The first time I remember hearing the term “hackathon” out loud was when I was
a couple weeks into my employment on Google’s Developer Relations team. I was
trying to figure out what I was going to do to help bootstrap developers for
the nascent OpenSocial project. Patrick Chanezon, the Developer Advocate on
the project, said something like “we’re going to cold call a bunch of social
app authors and hold a hackathon to test out the API” which hadn’t really been
done before—we were helping pave a new path for the company at the time.
That first event was kind of a mess. I remember stalling for time with a room
full of developers since our test server wasn’t booting correctly. An engineer
was hurriedly trying to fix things so that the attendees could get to work.
The premise for Luis Buñuel’s THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL is that a group
of socialites are unable to leave a parlor following a dinner party. This is
about as much as I knew going into it, which was exciting, since the premise
works better that way.
I figure that if you’re going to keep people in a room there’s a few ways it
can go. The most obvious is that the room is literally locked or blocked off
and those folks need to escape it physically. In this case that seemed
unlikely, mostly because the movie is named The Exterminating Angel and that
would be a pretty bad name for a movie about a locked room.
Since starting a new job tends to involve a lot of reflection on the prior one,
I’ve spent some time recently thinking about my
time at Twitter. While there were both good and bad
parts, I generally feel like I had a few great opportunities to participate in
product design and understand how even simple looking products tend to have a
lot of hidden edge cases and adjustments to smooth those over.
I generally use the example of
analytics.twitter.com. Superficially, this
site has a very direct purpose–to show you numbers associated with your
Tweets. But as my team started exploring a landing page which would show
aggregated impressions, we found all sorts of cases which would surprise our
I want to get better at creating art in 2017. At the start of a new year I try
to make resolutions which are attainable by incremental effort over a longer
period of time, so when my friend Buster suggested creating a painting or
drawing every day in January, I eagerly agreed.
Friday, February 24th, 2017 was my 1999th day of employment at Twitter, and my last.
I’ve been a bit nostalgic about this, so I reread my initial thoughts on joining Twitter in 2011 to laugh at how young and naïve I was five and a half years ago. I know that when I first started I didn’t really have a great idea of what people did in fast growing companies. Did they jump around and try to work on the most critical problem at the time? Did they focus on small areas and grow them into large ones?