Welcome to 2020 — on this year’s “State of the ‘log’” episode Jerod and I look back at our favorite moments from 2019 and forward to 2020 and beyond. We talk through our most popular episodes, our personal favorites, our 10-year anniversary, the excitement we have for Brain Science our newest podcast, it’s for the curious! And we also look forward to plans we have for 2020 and the decade to come…
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We shipped 46 episodes of The Changelog this year (47 last year) and 200 across our entire catalog.
Most popular episodes of 2019:
- #331: GitHub Actions is the next big thing with Kyle Daigle
- #339: Why smart engineers write bad code with Adam Barr
- #352: The Pragmatic Programmers
- #354: Go is eating the world of software with Ron Evans
- #367: Back to Agile’s basics with Bob Martin
- #366: Pioneering open source drones and robocars
- #370: The making of GitHub Sponsors
- #353: The war for the soul of open source
- #361: Generative engineering cultures with David Kaplan
- #357: Shaping, betting, and building with Ryan Singer
- Backstage #7: The John Wick trilogy
Click here to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧
Alright, we are here for State of the Log 2019. It happens to be 2020, but it’s 2019’s State of the Log. Probably the most belated year-end wrap-up you’re gonna listen to this year, but listen nonetheless, because we’ve got lots of interesting things to talk about.
We’ve got a good reason, we’ve got an excuse why we’re recording this mid-January - because December was crazy around these parts, wasn’t it, Adam?
Yes, very crazy. We shipped a lot of episodes, too. It was a busy December, in many ways.
It was a busy December, and you were extra-busy. Do you wanna share the good news with listeners out there?
Yes, so we had our newest son in December. December 10th, my son Micah was born, so we’re super-excited… But it made an interesting holiday (I guess) break, December. It’s always slower anyways, but that made it even harder, because there’s so many things I’m doing in November to prepare for the slowdown in December… And for us, it just sped up further in December, because when you have a kid, things get crazy.
Three weeks went by and I barely knew what day it was at any given day of the week. Like “Is it Friday, is it Monday? I do now know if it’s even dark outside, because I haven’t seen outside in like three days straight.” Thank God for grocery delivery, and stuff like that.
So we had scheduled to record this sometime in December, but plans fell by the wayside, so here we are… Nonetheless, we wanted to get a log out there, and talk about the year that has passed, and some of the episodes - the popular ones, our personal favorites maybe, things happening around Changelog Media… Where should we start?
That’s an interesting perspective there too, because we even – I’m not sure we did this last year, but we had debated whether or not this should be State of the Log for the Changelog Podcast or Changelog Media proper… Because some people listen to this show and don’t know there’s other podcasts out there that we produce, and this year was one of those years where we were consistently producing 5-6 episodes a week, which is really hard to do, to keep that up and to deliver the quality that we always aim to strive for.
Thank God for our amazing cast of people that work with us to make all of our podcasts excellent… Because you and I alone would fail. I’m so thankful we have such an awesome crew to make what we do so special. So 200 episodes across all the podcasts… That’s a lot. That’s a lot of episodes…
[04:05] Yeah, so 46 episodes of The Changelog, and last year we did 47, so we’ve just about hit that mark… I think the arrival of a new child is a good excuse to maybe fall slightly short… But 200 episodes across our entire catalog. It was an interesting year, it was a lot of work, but I think by the end of the year we’ve been operating like a well-oiled machine, if I do say so myself. We’re in the groove, we’re in the flow, and we’re putting out weekly episodes of Practical AI, GoTime, The Changelog of course, Brain Science every other week(ish), JS Party every week… So lots of good podcasts in these different niches that we find so interesting.
I’ve got some stats for you here. It’s just basic math really, not really stats, but… Let’s just conservatively say it takes about five hours of effort to produce one podcast episode, which is probably conservative. It’s probably more than that… But let’s just say five hours, because it’s round, and that’s a conservative number. So if we shipped 200 episodes last year, at 5 hours a clip, that’s 1,000 hours of effort. And if we divide that 1,000 hours by 24, which is 24 hours in a day, that’s 41.666 (which I hate saying 666), but…
Yeah, infinite to end at seven… But 41.6 days to produce that much effort. And it’s probably more than that. Ain’t that crazy?
Yeah. Well, you’ve got scheduling, you’ve got recording, you’ve got lots of the intangibles…
Yes. Promotion of it, hanging out on Slack, talking about it… I mean, there’s just a lot of effort that goes into producing this amount. I guess why I say that is it’s a lot of work. I enjoy this, but man, it really is a lot of work. And there’s something you said on the episode we did with Jeff Meyerson, where you were like “It’s impressive…” I remember you saying this to Jeff: “It’s impressive the amount of work you do”, so Jeff, a shout-out to you for shipping five shows a week, bro. We feel it, that’s a lot. It’s a lot of work. So I would say kudos to anybody that decides to podcast, because – don’t just do it whimsically; do it intentionally. Because this is a tough thing to keep up consistently, over many years… And speaking of such, ten years this year.
That’s right. Yes, we used to ship one show a week for a long time…
…and we felt like that was a lot of work. And Jeff has been shipping five shows of Software Engineering Daily; he does a daily show, during workdays. He takes the weekend off, of course, otherwise he might explode… But he’s been doing five shows a week, and we worked our way to five shows a week, just in a different format. So instead of doing the Changelog five times, we have different podcasts… Which we like, because there’s just more voices, so shout-out to all the voices out there on Changelog shows.
One of the big things that happened was that Go Time came back this year in April. So after a long hiatus, almost a year maybe, coming up on nine months… I think it was May or June 2018 we hiatused Go Time, and it came back in April 2019.
And six regular voices on that show now, so… I loved seeing the expansion of that panel. And Go Time has been killing it lately. I love that show.
Yes. That’s my favorite. The model that JS Party put forward was this model of many voices. I just saw a lot of great things happening with that, and I knew that we had to do the same thing with Go Time, and we were able to… And it’s turned out to be a really great show. I’m stoked about that show.
[07:51] A milestone that Go Time hit this year, as well as coming back in April, was that they shipped their 100th episode this year. I can’t remember the exact date that went out, but it was with Rob Pike and Robert Griesemer - two of the Robs who are the creators of the Go programming language… It was a blockbuster episode, and has gotten to over 20,000 listens, which is pretty good for Go Time.
Contrast that against episode (I believe) number three of The Changelog, back in 2009, with Rob Pike. During the creation process, the open source buddha process of Go the language… Really interesting, to be episode 100 of Go Time, a whole different podcast, on the same network, and to go to that depth… And instead of just talking about what could be of this language, what is of the language. That’s pretty cool, to just have that experience, to be able to be in this kind of trench that kind of length of time.
Well, Go itself celebrated its tenth birthday this year…
We always talk about The Changelog growing up alongside GitHub, which it very much did… But even more so aligned almost on top of growing up with the Go programming language.
They’re the same age. They would be at the same birthday party, with the clowns and the balloons, if they were having birthday parties.
They might have more clowns and more balloons, because… Deeper pockets.
I think they would probably would have more clowns, or more balloons…
But whatever, yeah. I love that. To be in this kind of community for ten years… One, to be a podcast for that many years. We said that on the show we did with Quincy Larson, I guess our ten-year celebration episode… But to have a podcast that didn’t die - I guess maybe it did die a little bit here and there, but I think we spoke to that on that episode with Quincy.
It wasn’t a dead dog, it was an injured dog on the side of the road
You don’t stop and save a dead dog… Because they’re dead, you can’t save them. But when they’re injured and they’re whimpering, and you see an injured dog on the side of the road, you’ve gotta save that dog.
I’m loving this analogy… [laughter] I really am. So we were an injured dog at least a couple times in our lifespan…
Yes, we were.
But we did last the ten years so far. And geez, I hope we’ve got ten more years in this, bro. I mean, I love this community, I love how open source has blossomed over this past ten years, and I love how there’s been so much community and so much creation, but so much good for the world… From career opportunities, to better products, to more safer ways to deliver products, because open source is marginally more secure than, say, code that isn’t open to the public to scrutinize or to run security analysis on, and stuff like that… And there’s so much opportunity out there because of the way of open source. We’ve been able to be a part of that and share so many stories of that… That’s so awesome.
Yeah. Well, you were talking about how much work gets put in, and we wanna put that into perspective and say – I was talking with Rachel, my wife, a few days ago, and she was just saying “Could you ever have imagined when you were younger that you’d be a professional podcaster, or a full-time podcaster?” I was like “No, I couldn’t have, because there was no such thing.” When I was a kid, I wanted to be either Ken Griffey Jr. or Michael Jordan. It was like “Am I gonna be the best basketball player ever, or the best baseball player, in my opinion, ever?” I mean, okay, Babe Ruth, but… To me, Ken Griffey Jr. was the bomb…
…and that’s what I wanted to be… But I couldn’t have possibly wanted to be a professional podcaster, because that just wasn’t a thing. So you’ve been full-time on The Changelog since (I think) 2015, which we even commemorated that and talked about that… And for me it was just this last year, 2019, that we finally were able to bring me on full-time, in September, and it’s been an amazing thing. So we do put work in, but we feel very blessed to be able to do this work, and it’s one of the greatest things in the world.
[12:02] It’s surreal, to be quite honest with you. It’s almost as surreal to say “You’re a full-time open source software developer.” That didn’t exist many years ago.
You could aspire to be that. And in the same way, we couldn’t aspire to be a full-time podcaster of any sorts, and I think that sort of only defines or describes a sliver of what we do… But it’s the easiest way to describe it.
And yeah, I feel very fortunate, because it’s certainly surreal to tell people when they say “What do you do?” That classic question, “What do you do?”
What do you say?
[laughs] I don’t have a perfect answer. I should have a better answer for it. It depends on the person and the way they ask, or what my bias might tell me about the person, I might go further… But usually I say “I’m a podcaster. I produce podcasts.” And then they usually say “For whom?” and I say “Well, we own and run the company, it’s our shows”, and I have to explain that, too. But generally, it’s “A podcaster.”
Didn’t you use to tell people you shipped mp3’s around the world, or something like that?
I still do. I still do, yeah. The easiest way to say what I do every day is “I ship an mp3 across the world.” It’s really weird that that is the life-blood – that’s how podcasts get delivered… I mean, I don’t have to tell you this, Jerod; you know how this works, man…
I do know how it works.
Right?! You wrote the actual code for our RSS feed, you know it intimately… But yeah, an RSS feed, MP3 files globally shipped around the world… Thanks to Fastly [unintelligible 00:13:29.25] to make that possible, but - wow, it’s just so crazy to think that that is what I do, generally, for a living. It’s profound.
Yeah. So I ran a contract software firm for many years, and so I’m still stuck in that mode of saying; that’s what I say. And I boil that down to “I do software.” That’s just what I tell people. Like “What do you do?”, “I’m in software.” That’s usually enough. That checks their box. Most people ask what you do, but they’re not super into the answer anyways; it’s a formality, unless they’re really trying to get to know you… So I was so used to just saying “I do software” that I still kind of just say that when people ask…
And then I started to shift to like – sometimes I’ll say “I do podcasting.” And that usually generates more of a conversation than “I do software”, because people are used to the idea of a programmer, or something…
…whereas a podcaster has been just a hobby for so many, for so long…
More like D celebrities…
We’re like D-list celebrities…
Because podcast - they think of popular, celebrity-esque podcasts, because the mainstream has popularized (there’s no other way to say it) the way podcasting is, and so we almost get lumped into celebrity-ism, if that’s a thing…
Right. We’re like F-list, I would say…
…but we’re very low on the list.
Right. [laughs] They’re usually disappointed when they say “What kind of podcasts? Can I listen to them?”, “Yeah, but you probably wouldn’t like it… I’m just assuming this, because we target software developers…”
I know… Which is why I kind of am happy about Brain Science, because it does reach beyond just the developer niche, to where it’s interesting for a more casual or mainstream audience than any of our other shows…
And Practical AI as well, to a different subset… Definitely an overlapping subset, but Brain Science is one that I can point my wife’s friends to and say “You might be interested in this”, and they would actually be able to get something out of it… Whereas The Changelog, I’m just like “Meh… You can go subscribe if you wanna give us one more download every week, but that would just be a favor, because you’re not gonna enjoy that show unless you’re actively in software, or open source, or those kinds of things…”
[15:44] Right. Speaking of Brain Science, this is how far out our norm of listenership we’ve gone - there’s a field training officer in the Chicago Police Department, Greater Chicago Area… He reached out to me and Mireille via LinkedIn, individually, but said the same thing to both of us, pretty much… And he says “Hey, Adam. I loved this episode (speaking to one of the more recent ones, on respect, empathy and compassion) Respect, Empathy and Compassion on Brain Science. You and Mireille do a great job really explaining the how of compassion.”
So it was interesting to see a field training office of a Police Department in Chicago reach out and say that to us… Because that’s not our typical audience.
That is cool.
Yeah. And I’m sure there’s more examples of that out there.
What’s Fastly, Linode and Rollbar? What are these things at the top of the shows?
Right? [laughter] Yes, “What’s bandwidth? What is bandwidth? Is that like time?”
Which, actually – I mean, inside baseball, but it is a bit of a challenge for us now with a more casual audience or a more expanded audience show… It’s like, all of our sponsorships are high-quality because they’re handpicked and targeted at our audience, at ourselves. And Brain Science kind of brings in a new audience, so I was like “Well, how do you navigate that relationship, where you’re not gonna throw in a Rollbar ad or a Digital Ocean ad to a police office in Chicago?” It’s not gonna help that person.
Yeah, exactly. That’s been the challenge, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re chosen to actually run that show non-sponsored right now… So it kind of does lose money in the economics of the show and production of it. But I’m a big fan of developing an audience before you find a way to monetize – I have that word… You know, find a way to sustain it – I hate that word, too. I’m just kidding… I don’t know what word we can use… But the way you can actually enable – what would David [unintelligible 00:17:48.10] say? …that’s what I think. “How can we get money into this thing to make it go?” That’s what he would say.
You’ve gotta figure out your audience, and the show, and the rhythms, and things like that… Now, you don’t have to, but that’s the way we’ve chosen to do it because of that chasm… Because the majority of our sponsors, while they would love to be on that show and support us to do it – in fact, many have even said “Can we be on it?” and for the reasons that we have of like relevancy, like “Let’s choose to work with and develop partnerships and relationships with brands that are relevant to our audience”, I feel like we’ve sort of had to say no for now, so we can kind of find out what the audience truly is, so we can get much more relevant sponsors for that show.
Yup. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes over the next year or so. Let’s talk about The Changelog, because that’s the show that we’re on, and that’s the show that our listeners are subscribed to here… In 2019, 46 episodes, as I said. The most popular episodes of the year - we had a lot of great ones, as I was going through the list… I was like – not patting myself on the back, or us on the back, but sometimes you look back and you’re like “Meh…” and other times you’re like “That was a good show”, you know? As I looked through the list, I was pretty proud of what we did last year…
…the most popular of which was episode 331, “GitHub Actions is the next big thing”, with Kyle Daigle - of course, the lead of the Actions teams. This was back early last year, I think February or March timeframe.
But no surprise that GitHub Actions and a show about it was popular amongst our audiences. As we said, we grew up with GitHub, and people have been waiting for a lot of these automation tools, and a lot of the things that Actions is or has become since the announcement for a while now… And I think there’s excitement around this show because there’s excitement around GitHub Actions.
[19:51] Yeah. I wonder too if – now I’m sure GitHub Actions is super-awesome, and the draw to listen, to learn more from Kyle and others about this super-cool thing is there… But I’m wondering if maybe calling it “the next big thing” in the title wasn’t part of it, too…?
Good clickbait on that one, you’re trying to say?
Yeah. I mean, that really draws you in, like “Is it the next big thing? Let me find out.” [laughter]
Not even “Is it”, because that would be clickbait, if we ended it with a question mark.
We’re actually declaring that it is.
I think this was your title. You titled this one, didn’t you?
I think – like all things, it was collaborative, so… Sure, I’ll take the credit. Yeah, I titled it.
It’s a good title.
I think it was even said, to some degree… I think we said it in off-air, in a funny way, “Is this the next big thing?” We often will reach into the content of a show to find what the title might be, but stay on point. You know, don’t go and Dan Benjamin it, like doing some crazy title that doesn’t make any sense, that’s like “What is this show about?”
Well, that’s what I do with JS Party all the time.
Yes, and that’s cool, too. I love that. We should make sure we earmark that, because I like that about our network - they don’t all take themselves so seriously that it has to be this serious title, and make perfect relevant sense for what you will get. It doesn’t make a promise. Titles don’t always make a promise, especially for JS Party.
I like that.
Yeah, it’s fun allowing each of our shows to have their own personality, and have them represent the people on the show, and really even the community that they represent… The JS and web community have so much interesting, weird, zany things in them, and people, that it’s fun to lean into that, so to speak, with that show. But then you get on the AI show and it’s definitely more serious.
One of the things that’s happened behind the scenes this year is I began to edit more of our shows and get more involved in the post-production… And I actually put out on Twitter a while back, when I was editing both JS Party and Practical AI one week, the difference in the audio files…
In the cuts, yeah. I recall seeing that.
Yeah, because Daniel and Chris - they have kind of an every other episode cadence… Or they have two kinds of shows - they have the interview show on Practical AI, and then they also have what they call Fully Connected, which is really a news and resources and commentary, just the two of them discussing what’s going on in the space… And those shows in particular - they’re just very measured, metered… Like, Daniel talks for a minute and a half, and then Chris talks for like 90 seconds, and then Daniel for 60, and then Chris… And it’s just so easy to edit, and it’s just back and forth, and very smooth.
Then you go to a JS Party edit where there’s five of us, and we’re all laughing, or trying to get quick jabs in here or there, and you have to interject to have your turn… And it’s very frantic and messy, so it’s interesting – you can see it visually inside of the editor.
The show style, yeah. You can see the way a show plays out differently in the edits, by the cuts, for sure.
Yup. But anyways, back to GitHub Actions… Since that show came out, of course, back in October, GitHub has Universe, and really their GitHub Actions sort of v2 release, which I think makes it even more exciting, which is they’ve integrated now CI and CD… Which is really kind of – when it comes time to automate and do actions around your repos, pretty much everybody wanted CI… So it was a very obvious thing, and in fact so much demand that they integrated it into GitHub proper… So lots moving there.
I’m not sure if a lot of people are adopting that or not. Maybe let us know, if you’ve started to use GitHub Actions for your CI and moved off of something else, or if you still see value in a different service, why that is… We love to hear from you all.
Number two most popular episode of last year, “Why smart engineers write bad code.” This was episode 329, with Adam Barr. And again, maybe it was the title that got so many listens, or maybe it was the topic… I don’t know. What do you think?
[laughs] Well, it’s interesting how that one framed out, because it was from a book… I can’t recall how you discovered the book. It was a popular book, and it had a great title, obviously… So it made sense to borrow the title.
[24:07] I think we just titled it with the exact same – I think that is the book’s title, or at least the subtitle of the book.
Yeah. So it would make sense to borrow it, because that’s the brand of the book. I do agree that, sure, that’s one of the those things, like “Do they write bad code? Why?! Why are they smart and write bad code? Must find out…”
So intriguing… [laughs]
It kind of does read like a YouTube title.
Yeah, it kind of does. It was a fun show. I was actually quite surprised by that show though, because I think that was one in a while where we had actually taken a book and tried to dive deeper into it… And there was some science behind this, some research from Adam behind this, and we really got into some of the nuts and bolts of the whys behind this “Why smart engineers write bad code”, and it’s actually quite profound… So I would encourage you to listen to it if you’re listening to this and you haven’t yet.
So to me it’s not a surprise that that one is a popular one, in retrospect. But with my precite, prior to the episode, I wasn’t expecting it, or thinking it’d be this really awesome show… But lo and behold, it was number two of the year.
All that to say too, I guess more advice for podcasters out there - take some shots, try something different. This was different for us this year, to do that kind of show. We did a couple more around books; I think there’s one more in this list that is – two more in this list around books…
There’s two more in the top five, that’s right. And then another one of your favorites was also around a book…
That is interesting, because I wouldn’t say historically we’ve done that very much, but last year five of our biggest shows were all with authors…
…and a lot of the times specifically covering the book that they either are releasing, or have released.
Which is why I didn’t expect that, and I think this one here was the first of the several we did this past year, that was around authors and books.
Yeah, that was the first one. Well, the next one doesn’t have a flashy title, but sometimes you just get the right guest and it’s all you need…
…so the number three most popular episode of last year, “The pragmatic programmers.” That was a great episode. Probably in terms of nuggets of wisdom per second, I think probably that’s the highest-value Changelog episode of last year. Listen to that, read their new 20th annual edition, or don’t read it, but listen to that and you can just learn so much from these two, and I sure did.
Yeah. They have great chemistry, too. I’ve spent my entire career knowing who Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt is, from a name perspective. Have never met them, never spoken to them… I’m not even sure if I’ve seen – I may have seen Dave, or probably both, speak at Lone Star Ruby conference, considering their roots, but never met them before… So it was really cool to finally put a face and personality behind these really famous people in the industry. They’ve written the Pickaxe – like, what Ruby programmer doesn’t know… You just say the Pickaxe and immediately the book comes to mind, and the era of Ruby at that time, and Ruby on Rails, and the inertia behind the language, and framework, and building for the web… This whole new lifeblood into building for the web had come because of this era that these two camped around. Not to mention the Agile Manifesto…
Yeah. And like you said, they’re both charismatic people, and interesting… You could talk to them individually and have a great conversation. But together, I was surprised and delighted by their chemistry, and how much they seem to enjoy razzing one another, and they bounce off one another’s ideas…
[27:59] When you get four people onto a podcast, especially in an interview, it’s more complicated and it’s more difficult to have an interview – first of all, with two interviewers, which we do that week by week, so we’re pretty used to it. But it is difficult to have two people interview one person, and it’s much more difficult to have to people interview two people… Because there’s conversational logistics, there’s chemistry – there’s all these different things.
With those two I felt like the four of us had a great rapport, and I think it comes through on that episode, so definitely one of the better ones. Episode 354, which is the number four most popular episode of last year. It was recorded live from OSCON, was it not?
Yeah, it was.
This was Ron Evans of the TinyGo project. The title is “Go is eating the world of software.”
Another one of those clickbaity, get-em titles… You have to complete that.
This was something that he actually said. This is a quote out of the episode… Didn’t he say that?
If software is eating the world, then Go is eating the world of software - he said something like that.
He’s very good at – what’s it called, when you say a phrase for the first time…?
Yeah, soundbites, and coining phrases. He can coin a phrase.
Ron is one of those – talk about charisma… He’s one of those guests that – and I say this in the most gracious way… You kind of wind him up and let him go. Because he’s got so much to say, he says it with such enthusiasm, and he’s so smart that really as an interviewers we don’t have much work to do. We just kind of lead him in a direction, and just let Ron talk… And that’s what he does.
Well, the transcript shows that, because it’s mostly one-liners from you and I, and paragraphs from Ron… [laughter]
So the transcript alone is a visual representation of that effect.
Yeah. And he speaks in such coherent – I can string together 2-3 sentences without just brain-farting, but Ron can string together minutes upon minutes of prose, and they’re all coherent. In fact, so much so that I took one of his segments, which he just said off the top of his head, about Grace Hopper and what she really meant when she said “Ask for forgiveness, and not for permission”, and I just took that transcript and turned it into a Changelog post by the same name… And it reads like a blog; it reads like something I would have written and edited, and he just said it off the top of his head… So very talented in that way. We should add that blog post to the show notes of this episode, because it’s a great, quick read, and some insights on Grace Hopper.
And I think prior to that, Ron was sort of sheltering himself temporarily from the community… Not like for reasons, but to focus. So he came out of the woodwork with a lot of profound findings, and he was just chomping at the – I think OSCON was the first time he’d been out into the community in months, or something like that, from what I recall…
…so he was super-amped.
And for Ron to be super-amped, it’s like double-triple super-amped.
So the fifth and the last one we’ll talk about - the most popular episodes of the year - came later, it came this fall, “Back to Agile’s basics” with Uncle Bob Martin. Of course, this was another one that’s focused around a book release, and another one focused around somebody who was involved in the Agile Manifesto, so maybe the theme there of these top five… And another strong episode with a guy who has a lot of opinions as well.
Yeah…! Like Bob, love him or hate him, he definitely is wise about the way we should, could and do make software. That’s why he wrote the book, of course…
[31:56] This is one of those ones I wasn’t sure – even back to putting a face, a personality to a name… Uncle Bob Martin had been this figure in our community for many years, and I never really followed him well enough to know anything really about him other than he’s beloved, to some degree, and respected quite well, and knows what he’s talking about. And to finally meet up with him and talk through this book he’s written…
The most profound thing was really the doubling and the inertia of our community, and how the hockey stick and the growth curve of software developers from, say, the 1950’s to today, and this idea that every five years - and this is paraphrasing from some of the stuff he said in the show, so definitely go listen to it, episode 367… He was talking about how every five years we double. And correct me if I’m off on the stats, Jerod, but…
Fuzzy math, rough math…
Yeah, it was not 100% based on just pure statistics that he had, but round numbers based on what we do know about the community and its size… So there were some assumptions, and there could be some corrections there in order… But nonetheless, the size of our community, and then how fast people come in and how long they’ve been in has just been this idea of so many more people coming in each year, every five years, that are still learning, newer to software development, and this idea that there’s just so much educational need and so much wisdom sharing need… That was a really interesting perspective from that show.
I think at one point I even joked and said “So Agile is really here to save the world”, and you guys both laughed… Either pandering to me, or being true. One of the two.
[laughs] Well, it invokes perhaps some delusions of grandeur, but it was well-timed and well-meant. So that’s the top five most popular episodes of last year. Let’s turn now to our personal favorites…
They don’t always one-to-one with popularity, and most of what we do with this show is kind of follow our own personal interests and hope that our audience is interested as well… So we’ve both documented a couple of our favorite episodes from last year.
For me it starts with – really the show of the summer for me, and one that probably resonated the most, and maybe was referenced back the most as we moved into the fall and winter, which was Adam Jacob’s “The war for the soul of open source”, episode 353, which was in the run-up to OSCON, and was really an unpacked version of his OSCON keynote… Which you can now watch the OSCON keynote on YouTube, and it’s like a tight 12 minutes. I like how OSCON does their keynotes, they don’t do long ones; they stack up a bunch of people, and they’ll do four 15-minute ones, or something like that…
…whereas our episode with him was over an hour. I think it was 80 minutes, roughly.
We couldn’t stop talking.
So it was kind of the director’s cut, so to speak. Yeah, we couldn’t stop talking… And that’s the nice thing about a conversation - you can hear a keynote and it’s prepared, it’s packaged, it has a message, and it’s powerful in that way… But usually, these kinds of speeches are meant to start a conversation… Whereas on the show we actually had the conversation with him before he did the keynote. So it’s not really a teaser for the keynote, it’s almost like the director’s cut, the deep cut.
Yeah. It’s almost an either/or, too. I mean, I don’t even know if you’d wanna just watch the keynote for his charisma on stage, and his conviction… Because he almost shares the exact information, to some degree.
Yeah. In fact, if I had known the exact content in the keynote, I would say the order to do it is to go to YouTube, watch the 12-minute keynote, and then come listen to the show afterwards… Because I think you get the most out of it that way. But he really has a lot to say around open source, why it is what it is, what it means to him, where is it going, licensing – all these big-picture things. It was a fascinating conversation, and a great title, “The war for the soul…”
Yes. And we made it a little easier too for you listeners, so… If you go to the episode, the show notes do have an updated link to his keynote. So don’t feel like you have to go to YouTube and search for it; we’ve already done that for you, it’s in the show notes… So go to episode 353 on The Changelog and you’ll see, it’s the very first link to Adam’s OSCON keynote.
How about you? Let’s go back and forth on these… Hit us with a favorite.
Well, I think I’m basing mine on 1) the dude’s awesome. Every time I’ve spoken to Ryan Singer - and I’ve spoken to him three times personally in my career history - I’ve learned something very profound; it’s changed my direction in career… Or at least my outlook, my vision, I suppose. Some on interface design, how I used to think through interface flows. You mentioned you were a recent software consultant, you ran your own consultancy; well, my prior career was also in software, but on a different side of it. I was more on the product development side, user interface, design, user experience, how to make money from it maybe even, so there’s some economics in there, too… So I’d actually paid attention to what Ryan was doing around different interface design styles and workflows, user flows, and stuff. That’s where I’d first learned about Ryan.
Obviously, he’s famous because of Basecamp and all the work he’s done, and the team has done there, but… Every time I’ve spoken to him, I’ve learned something profound. And shaping, betting and building that episode we did with him and his book - again, a book - that we were very fortunate to have spoken with him really early on of the life of that book being released. Barely was the book out, and I believe it was free to read on the web even. It wasn’t even like they were trying to turn this into a paper book. I think it might have had a paper component, but the plan was to share this knowledge…
And what’s really kind of interesting is that – you’d mentioned the Agile Manifesto… Well, a lot of shaping, betting and building is about this idea that Ryan had called Shape Up; it’s this methodology, which is not agile, but it’s agile-like. So we even see people on Twitter arguing whether or not it is or isn’t agile or agile-like, but it’s akin to what we know is agile, but has this whole other spectrum that is not agile at all, based on what Ryan had said. So it’s kind of interesting to see Bob Martin, Back to Agile Basic, you’ve got the Pragmatic Programmer kind of in this agile world, and then Ryan Singer with Shape Up.
And then the side component to that, the one with David Kaplan on generative engineering cultures, which - I’m always a fan of having deep conversations, methodic conversations with people who really know about leading engineering teams. And these two, Ryan Singer and David Kaplan, are definitely those kinds of people. They’re leaders in their field, they know how to help reshape and fine-tune the thinking of cultures and how teams operate to create great products… And that’s why they’re my favorites for this year. So I picked two.
I just had to beat you.
Zing. You got me.
Or maybe I lost, because I couldn’t actually pick… So I picked three.
Let me interrupt you real quick - I actually have a third one, too.
Oh, okay… [laughs] All is fair.
But go ahead, continue.
I can name five if you want me to… So these last two are paired insofar as I met both of these people at Open Core Summit this fall, in San Francisco - Devon Zuegel and Chris Anderson. So I loved the episodes we made just recently with the two of them.
With Devon we talked about the making of GitHub Sponsors, episode 370. GitHub Sponsors I think is a big deal; maybe it’s the next big thing…
That one had been used, so… We had to go with the making of.
Yeah, we couldn’t use it. Didn’t quite get the same audience that the GitHub Actions one did, so either people are less interested, or it’s just a younger episode. Or it’s all about that title.
Devon’s a fascinating person. I think she’s the exact, correct person to be working on this problem. Not that there should be just one, but let me say she’s a great choice as somebody very thoughtful, deep thinker. I love her views into city design, and governance, and how you can bring those thoughts over into the software community, and use them to our advantage. Just an excellent deep-dive into how she came to work on that problem at GitHub, and then also how her and the team came to where they are and where it’s headed. That’s 370, I love that episode.
And then the other one which I was quite fond of was Chris Anderson, the old editor-in-chief, the old head of Wired Magazine, and the creator of DIY drones, and… What’s the name of his company? Was it 3DR, maybe? 3D Robotics?
Is that right? I get all these drone companies mixed together [unintelligible 00:42:22.28] I think that’s correct. Anyways, the story about how they pioneered open source drones, which is the fascinating story - episode 366 - and then what Chris was actually more excited to talk about than we realized, which is his DIY robocars and the proxy war that is robocars, proxying for the autonomous car industry, and these different methodologies of how we can get cars to drive themselves.. Well, a nice playground for that are these real cheap little robocars. And Chris and his friends are going about building them, and trying out these different autonomous strategies, and he is super-stoked about it, and that conversation got me excited about it as well.
Yeah. That was another one of those interesting ones… Almost surreal. 1) Wired is huge, and to have been speaking to a prior/former (however you wanna call/define Chris) ex editor-in-chief of Wired - I mean, that alone was pretty wild. And then diving deep into this story of this “hobby gone wrong”, that’s so wild. At any moment that could have not come to fruition, for some unforeseen circumstance.
But that’s not the case, obviously. Somebody (I believe in Mexico, wasn’t it?) was really excited to work with him, and we had told some of that story…
Yes, the co-founder was a young man in Mexico, who he met on the internet, and…
Yeah, they built a huge company out of it, and they’ve never met. Just some crazy stuff that happened there… Super-interesting.
I almost listened and heard his story in disbelief… Like, “What? How did that happen?”
Yeah, it is so hard to believe… It’s so amazing.
The other named company was Dronecode. No, that was the open source–
Dronecode was the open source project that came out of it…
…and is used now by the federal government. I think the name of his talk at Open Core Summit was something like how he convinced the federal government to use open source drones, or something like that. Fascinating stuff.
So those are my favorites… A couple of honorable mentions - I love when we get super-nerdy. I thought the Nushell episode with Yehuda, Andrés and Jonathan Turner was awesome. I really enjoyed the – text mode was this year, right?
Yes, “All things text mode” was awesome…
That was a fun show, yeah.
…talking about your terminal in the shell. I nerded out with the Elixir talk folks to talk Elixir as well, which was a lot of fun… So I always love when we get super-technical, and we did that quite a bit as well.
Yeah. Are you ready for my final favorite?
I’m gonna say one word… Baba Yaga.
I’m going Backstage, I’ve jumped the shark. I’m going to a different podcast, because hey, why not…
[laughs] Baba Yaga…
Yeah, I mean, the Backstage we did – and this is maybe some past… I know the last time we did this, the episode we did with Brett Cannon was one of our favorites, so I can honorably say the John Wick Trilogy on Backstage is worth a listen… That was so wild even preparing for that episode, because it had been months where we were talking about watching the John Wick trilogy, and catching up, and we call ourselves three die-hard fans, and we talked through basically this storyline of John Wick, and Keanu Reeves, and the way that became actually does have roots in the Changelog. It was in a break long ago where we dove into and haphazardly became really good friends with Brett during a break. We realized he was a cool dude, so I was like…
Who would’ve thought…?
…we just couldn’t help but riff on Keanu Reeves, and our thoughts on different movies he’s been in, and that started this idea of like “Have you seen John Wick?” and there you go… So Backstage episode number seven, the John Wick Trilogy, with a special guest, Brett Cannon.
So let’s talk about Backstage real quick here, as you mentioned it…
So this is our podcast which is not a podcast. It only lives on the Master feed. If you don’t subscribe to the Master feed, what’s wrong with you? It’s all of our shows in one place, it’s our majestic monolith… And Backstage only exists there. Of course, it’s on changelog.com/backstage, but who listens to podcasts at a website? You wanna listen in your app, so subscribe to Master and you get Backstage. It’s not on a schedule, it doesn’t have an agenda… I don’t remember what we describe it as - “The inner workings of Changelog, and other things”, or something?
Behind the scenes of Changelog and surrounding communities…
There you go.
…which is still bland, it still doesn’t even describe it. There is no aim.
It is… Well, not bland, but vague.. It provides us the opportunity to pretty much record whatever we want there, guilt-free.
That’s right. Guilt-free.
So we did about seven episodes last year of Backstage, everything from “Hey, is that Burt Reynolds?”, which… I don’t even remember what it’s about. Oh yeah, hot takes from Apple’s March 2019 keynote… So some keynote hot takes. I brought Nick Janetakis backstage to talk about the Changelog platform, and Elixir, and such things… We were live at OSCON, just the two of us, kind of shooting the poop; that’s “Dwayne Johnson’s movies are actually really educational”…
Which is a phrase that you uttered, and I can’t believe you ever said out loud… The John Wick show, like you mentioned, and then I also had Mat Ryer come Backstage to talk about the Changelog API, should we use GraphQL to build it, should we not, and I go into the pros and cons of the Go programming language. Mat is one of the panelists on Go Time and a fascinating guy, so… If you aren’t listening to Backstage and you’re not overwhelmed by podcasts, I would put that in your list, because it’s just fun.
Yeah, it is fun.
And it’s infrequent. You’re not gonna have to make it a regular listen.
It’s a bonus, you know…? It’s a bonus to get these extra-special things that you can only get in the Master feed… And they’re not like weekly, they’re just every once in a while. And then the ones we’ve talked – this honorable third special, favorite show for this year was the John Wick trilogy, the one with did with Brett Cannon.
Which was a blast. It’s a long, long read… One hour and forty-seven minutes. Our longest episode ever…
A hundred and seven minutes. Yeah, it’s a long time. That’s a long time right there. And then of course, because we had nowhere else to put it, and we weren’t sure if it would make sense to put on the Changelog proper, we put our Ten Years of Changelog with Quincy in Backstage as well.
Oh yeah, that’s even longer.
It is even longer. That’s like three hours. Two-and-a-half hours, something like that.
Yes. So if you want a deep, deep dive into the history of the Changelog, Adam’s history, some of my history… First of all, if you don’t want that, we totally get it. That’s why it’s on Backstage. It’s a little naval gazy, but there’s some tidbits in there, and Quincy did a great job of diving into our past, and really sussing out the Changelog story as a commemorative thing for our ten-year anniversary or birthday… So that’s episode nine of Backstage, for those interested.
Yeah. We also flipped the script on Quincy, too. We didn’t just ask him to interview us, we interviewed him, because he was celebrating five years of FreeCodeCamp, which was actually the title of episode 369, where we talked to Quincy about it. It was really profound too, to see his perspective of software education, and what he’s doing to enable literally a global community; not just here in the U.S, or what would be the typical or stereotypical places you would try to plant software education. Places like in China are booming for him…
So we talked through a lot of his choices, both personally, economically etc. around FreeCodeCamp, and how it’s a non-profit, and what they do to sustain themselves, and thrive, and plan for the future… That was quite fun too to go through.
We’ve been really fortunate this year, Jerod. I like these retrospectives to look back and just see where we’ve been, to know where we should go, and I guess pause for a moment of gratitude… Because I felt so grateful to work with you so much and so closely - that’s one thing - and then have the opportunity to serve alongside you through such a cool community that is just infinitely, infinitely multi-faceted. It’s just so crazy how dynamic this community is and how much love there is out there, and how much awesomeness there is out there, and to celebrate those positive things and lift people up, and not put them down. I love that about what we do - we help people see the positive sides of things, and detract from and reduce the negative side of things and not be pulled down by them.
Well, let’s wrap this baby up by maybe casting forward - not too far, just 2020… Here we are, January 2020. What can folks expect from The Changelog, or from Changelog the network over this year? Pick one or two things that we either are thinking about trying, or definitely going to do, things that are in the works, or that you would love to see this year for us to go out there and do. What are you thinking?
[52:15] Well, I’ll say the easiest one - this is the easy goal for us… For me and Mireille, at least. It’s to bring Brain Science to a weekly cadence, versus bi-weekly(ish) and somewhat inconsistent.
That’s the easy expectation.
I like that one.
Some harder ones, which are still undefined internally, but - should I mention Changelog++, or did I already do that?
Well, let’s just mention it as a thing that we’re actively pursuing, but we’re not gonna put a promise on it or a stamp on it.
We’re shaping it up.
We’re not gonna ETA it.
We’re shaping it, as Ryan would say.
We’re gonna put some bets out there soon, we’re shaping it… Go listen to that episode if you want some of these insider baseball terms here, but…
We still need to bet, and then we might build it… So what is Changelog++? Well, it is our take on a Changelog membership. And maybe we’ll just leave it at that.
Yeah. No promises out there on what it will be, because we’re still working it out… But one thing is just, I guess, finding more ways to – I’ll throw a couple more things out there. We get a lot of people asking us how can they support us personally, and not just through a sponsorship, through a company, or something like that, which is traditionally how we generate revenue to sustain our company. And a lot of people, in this day and age - we talked about it a little bit with Quincy - they’re okay with and desiring to personally support the things they love.
Right now we don’t have an answer to that, and we’d like to find a way - not for us to profit, but for them to take that next, deeper step into this community, to call it home, to hang their hat, to be welcomed. They’re already welcomed, but it’s something with that value exchange that truly lets somebody call some place a home… And I think that’s what we’re trying to camp around and drive around. And what that actually is we’re not really sure yet, but it’s this idea of giving people a place to call home.
Absolutely. And then for contentwise on The Changelog itself, I am excited to continue to go to weird places…
…to find the extra nerdy. We have some cool shows planned. In fact, next week is a great show, all about Algo, which is an Ansible-based personal VPN. So we’ll get nerdy on VPNs. We have an episode lined up all about ScholarF tools, which - I’ll just leave it at that, like “What the heck is a ScholarF tool?” Very nerdy with a guy who’s super-interesting, and is completely not on social media, hosts his own Git… So looking forward to that.
We have a show lined up all about laws for hackers to live by… So a lot of the credos and the idioms, and the different laws that we talk about and reference all these times - they have been curated and collected and put into a list, and we’re gonna talk about some of those.
I would love to do more shows that are listener-requested. We haven’t been using ping as much; we did move requests onto Changelog proper, which is just better for the workflow… So you can request episodes at Changelog.com/request. You can let us know what you wanna hear about, you can let us know why you wanna hear about it. We love doing shows that are requested by you, the listener, because that way we know we’re serving directly at least person out there, versus trying to guess what you all want to hear… So more like that.
[55:52] I wanna get nerdier, I wanna get more obscure, and then of course, we’re always gonna be discussing the big picture and the community things going on in the open source and software worlds… So expect that, as always, but I definitely wanna get into some more technical nitty-gritties over the coming year.
That sounds awesome. I’m stoked for 2020. I’m not sure if I’ll hear one more 2020 vision analogies of…
…you know, going into this new decade… But it is a new decade, and that’s kind of interesting, too - the fact that it’s opened up a whole new ten years. We’ll look back at 2029 and say “Well, what did we do in 2020?” and we’ll have this decade(ish) retrospective, similar to what we’ve done here… Not quite exactly back ten years. A little bit…
Only the entire thing will be in VR. There’ll be a virtual software world that we’ll be navigating… And you can really make it your home, because you can hang out virtually, while listening to… I don’t know what’s gonna happen ten years from now.
But I think by then VR will be back for its third iteration, maybe… I don’t know. I think it’s fallen a little bit by the wayside again.
Well, I think as technology – I’m not even remotely in VR, but I think as technology keeps evolving, it sort of like pops up again and says “Am I good enough?” “Nah, not yet.” It evolves a bit more… “Am I good enough?” “Nah, not quite.” “Well, hey - you can use it for real estate.” “Nah, that’s limited…” “You can tour a home.” “Okay, that’s kind of interesting.” But anyways… It seems to bubble up and ask if it’s interesting enough yet, and it’s usually kind of no, not really, and it goes back.
And in some cases it’s really interesting.
And then it finally hits the mainstream.
Yeah. I mean, do we really need virtual reality when you actually have reality?
Well, do you wanna visit the Louvre without actually going there? I wouldn’t mind…
I suppose, yeah. I guess… VR tourism should be the next big thing. Ooh, we have to earmark that title.
[laughs] I think they’ve already been talking about that.
Coming to a future Changelog episode… I’m just kidding.
We’ve just invented a whole industry, VR tourism.
Yes, that would be cool.
I’m sure they haven’t thought of that one yet. Anyways…
Well, to the listeners - thank you for tuning in. If you’ve been a decade-long listener with us, if I ever get to meet you, you will get a hug. Hopefully you’re a hugger, because I will hug you for listening for ten years.
And if you’re not a hugger, maybe a VR hug.
That’s right. Maybe we just hop in VR just for the hug. A VR hug.
Or just the hugging face emoji.
If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.
Well, pick your hug style, and I’ll give it to you. How about that?
Do you want an emoji hug, or a physical hug? A high five? Whatever. The point is - thank you. Thank you for listening to this show, thank you for allowing us to somewhat entertain your ears, to navigate this crazy world of software, the peculiar, super-awesome, amazing people in it… it’s just been an honor to do it, and I can’t wait to keep doing it. So 2020 is about taking it to the next level, you know? Doing it.
The next big thing.
The next big thing is in 2020.
Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚