I was meeting some of the HUB Oakland folks and explaining what I do and what my ideas were for teaching webcraft and digital literacy. Someone pointed out that my ideas didn’t scale. It was a compliment, in that I seemed to care more about an individual than creating something that everyone should use. I thought about that for a while, and wondered if that was accurate. It sounded nice to me, but something in it was bothersome, as if I were resisting that description of my work and play.
Then two things happened: Google replaced GTalk (and XMPP interoperability) with their proprietary chat system, and I read The Boy Kings. It is a heady combination, and after digesting those events and ideas I’ve decided that I don’t, in fact, scale.
It is an unquestioned principal in web development that everything must scale. When something scales better, it is intrinsically more valuable than what came before. I look for scaling as a property in software all the time, it is why I run servers and services, while I run a network of WordPress multisite networks and a wikae server farm, among others.
But I don’t scale relationships, or perhaps I should say my relationships don’t scale. I don’t compulsively follow each person that talks to me on the net, but I make it a point to stay in contact with the people I know, despite not being on any social network that is mainstream or popular.
This realization gives me direction. I’ve developed sites for years, some of which are still in planning, that I think are meaningful and helpful, but will never scale at the level that a VC-backed startup requires. And knowing that is one less obstacle to distract myself with. ^_^
I have made a lot of compromises in the last year. One of the biggies was Google. I decided to test the waters a bit, see if I could stomach their policies, if their products made up for it.
They are turning off jabber interoperability in GTalk, replacing it with Hangouts, the chat attached to their social network.
It makes sense for them as a company. They have multiple operating systems that tie into their platform, and syncing messages between devices is awesome. It really is! That is why I was using it.
But I know better. Literally, I know of a better way to do the things that Google does. And it is aligned with my goals to make it easier to do, which means dedicating myself to the free and open ways, and letting Google go play in the silo by itself.
The toughest part is that most of my friends using GTalk instead of a normal jabber server. Jabber servers kinda suck. Step 0…
I am done being a sysadmin. I’ve run my share of servers, and probably yours, too, if you are reading this.
I love GNU/Linux, and I love making computers do things by telling it commands in a terminal. And I will probably always have at least some machine lying around for that purpose. But I am done with ti professionally, and more of my time is being drawn into what I do professionally (which is webcraft, by the way).
So I am switching classes. Well, I am actually just paying a premium for other people to do the parts I don’t want to. I am going to focus on the stuff that folks use.