SIGAVDI #81: Mustard Greens Edition

Hello friends,

It’s been a weird week for all of us, I think. I don’t have a lot more to say about that, so I’m just going to proceed forward as usual.

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What to write of my life in these strange days? As a programmer, my life is your life is our life now: sequestered in our houses, adjusting to a world in which work-from-home is no longer a perk but a mandate.

One minor-but-real risk we confront almost immediately is the mushing-together of time: what is to differentiate the days when our surroundings are the same 24/7? A first line of defense: a new appreciation for, and dedication to, the seasonal holidays. Sláinte, friends.

In The Closed World, author Paul Edwards says that there are “two major genres of historiography” when it comes to the computing revolution, but that:

…the tropes and plotlines of both genres impose requirements that lead authors to ignore or downplay phenomena outside the laboratory in the mind of the scientist. Both versions of the story explain developments in a given field solely from the perspective of actors within it. As Mahoney puts it, the authors of this “insider history… take as givens… what a more critical, outside viewer might see as choices”. There is little place in such accounts for the influence of ideologies, intersections with popular culture, or political power. Stories based on the tropes of progress and revolution are often incompatible with these more contingent forms of history.

This puts me in mind of The Californian Ideology:

Because these core workers are both a privileged part of the labour force and heirs of the radical ideas of the community media activists, the Californian Ideology simultaneously reflects the disciplines of market economics and the freedoms of hippie artisanship. This bizarre hybrid is only made possible through a nearly universal belief in technological determinism.

(Emphasis mine).

The common theme here is the belief that technological progression—and the resulting business, economic, societal, and political upheavals stemming from it—flow out more or less inevitably and mechanically from technical advances. But what if we have more agency in this process than we imagine? More importantly: who benefits from us, the technologists, adhering to this deterministic view of blind, inevitable change?

What’s next

Priority one is still finding a new gig. I’m also taking advantage of the enforced down-time to up my rate of publishing, do more collaborations, and tackle a bunch of unshaven yaks on my websites.

Last week(s):

  • ✔ Find someone for whom to do some short-term billable work. The next round of funding for a video project I’ve been consulting on came through, so that’s going to be a priority this week.
  • ❌ Do some actual billable work. But soon…
  • ✔ Get through one more (ugh) job search hoop.
  • ✔ Narrow down a longer term consulting client on the cautious assumption that the preceding item won’t go anywhere.
  • ✔ Catch up on mail etc.
  • ✔ Make at least one quickie RubyTapas episode.
  • ✔ Come up with next tasks for the guest episodes that are now stalled because I have less organizational help.
  • ✔ Stream something educational. Not technically streamed, but I’m counting that Eric Normand interview.

Bonus points:

  • ✔ Kick off a new remote work newsletter collaboration.
  • ✔ Revamp the Wide Teams website in support of the above.
  • ✔ Update subscription forms etc. to reflect the BRUNCH/SIGAVDI merge.
  • ✔ Study Dark a bit more.
  • ✔ Free up a RubyTapas episode
  • ✔ Send out a new “RubyTapas from the Freezer” email after a long hiatus

This week:

  • Work on $corporate_video_project
  • Spend a couple hours on one of my WIP courses.
  • Stream with Jess
  • Write for The Wide Teams Almanac
  • RubyTapas

Threat board:

  • GOTO talk prep – gotta get ready for a very different format.
  • Becoming revenue-positive.
  • WIP.
  • Fixing my house.


No movement this week.

  • Client Video Project: ~85% .
  • Robust Ruby: 25%.
  • MOOM: 91%
  • The Rake Field Manual: 10%.
  • AsyncJS Course: ~50%.
  • Patreon improvements.

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading, and as always, feel free to write back!