For the latest episode of the Distinguished Devs podcast, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Atwood.
Jeff Atwood is the co-founder of Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange, the founder of Discourse, and the author of one of the most popular software blogs, CodingHorror.
Without Jeff, Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange simply would not exist. In addition to being an experienced programmer, Jeff has a lot of insight about the software community, how programmers interact, and how we learn.
In this interview we talk about how StackOverflow started, his experiences with blogging, his observations of online communities and motivation & learning.
You can listen to the Distinguished Devs podcast here, as well as on iTunes, Soundcloud (embedded at the bottom) or the podcast platform of your choice, but I'll summarise/paraphrase some of my favourite parts below.
Some of my favourite parts of the interview:
Jeff believes in converting yourself to the philosophy of "public by default". Every time you learn or observe something, why not share it? The act of writing and blogging is like exercise, and if you do it regularly (more than once a week), over time you will accumulate a following. Jeff's blog, one of the most popular software blogs on the internet, receives millions of views, and was the starting point for his idea of Stack Overflow.
Stack Overflow was originally launched to help experienced programmers find answers to targeted questions efficiently. As it grew, it came under pressure to serve beginner programmers better and to teach people how to code. In the interview Jeff discusses the tradeoffs and design decisions to appeal to the largest user base possible, whilst keeping its high quality content - even if perhaps at the expense of "friendliness".
Jeff says that sometimes, to progress with your software career, you have to stop writing code. It's hard for many programmers - as soon as you get really good at something you have to stop doing it. But Jeff explains it by simply saying: the next level of abstraction is natural language - communicating with other humans.
I personally enjoyed chatting to Jeff tremendously and would genuinely recommend listening to the full episode.
The Distinguished Devs podcast is available on iTunes, Spotify etc.
I hope you enjoy this episode, please let me know what you think!
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