. Growing up I was growing my own plants. I love the idea of crossbreeding. I love the idea of cloning plants… I say clone - they’re reproducing asexually, so you’re taking –

[unintelligible 01:50:38.26]

Yeah, exactly. So that’s always fascinated me. And I’ve always loved the idea of owning a process. And what can be done on scale? What can I do myself? So growing stuff… At home, I have two hydroponic, basically little farms for growing herbs and little vegetables. I’ve grown my own jalapeno peppers, my own tomatoes… So that always fascinates me.

Isn’t that the best though? Because who wants to go to the store for one jalapeno?


I don’t grow my own, so I’m that person who would love it. I would love it. But I think the point is I don’t have access easily without learning a bunch of stuff to be empowered in certain ways. I watch certain TikTok videos… There’s this guy who will just take a pineapple and make another pineapple tree from the pineapple… He shows you with his little ninja tricks on how you can take an avocado and turn that avocado into a tree, from the seed. And the same with taking bananas and putting them - the peels at least - into water, and put the nitrates into it, and using that as fertilizer for your plants. All these little things that we just don’t know as individuals out there who just are normal, I suppose. I don’t know.

[01:51:44.06] That’s kind of lost knowledge. In the ‘40s you had The Victory Gardens, and that was a well-known pamphlet distributed by the US government out to people in order to combat the war during World War II. And so you had these victory gardens where people were growing their own tomatoes, their own lentils, their own whatever they needed at home, for their own household. And that knowledge has kind of got lost, and that’s okay. That’s okay.

No, it’s not okay. [laughter]

Well, I mean, we went to a –

My grandmother, she had all this stuff outside… I can remember just all these things outside. Aloevera, things that – that’s healing. I think a lot of people know about that, right? Aloevera is a pretty common one. But just so much stuff that my grandparents – and this is like - what, two generations of my family? My dad, and his parents; my grandparents. That’s two generations. They were knee-deep in tomatoes, and all the things… And here’s me, not into all those things. And it’s because of that, I think; it’s a lost art form, in a way, maybe a lost practice, a lost knowledge base… And maybe some of it is the industrial complex of food, the food industrial complex, if that’s a thing… I’m not sure what the term is for it.

I think it’s fair. That’s a fair way to name it.

You’ve got GMOs, you’ve got certified seeds, you’ve got patented seeds, you’ve got all this lock-out.

It’s been industrialized.

Food has been industrialized to a point where it’s a monolith and a monopoly at the same time…

Which is not good.

It’s not great.

Two monos, right? Monolight, monopoly…

Yeah… Like, if you look at the growers, if you look at like “Hey, all types of corn in this particular area is done by this one seed”, and you only have one seed variety for that season… But that seed variety has been optimized to combat pests. It’s been optimized for that climate, it’s been optimized to handle that type of soil. So it’s like, yes, it was just slowly industrializing farming to a point where it doesn’t seem as accessible knowledge-wise for an everyday person. That’s kind of what ended up here.

It’s weird, because when you juxtapose that to cloud… Right? I just had a conversation with somebody who’s very smart, and we were talking about how our photos are in the cloud. And she’s having trouble getting them down. But just this whole idea that - well, that should be pretty simple for the most part, right? But it’s not.

It should be.

But we have the cloud now, we have this thing there, and at some point we’ll just rely on the cloud and we won’t on-prem anything anymore. And we talked home lab earlier, which is kind of like on-premming your own things for your own household… I’ve got my own large-scale storage for my Plex server, I’ve got a Pi-hole, I’ve got home automation… And that’s like a version of us taking power back into our own hands. Not that it has been clawed away from us, but if you don’t know you can have it, you don’t know if you want it, or that you need it. And I feel like food is like that. If I could more realistically farm my own food… Not crazily, but like - what lettuces do we use often? What greens do we use often? Is a jalapeno tree, or whatever it is, a plant…

It’s a plant.

Yeah, I don’t even know. I don’t even understand what they call it.

I love the idea of a jalapeno tree now. I want that. Well, and here’s what’s cool… Because a lot of people now - I feel like real estate’s very different than it was back in the ’40s, right? Now you have a lot of people in apartments, and a lot of people –

…with less real estate. Yeah, exactly. And people might say “Hey, I don’t have the real estate for farming.” Well, going back to hydroponics, one of things I love about those is you can do it indoor. So you can literally in your kitchen have anywhere from one to five even varying sizes. And you can make them yourselves, you can buy them prebuilt… And it lets you basically turn any real estate you have into whatever you need it to be. And you can grow – and you can get bigger ones, so you can grow full-on bushes, or just small little plants. And it’s really exciting with how accessible it is. And really - yes, you can spend a lot on them, there’s some that have smart capabilities, some that are just very basic… So there’s range of product there. But the barrier to entry to start getting into that and producing your own food…

It’s like a Home Depot bucket…

Yeah, it’s very low barrier to entry, which is exciting.

I feel like we need a home lab for ag in my house… Because there are certain things I would totally grow.

Oh, yeah.

And there are certain things I would just definitely not. I’m not going to have a cow in my backyard, because that’s just not feasible, right? One, my HOA would be like “No.” And then two, I don’t know how to care for it.

[01:56:12.24] Maybe my kids will love it… Maybe we have some zebus. They don’t do anything. I’m not gonna kill my zebu and eat it… Which is like a mini cow, basically. If you know what a zebu is.

I learned about this recently. It’s not a real cow that you’re gonna – maybe you do eat them. I don’t know. Maybe people eat zebus. Do people eat zebus?

Not that I’m aware of.

I don’t think so. I could be wrong. I’m open to being wrong.

Maybe. Maybe.

And you mentioned doing a home lab project, right? Here’s what’s cool - if you really wanted to, there’s so many fun IT projects you could do based around that. You could set up your own camera and do some basic image recognition. See which plants are performing. You can then set up like “Hey, let me try different types of food”, and then you can actually measure that, take the data, and then actually build your own data analytics project. And basic AI image recognition project, and say “Hey, I’m going to test these different types of plant food. I’m going to see across these different farms, I’m going to see which one performs better.”

What’s happening on scale - we talked about the idea of the precision agriculture tech, where you have these robots going in, and instead of spraying all this fertilizer, it’s being very precise, and saying “Okay, only these plants need it.” You can do something like that. Obviously not on scale, but you can do something at home with a similar foundation. So there’s also a lot of room for potential projects you can do in the IT technology space.

I want to add this one point, I think you’ll it, too… I feel like there’s a recipe – do you ever often have ingredients in your house, and you don’t have a meal? I have ingredients, and not a meal. I feel like you just described ingredients to the thing… Who can package it? And I think my question to you is you’re into ag tech, and you want to do this podcast, which was where this began… Who can package this thing into something consumers can actually use? Because we have ingredients, not a meal, so to speak.

Right. There’s a couple of folks already in that kind of space, where you have like “Okay, here’s your hydroponic herb garden.” That’s what my friend got for Christmas; she got a hydroponic herb garden, and it reminds her through an app “Hey, your water is running low in your hydroponic. Hey, your fertilizer tablet has fully dissolved, and your fertilizer levels are too low, so you need to add a new one.”

So there’s already tech, I would say, distributors on this idea, for an at home garden, but it’s on the very small scale. I think to get up to a larger scale, like to a jalapeno plant, or maybe –

Or a tree…

Or a dwarf orange… Yes, you could do a dwarf orange. They only get up to about five feet, so that’s not too bad… If you get up to that scale, now you’re talking about a larger manufacturing effort. And so that’s where the questions will start to come in. It’s like, okay, you have a large tree - that requires a different water level, a different type of fertilizer… It requires a slightly different system than something like an herb garden.

Sure. What would be fascinating is - because you mentioned how your friend has that system where it reminds her. If you do get that bigger system where you have a collection of systems, I’m thinking how cool would it be to add more automation. Now, again, this adds the manufacturing process, right?

Yes, this adds [unintelligible 01:59:05.26]

And this is probably my Python developer in me talking… Like, okay, what if you built a tank that could distribute the water based on the needs? Or you have a little - almost like a Pez dispenser, but for fertilizer tablets, and it will automatically dispense them.

Have you ever been to a hydroponic greenhouse?

No, I’ve not. I’ve seen footage, but never in person.

Yeah. So they essentially have that distributed system across all the barrels for the hydroponic systems. But the neat part is some of them - you say “Oh, this one needs more fertilizer.” Fertilizer is essentially like fish poop. And so they’ll have fish, and they’ll just funnel the fish to the different barrels.

I love that so much. That’s awesome.

That’s a natural way to do it. And the fish are probably like “Yeah, I don’t want to poop over there anymore. I’m doing it over here now.”

True. Yeah.

[01:59:56.29] Now, you want to talk about building something for the consumer. Instead of doing like a hard-coated plastic, make it clear… And then hey, not only are you growing food, you also are keeping fish. How cool is that?

For sure, yeah.

So they do that though through computer vision, and then they’ll open the pipes or close the respective pipes to allow the fish to swim from barrel to barrel…

I love that so much, I can’t even explain it. It’s awesome.

So what is it that excites you about ag tech? You’re gonna do a podcast on this…

I think so.

It might be

You have to now, actually. You just have to now.

I know. I’ve been studying this space for a long time. I went to school for this space. It sounds like it’s time to make the podcast.

Do it…!

I know. Okay, sorry, what was the question?

Well, the question is, what is possible, I suppose? What do people need to know about ag tech? What is out there? I know we talked about John Deere, and [unintelligible 02:00:48.14] and the fact that tractors are now computers, basically… What else is in the ether of ag tech? What is out there?

Is it time to talk about drones?

I think so. I think so.

Bust out the drones.

Alright. Okay, so one of the hardest problems to solve is monitoring agricultural stuff at scale. So nobody’s farming at five acres anymore. People are farming in like the tens of acres, hundreds of acres, for one farmer. That’s how farming works nowadays. And monitoring all of that for pests, for gophers, for snakes, for whatever - it’s impossible. And so what they’re doing now is either they’re leveraging satellite imagery, or they’re using drones. Do you want to talk about drones?

Do you know about drones, Noah?

So I’m actually an FAA-licensed drone pilot.

Oh, that’s right, you are. I forgot about that.

All good, yeah. Now granted, I’ve not used that license in the agriculture space. It’s primarily been just for commercial, real estate commercial advertising, things like that. But yeah, like Vanessa was saying, with drones there’s a few different applications. So number one is for monitoring. You can monitor – and what’s cool is you can use different types of cameras and sensors. So you can actually be measuring the thermals, like “Hey, what’s the temperature like in these different regions?”

Well, you need to monitor thermal in order – so okay, adding on to that…

Go for it.

Okay. So not every agricultural space needs just your RGB camera.


In particular avocados. So avocados cannot – because it’s a green on green plant, the only way you can detect the quantity of avocados on a tree is by using a thermal camera…

Love it.

Are they hotter or colder than the tree?

Exactly. Is it hotter or colder than the respective leaf.

Oh, I see.

Oh, cool.

So avocados will usually be hotter than the respective leaf.

So that’s the only way to spot them using computer vision or using a camera.

Yeah. And then on top of that, you also have people that – and I think this will become less and less as precision agriculture takes over. But you also will have people that will do drones, and they’ll say “Hey, here’s what areas need more fertilizer, here’s what area needs more food”, whatever. And they’ll actually distribute said fertilizer, said food via drone, which is very cool. And you get semi-precise, right? You can get pockets of it. And again, I think that will go down as you have now more land-based parts that do precision, where it’s just going to the root and actually just sniping which plants need [unintelligible 02:03:16.01]

Which is coming out of UC Davis, right? Yeah.

Yeah. So I mean, drones are fascinating in that regard. The original question was what tech is in the ether… And most of it - so again, we talked about image recognition and AI detecting “Hey, which pockets of food need which?” You have image recognition. A lot of that’s leveraged in the cloud. So a lot of just the tech that the mainstream industry uses is being leveraged in this space. It’s just a matter of “Okay, how is it being leveraged?”

How is it being leveraged it, and is it accessible? Which is the biggest part of ag and tech.

Practical, even.

Is it practical? When Temple Grandin… Alright –

[02:03:57.07] School us. Tell us.

Alright, so there’s this lady in the cattle space, and she wanted to move cattle essentially – like, how do you efficiently move cattle from pen to the butcher house? And she revolutionized the way that cattle – essentially, they approached this as like… Cattle move in herds, so you cannot move them in a straight line, and you cannot move them down a funnel. They’ll freak out. So you have to gradually move them along a curve in order for them to not freak out. And that’s just the way cattle move in herds, when they’re out in grasses… And so that’s what they did, and that’s now what they do at butchering houses.

But in order for her to get that movement up, it took her decades. It took decades for that to be adopted by the industry. Even though she had study after study showing that if you don’t want cattle to essentially spook, you have to move them along a curve.

So coming back to this - we introduced tech, and sensors, and moved tractors to the cloud. John Deere has done this, they’ve been doing it at least since 2012. Great. How much is a tractor now that’s connected to the cloud? How can you repair it if any of the sensors break? How much is that cloud subscription for them to even look at the data that they’re aggregating through the sensors, versus the generational knowledge that they’ve had passed down. So this is the big debate, is like how long is it going to get lay men tech to farmers, to everyday farmers, or is it going to be continued to be controlled by at-scale farming?

So that’s the question, right? And then I would ask you – because the goal is we want to make it accessible, right?

And I would argue year over year most of that does become accessible overtime, to a degree. For example, cloud in general for most people is accessible in the sense that I can go to Azure, I can spin up a VM. I just have to have a credit card, right?

Yes. You can go to Azure, you can spin up a VM, you know how to do that because you’ve been educated in this space.

Correct. So that’s my point, though, is how do you – okay, you need the smaller farmer to have that goal to learn, right? But then it’s also how do you engage with them? For example, I think if you started a podcast –

She’s itching to say something, man… She’s dancing.

Yeah, I see. [laughter] If you started a podcast, for example, and you were saying “Hey, as someone who –”

When. Not if, when.

When. Thank you. Yes, when you start a podcast, you’re creating a resource for these farmers, the smaller farmers, to say “Hey, I get you. I am someone that understands the ag space, and I want you guys to get there… And let me show you how.” And I think especially maybe the next generation of farmers I think just will get there. I’m thinking optimistically…

No, you’re right. The FFA, Future Farmers of America, their entire organization basically takes - I think it’s up to middle school students, all the way through high school students, and then until university…

Early. Yeah, very early.

Yeah. They take them early, and they have courses on “Hey cloud is coming. What does that mean for farming? Okay, cool. What does that mean for the pork industry? What does that mean for poultry? What does that mean for cattle?” And so yeah, FFA has that educational course. I would say though that it’s still behind that edge, and with right to repair, they’re very hesitant to buy into it, because you’re buying into debt. Your everyday farmer, they’re living season to season, and it’s subsidized by the government heavily.

And as soon as they don’t make a payment - foreclosure. Or threats. Or whatever.


And I’m curious if you know this - how much is big ag tech involved in the FAA? Is there influence over the curriculum and what’s being taught? Because if you control the knowledge, you control the people.

So it’s the FFA…

Sorry. What did I say?

[02:08:08.29] You were still being in drones.

Yeah, sorry about that. I get it. I’m the layman here, I will definitely admit it. The FFA.

The FFA. Future Farmers of America.

I know this because I actually have ag people in my family, I’m just an idiot in this moment.

Gotcha. We won’t judge you out loud for it.

Yeah, it’s like the FFA, and then 4-H if you want to get super-specific on the orgs and all that. I mean, they definitely consult…

Is there separation?

There’s separation. They’re different organizations. I would say there’s definitely a council, but they’re not super-involved, necessarily. Each chapter will have their own policies on how they want to get involved. And so that’s something to consider… But sponsoring for scholarships is big in ag, so…

I’m curious your thoughts on this, because you were talking about how it’s hard and there’s hesitancy there for the farmer to go into tech.

Yeah. I mean, there was hesitancy with me going into tech.

Yeah. So for the industry to get where it needs to be, do you think it’s people in tech need to come into and help out the farmers? Maybe it’s partnering with them, whether that’s starting a service, and specifically you’re catering to that smaller farmer, maybe it’s “Hey, I want to come in with you as a business partner. Here’s the value I can add.” Do you think it will take tech coming into the farmers rather than the farmers coming to tech?

I think it’s going to have to be big tech working with big farming is the only way that it’s gonna move forward.

And that’ll force the smaller farmers to adapt.

Trickling down to smaller farmers, but also making the price point and accessibility of it lower, and more accessible for every farmer.

Yeah, for sure.

Yeah. That’s kind of gonna have to be the move… Because coming in at your everyday farmer - that’s not going to be realistic, especially with manufacturing prices, and education levels… Even getting connected.

I used to work on a project where it’s like “Okay, how do we solve farming in Africa and India? How do we help them with tech?” Because there’s droughts, there’s famine, there’s maybe unreliable weather patterns… You have to use precision agriculture due to the resources. So how do you get that connected, and how do you – there’s no such thing as 5G. So what do you do? And they discovered that TV white spaces travel across large areas, and there’s very little data loss. And it’s very low-power. So that’s kind of the ongoing thing. It’s like “Okay, we’re going to do TV whitespaces, put sensors that communicate in that protocol”, and then you have a hub on the edge, that they connect to. And now you’re using kind of like a mesh system. In order to aggregate the data, you have a centralized hub; only that centralized hub needs to connect up to satellite or up to the cloud.

Yeah. Okay. Very cool. So I wonder – so I’m thinking immediately open source. What open source solutions can be developed for ag tech? Obviously, there’s hardware; that’s something you have to take into mind. That’s hard with open source. But you also might have “Hey, here’s some software solutions that leverage, let’s say a Raspberry Pi, or an Adreno board, or something.” Or “Hey, here’s an open source solution I built that’s based off Google Maps satellite imagery.” I’m wondering if tech got more involved or was inspired to build open source solutions, if that would help make more cost-accessible solutions for everyday farmers.

I think it’d be more cost-accessible. Again, it’s the mindset of “Hey, I’ve been dealing with this for my generation, my parents had been dealing this for their generation, my grandparents had been dealing with this for their generation…” If I go back, my great-grandparents, 100 years ago, she had the same plot of land. We know the seasons it goes through, we know which areas are problems… It’s the generational knowledge, and like “Okay, cool, tech’s already telling me something that I already know.” Or “already know”, right? Is it an easier solution and more convenient? Sure. But why would I need that? I already know it.

[02:12:15.17] It comes down to the education, and…

It comes down to the education, and the small farmer knows their land. I don’t want to discount their knowledge. We were talking earlier about how gardening and stuff was very popular during the ‘40s, because of the food shortage… It’s the same thing. They maintain that generational knowledge. It’s just been lost to the rest of us.

Well, H-E-B is right down the street.


And that’s the beloved Texas grocery store. It is basically the epicenter of all love in Texas.

I’m getting one five minutes from my house. I’m so excited. [laughter]

It’s the best. And I suppose when you have accessibility, do you need to grow your own thing? I say kind of. You probably should, in some cases, but should you in every case? I’m not going to grow my own grapes, right? I’m not gonna grow my own raspberries. There might be certain things I might be willing to. Would I be willing to because I want to have a lower price point, or because I want to reduce the – like we’re dealing with solar even, in our homes. We wanna reduce the pressure on the system. Is that really the best way – is industrialized farming the best for humanity, if done sustainably, and in wise ways that really is for the people and not just for the profits?

Because H-E-B has been a brand that’s been uniquely positioned in the food industry to be for the people. Now, are they for profit? For sure. And I pray that they continue to be the H-E-B we love today, because they’ve been very good stewards of the food-buying process. However, when I go to H-E-B right now, my food bill is way high. I’m sure they’re doing something to keep my costs low, but you have a very particular well-known Texas-loved grocer that seems to be for the people.

When we had – I think it was Hurricane Ike, or just one of the recent hurricanes in the last four or five years… The very first trucks to come in for support was not the National Guard. Love them too, of course; I was in the military. But the very first truck was an H-E-B truck, to come in and save the day.

How cool.

To provide resources. Because it was either PR, or they just truly love. I don’t know. But they’ve been first in a lot of cases. I know they [unintelligible 02:14:23.21] FAA… FFA. Gosh, I’m so messed up here with the Fs. [laughter] And they’re very involved with the Houston rodeo… I know that, because that’s their market. But I guess the question is, should we be farming at a local level, and hydroponics, and things like that? Or should we develop because of the population density or the availability of land in places like Texas or elsewhere, where there’s more acreage, enable farmers to just do their job better and keep the big industrial food industry…

I don’t want to say going, but I realize it has to be industrialized in a way to meet the needs of population. But is the right answer to do it [unintelligible 02:15:09.13] and bring it localized to the household? Or does it make sense just to bolster and better enable the complex?

So there’s, there’s an in between here that we haven’t really discussed.

Okay, what’s the in between?

So there’s certain, I would say produce levels that you could do at a community level. You don’t have to do it in the house, and you don’t have to do it–

Okay, point taken. Community gardens.

Community gardens, or even like “Okay, on the outskirts of large centralized hubs, we have a couple of warehouses that do produce certain amounts of produce for that localized area.” And so that’s something like - strawberries? Very easy to produce in hydroponics. Instead of getting all of our strawberries from Fresno, California, or Oxnard, California, where the best strawberries come from, by the way… [laughs] Then you have your own little strawberry hydroponic system just outside of Seattle, or just outside of New York, and you don’t have to ship strawberries from Salinas or Oxnard anymore.

[02:16:07.12] And should it be the community being invited in there to maybe work for free, and tend to the garden, so to speak, to have access to a membership? I don’t know… Because of the knowledge base that’s being lost. Because the only way we can give that knowledge back is to bring the people in who are consuming it and care about it. And when you say you want water in XYZ third world country, you don’t just go and give them money, you go and help teach them how to build a well, and maintain the well. Because if they don’t care, or they don’t know how to deal with it, they’re gonna rely upon you as the third party resource to save their day, or to educate them. If you give them the knowledge, they can fish, of course, right? So how do we work out the community’s involvement in these community gardens?

That’s a wonderful question. And I don’t know if it’s the community necessarily, or if it’s just distributing ag a little bit. Right?

Do you mind if…?

Go for it.

Okay. So the original question was – or there’s been several original questions. The most recent one was do we keep it industrialized, or do we distribute? And I’m with Vanessa here. I think it’s not an or situation, it’s an and situation. So number one, I think – let’s acknowledge, to sustain the food production where we’re at today, it needs to continue to be industrialized. I don’t know if anyone would disagree with that. They might… But I think it would need to be, just to sustain the levels. Now can we get better? Can we become more sustainable? Can we get better, more efficient? And not just, again, for profit’s sake, but also “Hey, can we make it more efficient so we’re producing more and lowering costs and helping that for just the better of humanity?” Absolutely. But with that, I think we can also encourage people and grow that knowledge to build a more individualized local solution.

Now to the second one, follow-up, which was how do you get the community involved. I think number one is, okay, what can you do in the household? I think people naturally have a – they would like a sense of ownership. This is not our garden, this is my garden. This is my family’s garden. So I think building resources… I’m getting faces, I’m not sure – I’m curious what the response will be.

Well, you’re contradicting her point.

Go for it.

That’s why she’s probably giving you faces. I’m assuming at least.

Yeah. I think starting there is where it’s important. Now, I say start… Now after that, I think doing more community-centric things - that’s going to be the best of both worlds. But then it’s “How do you get the community involved?” And also, who owns that process? Is it just hey, some nice people donated this land, and like “Hey, we own this. This is going to be for community purpose.”? Does the city, or county…? I’m not sure. But I think ultimately where it starts is in the home. And I think that’s how you get people started, at least. Because then you’re building that knowledge, and there’s that [unintelligible 02:18:43.07]

I would love to go to the community garden with my literal neighbor. The only way you’re going to have stronger neighborhoods, safer neighborhoods is people caring about the people next to them. People loving people. That’s the only way. Because if I care about my neighbor, I’m not going to shoot him. Not that I would, but I would never be desiring any sort of insult against them physically. Because they’re my friend, there for me. Now, that that’s also assuming you have a neighbor that is willing to also love you back…. But you can ostracize those folks and be like “You’re not welcome here, because The No A-hole Rule. It’s a book, you should read it.” The A-hole Rule, I’ll say it one time. We don’t cuss on our shows, that’s why.

Love it.

But I would love to go to my community garden and do whatever makes sense to farm myself, or support that process with my literal neighbors.

I mean, it could be definitely more of a coop, right? You sign up, “Okay, I want to be part of this farming community” or “I want to be part of growing this thing.” And like okay, cool. Awesome. So now by you signing up, you’re agreeing “Okay, hey, I’m gonna help with the fertilizer cost.” Or if you don’t want to be in fertilizer, “Okay, I’m going to help pick the strawberries and containerize them.” And okay, by signing up and putting in – you put in as much as you get kind of thing.

[02:20:06.17] Right. Maybe there’s a credit system. I give you an hour or two a week, or an hour a week, or every two weeks, or whatever it is, like you do with sports. I go with my son Saturdays and Mondays, we spend a couple hours a week in a sport. Now, that’s for not him to be an excellent basketball player, it’s for him to be an excellent team member. Which is what a community is. I’m an excellent team member of my community.

So I would love to see the Whole Foods of this, or the H-E-B of this. Like, who can do this at a scale that profits? Maybe, like you said – I’m actually gonna take that back with the profit. The coop idea, which is like, it is there to serve the community.

I like that.

It is not there to serve the profits. And maybe there are literal profits, but they’re not there to be just scooped up by shareholders. It’s meant to reinvest and reenable communities. And ag tech just seems to be all in this, right? All in this.

I like the idea of coop, especially in this specific community if you have tech people. That might be the perfect opportunity for people with home labs, and if they want to help allocate some of those resources to say “Hey, let me get some sensors installed. And let me make this data available to everyone involved, but then that way I can publish these reports. Hey, these are my findings. Where do we want to go with this?” That would open up some really exciting collaborative opportunities. And also, that would get more people, I think, interested in tech, which I’m all for. Again, ultimately it goes back to “How can we serve the community?” which - I the way you put that, Adam…

Or even maybe there’s farmers. Maybe you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Maybe there’s already the wheel. So maybe it’s about farmers enabling the community to support them, one by buying, potentially directly… Right? Which you could do it - farmers markets; it’s the whole point of those things. It’s enabling communities accessibility. But those kinds of things that become basically where you go get your coffee, where you go get your other things, I don’t know, some random things… They tend to be like flea markets, but upscaled versions of them, and not just simply farmer’s markets. You can get your corn there, of course, and whatever else might be grown… But maybe it’s also our ability to the farmers letting us in to support them… But there has to be a system. We can only be efficient if there is a system, a workflow. And it seems like there’s no systems and workflows in this realm that enables communities to serve and be a part of the food that serves their community.

So what do you think that system looks – would you envision that like almost an open source platform communities can sign up for, gives them access to some basic resources? What does that system look like? Is it a service that a company offers to communities?

I think it’d have to be the latter, to be honest.

You think so?

It definitely has to be the latter. Because an open source system - well, you’re losing one or you’re losing the other. That’s kind of the hard part. You’re either losing the tech community, or you’re losing the farmers. So it definitely has to be an established player in farming, in tech, in ag, that kind of brings all three together and makes that a thing.

Yeah. I’m now picturing - let’s say you have a private player building this.

Right. Like a Whole Foods Amazon kind of situation.

Exactly. I’m trying to picture what they could offer. Could they offer a hardware solution, where it’s like “Hey, these are greenhouses that you can use. Do you offer add-ons like hey, this gives you additional monitoring that you guys all get access to?” Yeah, I think that one would work the best. I think that makes for an interesting –

Market play?

Market play, yeah. It’s tricky, because you’re offering both physical solutions potentially, or maybe you offer solutions that could go into an existing one, like just sensors and just the platform.

Okay, it has to be a physical solution, because this is a physical problem. If a lettuce was a piece of software, I think would have solved it by now. [laughter]

[02:23:51.29] Right. That’s fair.

Maybe. It might have bugs. Oh…! [laughter] That was a good pun.

That’s a good one.

I love it. I love it.

Is it a pun when you say it’s a good pun?

I think so.

I think so.

Yeah. So it’s like, buying the warehouse, setting up the hydroponic system. Like, okay, yeah, the software and stuff, we could definitely open source. We can get the community involved in that. But if you think about where tech is centralized, it’s cities. If you think about where your major populations are, it’s cities. That’s what a major population is. Who has the highest need for produce, and the highest demand? It’s going to be cities. Can they grow it? They don’t have the land for it. And so that’s why smaller scale community gardens - okay, 20 by 20 square feet…

Rooftop gardens.

Yeah, rooftop greenhouses.


There’s probably so much of this out there that maybe you’re aware of, I’m just not… And you asked that question earlier like “Should we do it?” I don’t think I’m equipped to even be like yes or no. I can give a lot of ideas, and obviously provide a platform for folks like you to talk, and share what you do know… But I would love to see you do If you like that domain – we just was riffin’, but if that’s not your thing, whatever. Either way, I would love to see this podcast be done, because food is humanity’s utility. We cannot not have food. We can’t even not have electricity… But even more so, we have to have food. And we have to have food that is loved by us, I suppose, that’s not crazy expensive… The grocery bill’s out the – I can’t even take going to the grocery store now; anxiety of “What will my bill be today?” And I’m bearing down what I’m getting, being more mindful of what I’m purchasing even, you know? And trying to be more mindful that. The idea of community is super-important to me; obviously podcasting, THAT Conference is all about community. It’s one of the three pillars: education, community… And what was the last one?

Oh, I don’t remember. Network?

Networking. That was it. There you go. And I think that’s really what this conversation was about. I don’t know how much more we have to say, but I think the conversation could probably go on. I’m gonna encourage you to do this podcast, because it sounds like there’s some connection out there and some opportunity out there to do that kind of thing. It seems like tech and physical food will play a role. Hardware, software, in some way, shape, or form… There’s a lot of ways we can slice and dice - more puns - this thing.

Love it.

I can’t help it. My bad.


But it’s been fun talking to you guys. Anything else? Do you want to plug anything?

Oh, man… I guess if you would like to address any – as we’re building this at-scale platform, we’re gonna have a lot of security vulnerabilities, and security needs… So if you want to check out any security services available through APIs and SDKs, check out Pangea Cyber.

You are better than I. was just gonna say I’m on Twitter at @geekyvoices. You are better than I.

And my final – because you ended with a question, right? And I would say, to find the answer to that question, you should definitely start this podcast. Start a platform and see if you find the answer. Multiple answers. I think that’s really exciting.

I agree. I agree. We need champions in it… And who better to be the champion than you, Vanessa?

Excellent job. Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you, Noah.


Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚

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