On Developers and Social Networks

The first two startups that I put together were both in the social networking space, one related to a massively multiplayer online RPG and the second was essentially a niche version of Twitter.

Both projects were acquired (and that was nice) but these events were more significant in the fact that they opened my eyes to entrepreneurship and the distinct possibility of pursuing this avenue as a career for myself.

It would take a few more years of experimenting and courage to entirely dislodge myself from the well-worn career path of an enterprise software engineer and head out on my own but I would count those two experiences as important building blocks.

Social networking hasn’t changed much since those two projects came (and went) but now they are impossible to ignore. Their presence is ubiquitous and our lives and the conversations that we have revolve around the content that we create, read, and share.

Industry experts have discovered that the average internet user is has nearly 8 active social media / networking accounts and spends nearly 2 hours per day on them. Although the technologies, platforms, and services have changed the motivations, on the other hand, have not: Staying up to date with friends, current news and events, and (mindless) entertainment still rank in the top 3 spots for why we give so much time to these sites and applications

Personally, I’ve tried most of the major social networking applications and have also abandoned most of them as well. I’m not a user of Facebook (although I retain an account for developer privileges and access to their API) and I have joined and quit Twitter a handful of times.

The problem with all of them is that, in the most fundamental of ways, they are too noisy to be useful. Even on Twitter where I’ve tried to curate the folks that I follow I still get a ton of useless content in my stream and feed. I think the blame is equally shared across the board (e.g. the platform and my own decision making around utility) so I’m not bitter nor do I have a bone to pick with any of them.

But what I have been looking for since I started building software is a dedicated community for developers that allows me to have fun yet meaningful interactions around the work that I’m doing, the projects that I’m building, and the technology that powers it under the hood.

What does that look like? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest, but I imagine it would pull liberally from some of the best UX of existing systems and social networking apps and also allow developer-centric capabilities that none of those “best in breed” apps could ever provide.

I think there’s a unique opportunity to explore around social networking, open source projects, the technology that powers it in a relevant and contextually powerful way. A network and resource of information that you and I need as developers, project owners, and builders of the future.

In the coming few weeks I’m going to explore a bit more of these types of things and even have a new survey that I’d love for you to fill out (it’ll be painless, just like the last few!). We, as developers, have just as much of a need for social networking as everyone else and yet, for whatever reason, we’ve never been fully served as a community.

I think we should change that.

Also published on Medium.

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