How do you balance your views with community wisdom when you’re writing?
With any book, reviews are hugely important. I set up an advisory group - people I somewhat knew, and whose work I respected, and who would give good feedback. I’m not that familiar with all the corners of the JS community, and I wanted to make sure I had people who could feedback on those elements.
They gave me comments on each refactoring – just through a simple mailing list – and were a very useful source of information.
How do you distinguish the signal from the noise?
I find good people to listen to. There are lots of good people out there, doing this, you don’t have to cover all the ground yourself. This is why I like being at ThoughtWorks. While the most obvious form of filtering is the radar, which is all about pulling the signal, I do it much more informally. I know lots of good tech people at ThoughtWorks and chat to them about what’s interesting.
My advice is to develop your instinct for finding the right people to listen to.
What’s your advice for budding writers?
The most important thing is practice. Blog. Write things down. Your first draft is almost certainly not what you want to publish. Re-work the words and the ideas.
Writing is just like programming, just keep iterating. It’s perseverance, but also recognising when it’s time to ship. That’s a frightening thing with a book, as you can’t change it. But be confident about the fact that in most media you can change it.
Find people to give feedback. Good reviewers are worth their weight in gold. At ThoughtWorks we’re lucky, we have the software dev mailing list, a global group of techies, now in its thousands, who are thoughtful and responsive – many a discussion on that list has provided me with excellent feedback. You’ll need someone who is detailed and challenges you. That kind of feedback is worth so much. And worth the effort to pay attention to!
So, where is the tech going?
I’m not a futurist - I’m an intellectual dumpster diver. I look at things in the past that have not been done as much as they should be, and shine a light on them.
What now for you?
It’s now my task to get this book out (Autumn / Fall 2018). I’ve been so focused for 2 years, I’m looking forward to taking the blinkers off and seeing what catches my attention. I’m open to see what comes next, but I’m not allowed to look until later this summer.