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Aino Vonge Corry | Gotopia Bookclub Episode • December 2020

2020 has indeed been a different year. Many good things have happened, but the year has also shown that the world needs us more than ever. Software has a huge global impact and power and responsibility should go hand in hand, which unfortunately is not always the case. We've chatted with Martin Fowler, Richard Feldman, Mike Amundsen, Dave Thomas, Erik Schön, Saša Jurić, Casey Rosenthal, and Aino Vonge Corry about what was good in 2020 and how we can make 2021 better.

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2020 has indeed been a different year. Many good things have happened, but the year has also shown that the world needs us more than ever. Software has a huge global impact, and power and responsibility should go hand in hand, which unfortunately is not always the case. We've chatted with Martin FowlerRichard FeldmanMike AmundsenDave ThomasErik SchönSaša JurićCasey Rosenthal, Andy Hunt and Aino Vonge Corry about what was good in 2020 and how we can make 2021 better.

What would you be doing instead of being in this conversation?

Aino Vonge Corry: Thank you very much, Preben. Welcome to everybody. I've been looking so much forward to this. So we're going to do some sort of a retrospective over 2020 to learn something for 2021. And first, I'd like to ask all of you to answer perhaps a short question. So I'll just call out your names and let you answer one by one.


So, Casey, we'll start with you. If you weren't here with us at this hour, what would you be doing instead?

Casey Rosenthal: I would be outside because it's quite a lovely day here. And I would be out enjoying the unusual weather for this part of North Maine. It's almost 60 degrees out and sunny. I'm lucky enough to be on the ocean right now. So not too interesting. I would just be outside.

Aino Vonge Corry: I hope it's not Celsius.

Casey Rosenthal: Sorry. That's 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Aino Vonge Corry: Okay. Yeah. Erik, I guess you wouldn't be outside if you weren't here?

Erik Schön: Well, it depends a bit. I mean, Stockholm is quite dark and cold these days. So I'll probably be on a Zoom call or a Meetup call with a customer or someone on my team this hour of day.

all speakers - What would you be doing?

Aino Vonge Corry: Okay, so almost the same.

Erik Schön: Yes.

Aino Vonge Corry: So Mike, what would you be doing if you weren't here?

Michael Amundsen: I would probably be working on a writing project, doing some research, reading. I was doing that just before we got on the call. And I'll probably keep doing that right after. That's occupied a lot of my time this year.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yeah. Dave, what would you be doing?

Dave Thomas: Well, believe it or not, I am working on a teddy bear.

Aino Vonge Corry: Oh, you are?

Dave Thomas: Yeah. So far I'm up to 18 threads operating various parts of this teddy bear. And it's proven to be quite an interesting exercise in actor model and concurrency and trying to get things synchronized.

Aino Vonge Corry: You always learn something, don't you? What about you, Richard? Are you making teddy bears as well?

Richard Feldman: No, I'd most likely be interviewing someone. I work at NoRedInk. We make software for English teachers, and we're hiring SRE and full-stack people right now. And because we use less common technologies like Elm and Haskell, and Nix, we get a lot of applicants. I've just been spending a lot of time interviewing them lately. It's been a lot of fun.

Aino Vonge Corry: Okay. Well, almost the same then I'd say. Saša, what about you?

Saša Jurić: Well, I will be probably wrapping up my job — it's about half-past 5 p.m. here — and then go for a short walk outside. It's not as warm as in some other parts here, but it's still good enough to take a stroll.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yeah. Martin, last but not least, what would you be doing if you weren't here?

Martin Fowler: Well, I've got a bunch of articles that are being worked on by my colleagues. So I'm doing a bunch of reviewing and suggestions, and I guess what you'd call developmental editing. Been doing quite a lot of that the last few years, and so I put other people's stuff onto my site. So I'll be doing that. Then at some point, I will go outside for a walk. And sadly, the trees have all gone. So it no longer looks like this, which it did just a month or so ago. I have at least some photos to remind me of what it looked like.

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What are the positive things that happened in 2020?

Aino Vonge Corry: That is beautiful. Thank you all of you. So my next question as I warned you about is: what are positive things that happened in 2020 that we might be able to take with us or we can learn something from? And I'm just going to take the round again. So, what are the positive things that happened in 2020 we can take with us?

Casey Rosenthal: That's a pretty deep question. I don't know. I live in the United States, so the election results going in one particular direction are positive, assuming that that plays out the way that it should in January, knock on wood. On a personal note, my "Chaos Engineering" book came out. And our business Verica is doing great. So despite the macroeconomic circumstances, my team at least has been extremely lucky, again, knock on wood. And none of us have caught COVID that we know of.

Aino Vonge Corry: That's great. Yes, well, so far.

Casey Rosenthal: Yes.

Aino Vonge Corry: That's great. Thank you. What about you, Erik? Could you name some positive things in 2020?

Erik Schön: Yes, I think the whole Wardley mapping movement for visualizing strategy is gaining a lot of momentum, I mean, democratizing, if that's an English word. Making strategy democratic, in the sense that everyone can do it. It's not only the Big Five consulting companies. So I think that's a lot of good momentum there. I'm really happy to see the map conferences online with several thousand people joining. There's a lot of good things there, and that can help us all from deep tech-up to the business, and help us all talk about important things and make important decisions together using these fantastic, beautiful, powerful tools called Wardley Maps.

Aino Vonge Corry: So everybody can be happy with Wardley maps in 2021. Thank you. And Mike, anything positive happening in 2020?

Michael Amundsen: Yes. I think on a personal level, for me, I travel quite a bit. I would typically be gone 40 weeks a year, traveling around the world learning from all sorts of people. Of course, in 2020 I didn't travel much at all, my last trip was on...I returned on March 6th, and I haven't been anywhere else but my local community, since. It reminded me of how nice it is to stay local. I've spent more time in the local community, with my family, with friends here. And of course, safely distancing and everything else. I actually enjoy not being on a flight two or three times a week. So I think that's been positive for me.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes. I agree with that. Thank you. Dave, positive things?

Dave Thomas: I second the travel thing, except, I have to say, just looking at the screen in front of me, I really, really, really miss the green room and meeting up with all you guys. It's kind of depressing just how much my social life revolves around green rooms and cups of coffee. Anyway.

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I think another positive thing for me, this year, has been reflecting on how technology has actually, in some ways, saved the world. That without the... I mean, we're sitting here on a video call that has probably a total of maybe 40,000 miles worth of distance between people just chatting quite naturally as if it was okay, this is what we do now. That would be unimaginable 10 years ago, 20 years ago. And what's making it happen, much of it, is software. So I think we need to think hard about just how much good these toys that we've built have ended up doing for everybody. Obviously, there's also been bad which we can talk about next. I mean, I think we can actually focus on the good and celebrate that a little bit and maybe blow our own tomes just a bit and make the world aware of the fact that, yes, we're not just people that wear pocket projectors and play Dungeons & Dragons.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes. It's very easy to play Dungeons & Dragons with people around the world with the technology that we built for it. It's a circle. Yeah, Richard, anything positive?

Richard Feldman: Yes. I mean, on the one hand, I definitely also agree with the missing making trips to other places like conferences. There's a whole group of friends I have that I only see at conferences, because they're also speakers in the same kinds of things, and I miss them.

I will say a positive thing that's happened is that I am making a lot of connections, a lot of deeper connections with people that I ordinarily would not for geographic regions have a chance to make connections with. So most weekends in 2020, I've gotten in the habit of doing pair programming with people from all over the place, just people working on the same kinds of side projects that I am. That's people from not just all over the U.S., but all over the world when at least the time zone's permit. It's just been amazing to get to know those people better and to make a deeper connection with them. I know that normally, pre-pandemic, I had all the technology to do that but I didn't, because I would instead do things more locally in my community, etc. Now that I'm spending more time indoors, that sort of the downside of spending the time with them has decreased. It's been a positive thing. And I think that is the silver lining to less in-person contact is we can make other contacts that we wouldn't ordinarily make.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes, that's true. Thank you for reminding me because that's what I thought as well. Oh, now I can talk to people that I never get to talk to, but I forget to invite them. It's a good point. Thank you. Saša, anything positive in 2020?

all speakers - Positive things from 2020

Saša Juric: Yes. Well, I think that as a consequence of the COVID situation. The good thing is that remote working has finally been making huge breaks. So prior to this year, there was a lot of pushback against that, especially in larger corporations. And now, obviously, there was no choice but to somehow make it work. I talk with some friends — I have been working remotely for like six years — but some of my friends were working at larger companies, so they had to go to the office and now they're able to work from home. They're enjoying it. What's interesting is that their management says that they will continue to do so even after the situation normalizes, so people have learned, and companies have learned, and management has learned that you can actually make this work.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes. That might be good for everybody's private social lives, and maybe also for the environment. Yeah. Martin, again, last, anything positive in 2020?

Martin Fowler: Yes, well, on a purely personal front, definitely the not having to travel, has been wonderful. I mean, I've spent now — pretty much the whole of last year — I have not changed time zone, not been on an airplane. That has not happened since I was in my 20s, which was a long time ago. And that's been really good because I don't like to travel. And also, frankly, I speak at conferences, and I hate speaking at conferences. So that's been a plus as well. I like meeting up with people at conferences, but the actual getting on stage and giving talks, I hate it. And not having to do that. I had to do a few online things. I think they're actually worse, but I haven't had to do as many of them. So I suppose that's a positive.

More broadly, unless egotistically focused. I think, one of the positive things for me was seeing how rapidly we were able to move our client base to work in a remote fashion as rapidly as we did. I mean, at ThoughtWorks, we've got a bit of an early warning, because we have quite an extensive operation in China. So we got to see exactly what had happened in China as the virus hit early and what kind of coping mechanisms needed to be put in place, both for ourselves and for our clients. The latter point's important because we have been doing a lot of video calls like this since about 2011, 2012 when the video tech got good enough that we could operate globally. It's the only way you can manage a global organization of our size — was doing a lot of video calls — but our clients weren't used to it. And so we learned a good bit from China.

Then there was a very rapid period of a few weeks as the virus really hit in Europe and North America where we were rapidly shifting, and we were able to get most of our client work over to that. And although we were worried that we were going to see, oh my God, this huge economic chaos and feared layoffs and that kind of thing, it hasn't happened. We've managed to… we haven't been growing as much as usual but we have actually stayed stable and that has a lot to do, I think, with getting clients more comfortable even with the very highly collaborative style of software development that we do. We put a lot of focus on in-person inceptions and pair programming and very collaborative exercises. Trying to get those working remotely is obviously a good bit more challenging than a less collaborative organization would have found, but we were able to pull it off. That has really pleased me because I think that will change the balance in the future. 

I don't agree with people who say, "Oh, that's it. The end of in-office working. We're all going to be remote-first in the future." I suspect that's not going to happen. I think there will be a rebalancing. And that rebalancing will shift significantly towards remote working in a way that's probably faster than it would have occurred in the past.

What was the downside of 2020

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes. So we'll have an opportunity to look at it from both sides and see the positives and negatives instead of just defaulting to one thing. Okay, thank you very much, everybody. And now, in the last round, I'm going to ask you about something negative from 2020. I know it's hard to think of anything negative in 2020, but try. Casey, you go first.

Casey Rosenthal: Wow. So I think what stands out to me that actually isn't the pandemic, it's that 2020 highlighted how quickly the gap is increasing between people who have economic and educational stability and those who don't. Daves, you talked about how software can… it's helping us survive this pandemic. And, Richard, I know you work in education. Again, I'm in the U.S. Half this country apparently doesn't believe in science. 50% of people here say that they won't take a vaccine when it becomes available, because they don't trust it. The results of the election, the income inequality that's becoming more apparent. There's a gap that the wealth transfer over the past year to the billionaire class has been unprecedented. And, yes, if those problems aren't solved, then I don't think any of us are going to really recognize what society looks like in a few years. Certainly, it won't be pleasant. So we've got a lot of negative warning signs of what's headed our way if we don't address them now.

Aino Vonge Corry: Definitely. I like how you have the Death Star behind you just to sort of put it all...

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Casey Rosenthal: That's on Zoom. I'm not sure if people seeing the recording will see that, they'll just see a green screen. Preben, you'll have to put that in.

Aino Vonge Corry: Oh sorry. Or edit me out. Right, thank you, Casey. Erik Schön?

Erik Schön: Yes, I mean, as you said, Dave, we can really be proud of all the work that software is doing in empowering us to work remotely and do these kinds of pair programming remotely, conferences remotely, all these things. Still, personally, I miss the people, I miss the interactions, the face-to-face, and the serendipity of being at a conference and going into the hallway tracks and that kind of thing. I really, really miss it badly. I mean, we've been all remote since March 12th in our company, and it works really well. We've met once since then. We went to a picnic in September. Apart from that, we've been following the recommendations, working remotely, work from home. For me, personally, I really miss the kind of social bonding, the chats around the water cooler, the fikas as we have in Sweden with the coffee breaks, those kinds of things. I mean, I really, really miss it. I want to have it back.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yeah, plus one. Mike?

all speakers - Negative things from 2020

Michael Amundsen: Yes, I think from a negative standpoint, I really experienced this year, and I think all of us probably have some version of William Gibson's quote, "The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." Some of us have weathered this situation fairly well. Others have weathered it very terribly. And that's been affecting my family, my extended family, as well as everyone around the world.

So I think one of the things that I was sort of faced with this year is that inequality, that lack of even distribution, and the fact that we live in a pretty fragile system, at least in the U.S. I mean, lots of things like toilet paper suddenly went missing in March and April. These are silly kinds of things. All sorts of things didn't work well and still don't work well. I was sort of reminded about that. I think, hopefully, there'll be a lot of lessons that we can take forward. This year has been a pretty big reminder of how many things don't work as well as I had kind of assumed they had. And that was a surprise to me.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes. Agree. Dave?

Dave Thomas: Yes, I think picking up on Casey's point about the lack of "reality" that some people feel. I think my biggest disappointment is that there has not emerged a leadership from the technical community that has put some of the misconceptions right. Right now, the tech community is being represented by Twitter and Facebook. That's not what we do. That's not what we are. So I'm very disappointed that we have not taken an opportunity to try to explain to everybody what's involved in what we do, for example, this voting machine chaos, right? I have no idea whether or not voting machines are flawed. I know that it would be possible to audit and to describe to people in kind of objective terms what's going on. And yet, we're not doing that. So in all of these areas where we're leaving it up to individuals to decide what's true, and what's false, we could do better than that. And that's really depressing me.

Aino Vonge Corry: That's a very good point. Yeah. Richard?

Richard Feldman: Yes. So as somebody who works in EdTech, teachers are getting hammered by the pandemic. I mean, it's really, really rough. It's difficult to overstate how much of a disruption it's been, and how even six-plus months into this thing, I mean, we're like nine months now, it's still chaos. Everything is totally disrupted and way harder for them than it should be. I'm glad that I'm able to help make that better with the software, making software for teachers. It's heartbreaking to see something as important as the institution of education just be in such a bad spot. And hopefully, the pandemic will be over and things can go back to a more stable place. It's really been eye-opening in an unequivocally negative way for me, just to see how hard things are for the entire class of teachers right now, and not to say nothing of students and parents who are also dealing with it from the other side.

Aino Vonge Corry: Definitely, yes. As if it wasn't hard enough for teachers already.

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Richard Feldman: Yes.

Aino Vonge Corry: Saša?

Saša Juric: Well, so on a personal level, I would say what some colleagues mentioned as positive, it's the lack of travel. So I personally don't travel that much. And I really miss that. It was really fun to visit new places, to meet new people and hang out. And in general, of course, the lack of socializing. I guess, on a broader level, what I find really depressing as a consequence of COVID but, I mean, it was clear before that as well is the fact that so many people just reject facts and science. They just believe some crazy theories they found on the internet without any arguments or any logical reason. I guess that was always the case. I think this year, it has been more evident than ever, and it's something that as humanity maybe, we need to think about how we can fix that.

Aino Vonge Corry: Thank you. Martin?

Martin Fowler: Yes. Well, it's a big list, isn't it, of things to be worried about in 2020, not just COVID? I mean, as people have said, the difficulties of political polarization and nobody's even mentioned global warming, which is sort of still the ticking time bomb that will make COVID look really like an amateur. So it's easy to take that negative look. On the other hand, I remember when I was in my 20s, thinking, I probably wouldn't make it to my 30s because we'd have blown each other up with nuclear bombs by then. We can kind of smile a little bit at that. There was that definite feeling, that that was a very likely outcome.

I mean, one of the things I do for fun is read history books, and I've always been very much a history reader. And recently, I've been reading a book about American politics in the '70s. It's easy to forget how horribly polarized and nasty things were then and how bad the situation was on top of what looked like a really much more deep and permanent economic malaise than we feel now. When you kind of look back, it does give you a better sense of perspective. And perhaps a sense of, well, maybe we'll find some way of muddling through this because we've muddled through things that in many ways looked worse at the time that they were in.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes, good point. Yes, it's good to take it all a little bit into perspective, because we completely forgot about global warming, because there are other things. That's how we are as humans, we can only actually focus on one thing at a time. We're not as good at multitasking as we believe we are.

Andy Hunt: We've always said that you should refactor continuously and fix any broken windows as soon as they occur because you know what is going to happen tomorrow. I think that 2020 has really brought that point home for us. We are terrible at predicting the future, especially in years like this. The future is wild and unpredictable. You don't know that you are going to have a chance later, that you will have time, that you won't be involved in other projects, that you will be able to go into the office.

So you have to code like there is no tomorrow. Don't leave things broken thinking I will get to it later because you might not have a later to get to so now is good.

Aino Vonge Corry: If I look at the things that you said, the positive and negative things, there's a lot about being more focused on where you are traveling less, but also the back side of that, Martin, is missing the people, the conference friends, I definitely do that as well. Speaking, interacting with people for real.

Then there's a possibility that remote working is giving us remote meetings with one person or remote talking to people on the other side of the world. Then, I think that there's… it seemed like there's a red line between the things that were bad, and that is, we are all part of the technological future, and it's in a technological current status. We all appreciate the enormous responsibility that we as a tech community hold for everything. And for all the things we said tech played a huge role. It was for the teachers teaching, for people knowing, what are the facts and what is the science? And for not having this gap between people. Also, the interesting thing about who's actually speaking on behalf of the tech community. It seems like we don't have anybody who takes that responsibility in saying, "This is what tech is. This is how it works." I guess there are some YouTube videos here and there. It's interesting to think if there could be some sort of a board or something like that, who could say, "Listen, folks, this is what is possible. And this is what is not possible."

I see it in very, very micro details when I have a team that develops software for a customer, and we have the customer looking at what has happened and what we can plan to do. Then if they see a tiny thing changed, then they say, oh, that couldn't have taken very long. And then when you ask the developers, it took a week to change that thing. Then there are other things that they think are huge or impossible and that will take an hour. And that understanding would be interesting to get out to people.

What shall we learn from 2020?

So what should we learn? Now we're moving into the gentle, laid back conversation. So now you can decide who's talking.

Richard Feldman: Go ahead, Dave.

Dave Thomas: No, no, no, I was just laying back.

Richard Feldman: I was going to say, one thing that has sort of come into focus for me is that there are levels of connection in the way that we communicate. So I think of like, text: there's a lot of pros and cons to the medium, but it's not as much of a connection as voice. And voice is not quite as much of a connection as voice and video, which in turn is not quite as much of a connection as in-person. I'm using sort of not quite generously there. Just not having the ability to connect with people in person has really sort of driven home to me just how different these levels of connection are. It's a nice reminder that on the one hand, there are some obvious upsides to a lot of the technology that we make, but there are also some obvious limitations. I mean, it's great that we're able to have this conversation right now, which by default, we would not be able to have at all without technology. At the same time, I think we would all be having a deeper level of connection with each other if we were in the same room somehow having a connection. So it's interesting for those trade-offs to come into focus.

Dave Thomas: Do you think that's a generational thing? Because when I look at my kids who many of their friends, even before this happened, were online. Actually, when I was a kid, we used to go out and actually meet with our friends, they very rarely get in the car and go somewhere and see somebody. I'm wondering if that's actually generational, whether or not the 20 year olds actually are feeling the same kind of stress from this, compared to us 1000-year-old people?

Michael Amundsen: Yes, I think that's really true. I experience that in the house, because I've got a multi-generational house again. So I've been watching a lot of that. I think we also have to keep in mind, we advanced the world through several centuries without any immediate connections across the pond, so to speak. You know, we've grown lots of things in our society and made lots of advances. So I think it is definitely generational and there may be some kind of circle or cycle about it, but I think, you know, one of the things that really struck me this year is how many different levels there are to things.

It turns out, I miss a lot of travel, but not all of the travel, to sort of echo what Martin Fowler said. There are certain things that, you know what, I won't go back and do again. There are other things that I will. So I begin to focus on, well, what's a meaningful trip for me? What's going to be a great experience? Who do I really want to see? Not, should I just go every single week to every conference that's available? So I think one of the things that I'm taking away from this is that I have a lot more control, I have a lot more choice than I thought I did. I can act on those choices. I think one of the gifts of technology in all sorts of aspects is the fact that we now do have more choices, we can choose to go visit people, or we can choose to go online. And of course, that choice to invoke Gibson again, the choice is not evenly distributed, a lot of people don't have that choice. I think that's the thing that really came up into my mind, as I'm listening to us talk about it. It started off with the whole idea of what we automate, what we don't automate. Let's make personal experiences valuable, and really heighten those, and let's automate the ones that don't need to be always in person. So there are lots of meetings I don't need to attend. There are lots of green rooms that I will be able to attend in the future.

all speakers - What should we learn from this?

Casey Rosenthal: Well, and getting back to the topic of tech leadership, a lot of those choices, those decisions that we're able to make, are because of who's even invited to the conversation, right. So I think one of the main contributing factors for why we don't see tech leadership is because companies like Twitter, and more so Facebook, Google and the rest of the FAANG companies, very specifically have missions for profitability, not for demonstrating leadership, or for changing the status quo. I mean, here, once again, we're a panel of mostly white men reviewing these subjects. Tech does a terrible job of inviting the right people to the conversation. If we don't have passion behind the solutions, we know what the solutions are, but if we don't put the passion behind it, to change that, then I don't think any of us are going to have a meaningful impact in a positive way.

Erik Schön: Hooking onto that, Casey, I think, we see some acts of leadership in the community. I'm really happy to see people like Jessica Kerr, and Kent Beck, and also Mel Conway, I mean, really, leading by example in talking about some kind of applied systems thinking. See the whole system and see the feedback loops and see what good they can do and what bad these can do. So I think those give me hope at least that there are some voices and, I mean, about looking at bigger things like climate change, or be it COVID, and things where we use that kind of simple methods of applied system thinking and use that not only for our tech stacks and our architectures but also for the socio-technical systems and what's going on there.

Michael Amundsen: Yes, I think to pick up on what you, Erik, were just saying and what Dave was saying earlier, I remember as a kid, and Martin may remember this too, on that labeling and you, but Union of Concerned Scientists, this organization that used to talk about the atomic bomb, they used to talk about the role that science plays, and how we need to be really careful. To pick up on what Dave's saying, maybe we need some kind of Union of Concerned Informatics or Union of Concerned Tech or something like that. Some group of people that do come out and speak on a regular basis and address the kinds of things that Erik's talking about, and that Casey is talking about, that Richard lives every day, like, who's affected by this? And what are we doing? And how are we making change possible, or reducing the number of people in the room rather than allowing or enabling more people in the room? So I think we have lots of opportunities there, too.

Richard Feldman: I think that sort of hits the nail on the head because I think in a lot of cases, there's a lot of concern, but not a lot of awareness outside of sort of the tech circles that that concern exists. When I talk to my parents, sometimes they'll ask me, "Hey, what do you think about this thing?" I'll be like, "Oh, well, everybody thinks that's a bad idea." Or, "Everybody is concerned about that," or something like that. When I say everybody, I mean, like all the tech people that I talk to. Why would my parents know that? That's not going to be on the evening news. That's not going to be in any of the information feeds that they are a part of. So yes, I don't have a prescription for what to do about that. I think you're right, that that is something more formal that we can all get behind and say, yeah, this is actually what we're in favor of, or what we're concerned about. Would go a long way towards alleviating that misperception that we all think exactly what Facebook and Google's public statements say.

Aino Vonge Corry: So right now there's the Netflix film called "The Social Dilemma." Have you seen that one, the one about social media and how it affects people?

Michael Amundsen: No.

Aino Vonge Corry: Well, maybe you should see it because also normal people are seeing it. And they are learning how Zoom is working or not working from that, I think it's called "The Social Dilemma." So I think it's both ways. It's not just us talking to them, but also, us looking at what is the information they get. And I found it interesting to see the “Social Dilemma” because all my friends had watched it, and I didn't want to watch it, because I already know. It's interesting to see what they are being fed.

Casey Rosenthal: I try not to watch Netflix, but I'm kidding since I used to work at Netflix. Again, we just have to be careful about who we mean by us. When we talk about setting up a board or organizations that speak on behalf of tech, we don't have the ratio of representation right. If we figure that out, equality is a better means of ensuring that there's a better discussion because of the voices that are present. It reminds me of the programs we have to address income inequality and poverty. And there are so many programs and organizations designed to alleviate poverty when it turns out, the best thing you can do to alleviate poverty is to give people money. Hands-down the best longitudinal results, you can get is just give poor people more money. We need more voices, more representational voices in this community. And a lot of the leadership problems, I think, we won't have to build institutions or procedures to enforce that.

Dave Thomas: Well, I think maybe we need to think about what is the post-modern equivalent of a board. Because the idea that there is a group of people who have been blessed somehow with the ability to speak on behalf of 4 million other people sounds a bit 1960s to me. Maybe what we need to be doing is to think about how we would organize something which is more "agile" than that. Something that has no center, but instead somehow is automatically representative, something you can trust simply because of the law of large numbers.

Aino Vonge Corry: Yes, like Wikipedia. I think that we have to pretend to say goodbye now, because I know that some people have to leave. So let's make the waving thing.


Dave Thomas: Bye.

Richard Feldman: Very nice talking to you all.

Aino Vonge Corry: Very nice talking to you.

Richard Feldman: Take care.

Michael Amundsen: Yes.

Dave Thomas: Thank God, he's leaving.

Aino Vonge Corry: So now you can edit that in until, I mean...

Michael Amundsen: For the appropriate moment. Yes.

Preben Thorø: Wonderful. Hey, thanks a lot. Thanks a lot for joining us. This is going to be the perfect Christmas gift this year.

Aino Vonge Corry: I hope so. I mean, we could have been talking for hours.

Michael Amundsen: Yes, absolutely.

Preben Thorø: Oh, yes, we could. And we should. I have said this before, I cannot wait until the day when we can finally meet in person again and actually take the time to discuss all this. I guess it's out of our hands right now.

Michael Amundsen: Yes, it's out of our hands in the big picture, but not in the small.

Preben Thorø: Exactly.

Michael Amundsen: Each of us can do what we need to do, and I think that's another thing that we didn't get to talk about. I think one of the things that I've learned this year is that we each have much more power, not just more choice, but more power to affect change than we're willing to accept. It's actually a huge responsibility that each of us carries. And it's been too easy for me to shirk that responsibility. It's too easy for me not to be faced with that every day. Thinking about what Dave's thinking about in terms of an agile representation, and what Casey Rosenthal is talking about in terms of making sure that there are more people in the room, more voices, more diversity. We all know this from every day that we work. That's a huge responsibility. And all of us have that responsibility every single day. So that's been a call to action for me. I think that's one of the things I've learned better this year than in past years. I appreciate it. I appreciate all of you.

Preben Thorø: That's a wonderful statement to conclude this conversation.

Michael Amundsen: Ok, I think there are probably lots of other wonderful ones too.

Preben Thorø: Thanks a lot.

Michael Amundsen: Great to see everyone. Thank you.

Dave Thomas: Thanks, everybody.

Michael Amundsen: Thanks for putting this together.

Maria Wennestam: Thank you so much.

Casey Rosenthal: Thank you.

Michael Amundsen: All right. Bye-bye.

Casey Rosenthal: Bye, everyone.

Preben Thorø: Bye.

Saša Juric: Bye.

Martin Fowler: Bye.

Dave Thomas: I didn't get to say hello properly, Aino. Hello, Aino.

Aino Vonge Corry: Hi, Dave. It's great to see you again.

Dave Thomas: You too. You too. Maybe, maybe see you next year sometime.

Aino Vonge Corry: I hope so, really. Yes. We're hoping for that. We're planning for that.

Preben Thorø: I'll do my best.

Dave Thomas: All right, everyone. Take care. See you later.

Aino Vonge Corry: You too. Bye.

Preben Thorø: Thanks a lot.

Maria Wennestam: Bye Dave.

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About the authors

Erik Schön is an executive and strategist who has successfully developed and deployed strategy for over 20 years in small, medium and large enterprises. Hacker turned software researcher turned system engineer turned manager and leader turned navigator, speaker and writer, Erik has led large, global R&D organizations in complex product development. He is the author of "The Art of Strategy".

Richard Feldman is the author of Elm in Action from Manning Publications and the instructor for the front-end masters 2-day Elm workshop. When he’s not writing about Elm, teaching Elm, speaking about Elm or co-hosting the San Francisco Elm meetup, he likes to take a break from his job of writing Elm code full-time as an engineer at NoRedInk by kicking back and working on some of his open-source Elm projects. Some have said he’s “into Elm,” but he’s not sure where they got that wild idea.

Dave Thomas is a cornerstone of the Ruby community, and is personally responsible for many of its innovative directions and initiatives. Dave is a programmer, and now he is an accidental publisher. He wrote "The Pragmatic Programmer" with Andy Hunt at the end of the '90s, and that experience opened a new world for them. They discovered a love of writing that complemented their love of learning new things. Dave is one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto, and he is probably responsible for bringing Ruby to attention of Western developers with the book Programming Ruby. He was one of the first adopters of Rails, and helped spread the word with the book Agile Web Development with Rails. He enjoys speaking at conferences, running public and private training. But most of all, he loves coding.

Andy Hunt is an avid woodworker and musician, but curiously he's more in demand as a consultant. He's worked in telecommunications, banking, financial services and utilities, as well as more exotic fields such as medical imaging, graphic arts, and Internet services. Andy specializes in blending tried-and-true techniques with leading-edge technologies, creating novel -- but practical -- solutions. Andy is an independent consultant based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Casey Rosenthal is the co-founder and CEO at Verica. As an Executive Manager and Senior Architect, Casey manage teams to tackle Big Data, architect solutions to difficult problems, and train others to do the same. He seek opportunities to leverage his experience with distributed systems, artificial intelligence, translating novel algorithms and academia into working models, and selling a vision of the possible to clients and colleagues alike. His superpower is transforming misaligned teams into high performance teams, and his personal mission is to help people see that something different, something better, is possible. For fun, Casey models human behavior using personality profiles in Ruby, Erlang, Elixir, Prolog and Scala. He is the co-author of "Chaos Engineering: System Resiliency in Practice".

Martin Fowler is an author, speaker, consultant and general loud-mouth on software development. I concentrate on designing enterprise software - looking at what makes a good design and what practices are needed to come up with good design. I've been a pioneer of various topics around object-oriented technology and agile methods, and written several books including "Refactoring", "UML Distilled", "Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture", and "NoSQL Distilled". For the last decade, I've worked at ThoughtWorks, a really good system delivery and consulting firm.

Mike Amundsen is an internationally known author and speaker, Mike Amundsen travels the world consulting and talking about network architecture, Web development, and the intersection of technology and society. He works with companies large and small to help them capitalize on the opportunities APIs and microservices present for both consumers and the enterprise.

Amundsen has authored numerous books and papers. He contributed to the O'Reilly Media book Continuous API Management (2018). His RESTful Web Clients was published by O'Reilly in February 2017, and he co-authored Microservice Architecture (June 2016). Amundsen's 2013 collaboration with Leonard Richardson RESTful Web APIs and his 2011 book Building Hypermedia APIs with HTML5 and Node are common references for building adaptable Web applications. His latest book Design and Build Great APIs for Pragmatic Publishing.

Saša Juric is an Elixir mentor helping companies with the adoption of Elixir. He has many years of experience building server systems, as well as desktop applications using various languages and technologies. For the past nine years, his focus has been on building backend systems using Elixir and Erlang. He is the author of Elixir in Action, and an occasional blogger at theerlangelist.com.

About the speakers

Aino Vonge Corry
Aino Vonge Corry

Author of "Retrospectives Antipatterns"