Christopher T. Miller

Bloggy blog blog

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Reflections After Pycon 2019

I came into Pycon emotionally and physically exhausted. The last three years have been very difficult for my family, and sustaining the level of stress we’ve been subjected to takes a toll. Lately, my anxiety and depression have gotten bad enough that panic attacks and deep black periods of emotional numbness have become more common than I like to admit. (Fear not, good reader, I am seeing professionals for this.) I have been looking for some anchors to help me boost my engagement with life, something beyond merely waking, going to work, coming home, and dealing with the various crises that have been ruling our lives of late.

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Beyond The Problems

Every so often I realize how lucky I am.

When your job is (and has been) about solving problems, after a while all you see are the problems. Every inefficiency of the office, every time someone doesn’t yield to your well-reasoned argument, every time you watch the gears of your company grind away unaware that people get caught in the teeth of those cogs…you see the problems, and you feel powerless to change then.

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Letter to Myself For When I Forget

Chris,

You won’t remember this, or if you do, it might be a shadow of a memory. I’m not sure. Still, I wanted to remind you of some things.

I’m you. The past you. The past you for whom time is still linear, and we haven’t lost our place in the world. We wrote this, I wrote this, to remind you of what you love, what matters to you, just in case you forget.

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Reboot Camp

I’m on a retreat this weekend learning to code. I’ve dubbed this Reboot Camp.

“But Chris,” you say, “you’ve been a developer for 20-some years. You know how to code.”

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Context, Substitution, Walls, Boundaries

Our networked culture erases time-honored boundaries and robs us of context. Because of that lack of context, we engage in substitution.

Example: working from home erases the line between home life and work context. We often play a role at work which is not our whole self, it’s a sliver created to do the things which need doing within the culture of the company we work for. The way we are at work is not the usually way we like to be in our own homes.

When trying to work at home after hours or on the weekend, we find it difficult to be both people: the work-person and the home-person. We attempt to bridge the gap with substitution. We substitute affection with brief conversation, meaningful interaction with lists of things to do. Instead of enjoying time with our families, we get stuck in the productivity mindset. Is home about productivity? To produce…what, exactly? For whom? To what end, and who benefits?

We see this playing out across society, especially with knowledge workers.

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A Simpler Web

“There’s a key component of the original vision of Tim Berners-Lee’s Web that I glossed over, and one that may very well be at risk of fading away; HTML was designed to be written by people. Not programmers. Not programs. Not compilers. People. Actual, ordinary, every day people like the scientists at CERN, the cat lover in their basement, the burgeoning young author with controversial ideas, or the oppressed political activist fighting for freedom. People who have better and more important things to do than keep up to date with the latest hipster devstack trending on Hacker News. People for whom Twitter being blocked in their country or going down is more than a simple inconvenience.

“This was the whole point of the World Wide Web. Anybody could participate in content creation and it didn’t require any fancy tools, compilers, frameworks, IDE’s, social media accounts, private web services, closed-source software, or college degrees.”

Mark’s article about how we got where we are, and where we are going in the realm of web development is excellent. I remember much of what he is talking about, Mosaic, the browser wars, the rise Firefox, then Chrome, then the vary world of JavaScript frameworks.

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A Macroblogging Renaissance

I’ve recently come back to using Twitter and have been engaging some of my friends (@David, @Bridget) in conversation about the state of blogging. Over my time in web tech, I’ve embraced a number of values that often (it seems to me) run counter to the prevailing thoughts about publishing on the web. I’m going to run with those as I get back to putting words on the page.

Blogging has gotten more business-oriented since its inception. I suppose it was inevitable, but I was deeply saddened as people sharing the reality of their lives and having vibrant conversations shifted to “content generation” to “build your brand.” Business ruins things. It never fails.

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PyCon 2019

I’ll be attending Pycon this year. It’s being held in nearby Cleveland, OH, and I’m very excited not to have to use the crappy airlines to have to get to the hosting city. I feel bad for all you folks having to fly in. Airlines suck.

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The Workshop

I miss blogging.

Not the “promote your brand” blogging. Not the “build an audience” blogging. I miss the sort of blogging where people talked about their lives in a longer format. Where it was informal, you had nothing to prove – you were just sharing because it was a fun thing to do.

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You Work With People

You work with people.

You work with people, and people have feelings. No matter how inconvenient it is for you, you have to acknowledge those emotions and address them. Rational decisions aren’t possible until the irrational feelings have passed. <–more–>

You work with people, and people like to understand what is happening to them. It is in your best interest to discuss things with them honestly. And if you cannot tell the whole story due to certain restrictions, make sure to say that.

You work with people, and while it is not your job to make them happy, it is your job to make their happiness possible.

You work with people, and you have more impact on them on a daily basis than their closest loved ones. When they go home at night, they talk about you. Be aware that everything you do matters.

You work with people, not resources. You should not be burning up people to get the job done. You should not be wasting people to hit your goals. If you do this, they will leave.

You work with people, and if you want to understand them, you have to love them a little. They can frustrate you, they can challenge you, but they are not obstacles. They are not the enemy. They are the people you have chosen to work with every single day.

You work with people. Be compassionate, but hold them accountable.

You work with people. Not machines. Not programs. Not scripts. Not angels or demons.

You work with people.

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