Some people know the work

We need to learn how to do hard things (and then talk about it)

This article is exclusive to The Flint, a magazine about internet culture in Ghana and Nigeria. Subscribe to The Flint to receive the next article in your inbox.

Some people know the work.

They’re masters of their craft in a way that just boggles the mind. (Above, Osarumen Osamuyi is talking, of course, about Ire Aderinokun. If you don’t know her, please fix that.)

👑 When you’re one of a handful of people on the planet who knows

I was grazing on Twitter and stumbled across this dude.

Don’t worry if you’re having trouble following the exact thread of what he’s talking about. The meaning of what he’s saying is less important than what it signals — someone so deeply immersed in his craft that he discovers an issue known to probably under 10 people on the planet.

💡 The people who teach and share

Meet andrea lopez (@bluechoochoo to you). Andrea is…I actually don’t know what Andrea does, but she’s lowkey one of the best minds on what happens when culture and digital media collide. She maintains a small arsenal of spreadsheets and notebooks with datapoints, many of which she makes available for free.

This is her spreadsheet with obsessively detailed stats about the number of paid subscribers on media products.

You know how you’ll sometimes see ads when you play a video on YouTube? Well, advertisers pay for those ads based on how many views the video gets, but it turns out that the definition of a view varies from platform to platform. A view on Twitter means that someone watched a video for 3 seconds, but a view on YouTube means they watched it for ~30 seconds.

Luckily, Andrea has a handy spreadsheet with details about video views.

Ever wondered exactly how some posts go viral or trend on different social networks? Andrea has you covered with this notebook on the trending algorithms of different social networks.

Whenever anyone has a questions about some esoteric bit of how social works, they know to come to Andrea. For instance:

✊🏿 We need to learn how to do hard things (and then talk about it)

I didn’t have any grand conclusion to this piece when I started writing it. I just wanted to write about 1) how it makes my head hurt how smart some people are and 2) PEOPLE ARE SO SMART OMG

But if I could step onto this here soap box for one minute:

  1. There is work that we know.
  2. We should share it with each other.
  3. Where we don’t know the work, we should learn (bonus points for documenting the process of learning 😈)

A few days ago, Andela’s Celestine Omin wrote about how our African technology communities need to share so much more:

I love how companies in the valley, Europe and South East Asia are deliberately building their engineering culture. These companies do this through a couple of ways; tech talks, engineering blogs, open source, etc. They share their problems, pain points and solutions…
While the Nigerian and African tech needs funding, the need for actual engineering collaboration and sharing cannot be over emphasised. If you’ve solved a major problem; optimisation, security, scalability, experimenting with a new tech, write about it. Share.
While I’m not oblivious to the Dunning-Kruger effect, you will be surprised at how many people will learn and benefit from this gesture. Building out your own CI/CD pipeline? Write about it. Wrote an amazing configuration management for your servers? Share it. Talk!!! Found a new way to minimise latency by 3%? Write about it. Talk. Mitigated a DDoS? Write about it.
We need more African tech startups writing about their processes, product design methodology, software engineering practises, opening up their APIs.

To be fair, many folks are sharing. Opemipo the Great is doing the Lord’s work by sharing Paystack’s product design process. Edem Kumodzi’s #ReactForNewbies series clocks in at many thousands of words and likely took many painful hours to write. Prosper Otemuyiwa’s 🔥 ministry is earning him plaudits near and far. I’m contributing something small with my deep dive into a redesign project I did earlier this year for RetailTower.

And I’m certain there’re many others working hard to grow learning within our ecosystem. It’s a start. I’m excited for this idea become a default part of our community in 2017.

And while we’re at it, we shouldn’t only limit it to engineering! Sales, marketing, customer support, HR, fundraising — we need to be so much better at ALL of it, and there’s so much we can learn from each other.

Prosper says it best:

Learning. Growth. Craft.


This article is exclusive to The Flint, a magazine about internet culture in Ghana and Nigeria. Subscribe to The Flint to receive the next article in your inbox.