In which recent events, create an unanticipated “fork in the road” for my career.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time at all, you’ll realise that recent events have had an effect on my day-to-day life.
My role at Twitter was impacted by the initial round of layoffs on November 4th (there have been several subsequent actions by the new owner, that have unfortunately affected many more of my co-workers). I had a sense that it might have been coming to me: my primary focus in the past couple of months had been Twitter’s Chirp Developer Conference, and when that was cancelled at late notice, I felt that there was nothing substantial for me to be working on beyond support activities, and that this was a likely outcome.
There’s an ongoing separation process while the relevant employment procedures are followed; but the upshot is that after nearly 9 years, my time at Twitter has come to a sudden and dramatic end.
This is a huge tear for me, and it has taken more than a while to come to terms with the (necessary) change.
I created my Twitter account on February 21, 2007 - almost 16 years ago. I started working at Twitter on March 31, 2014, and worked there for a total of 8.6 years (3140 days). Putting those timespans into perspective: I’m 46 years old; Twitter has been part of one-third of my life; my previous longest tenure with an employer was with IBM (10 years); being on Twitter, and part of my community and network there, got me both my role at Twitter and my previous role at VMware/Pivotal after I left IBM; I have the majority of my current network of friends and contacts, through being on the platform.
The things that I will miss the most?
the incredible, serendipitous nature of network connections, and of good people, coming together online. In the immediate aftermath of announcing that my time had come to an end, I had hundreds of people reply to me with messages of support, thanks or gratitude for the work I’ve done for the developer community at Twitter. That was amazing. In the ~16 years I’ve been on the platform, I’ve come into contact with many great people, a lot of whom are now lifelong friends.
the culture of Twitter, the company (pre-Musk, that is). It was truly the most amazing, supportive, wonderful, empowering place I’ve ever worked, and the people I got to learn from were the very best. I went through some difficult times in my personal life while I was at the company, and people were there for me throughout. I also got to work at Twitter UK, where the #LoveWhereYouWork hashtag and culture started. If you’ve never heard the story behind this accidental slogan, please go watch it. I joined the company a few months after this all happened, and I personally felt the impact it had on my family of Tweeps in London, so this continues to resonate deeply.
[there is much, much more to write about the culture, and this is something that is difficult to fully explain with words. Tweeps will know what I’m trying to communicate, I think.]
I’m proud to have worked at (that version of) Twitter - the original Twitter. More than that, I’m deeply proud of what my team, Developer Relations, delivered for developers, particularly over the past few years as we rebuilt the API. And heck, I am also proud of, and stand behind, my own contributions and achievements in the developer platform and for the developer community.
I have further Thoughts, but they are many and complicated, and perhaps, for another day.
This has all carried a dramatic personal impact, and I know the ~6 months from April to October this year also had a massive effect on the mental health of my fellow Tweeps throughout the company, as we worked through uncertain times.
Once I realised that I was leaving, I decided that I needed a plan. I’ll write more about the detail of The Plan elsewhere and below, but coincidentally, the day of The Ending was also the day that we were going away for a long weekend for our anniversary.
We spent 3 nights in a fantastic secluded spot in Somerset, in the south west of England. The owners run a working farm, and the yurt-style space they created on their land was a “lockdown project” for them. Absolutely beautiful location - no real hint that we were on a farm, apart from the occasional sheep wandering by; private, peaceful. The pond was very cold, but the bath on the deck was lovely and hot.
On the evening that we arrived, a truck hit a pole out along the main road, and took down the internet (and almost all the cell) coverage for the area, so it was a relatively analog weekend to ourselves, despite the shockwaves of the layoffs and news coming out about the changes at the company.
Back to The Plan. Something like this?
Peter Quill: I have a plan.
Rocket Raccoon: You've got a plan? Okay, first of all, you're copying me from when I said I had a plan.
Peter Quill: I'm not copying you, I have a plan, that's not that unique of a thing to say.
Rocket Raccoon: And secondly, I don't think you even have a plan.
Peter Quill: I have part of a plan.
Drax the Destroyer: What percentage of a plan do you have?
Gamora: You don't get to ask questions after the nonsense you pulled on Knowhere!
Drax the Destroyer: I just saved Quill!
Peter Quill: We've already established that you destroying the ship I'm on is not saving me!
Drax the Destroyer: When did we establish that?
Peter Quill: Like three seconds ago!
Drax the Destroyer: Well I wasn't listening then, I was thinking of something else...
Rocket Raccoon: She's right, you don't get an opinion... What percentage?
Peter Quill: I dunno... Twelve percent?
Rocket Raccoon: Twelve percent? [starts laughing]
I have a few high-level goals and concepts for the coming months:
take a break. I have not had an opportunity for a complete break from full-time work before, and I now find myself with that space. The separation process will play out over another ~month, and then I intend to take time for myself until at least the end of the spring, before seeking my next challenge.
tidy house / tidy mind. I’ve allowed things to pile up and clutter at home, and with time on my hands it is a good opportunity to do some overdue clearing, selling, gifting, and general tidying.
back to my roots. I’ve been spending more time in grassroots communities in 2022 in general, but this gives me a chance to do more work on Open Source, on IoT and making, MicroPython, community moderation and engagement on DEV, education, and exploring new online and in-person spaces.
workshop / studio. We’ve put down a deposit on an art space not far away from home, and plan to move our hobby works (electronics and crafting) there, again to clear out at home. That will also provide me the opportunity to look into 3D printing, which will be a new adventure that I’ve never had the space to get into. I’m looking forward to having a space to hack and build in which goes further than the dining room table!
I cannot continue to use Twitter. Right now, I’ve locked my account, deleted all Twitter-related apps from my devices, and stopped posting; I may deactivate my account as things continue in the direction they appear to be heading.
This is truly heartbreaking for me; the weight of this decision after consistently posting to and using the service for so many years, and my own use of the platform in my role in Developer Relations, is immense.
I’ve always kept an open mind towards alternative platforms, and I’ve tried many of them over time. I remember platforms like Identi.ca “back in the day”. I created an account on Mastodon in late 2016, and while I never used it regularly before this year, I’ve kept an eye on how the platform has evolved.
When the news of the Twitter takeover emerged earlier this year, I started to spend more time in the Fediverse (the federation of social online services of which Mastodon is a part), partly by cross-posting selected content from Twitter to my other account. Since the start of this month, I’ve been using Mastodon nearly exclusively as my main social home online, I switched off the cross-poster I was using, migrated my account to a different instance, and focused on curating my network to include more of the folks also migrating away from Twitter.
I don’t know whether “Mastodon is the future”, and I don’t think it will suit everybody; but I’m finding my developer, maker, and other communities to be more active and engaged there. I’m excited about the opportunity for ActivityPub and federated, distributed, networks to have a meaningful impact on the way we interact online.
I’m grateful that some folks have chosen to subscribe to this newsletter, and I can only apologise (I think?) that it has not been as active a channel as I thought it might be. I used Revue to share the newsletter, which was a natural thing when Twitter acquired Revue and began to work towards more meaningful long-form tools for creators (and, as an aside, I enjoyed the interactions with members of that team internally, after they joined the company). The current trajectory and intent of Twitter is…
waves hands, looks angry, sad & confused and with my account locked I don’t have a great way to have folks discover it, so I’m likely to move to an alternative in the coming weeks. If you are in a similar situation and want to get your data back out from Revue, Nick Taylor has a nice post and tool that can help you do so.
In the previous issue, I started out by saying that well, I’m not sure how I want to manage my long-form writing for the future. With the (presumed) loss of Twitter Notes / Write, I’ll be thinking more about this and how to organise myself between WordPress, Medium and DEV (for example). I’m interested in how Fediverse options such as Plume or WriteFreely might make sense here, and also thinking about how I can potentially consolidate archives of my writing and newsletters. Once again, no immediate conclusion, but I have some time to myself again now, to re-think my online presence.
This breaks down into a few sections:
I’ve been spending a lot more time on this space in the past month! I’m interested in the various ways in which Developers can get involved, and shared a post about that on my DEV blog. I also gave an impromptu talk at our hackspace meetup. Finally, a recent episode of our weekly Games at Work dot biz featured myself and my co-host, Michael Rowe, doing a deep dive on this space.
Various things have been afoot in the world of MicroPython, which I summarised in a recent post - not least, that the video of my talk from EuroPython 2022 was published. Shortly after that post went live, I joined Laura Langdon on her Twitch show, to talk about MicroPython in general, with a light introduction to PyScript as well. You can watch it back on YouTube (although it is long).
Not directly related to MicroPython, but in the same vein around community and software, since my last newsletter I was also a guest on the Coffee & Open Source podcast.
I’ll be on Attie’s Show and Tell on December 6th, to talk a bit about my interest in the maker community, MicroPython etc.
I’ve been invited onto a couple of podcasts, which is always fun! I’m open to this kind of thing, provided I have the time, and the topic is something that I can contribute on.
I’m hoping to take more ownership of my event attendance in the coming months; in particular, I’d love to be able to get to FOSDEM in 2023. I’m trying to stay open and aware of the in-person events that I might be able to get along to, anyway.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you so much. I hope you’ve learned a little, perhaps been entertained, and would like to stay in touch or follow up.
Drop me a line by replying to this newsletter, or alternatively, maybe check out Mastodon or otherwise follow me in the Fediverse?
Have a great end to 2022.