On this year’s “State of the ‘log’” episode we’re going behind the scenes to look back at 2018 as we prepare for 2019 and onward. We talk through our most popular episodes, most controversial episodes, and even some of our personal favorites. We also catch you up on some company level updates here at Changelog Media. We hired Tim Smith earlier this year as our Senior Producer, we retired Request for Commits, started some new shows…
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Before we officially head into the year end I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your time and attention, it means the world to us. We work very hard to produce this podcast and we do it for you, the listeners — so thank you. Please be safe over the holiday break. Enjoy your time with family, friends, and loved ones. We’ll see you again in 2019!
Most popular episodes
- #291 – Winamp2 JS with Jordan Eldredge
- #288 – Live coding open source on Twitch with Suz Hinton
- #295 – Scaling all the things at Slack with Julia Grace
- #298 – The beginnings of Microsoft Azure with Julia White
- #297 and #314 on GraphQL
- #300 – Corporate interests in open source and dev culture with Zed Shaw
- Throwback to #205 – A protocol for dying with Pieter Hintjens
- You can listen to Backstage on the web or subscribe via Master
- You are subscribed to Master, right? 😉
- Listen to the new and improved JS Party
- Founders Talk is back in a big way!
- Tim Smith’s Away from Keyboard is a must-listen
- Maybe start with episode #4?
- We didn’t talk too much about Practical AI, but it’s rad too
Click here to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧
Alright, welcome to “State of the ‘log.” We were actually debating whether that’s a cool name or not, and we kind of went through it being “The Changelog” or “Changelog”, and…
Now we’re just “the ’log.”
“The ’log”, yeah. State of the ‘log. We’ll hopefully do this once a year at the end of the year for a good end cap to a year… Essentially, looking back on where we’ve been. Jerod, you know I’m a huge fan of retrospectives, right? I love retrospectives.
That’s right… But isn’t the agile Scrum retro stand-up – isn’t that a weekly thing? Shouldn’t we be doing this once a week?
I think there’s probably a place for annual retrospectives as well, although it’s not an agile thing, because obviously agile is usually a weekly or bi-weekly basis, depending upon your team, but…
Kind of a sprint.
I think if you think of it in an agile way, maybe not THE agile way, Agile Manifesto and all, we can embrace the yearly look-backs. I would actually put it back to the audience, honestly… If the audience says “Hey, that would actually be pretty cool - could you do this once a quarter, or something like that?”, I’d consider doing a more frequent State of the ’log.
On the other hand, if they say “This is dumb. Why do you guys do this?”, then we could just never do it again.
Well, I think our audience knows that we’re definitely not navel-gazers. We often don’t even get to share much about who we are and what we do… It’s definitely about featuring projects, people, perspectives, points of interests, thoughts, larger topics, and certainly a lot less about you and I as individuals and what we contribute… But I think this is kind of a chance to look back at what we’ve done, particularly from – a first point of view is this show, the Changelog, and then zooming out a little further to the macro level of Changelog at large, what’s happening there, whether it’s the news feed, or who’s joining the team, or new shows being spun down or spun up, and different stuff like that… So let’s kick off the Changelog happenings, so to speak. We will ship in this calendar year, 2018, 47 episodes.
We should stop there and maybe pat ourselves on the back, because–
Oh, do it!
Okay… It’s a silent back-pat.
Silent back-pat, I like that.
One thing that you always said and that I’ve ascribed to when it comes to putting out good stuff for people over time, is that you have to take care of the three C’s. The funny thing about that is the first one starts with Q, I don’t know why… But a quality content - so Content is the first C, but you throw Quality in front of that. So Content, Consistency and Community.
[00:04:04.07] And of those three, I think Consistency historically has been our problem. We’ve not always been all that consistent with shipping shows. We’ve had long breaks, we almost podfaded at one point… And we’ve had streaks where we shipped three shows in a day and then not ship for a couple of weeks.
I think probably the best thing that happened to us at the Changelog in 2018 - 47 episodes… You know, we shoot for 50, roughly, plus or minus?
Yeah, 50 is what we’re shooting for. Two weeks off a year is our basic boilerplate.
Yeah. So we hit 47… That feels pretty good. We’re not quite perfect, but something to work towards and something to celebrate, so… Lots of episodes put out this year.
Yeah. I definitely agree on the consistency side of things. I just had a conversation with a fellow podcaster, and they were asking “What are some of the things that you do that help bring success?” and I was just like “I just think we stick to the three C’s” and I explain what you’ve just explained, which is quality content - and that is very subjective; whatever YOU think quality content is is very different from what WE think quality content might be… So that can be a never-ending layered onion for you.
Then obviously consistency… You mentioned we’ve had some ups and downs on that - that’s probably the case for most content creators, the ebb and flow of frequency. And then the last one, by far my favorite, is community. I think when you look at some of the things we pay attention to on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, or even yearly basis in the case of “State of the ‘log”, for example, we’re always focused on something that amplifies and resonates with a community… And that’s really the key. If you can do quality content on a consistent basis, to a community who actually cares, that’s a recipe in my opinion for not failing.
I think 47 episodes later - yeah, I’m pretty stoked about that. Three shy of our actual goal… I’m curious, what do you think made us miss that goal? Was it maybe our more frequent traveling? I think we’ve actually traveled a little less this year than we did last year, 2017. You had a [00:06:19.16] in 2017.
Yeah, I would have to look back and see which actual weeks we missed, and then correlate what happened, but… We’re talking about the Changelog; that’s 47 episodes of the Changelog. We’ve shipped a lot more episodes than that throughout our entire catalog, so it’s not that we haven’t always been shipping, it’s just that for some reason the Changelog itself – sometimes guests cancel, sometimes we’ve got things that come up, other times we take a trip… We went to OSCON and we got a bunch of content there, but while we’re there, we may not ship a show that week, for instance. So things come up…
Let’s talk about the episodes themselves, because we’ve had a lot of great episodes. Looking back over the last 47, there’s a lot of good stuff in there, and I pulled out a few that were fan favorites, just based purely on downloads for the year… I thought we would highlight them, for folks who maybe missed them, or for you and I to even discuss what we thought about those shows.
The first one that I highlight is Winamp2 JS, which is right up there on my personal favorites episodes, because it was just nerdy and geeky to the core, and it’s not the kind of project that’s gonna, you know, disrupt the industry and become a commercial OSS project… But if was just a super-rad thing, and I love that we got to just nerd out about it for almost two hours.
Yeah, he went deep on that, too. I mean, got a job from it, got a job interview at Facebook on the React team, if I recall correctly… Was it [unintelligible 00:07:40.07]
Some interesting sub-facts about Jordan Eldredge, the creator of that projects… He went to the n-th degree around the creation, and kind of tie back to the original Winamp… He was very specific with how he did it, and I think it was one of those labor of love projects that just had a lot of good fruits to come from it. One, an appearance on the show here, and then, you know, Facebook, getting hired there, working on Nuclide.
[00:08:16.07] Yeah, and I think one of the reasons why maybe that show was so popular in terms of downloads is because Jordan was very fun and forward to work with us and try interesting things… Back in the spring and early summer I was Twitch-streaming stuff, and just experimenting, and he would hop on there and we were hacking on Winamp2, trying to get a Winamp version of our on-site player at Changelog.com to work… And then he actually took the episode and he put it in the playlist of the Winamp2 JS homepage.
There’s a specific URL that if you go directly to it I think it’s just like his homepage .changelog… Or /changelog, excuse me; it’s not a file extension, it’s a sub-directory. Something like that, and it would automatically play his episode of the Changelog in Winamp2 JS, in the browser. That was super rad, and I think that probably got him some extra downloads on his episode.
Yeah, fun fact about this - I’m not sure if you’ve been there in a while, but it’s now officially Webamp, not Winamp2 JS.
Oh, he renamed it.
Yeah, very cool stuff.
You mentioned Twitch streaming though…
And what I love about this next one we’ve got listed here, which is “Live coding open source on Twitch, with Suz Hinton.” My favorite, Jerod – I don’t know about you, but I love it when shows turn into friendships…
Yes, and Suz turned into a panelist on JS Party.
So we didn’t just keep in touch with Suz, we invited her on one of our other shows, and she’s been a great contributor and a great panelist, and she would even MC JS Party, so I got to have lots of chats with her throughout the year… But yeah, it all kicked off with that – you know, Suz is a prolific and an epic Twitch streamer every Sunday morning, and she went through an interesting situation recently where she moved from the East Coast to the West Coast in America, United States, and her time zones changed, but she had this very specific time – talk about consistency, right? Well, on Twitch consistency is everything, because people wanna watch live, they wanna participate live, so they want you to start your Twitch stream pretty much the same time, or a reliable schedule all the time, so that they can organize their lives around it.
Well, she moved from one side of the country to the other, and she talks about this in a JS Party episode recently… And that’s like three hours earlier, right? So it was noon previously, or 11 AM her time she was Twitch-streaming, and now it’s like 8 AM… So it’s changed the milieu of that stream, so I think she’s had to move times around, but… Time zones, right? Anyways…
Yes, dedication. She’s still doing it, and we brought her on – this was episode #288 back in March, where she told us all about how she live-codes on Twitch… And she even inspired me to do a little bit of live-stream myself, for about maybe 6-8 weeks… And then I Twitch-faded.
Give a quick aside, maybe two minutes on why you think the fade happened for you.
Well, I don’t have any premonitions; I know exactly why it faded - it’s because Monday afternoons need to be productive… [laughs] And it was fun, and it was experimental, but I was such a bad programmer when I’m streaming, that I wouldn’t be producing. It took me like four streams to put out a feature that I’m sure I could have put together in an afternoon or two, non-streaming.
So add that, plus the fact that I’m time-constrained, as you well know; I’m not a full-time changelogger. We hope to change that soon, at which point maybe I will be streaming on Twitch again, but… Just time-constraints and productivity, basically. It was fun, people were involved, it had some traction… It just wasn’t really – in terms of ROI for a business it just wasn’t there.
[00:12:21.00] It’s interesting, because I think in that show – we actually left that show with Suz very bullish on the idea, and I think there’s a lot of people who look at someone like Suz, for example her dedication and commitment to it, “Oh, I can do that.” You probably can, but then you get into it and you realize “Wow, this actually is really hard” six months in, or x weeks in, or whatever it is, and that’s just credit to someone like Suz, who’s just got such – I mean, she travels tons, she does a great work at Microsoft, she’s always involved in JS Party now…
I mentioned one of my favorite things is when a show turns into a friendship, and she’s been a great friend to us in many different ways, and a great contributor to a lot of the content we’re producing here… I just love it when the community comes full circle. Suz is out there in the world, doing her awesome stuff, we cross paths on a podcast, and now we’re friends forever, and we found ways to work together, too. To me, that’s what I think makes this game worth playing for.
Sure, we mentioned earlier the three C’s, but that’s just the boilerplate, it’s not gospel. It’s one way to do things, but it’s not the reason for it. The reason for it is really relationships.
Absolutely. Moving down the list of popular episodes from 2018, episode #295, “Scaling all the things at Slack, with Julia Grace.” Adam, this was a show that you put together. You invited Julia on, you got it all lined up… I just kind of showed up and chit-chatted, so why don’t you unpack that one? First of all, why do you think it was so popular, and then secondly, how did it all come together?
I think the reason why it was so popular was because 1) it was just a great topic. Slack is super-popular, most everyone in our industry knows it, uses it, hates it, loves it, they’ve got some clear defining opinion about Slack and some personal involvement with it in some way, shape or form… And I think that we’ve said on that show that Slack has been doing nothing but scaling since day one. They never really had a time to slow down and not scale, they’ve always been scaling… And I think that’s probably the case for most startups - you just start out at 100 and you never really stop. You don’t get to ramp from 0 to 60, and 60 to 80, and 80 to 100 in terms of speed or miles per hour, for example. You just, boom! Gas pedal down kind of thing.
I think another thing that sticks out for me is that it was sort of a different style of show for us.
Absolutely. I was gonna say that.
I think we just sort of like stepped back and said “What are some other conversations we wanna have that aren’t exactly open source per se or project per se, with that kind of underpinning? What’s a good story that we need to tell, that really makes sense and resonates?”
I think one is just the managing and being a leader within a developer organization, and in particular Julia’s perspective on that and how she’s helped grow that team… So that was a scaling show not just about tech scaling, but also people scaling, relationship scaling, and how you deal with the ins and outs, and things like that. So I think it had a lot of really unique, humanistic perspectives that for me I just walked away really enjoying it, and I think that’s probably what the audience felt, as well.
Yeah, it’s difficult when we plan out shows, because we’re trying to serve a breadth of experience in terms of our audience. We know we have the super-hardcore hackers, and then we have the people who are just learning, and then we have people who are tangential to the actual code, but maybe not necessarily writing code day-to-day…
[00:16:06.28] Some of our shows – I mean, one that I was thinking of that I didn’t expect would do as well as it has in terms of just listenership was our “Keeping up with Elm” episode that I did back in October with Richard Feldman… Super straight scope, small scope - talking about Elm. It’s a catch-up show, which means you kind of have to know Elm in the first place, or at least know what it is… And we’re talking about new features, and speed, and the way things are architectured… Just very nerdy, very technical, and it still over the last couple months was one of the most popular episodes. But a show like that one with Julia is just more approachable for a bigger audience, where you don’t necessarily have to have the technical expertise to get something out of it… And she has, like you said, so much wisdom and experience in leadership that there were just tons of takeaways.
It was definitely one of my favorites, because we did kind of get away from just simply the technical sides of things… And you know, actually on today’s frontpage of Changelog.com - this is sort of an aside here real quick, off the beaten path of our plan here, but “Is code enough?” That was a talk by Henry Zhu at All Things Open, and I think it just goes similar to that, not so much “Is code enough?”, but is it only about code? And I think our obvious answer is no, it’s not only about code. I mean, at the other end of every function is what? More data. Just kidding… HUMANS! Humans, right? Humans are there…
[laughs] I was gonna say, “A unit test?” [laughs] Oh, okay…
Exactly… See, we know our perspectives here then. You know, it’s all about humans, man. It’s all about relationships, and in the end, code is a medium to enable better life for people. I think that really resonates with people, especially when you give someone like Julia a chance to share her bloody knuckles stuff that happened at Slack - the growth, and the scale challenges, scaling engineering teams, the responsibilities, the different challenges of being a manager… A lot of people really lean into that, because either they’re a junior wanting to be senior, eventually gonna be manager, or really enjoying management, or love product management, love product direction, and they need to have representation to feel invited or feel like they can actually accomplish that – which, I’ve been there before, I’ve needed personal representation somewhere for me to feel like “I can actually do this!” and I think shows like that give people that feeling.
This one is – I’m actually surprised this is on the list. Is it on the list because it was just listener-popular? This is listener-popular, right?
This is listener-popular, yeah.
Okay. So I’m not exactly surprised, and I’m actually delighted… I’ll take the surprised back and give delighted instead, and I would say because another fan-favorite, Julia White, in the case of being a corporate vice-president at Microsoft, 17-year veteran, no less… We met at Microsoft Build, and [unintelligible 00:19:05.01] we worked with closely at Microsoft to sort of get the right people onto the show, and get interviews with the right people at Microsoft Build, which is actually kind of hard… But we really pushed to speak with Julia, because we just really wanted to talk through this back-story of Microsoft Azure.
Sure, most everybody just thinks “Oh, it’s Microsoft’s cloud” or whatever, but I think this is such an interesting story on how we even began this show, and back to the beginnings of Office… She told this whole story of how Azure actually began with – what was that presentation? What was the insider thing they have at Microsoft…? I can’t remember what it’s called now. The server they have… Not IIS server, but the…
SharePoint, yeah. I think it was some sort of cloud-based SharePoint idea [unintelligible 00:19:56.04] if I’m remembering correctly… I could probably scan the transcript and find this out.
You should go read the transcript and find out.
I should do that… But there was just an interesting story there that I didn’t even know went as deep as it did, but there was so much more there… And that kind of show, to me, personally - I love it a lot, and I’m really glad it’s one of the fan-favorites, because I love that show… And I’m kind of surprised that – because Microsoft hasn’t had the best name, they’re definitely getting a better name, a more respected name, but… When you just say “The beginnings of Microsoft Azure”, it’s like “Yeah… Do I really care?” I think the answer was yes.
Yeah, and that show in terms of reaching listeners was a slow burn; it didn’t come out of the gates as super-popular. I think that makes sense, because “The beginnings of Microsoft Azure” is the title of the show… And you know, if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t probably listen to that show if I just saw the title myself… Episode #298, of course, in the show notes, if you wanna go back and listen… But the fact is that Julia was just a captivating and just smart as a whip guest.
She was so much fun, she’s so charismatic… I felt like we had a good rapport with her, and she was just ready for anything that we’d throw at her.
She was just snapping back answers, and it makes for a very enjoyable conversation, maybe one of those most enjoyable conversations that we had all year with a guest. She’s just spectacular. I think it started slow, and then because of just the guest being great and the conversation being enjoyable, over time it’s continued to be downloaded.
And even now, months later, it’s still getting a couple hundred downloads in any given day. I think it’s a testament of the fact that it’s just a really good conversation.
She actually – I found this in the transcript… It was Terry Myerson, and she said “Finally, Terry Myerson - I give him tons of credit. He was like “We’re going to the cloud. We’re putting this stuff on the cloud. We’re doing it!” and everyone thought he was crazy. They literally thought he was crazy!” I can hear her voice resonating as I read this… And she goes on to say “So he actually did it in secret.” So the reason Microsoft Azure is what it is was because somebody on the inside, that wasn’t even like – like anybody else, a quality person doing awesome stuff, but it wasn’t this big, grand plan; it was done in secret, “We need to do this…”
She goes on to say “He did this thing called Exchange Labs, where he launched it as an educational program for universities, as an excuse to be able to ship things in the cloud that wasn’t gonna affect businesses, so he stayed out of the line of fire from the sales teams and other things…”, so he essentially figured out how to fly under the radar. She goes on to say “So we started this secretly, out of the back closet, creating this cloud service for our email system under Exchange Labs.”
She shares this really interesting, definitely not expected story of the beginnings of Microsoft Azure. As someone in the conversation I loved it, but as a listener I would love it ten times more, because it’s just not maybe one of our normal styles of shows; you and I were in-person, face-to-face with her, we got to have, as you mentioned, that great rapport, and as you mentioned also, she was really easy to speak with, and just a naturally great speaker.
I’ve seen her since then speak on stage. That wasn’t her first time to the rodeo, let’s just say… She’s definitely a seasoned relationist (if that’s even a word) to just have a good rapport with, and audience - she’s really good at it. She’s just an amazing guest, and a great story, obviously.
Yeah. One last – this isn’t a single episode. I did not put it in our outline, so if I’m wondering what I’m talking about, I just am looking at the stats here as we talk, and one other – I guess I’ll call this a trend… Two episodes that both fared pretty well, and were both on the same topic, is GraphQL. If we think about what developers are interested in, things that are burgeoning and becoming more popular, episode #297 with Johannes Schickling, “Prisma and the GraphQL data layer” did very well with our listeners, and then of course, John Resig [unintelligible 00:24:02.23] this is actually a cross-post from JS Party; this was a JP Party episode that we did with – Suz and I interviewed John Resig, all about GraphQL, because he’s quite bullish on it… And that was a JS Party episode, but we put it in the Changelog feed, because it was so good. That one also was very popular… So GraphQL is hitting on all cylinders at this point in 2018.
[00:24:29.04] I really enjoyed the 101 too, that we got recently, on just Graph databases, the laying that out to me, in that episode – what was the episode for that, since you’re on the GraphQL kick…
That was Dgraph, and Manish Jain talking about Dgraph. We were actually focused on licensing in that episode, because Dgraph went through that licensing switcheroo, and Commons Clause, and all that… But he definitely gave a good 101 on graph databases. I actually pulled that out and made a little post of it from the transcript, because it was such a good explanation, and people enjoyed reading that one… So yeah, that was a good episode, as well.
Let’s turn to a little controversy… From most popular to most controversial. Can anybody guess what it is? What was the episode that got us the most feedback in terms of positive/negative, agree/disagree? What do you think, Adam?
I thought you were asking the audience, and I was hoping they would chime in somehow… I was like “How are they gonna do that? I can’t wait to hear.”
Well, they can’t answer… I’ll ask you, but you already know, because you were there…
And by reading from our script here, this list? Or have you come up with a brand new one?
No, you can just go ahead and read it, come on…
Gotta play along, man…
I would say in that case then “Corporate interests in open source and dev culture.” Zed Shaw - he can’t come on anything, or make an appearance, in my opinion, without ruffling some feathers, let’s just say… In good ways and bad ways.
What I like about Zed is he makes us think. He makes us really think about the different perspectives… He might be a little jaded, but that’s cool, whatever; I get that. He’s been down the road, and he’s had some things happen to him. I think he operates in this unique world of somewhat trauma, and he’s – there was something I actually watched recently on YouTube, and it assumed that everyone has good intentions… I don’t think that Zed particularly does that. I could be wrong, but… There you go.
Yeah, that was definitely an interesting conversation. Episode #300 - we did not celebrate #300 in any sort of navel-gazing way, like we’re navel-gazing right now, but we definitely had a very interesting conversation, and one that brought, like I said, the most feedback that we’ve received all year long… And we appreciate feedback. We like the emails, we like the tweets, we love people who open up issues in ping and let us know what you’re thinking… Because when we don’t have that, we’re really just doing what we think is good, and doing shows that we want to do. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes that doesn’t work out, so we wanna know when we’re missing the mark.
I’d also say that this is another one of those shows that began differently than other shows typically do. This actually was spawned from a Twitter rant that he had done, essentially around corporate involvement in open source, and I’m like “Clearly, Zed’s got something to say about this.”
I passed it over to you, I’m like “Hey, what do you think?” You’re like, “Yes, it sounds great”, sort of lining it up… And for the listeners’ sake, this show sort of camped out around his thoughts on open source, and making money in open source, corporate interests and involvement in open source, dev culture, and really a ton more. I mean, it’s Zed, but… You know, if this is a true retrospective, I think that what I’m seeing here is when we go off of our beaten path, so to speak, is when we’ve somehow arrived at listener favorite shows.
Or listener most controversial shows.
Or – yeah, I guess in this case. How does this one fare in terms of listens, from the others?
It’s definitely up there. It’s top 15 for the year, so… It did well, it was listened to.
[00:28:17.26] Right. So it wasn’t not a listener favorite, it just wasn’t THE most favorite.
No. Well, controversy of course brings listens, because people wanna hear what’s going on, so… Lots of engagement, I guess, if we’re gonna use the internet marketing speak.
One thing that I’ve said - maybe on the air, maybe not - is that for me, my favorite episodes, or the ones that I end up being the most proud of over the years, are usually the ones where either you, or I, or both of us are nervous going into the call. Not necessarily nervous because the person is intimidating, although sometimes that is the case… I remember with Matz in particular, I was nervous…
…because it’s like meeting a hero. But where we’re like “This could go south” or “This might be a really bad idea.” The show that we did a couple years back, with Pieter Hintjens, as he was terminally ill, was like a huge risk, and admittedly, we were both like “This could be a really bad idea” before the call, right? And it was an amazing conversation. I could name a few other ones… But yeah, definitely when we go outside of our comfort zone and try something new, I think it tends to bear fruit. Sometimes that fruit is sweet and tasty, and other times it might be a little sour, but…
That’s right. You don’t know it until you try though…
You’ve gotta be willing to take the risks, and I think that’s probably some advice to others out there - if you’re listening to this and you are a fellow podcaster, or thinking “Man, I think I can do that”, like Suz, for example, maybe try it. Take some of that advice, take some risks, and do something different.
Man, I’m glad you mentioned the Pieter show, and even Matz show, because… I remember telling Matz in direct message on Twitter, because English is not Matz’s first language, it took a lot of selling; I had to reassure Matz… I was just trying to say whatever I could to help him understand that we really cared about his presence and sounding on the show, because we knew that English wasn’t his first language… And I was like, “We’ll talk slower, we’ll repeat ourselves if we need to, we’ll do a great job editing, we’ll take a lot of time to make sure that you don’t sound silly”, or anything that he may have been concerned about with English not being his first language… And he actually has really good English for Japanese being his primary language, but it really took several months… And it turns out too that Matz was a listener. In the pre-call he was like, “Oh yeah, I’m a listener of the show.” I couldn’t believe that… That’s always awesome.
And then Pieter - I was telling somebody about this show recently; Pieter Hintjens, episode #205, “A protocol for dying.” One, a very tough show to title, and I would say ten times harder actually to be a part of… In the last two minutes – I actually can’t go back and listen to this episode. I think I would actually emotionally distraught because of it.
This story and this person just mean so much to me afterwards. As you’d mentioned, the uncomfortability… I was super-uncomfortable even inviting him onto the show, because I knew the situation, but then he said he was doing some sort of meetup, and I’m like “Okay, this person is definitely okay with –”, you know, they may not be happy with their circumstance, but they’re okay with sharing what they can learn from the circumstance. So I was like “Hey, this might sound weird, but would you be interested in talking through some of these details with the developer world on our show?” and he was like “Totally.”
We did that show, and I think it was 117 minutes long, so almost two hours. Good luck with the ride if you do listen to this show, and… Maybe skip the last two minutes, because I know I almost teared up in the last two minutes, personally.
[00:32:21.03] Well, speaking of favorites, real quick, because we’ve got other stuff to get to - let’s real quick each of us pick a favorite episode of the year; personal favorite, not necessarily the one that did the best, or resonated the most, or was the most controversial.
So this is staff favorites…
I love that, staff favorites.
Okay, so you can go first.
Stack favorites… Episode #321, “Drupal is a pretty big deal.” I think I’m choosing this one because of 1) I’ve just seen so much on Twitter, as a surprise, to have had Angela - Angie, as she says; she says “If you’re my friend, you call me Angie”, but her name is Angela Byron… I just did not expect such a beautiful spirit to join us on the show. I don’t know why I didn’t; maybe I’m a negative person, I don’t know why…
Were you feeling frumpy coming into that? Were you just expecting bad?
I don’t know why I would – I mean, I always try to think about people having the best intentions, as I said before, but she was just such a delight… She had all this history in the Drupal community; this was something we hadn’t talked about… I think this is why it’s one of my favorites - it’s like, we hadn’t covered Drupal literally ever, since 2009. That’s basically a sin; we should be slapped - publically slapped - for that.
And here’s Angie coming on, core contributor, staple of the community in Drupal, and she just lays it down. She’s such a joy to talk to, and there were so many people that were inspired by what’s going on in the community… And if you’re not excited about PHP or Drupal per se, you can certainly be very excited about the way they’re operating their community and the way they’re treating people.
For me, there was a lot of technical love in that show, but more so community love in that show, and I loved that they’re doing something so right… And I said it in our intro, I sad we were happy to celebrate with them as they march along to their framlication beat of their own drum. I thought it was pretty cool, because she said framlication, and we were both like “What? What’s that?” So that’s why it’s my favorite.
Well, mine is not too far before that. It is #318, which we did in October… Actually, kind of an answer to the Zed Shaw conversation…
…or maybe inspired by it. Sprung out of that, from listener feedback. That episode is called “A call for kindness in open source” with Brett Cannon. And why did I love it? It was probably just the most fun conversation that we had of the year; not to knock on Angie, that was a good one as well, but for me – I mean, you said you love it when a show turns into a friendship. Well, I just felt like at the end of that show Brett and us were just bonded. We got each other… We talked for almost four hours. The show is not four hours, so don’t be intimidated; it’s a 90-minute show.
“No, you hang up.” “No, you hang up.” No, YOU hang up.”
It’s basically what it was at the end.
It was, it was all loves. It was all loves. And the funny part, if you listen to the very end of that show - there’s a little Easter Egg at the end that Tim put in, which is an excerpt of our post-call conversation about Star Wars… I mean, we just went deep into nerd culture, and movies… And I had to go to the bathroom so bad, but I was just holding it, because we were having so much fun…
Four hours later and you didn’t go to the bathroom?
Well, it wasn’t the entire time…
[00:35:52.09] But by the end of the call – I remember having to run to the bathroom at the end… But just a blast. Brett is such a nice guy… What a great message; again, more on the community side. Of course, he has deep roots in Python, Python core contributor for many years… He’s been through it all, and he’s stuck through thick and thin, a lot of the problems in open source, and a lot of the victories, and just has a really positive and solid message… And I felt like by the end of that show and by the end of that four-hour conversation that we had a friend, so that was a great episode.
I’m trying to get to the episode to see what the time was. So if we were on the call for four hours…
It was a 90-minute duration.
Okay. So of the four hours, 90 minutes was tape… Which I think leans into the idea of the fact that we have breaks during the show; we take typically two breaks… And in this case we took breaks, but we just nerded out. The first break I think was 45 minutes, and I think we were actually like “Are we getting back into this show any time soon…?” We were deep into like Keanu Reeves, and the Matrix, and whether or not he was or was not Canadian…
[laughs] That’s right.
When you end up on Wikipedia in a break, you know you’ve gone wrong… We were in movie trivia, we found out a lot about different things he liked or not… It was really interesting, I like that a lot. I’m glad that was one of your favorites, because we needed that show, in my opinion, for the entire community. I know that not everybody listens to our podcasts, and that’s okay…
Yeah, I mean… You didn’t know that?
What’s wrong with them?
But I think this is one of those that if you’re gonna recommend a podcast that’s 90 minutes long, and it’s talking about the open source community and ways to treat one another and operate, this is the one, I think… This is the one I will point to forever to say “We need kindness, and go back and listen to this episode and find out why.” As you mentioned too, Brett is such a leader in that front. The human side of code is strong here, man…
Strong with this one.
You mentioned the breaks… Let’s give a little inside scoop here on the breaks, because you say that we have two breaks during the show… And the truth of the matter is often times - not even just sometimes, but often times, the breaks are the best part of the conversation. Sometimes they’re short, and they’re just like “Hey, get a drink of water and we’ll start again”, but often times we go way off tangent, into deep things, in the breaks. I think with Johannes Schickling we did like an hour on website design, and looking at different things during the break, and then we had to get back to the show.
We’ve thought about in the past, we thought about actually releasing the breaks - not all of them; maybe just the ones that actually turn into good conversations - as a separate show, maybe a sub-show, I don’t know… We’ve talked about the breaks, and we’ve never done anything with it. If that’s something that you’re super-interested in, kind of conversations like this one we’re having here, hit us up, let us know.
We do have a show that maybe y’all don’t know about called Backstage, and it’s kind of like the breaks… It’s inside the Changelog; it’s Adam and I, and Tim, and people that are involved in the production of the shows, and Changelog News and all of that, getting together and talking about things that aren’t necessarily the show proper… And that podcast, Backstage, is subscribable only in Master. So we have a Master feed; if you like the Changelog, you will probably like JS Party, you will probably like Practical AI, you will probably like Away From Keyboard etc. And if you don’t like a certain episode, just delete it… But go subscribe to the Master feed, and then you get all of our shows in one feed… You don’t have to have a bunch of feeds; delete the ones you don’t wanna listen to… And Backstage - which is not like a weekly show, but we do it every once in a while - is only in that Master feed. So if you wanna listen to those conversations, just go ahead and unsubscribe from the Changelog, and then really quickly go subscribe to Master and you’ll get Backstage as well.
Like, two seconds later.
Let’s reverse that… Don’t delete your Changelog feed until you subscribe to Master.
Subscribe to Master first, and then go back and remove Changelog as a feed for you.
That’s right. That’s the battle-hardened way to do it.
[00:40:07.16] I’ve done that. I actually personally subscribed to our Master feed. I used to track – because you always pay attention to what you do, to some degree at least, how things work and stuff, QA… I listen to shows I’m not on, I love it… That’s how I do it - I actually subscribed to the Master feed, because it’s just easier.
It’s just less feeds.
That’s right, less feeds. I go to Master, get all the shows… It’s so easy. It’s so easy.
Yeah, so how do you do that? In your podcast app you can search for Changelog Master, and you’ll find it. If you’re on the web, changelog.com/master, and you can get all the subscribe links from there… So that’s how you do that.
If you’re interested, Changelog.com/backstage - you can listen on the web, but you can only get it into a podcast app in the Master feed, so there you go.
That’s right. And I would say, while we’re on that front too, considering there’s only two episodes in the Backstage feed, one thing we’re trying to do is at least – I would say it’d be nice to get to maybe a bi-weekly basis of those, or at least one a month…
I think we could use Backstage to do some breaks episodes. Maybe just wait a month and see what’s been the best breaks from the Changelog during that month, and then have Tim splice them together and create a Backstage episode… But yeah, we have more stuff that we wanna do, we just kind of got started on it. I think we’ll do at least an episode a month, and probably once I become full-time, we’ll be able to do maybe two a month, but that’s a little bit down the road.
If you have any feedback on that show, audience, let us know. If there’s something you wanna hear about, that sparks your interest, that isn’t like any other show content-related, Backstage-fitting, say hello.
There you go. So let’s change gears now… We’re talking about new stuff; Backstage is a new thing that we’re doing. Let’s talk about what’s new in 2018, because we’ve done a lot, and we’ve made some moves, we’ve got some new podcasts, and we thought we would talk about that a little bit. Do you wanna take the reins, Adam?
Yes. JS Party began in 2017, right? And we started Go Time in 2015… So we’ve always had a few shows. Then my podcast, Founders Talk, which was on hiatus for literally five years - I began that show in 2010 on Dan Benjamin’s 5by5 podcast network; then once we went with this more than one show idea, a lot of the new site that’s how we’ve done, and the CMS, and stuff like that that we’ve been working on for the last couple years… It finally made sense to have time to resume a few things, and start new shows, and stuff like that.
Now we actually have six active podcasts. Right now Go Time is on hiatus, but coming back soon. We’ve got the Changelog that you’re listening to, JS Party, Founders Talk, Away From Keyboard, Practical AI, Go Time, and as we mentioned, Backstage… And one other unmentioned show so far is called Spotlight, which we use for big announcements, conferences and the hallway track. It’s sort of like this flexible show, I guess, to some degree. We did the Apple Mac event recently on that; we all got on there and talked about the developers’ perspective to the iPad Pro, the new MacBook Air, and the new Mac Mini…
Those were fun to do, but we’ve got some plans around our podcasts, and that’s why we say, subscribe to the Master feed. There’s more than just the Changelog. So if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking like “I had no idea about the other shows… This is amazing!”, well, today is basically Christmas for you, or something like that, because… You know, we’ve got more shows, the Master feed is for you, and there’s lots that you’ve been missing out on.
[00:43:54.29] I’m pretty excited about that, because we mentioned Suz earlier, and different relationships… We’ve added on more of a team to JS Party; the panelists grew from three - we hiatused it for a little bit, brought it back with a larger panelist perspective, to give Mikeal, Alex and Rachel kind of a break, because they were kind of getting burned on being able to travel, and be there, and the show was, you know, a little off and on in its frequency because of that… And going back to the three C’s, it makes sense… But Suz Hinton, Feross Aboukhadijeh, Kevin Ball, you, Jerod, Nick Nisi, Safia Abdalla, Christopher Hiller, Mikeal Rogers, Alex Sexton and Rachel White are all current panelists of this awesome show we call JS Party. I love that show.
My most favorite thing about JS Party is, I would say, the respect level everyone has for one another, to always feel open to bring up things and even disagree. It’s not an “Oh, Suz, you’re amazing” or “Oh, Kevin, you’re amazing.” It’s kind of like “Why did you do that?” sometimes. And I like that. We need that.
Yeah, there’s lively debates. There’s lots of laughing. It’s a blast, and it’s been a joy to work on and to put out each and every week this year. Let’s talk about Away From Keyboard a little bit, because we’ve mentioned it off-hand… We’ve mentioned Tim, so maybe you should give the full story on Tim as our newest addition to the team… It was 2018, right? He wasn’t with us in 2017. So a huge change, and a huge advance, and one of the reasons why we’ve been able to accomplish the consistency side is because of Tim, and Away From Keyboard is his show… So Adam, why don’t you tell the folks about Tim Smith?
[00:47:57.07] Yeah, let’s start with Tim Smith first, and then go on with Away From Keyboard. I’ve known Tim for – geez, let’s just say years. The blog post I wrote introducing him to our community, the new senior producer here, says that I’ve known him since 2012… [background noise] That’s my family in the background; they’re coming in as a cameo. They just got back from school.
So Tim joins us as the newest member, senior producer… I’ve known Tim for many years, and he has always been the kind of person that focused on the details. That’s what I love – it’s probably one of my most favorite qualities of Tim… Not my favorite thing of Tim, but my favorite quality of his - his focus and attention to detail; he sweats those things, and I think he holds us accountable to the details, which I really love in a person… Because I will sometimes shave off an edge because I can be lazy, and Tim doesn’t let me, basically. Neither you do, Jerod, but you know, that’s what I love about Tim.
I’ve known Tim as a podcaster. He has created many podcasts over the years. I’ve been on his shows, he’s been on my shows, I’ve listened to his shows… And we were just in need of someone to really round out the production team – without trying to toot my own horn, I would say a similar perspective on those things as I did. Because I would spend a lot of time editing our stuff. I was our primary editor for a long time, mastering all the shows, producing all the different things, and it’s a lot, a lot of work, and we needed to be able to scale. There was no way we could do that many shows that we just talked about unless we had someone like Tim on our team. So if it weren’t for Tim, we wouldn’t be as consistent as we are, we wouldn’t be shipping the amount of shows we are… I might be in a fetal position, crying, on occasional days…
That doesn’t mean I still don’t do that, but I’m less likely–
Different reasons now.
Yeah, I’m less likely to do it. And Tim, as someone who’s done some really awesome shows over the years, like The East Wing, For The Record, The Radio Column… He came wanting to do his own show, not knowing that he would be allowed – I don’t know why he wouldn’t be allowed to work at a “podcast company” per se (in air quotes; I did air quotes there) and not produce a podcast.
So when he joined the team, I was like “I wanna support you in your creative work. I want you to be able to do something…” No pun intended, but he has this show called “Away From Keyboard”, exploring the human side of creative work. So he was really excited to be able to do his own show… He named that show, Away From Keyboard. I don’t think I had any involvement in the naming; did you, Jerod? I know we gave feedback, but that was his name, right?
Yeah, he came up with it, and he asked if we liked it. I loved it immediately, I was like “Yeah.”
We knew kind of where he wanted to camp out at, but we weren’t really sure what to call it and how to describe it. So Away From Keyboard, exploring the human side of creative work; new episodes every other Wednesday. You can go to Changelog.com/afk, the coolest URL I think we have; one of the coolest, at least, aside from RFC, which we’ll get to here in just a second, because we hiatused that… Or I guess we actually retired that.
Yeah, that’s all I have to say about Away From Keyboard. I love the show. I love the perspective of it… Speaking to Suz Hinton - she was actually one of the guests on episode #7… I’m waiting to hear you on there, Jerod.
Oh, that would be fun. Yeah, Away From Keyboard is awesome. It’s about 30 minutes, it’s highly produced, and I would say low frequency, but high-quality. If you want one to listen to, of course the one with Suz would be good, if you are a Suz Hinton fan. Episode #4, if you want a recommendation - Jeff Robbins is an actual rock star. I freakin’ love that episode, and I think you will, too… So check that one out, subscribe to AFK, and if Tim’s editing this - Tim, if you wanna go above and beyond, splice a little preview of AFK right in here.
Hey. Yeah, thank you. So in this episode that Jerod was just talking about, I asked Jeff Robbins about the decision – when his band was offered a record deal, he had to stop his business. Was that a difficult decision?
I got offered a record deal, Tim! In 1994! It was like “Rock ’n roll!” No, it was not a difficult decision. [laughter]
I figured that’d be the answer, but I wanted to ask, just in case. Anyway, thanks guys. Back to you.
I will mention too that the shows are actually on the shorter side… So if you’re looking for something a little shorter, maybe even more in the commuter-friendly, or drive to the grocery store, or doing dishes friendly… The shows tend to range in the 15, 20, maybe as much as 30-ish minutes, but never an hour or so. And that’s the way I believe Tim plans to keep it, although I don’t think he treats himself like a time schedule, but he tends to err on the side of like 15 minutes to 30 minutes, I think 15 being the absolute shortest I’ve seen. So it’s definitely a shorter form factor.
And back to Tim real quick - great addition to the team. He does so much more than just editing and mastering, and I’m really excited to have someone like him on our team, that helps us think through a lot of the details… And as we’ve said before, we really sweat the details; and if you can’t tell as a listener or a frequent visitor to Changelog.com, let me just tell you that we try to. We try to sweat the details, every single day. Why don’t you mention retiring RFC?
Yeah, well, we retired RFC. [laughs] It was a bittersweet day… Of course, our much-beloved but often hiatused, or I guess seasonal, meaning lots of breaks in-between episodes and seasons, Request For Commits, with Nadia Eghbal and Mikeal Rogers… It feels like it’s been retired for longer than a year, but it definitely was the beginning of this year that that happened.
You know, it was a show that ran its course. It’s something that we’re super-proud of, and you probably listened to the retired episode, which made both feeds, so it definitely shipped in the Changelog feed, where we talked all about RFC, its history, why we did it, why it’s being retired… So if that’s something that you’re interested in, definitely check it out.
Those episodes - a lot of them are evergreen, so it’s a great back-catalog. Of course, when we retire a show we don’t yank its back-catalog, or anything like that, so you can definitely go back and listen to it… But yes, Request For Commits - the feed is retired, but many of the conversations that they have and we’ll continue to have happen on the Changelog. So really nobody is missing anything, but yeah, the RFC feed has been retired, and that’s – you know, sometimes you’ve gotta get moving on.
I like how you say it ran its course, because I think one thing that came out in the finale episode was just – I think Nadia actually opened up this conversation like that… She said that they’d accomplished what they wanted to accomplish with the show. They talked to the different people, they brought the different perspectives to sustainability in open source, which I think was its core tenet, and obviously the different perspectives of driving and delivering and maintaining and leading open source, all the different nuances - not simply just the code, it was the human side, as they said… The human side of open source, the human side of code.
I think what’s also interesting is that you can still subscribe to the show in Apple iTunes, or in Overcast, or on Android, or wherever you’re at. There’s still the RSS feed there. So it’s not like – like you said, it’s archived on the site and we call it retired, but it’s no different than, say, when you go to Netflix and you watch a season and they’re already done, like, they’re just not doing any more. That’s all… That’s the difference. You can still listen the same way you listen to every other podcast, it’s just that that’s the end; when you get to episode 20, there won’t be anymore, there won’t be episode 21.
[00:56:17.27] Which is kind of nice for us completionists, because you can actually accomplish something, you can finish, which I always appreciate finishing.
He also talked about the big problems that we have, that are hard to solve for the internet, and the different trade-offs we’ve had to do over centralization and distribution over the years, and stuff like that. So if you want serious wisdom, which I would say this entire podcast, RFC, was all about - serious wisdom from a lot of really interesting movers and shakers in the open source landscape, this one in particular was my favorite. So I don’t know if you have a favorite, Jerod, but I wanted to mention it real quick, because that was one of my – I mean, I have a couple others I love, but this one in particular I really enjoyed, because I was a back-seat producer to this show, so I was at every episode and listened to the conversations in real-time, and I’m sitting there thinking like “Holy crap, I’m listening to Brendan Eich share literally the history of the web, right here.”
He speaks in a way that – he’s got all this experience, he’s been there… He was in the trench, you know what I mean? It was just really enjoyable.
He dug the trench.
Or he dug the trench, I like that.
You like that?
Yeah, I do like that. He’s not just in it, he dug it.
That’s right. He was there and he was digging it.
Alright. Well, we’re getting towards the end here. Parting thoughts, final things… We should talk about Changelog News a little bit, because we’ve been putting a lot of effort into that, and unlike many news outlets, or writers, and bloggers, who have taken comments off of their websites, we’re actually putting comments onto our website. We’re plowing our own path, and we’ve added commenting to Changelog News. We’ve also expanded the number of editors, so it’s not just Adam and I writing these days. We have - gosh, I think this week alone we have five or six other people writing and logging news with us.
We wanna create lively discussions around the news, because most of the feedback that we get with Changelog News is email replies, or verbal - people telling us about it - or Twitter… But it’s all just kind of all over the place, and we thought “Let’s have an actual place where we can discuss the news”, so we’ve just recently launched comments. In fact, it’s been a soft launch; we haven’t really announced it, or anything.
This will probably be the actual announcement of some sort. We haven’t really even said it publicly really…
Here it is, public. Come discuss the news, the goings on of the open source and software development communities with us on Changelog.com. We would really love everybody’s involvement, and your perspective and your insights, in our comments.
That’s right. And you mentioned the expanding editorial panel, and one other interesting fact is that we have submissions. So not only can you come on there and discuss, you can share links with us; you can actually submit news, and when you do that, you’ll be able to share a URL, a title, and maybe – this is an optional piece, but potentially what you find interesting about it, that way we just understand some context of what struck you. But just hop in there, worst-case scenario just share a URL and a title, and if you feel like it, what’s interesting, hit Submit, and you’re gold.
[01:00:23.14] There’s some submission guidelines, kind of guiding of what we’re looking for, just to give you more of a confidence that it’ll get through the process… But we definitely have an editorial team, we look at every submission that comes through. Not everything makes it into Changelog News. Some things get cut, some things don’t, but… I love News.
This goes back to – I wanna say like 2014(ish), when we first launched our email list, and Changelog News began as an email, really… And we were on a weekly basis just sort of like archiving things to log at the end of the week. One day somebody got this bright idea to real-time log the things, rather than doing it just once a week, and so this is a manifestation of that long-time goal.
At the end of the week, on Sunday - so if you subscribe to the email list, which is clearly present when you go to changelog.com, you can’t miss it, you will get a once-a-week email summary of the best that came from this week’s coverage. So if you’re looking for one of the best emails to listen to or subscribe to, it’s definitely one of them; it ships on Sunday in the morning. Otherwise you can track Changelog.com, and as you mentioned, discuss, submit, and join a thriving community. It’s freely available to you, of no charge. The only charge is your attention, and we will love you if you give us a little bit of your attention, which would be great. News is a big deal, man. I love News.
Amen to that. Anything else, before we call it a year?
Let’s call it a year. One quick mention of News is actually this front-end of news began at the beginning of this year, so this is actually year one of it. We probably could have gone deeper on it… It’s just because it’s been such a 180 in some cases, or a redo in some cases, because it led to a new design for the site, which – maybe that’s a Backstage; maybe we can do that on the Backstage, going into that kind of detail…
I think it is.
…because to me, that’s a really interesting story, that no one’s really heard yet, or got to hear. I’m not even sure if we’ve had like a retrospective personally on that. There’s been a massive design change this year, and it really began with News as the underpinning of all the UI changes - search in place now, new way to listen to podcasts… I mean, so much has changed because of news. It’s not simply just a place you can go read, comment, discuss or submit; it’s actually been quite a paradigm shift in terms of design for us too, this year. I think it’s been deeply successful.
Yes. That’s all good fodder for an upcoming episode of Backstage… But for now, happy 2018!
Happy 2018, y’all! Thank you for listening.
See you next year!
Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚