How I Work – Just Programming Mix

When I’m programming, I am centered broadly on the cyclical application of small textual changes, each one producing value I then harvest to identify, enable, or energize the next. Before we dig in: This is how I roll code. It is not a prescription of any kind for you. I have a prescription for you, and I can offer it, but it has almost nothing to do with what you’ll read here. These are details. The prescriptions are at a […]

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RAMPS – Autonomy is Freedom to Move

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series RAMPS

Autonomy is a powerful factor in motivation, and the more creative & technical the work, the more likely autonomy is to figure largely in the maker’s motivational spectrum. Here are three different ways I work when I am geeking out. Each of these is about equal in probability to be the one I use for any particular problem. I will write a long essay in slack, driving my colleagues to comical exasperation at times, rubberducking in prose until I get

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RAMPS – Ways to Affect Rhythm

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

Achieving good Rhythm, a well-tuned distribution of "feels good" across time, is at once the most visceral of sensations and the most difficult to reliably prescribe. Affecting rhythm, therefore, is a fundamentally experimental effort. There are three broad levels to think about, and each has its own possibilities and limits. There is the individual maker, a team of makers, and an organization that hosts, funds, plans, and manages that (or those) teams. At the outer circumference, the org has the

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Change Pro-Tip: Reset

Change Pro-Tip: I sometimes will take an individual or group relationship of mine and ask for an explicit "reset". It’s not a frequent solution, but when the circumstances are right, the rewards for doing it can be huge. Early last year, I was in a wrangle with a person I’ve known for a few years. It wasn’t a crisis, exactly, but it wasn’t a happy or even neutral relationship. He called me, and as we spoke it became ever more

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RAMPS – Rhythm is Tension and Release

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

Rhythm is about sequences of alternating tension and release. Noticing, orchestrating, and managing the levels and timing of those sequences is one way I can affect the motivation of myself and others. Take a second right now give yourself a nice full-bodied stretch, complete with a yawn. Feels good, yeah? Some of you are at the end of your day, others the middle, and to be honest I’ve only been up for a couple of hours. But it still feels

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RAMPS – A Way I Approach Motivational Puzzles

This entry is part [part not set] of 15 in the series RAMPS

Motivational Puzzles Rhythm, Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, and Safety are important bands in my own motivational spectrum, so I often use them when I’m thinking about other people’s motivational spectroscopy. I’ll give you snapshots of the meaning behind those bands in a minute, but I want to start with that base metaphor, of spectrums, spectroscopy, and signature. When you bombard an element with electromagnetic radiation — for the sake of shorthand, when you make it glow — it gives off visible

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Stories About Stories

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series Stories

Some stories about stories, continuing from How Stories Change Things. First, a story-story from history or two. In 1900 the story of Thomas Jefferson was that he was a founder of our nation, a naturalist, and inventor, a President, and the author of some of the most stirring language about human equality ever penned in English. In 2000 the story of Thomas Jefferson was that one of the hundred-odd slaves he owned, the young half-sister of his deceased wife, was

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How Stories Change Things

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series Stories

What is this thing about telling & re-telling the story until it’s the story we want? There’s back-muses, check my timeline, but I’ll offer the relevant text: "I believe we have to re-tell the story. We have to tell the story again, and again, changing it each time, until it becomes the story of bringing a large and diverse group of people together in a common culture of kind and creative community." To make that case, it seems to me

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What I’m Up To

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series Stories

Yesterday, I spoke about thin culture, insecurity, and a possible way forward: telling and re-telling the story of us. I don’t know what will thicken the software making trade’s culture. But I know (part of) what I’m trying to do: tell the story of us, re-tell it, and re-tell it again, as many times as it takes, until that story is the story of a community of kindness and creativity. I’m trying to make a sociotechnical approach to the trade

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Thin Culture and Stories

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series Stories

I believe the thinness of geek culture is a major player in many of the ills of the trade. It is sociotechnical in impact, simultaneously affecting areas as seemingly distant & distinct as the "social" gender diversity and the "technical" iterative design. Last night, I enjoyed Virginia doing a hilarious profane rant about an incoherent technical manual she’d used that day. We’re not talking about jargon or domain ignorance, but of flat-out incoherence: bad sentences, contradictory advice, poor case discrimination,

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