Clothes, but Emperor questionable

After the past two+ years of chaos and horror, witnessing the dramatic regression of our governance, social fabric and heck global climate, in real-time, Pete Buttigieg was a breath of fresh air: an oxygen of intellectual, reasoned, unflappable calm after months of I think it’s safe to say, the polar opposite.

And please: he taught himself Norwegian.

Then sometime back in April I saw this…

But then I got this:

Obviously I was in for a Friday night at only $25. So I get there, and look around, and realize, well….

…and what I shared what I saw with my friend, he (chat) replied, “Ofc. He is an urban elite dream.”

And off we went. Already-iconic Chasten (Buttigieg’s husband) opened with smoothly-delivered endearing, self-aware stories. Which proved a natural segue to Buttigieg himself. He got off to a less-than-perfect start when, perhaps forgetting he was no longer in Indiana, he crescendo-ed up to “no, no…neither party has a claim on …. GOD.” This of course, was not met with thunderous applause, but rather, an enormously pregnant silence. San Franciscans, godless people we are, dgaf about God.

He soon recovered, eloquently laying out a calm, reasoned approach on social issues like marriage, immigration but at a level that didn’t leave much to disagree with (certainly, among this crowd). Perhaps I was among the few if any among the crowd that was still in shopping vs. buying mode, but I was left wanting to hear what the tangible platform was, beyond a Constitutional Amendment addressing political campaign funding (not a new idea, but at least, concrete).

And I was left frustrated at his own responses to “why him” beyond the fact that he is young (which has its pros and cons, can we admit?), gay, and a vet. I did find his midwestern provenance as a differentiator almost compelling but account part of that to the fact that I hail from there myself (Motown forever).

Don’t get me wrong. I stand by what I shared with my family: “For as brilliant as he is, he’s not compelling as a candidate. At all. He himself has substance, but he doesn’t have deep experience or a well-thought-out platform.” He’s certainly thought deeply through social issues (this is one of his big draws). Just not the presidential-level ones.

I guess I’m leaving it with him here. Onward.

UX vs. DX

I was introduced to Estelle Weyl through my colleague Ali, who suggested Estelle as a speaker for Mozilla’s speaker series. I was intrigued with Estelle’s teaching on the differences between how we as humans perceive the speed and performance of our web browsers (vs. the precise, technical “reality”).

She was of course great, and her final slide also called out another important distinction:

So how fun was it when, a bit over a year later, she invited me to moderate a panel on, yep:

https://forwardjs.com/schedule

We had Tomomi Imura of Slack on board, and were super fortunate to recruit Sarah Federman (newly) of Atlassian and Jina Anne.

This group was so amazing, they agreed to meet on a holiday before the event to huddle. It was there that the subtitle emerged:

We realize we hadn’t intended it, and while we didn’t want to make the Lakoff mistake, we did think it was cool.

So, whiskey it was.

Oh also, the conversation was as great as these women. Estelle and Timomi had previously posted different ways to tackle this. Estelle defines DX as “the methodologies, processes, and tools (frameworks, libraries, node modules, pre- and post-processors, build tools, other third-party scripts, and APIs) by which developers develop web applications for their user base.”

And, because developers are often users too (think developer tools, and of course, frameworks), Timomi approaches their DX in a way that exhorts developer tool makers to keep the developer experience – as users – in mind.

So as a group, we broke this down further, looking at why some developers may be tempted to not think about the UX (whether those users are developers or not, per above), and instead adopt a “resume-driven development” approach (h/t Estelle again) that favors them showing off knowledge of sexy new frameworks vs. delivering a solid UX.

There are also work culture pressures to deprioritize UX. Ship fast or first or cheap, user-be-whatevered, can be a hard force to combat when it comes from management.

But, as others pointed out, developers can still make the choice to not be overly-reliant on tools or frameworks so they can choose the best route for the end-users. Individual engineers can ask forgiveness vs. permission in adopting a user-centric, front-loaded design approach from the start. Finally, to steal (again) from Estelle:

Taking the time to do it right the first time is “fast to code”. Refactoring is not. If you keep the six areas of concern — user experience, performance, accessibility, internationalization, privacy, and security — at top of mind while developing, your finished product will be usable, fast, accessible, internationalizable, private, and secure, without much effort.

Estelle Weyl

Women Do Tech

Cross-posted from Mozilla

This June, two of my worlds collided beautifully when my employer, Mozilla, announced its sponsorship of a prize for the most privacy-respecting Women Startup Challenge finalist in the EU. On the side, I’d been volunteering with the organizers, Women Who Tech, for three years. So how did this all come together? And why?

When I joined Mozilla in 2011 to help run WebFWD, I was excited to support open source startups and their founders. The role was a great marriage of my experience with venture and startups, along with my desire to support innovation globally. As my role at Mozilla has evolved, my passion to support technologists globally has grown; today in my day job, I get to help our own developers around the world be more productive; and I’m still helping others “outside” Mozilla, as a mentor with WXR Fund and Hackers/Founders.

In 2015 when I met the organizers on a shared dist list, they were (and have since remained) focused on solving one big, persistent problem: less than 2% of all venture funding goes to women-led startups. Note that’s in the U.S.; the EU is a bit better, at 11%, but still far from ideal.

Compelled by the scope (and maddening nature) of the problem (and the tenacity and skill of the Women Who Tech team), I raised my hand. First, I helped recruit some online event panelists, including Julie Wainwright and Rebecca Eisenberg. Later, I helped design the startup challenge and have acted as an online and in-person judge. There I saw firsthand the caliber of the participating teams, which made me further lament the wasted opportunity that the current funding environment poses — not only for women founders, but for all the people they could serve if they only had the funding. Everyone loses.
Judging the first Women Startup EU Challenge in May 2017 @ London City Hall

When a broad mix of humans are behind technology, it leads to better outcomes, both in product and people. And, if you read through Mozilla’s Manifesto, you’ll see that Mozilla cares deeply about not just technology, but how technology impacts humans. While funding is hardly the only disparity between men and women in tech, it is significant, as it determines who will be driving what solutions for our future. For all of these reasons and more, I’m thrilled to see the visions of Mozilla and Women Who Tech come together.