📻 — The Fundamentals of Building Anything on the Internet — Especially Community!

Good morning yenizens!

A bunch of great links before we jump today

  1. Schoolhouse.world is being built by Sal Khan
  2. Modern tech jobs in Japan via Japan Dev
  3. Grapevine is async meetings; need a mentor; new CMS for content.
  4. The feeling of that “first” donation via Gourav Goyal
  5. GitHub is in Iran, “The Workers Team” on Discord (for AWS)
  6. Code CEO on the maker generation (video)
  7. VS Code and Stripe? Yes. Pitch-deck template? Yes.
  8. LT Browser for cross-platform mobile testing.
  9. Remnote: Thinking, learning workspace.
  10. RendezView: Smart collaborative workspaces.

It gets harder and harder to choose which links to share since there are so many, every single day!

To infinity & community,

— john

I’ve been a software programmer for 20+ years now and I feel as if I’ve just started to scratch the surface of how to build great products, design them in a way that maximizes empathy, and delivers value quickly without confusion.

I still have a long way to go.

In fact, even as I say this, I’m thinking about a myriad of ways that I can improve in all of those departments on our current test-drive (thank you to our nearly 100 alpha testers!) — our work never ends!

(Want to join us? I could use your help! More details at the bottom…)

But one thing that has changed over the many years is the that I’m no longer as obsessed with the field of computer engineering and hardcore software development where I’d spend every waking moment trying to further my awareness of even more arcane and esoteric subjects.

Instead I’m finding greater pleasure in learning about things that most people already know, especially in fields where my own personal ignorance is large, obvious, and growing.

Say, for instance, learning more about kulning (so amazing!) or learning more about how to play the cello.

Naturally I will always love the field of programming — who can forget their first love?! — but I have lost interest in becoming l33t and instead I love more the opportunities to read from committed craftsmen who continue to pursue software engineering excellence as a lifelong vocation.

A recent example of this is via Joel Goldberg and his notes on four decades of software engineering is as fun as it is invigorating. But don’t miss the the real truth about “the fundamentals” of how things really get done.

In fact — as you might imagine — these nuggets of real wisdom and truth apply to every vocation and industry, even and especially the community leadership / community data space:

Technology constantly changes, but some fundamental approaches to software development transcend these trends. Here are six fundamentals that will continue to be relevant for a long time.

Joel Goldberg

Here are the six:

  1. Teamwork — Great teams build great software. Don’t take teamwork for granted.
  2. Trust — Teams move at the speed of trust. Be the kind of dependable person you would want to work with.
  3. Communication — Communicate honestly and proactively. Avoid the curse of knowledge.
  4. Seek Consensus — Take the time to bring your whole team along. Let discussion and disagreement bring you to the best solution.
  5. Automated Testing —  Well-tested code allows your team to move fast with confidence.
  6. Clean, understandable, and navigable code and design — Think of the next engineer that will take over your code as your customer.  Build code that your successor won’t have any trouble reading, maintaining, and updating.

There are many other gems as well but feel free to swap out “community” for “software” above and you’ll know them to be true:

  • Great teams build great community; it’s not a solo act! Find partners, co-creators, folks who will build with you.
  • Communities grow and move at the speed of trust. Build this in as a core component of your culture.
  • Great communities have clear, unambiguous, and well-designed communication channels that increase the speed and delivery of value.
  • Great communities make space for discussion for spirited and respectful disagreement. More than just a “safe” space but a “default space“.
  • Great communities have an obvious space for knowledge (sharing), culture documentation, a handbook, rules, and perhaps even a code of conduct. I discuss a bunch of that in building a community operating system.

The point is this: The most important lesson that I’ve ever learned when it comes to building a career in software engineering and community leadership is that the fundamentals of building anything revolve around who before anything (and everything) else.

In other words, if you can’t get the right people on your team (and in your community, especially a new / starter one), in your organization, or around you in your life… you won’t succeed. Period. If you’re building a CommSaaS — a community-centric product or technology service — this is the only way to do it because community is where you start.

It’s so obvious that it feels a bit weird repeating, even for community-minded professionals! But I’ll do it one more time: Building software, creating technology, and launching communities are still — and forever more — fundamentally about the people involved, how they communicate and build trust, and whether or not they are aligned around a shared goal, mission, and/or objective.

This is a principle of life, a default operating system that has come pre-installed into all of us, not just in the software that we use and build.

Make sure you’re working with the very best this year! Make sure you’re building with other builders, not just folks who are talking about building stuff. Make sure you choose wisely your communities and relationships as your very future depends on it my friends.

I love you all so much and I want all of you to win this year! Please let me know how I can help.

If you’d like to help us test-drive our new technology platform for community builders we’d love your help! We’re looking to 10 folks to join us this month — here are two important, high-level requirements:

  1. This is an early, working version of our platform! Help us identify bugs and work out the kinks! For instance, it’s desktop-only for now; mobile is coming!
  2. We’re looking for active creators, business / community builders. Meaning, you’re already working on a project that you intend to grow, monetize, and support throughout 2021 (and beyond).


To apply, provide an overview of your project in a comment! Please include any and all details that would help us understand what you’re building, your commitment level, and your current progress! Include an email address and we’ll start a convo

We’ll review them this week and send out invites soon!