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Urgency

I’ve started writing this bit two times (see the community one and the one on ICs vs. managers for what happened instead).

If Twitter fails - or I stop using it - I’m looking forward to recalibrating my sense of urgency.

One thought going around is that no one would want to rebuild Twitter (I hear it most in the Ben Thompson Podcast Universe). I haven’t verified the business-side, but that seems true from the business angle: Twitter isn’t, like, that great of a business and has failed to figure it out like the Facebook Conglomerate.

Then there’s all the negative things too. Here, Twitter is like guns: too easy to use for bad outcomes.

After using Twitter for so many years, my sense of urgency is too short. I think in quick cycles and don’t have that “slow work” or “slow living” approach to most things.

I notice this with my kid’s education the most. School for kids is a long, long game. They have to learn to “do” school, which can take years and isn’t really taught in school. You know: keep track of assignments, due dates, make sure you understand what you need to do for each assignment (e.g., a five paragraph essay format; showing your work in math; adding those extra layers of work that show you’ve understood the higher-level ideas and synthesized them into some output), etc. These are all things office workers do without thinking, but kids don’t even know they exist - they’re unknown unknowns.

When my kids don’t learn these things the first time I explain it to them, or the 20th time, or the 30th time where I’ve tried to orchestrate some tricky way of teaching them, I get frustrated. But my timescale is just an hour, a week at most. It should really be, like, five years…ten years.

The same goes for that publishing vs. managing bit also here.

Another example is the rise of platform engineering and how quickly it’s gone through the full thought-leader cycle.

Backstage has been out for awhile, but it wasn’t until about February of this year (when Gartner wrote a paper on internal developer portals), and then this summer with all the devrel/PR-campaigns that Humanitec has done, culminating in BackstageCon that platform engineering came to the top of the heap.

About three weeks ago, there were the usual series of marketing-opportunistic articles saying “DevOps is Dead!” You can tell when this crest happens when there’s 1+n articles on The New Stack stating it as such - or if both The New Stack and InfoQ publish the same article, just written differently.

The response to the dead-thing was swift, and actually pretty good. It was like, “hey man, don’t harsh our vibe and all the work people have put into this thing for the past ten plus years. Be kind!”

This was a very fast loop!

I don’t remember how long that loop took with SRE, but I think it was longer and more…thoughtful?

But, the urgency model we use now made us all think too quickly about platform engineering and try to create a whole new category. Indeed, my theory is that, really, platform engineering is purely about internal developer portal and the tools team (the “DX team” if you like) - basically, the SDLC tool suite developers use. With a name like “platform engineering,” thought, it’s easy to also pull in the runtime environment - the IaaS and PaaS layer. (And, boy, kubernetes is really looking for it’s PaaS layer - so that world will grab onto any thing that floats by.)

But, this conflation of the two probably isn’t accurate or helpful. And I’ve done it myself!

With the Twitter-speed urgency though, you have to process and come up with takes quickly like this. You can’t sort of just let it play out and see what happens.

Anyhow: it’d be great to have less urgency. The thing with Twitter-speed urgency is that, really, it doesn’t matter. I mean, you could summarize the last two weeks of Twitter like this:

The long awaited PE buyout closed and was followed quickly by layoffs and uncertainty. For example, after laying off half of the staff, some had to be hired back. The new management team was unusually brash and rude, damaging the brand reputation of Twitter. Some big-name advertisers who were already unsure about the value of putting ads in Twitter began to worry about the association with Twitter, paused spend, and went into a wait and see posture. The new team followed the philosophy of “move fast and break things” when exploring new features, but because their theories were wrong, eventually slowed down to take a more considered approach. Meanwhile, the service stayed up, defying expectations. Clearly, the new management team has a lot to learn and even more interest to pay. More than likely, this was all a bad idea.

Following the minutia is fun, but I have to say, there’s not enough of it to make it rewarding. There’s only about one interesting thing every two days - so I’ve realized, there’s no payoff to checking all the time.

…the point being: my urgency calibration is all screwed up from Twitter-brain. And, you know, it’d be great to slide back to blog-brain urgency, at the very least.

This urgency is more about the expectations I set on myself rather than my craving for “news.” One day, I hope to be satisfied with one, solid piece of work published weekly rather than worrying about doing a quick-trickle of a bunch of small things.

@cote@hachyderm.io, @cote@cote.io, @cote