Reflecting on a Year in Open Source

I’ve been working at Netflix for a little over a year on Spinnaker, which means about a year of interacting heavily with the open source community. I’ve already learned a lot from this experience; not least of which that it’s a humbling experience to broadcast to the world that I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’d probably never finish writing if I tried to touch on everything I’ve learned, or even the top five. That said, learning to communicate more openly with a large audience is something I’m focusing on. At the events and conferences I’ve been to this year, one common theme is people want more insight into what the Spinnaker team at Netflix is thinking about, the challenges we’re facing, and why we’re tackling problems the way we are.

Ever since graduating college, I’ve taken Sunday nights to read up on articles, scavenge GitHub Trending, and generally get my head in the working space. At my previous job, my colleagues called this time vision quests. During this time, I review a current tasks list, cross-reference those against short & long-term goals, and then write down a whole lot of notes (with varying degrees of intelligibility) about problems I’m working on, research into what other people are doing, and so-on.

Since some of the end results of my work lands in the public eye, I have a rare opportunity to share even more and offer an interesting story of my development efforts, as well as get earlier, wide feedback on my thoughts. So, in 2018, I’ll be aiming to publish a bi-weekly, public-friendly digest into a new Medium publication. In addition, I will occasionally write longer articles about epics I’m working on, perform retrospectives on incidents, processes, and so-on: basically whatever people ask me to ramble about.

My goal in all of this isn’t to think my ideas are all rainbows and sunshine — they’re definitely not, remember, I don’t know what I’m doing — but to rope more people into the community, get them involved, and open a new avenue for feedback on what I’m doing. Furthermore, I think a publication could be cool if other engineers, Netflix or not, decide they want to contribute their own journals or longer form posts.

I’m looking forward to this year; there’s so much we’re going to do together.

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