inessential by Brent Simmons

brentsdevdiary on Twitter

brentsdevdiary avatarI’m trying an experiment — I’ve started brentsdevdiary on Twitter, where I narrate my work. It actually answers Twitter’s question: “What are you doing?”

But be warned — it’s entirely possible that it’s extremely boring. It’s also possible I won’t keep up with it.

But so far so good. To make this work I actually run a Twitter client on my development machine, so it’s super-easy to post a couple sentences now and then (I don’t even have to turn my chair to my laptop).

I like doing it. It feels pretty natural, as if I’ve been doing it a long time. (Years ago I was an early user of Instant Outliner, which was like a Twitter dev diary. Credit goes to Dave Winer for this and so much else.)

Note that, if I keep up with this, there will be times when, for any one of various reasons, I won’t be able to disclose what I’m working on, or I’ll have to talk in very general terms. You understand, I hope.

Possible benefits

I’ve always loved working in public as much as possible. I don’t mean working in cafés — I mean the internet public. I’m enough of an exhibitionist (I confess!) to like the idea of programming as performance.

But lately I’ve been super-busy and have had little time for blogging.

I love being engaged with the people who use my software, and this is a great way to do that. Twitter is two-way, after all. (I also have private mailing lists for beta testers, which are hugely important to my development process.)

There are a few other things that interest me about this…

Seattle skyline #### How silence is perceived

When I’m very quiet — little to no blogging, nothing work-related on my main Twitter account — people start to think that my software is going away. “He’s been so quiet, he must not be working on it anymore.”

There’s no logic to it, but it’s a very human reaction and I understand it. But of course the opposite is usually the truth. Quiet just means busy.

So I think this is a way to not be quiet, since updates are so easy, since I can do them as I work without interrupting my flow or taking much time.

Ultimate Mac Programming Book #### How software is made

I’ve long been interested in trying to give a sense to non-programmers how software is made. We all use and rely on a ton of software, but, if you’re not a developer, it probably seems more like magic than it should.

Our reliance on softare will only grow, and a basic understanding of what goes into making software should be part of every adult’s mental toolchain. It’s good citizenship in the digital age.

How an experienced developer works

I’ve written before in Advice for indies that you “have to sit in the chair and stay seated. And sleep and come back to the chair. You need to wear out that chair and then buy a new one and then wear out that one.”

I can say that, but there’s nothing like actually showing that.

About the avatar

It’s a picture of my cat Papa in my office chair, lit by the office skylight. Sometimes you have to give up the chair to the cat. Especially since he’s so cute and he loves the sun.

Other dev diaries

I’d love to see more dev diaries. If you do one, do an @brentsdevdiary with the account name so I can see it. Thanks!