This is cool. I've written letters about this in local (not available online) and international (October 2006) publications, it's great to see some serious action from people who might make something happen. The quality of life here is superb. There is a small but enthusiastic pool of talent. If you have a spectacular business idea; don't need too much funding; and the VC environment in Silicon Valley, NYC, Austin, Atlanta, or Chicago is too much of a freak show: come here.
Time magazine has a refeshingly hype-free short article about 37signals . Half of the company works remotely. First, kill all your meetings; they waste employees' time. "Interruption is the biggest enemy of productivity," he says. "We stay away from each other as much as we can to get more stuff done." Use asynchronous communication and software instead to exchange information, ideas and solutions. Next, dump half your projects to focus on the core of your business. Too much time and effort are wasted on second-tier objectives. Third, let your employees decide when and where to work so they can be both efficient and happy. As long as their fingers are near a keyboard, they could as easily be in Caldwell, Idaho, as in Chicago. At Socialtext where I work, most of the company works remotely. Socialtext sells wikis, and internally, the entire company lives, breathes, and evolves on wikis. The part about asynchronous (PUBLIC) communication is right on. Not
Apropos of my software-as-music analogy, Jonathan Kohl has another nice non-manufacturing metaphor, software development as theater . It makes a lot of sense, especially since Jonathon's point is actually about the value of improvisation in the course of developing and testing software. In software, improvisation saves time and creates new opportunities. On the factory floor or in the supply chain, improvisation is a disruption and causes chaos.
I'm starting a blog for the work I'm beginning do at Socialtext . It'll mostly be concerned with wikis , Selenium , FireWatir , Perl, and maybe a little Ruby. I'll probably be posting to this one a little less often, but you're welcome to read the other one if you'd like. A lot of the Socialtext development staff are keeping open work blogs, so mine fits right in.
Brian Marick gives a very well-reasoned and well-researched talk on the state of agile development. In it he compares agile teams to monks. I've never liked this analogy (see the comments) and on several occasions I've suggested that agile teams are much more like jazz bands. The most important differences for me are that unlike agile teams, monks a) do the same thing in the same way over and over and b) don't have audiences. And now I've found the perfect musical agile counterexample . This is Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie doing the song One O'Clock Jump. The song is a twelve-bar blues, which is the jazz equivalent of a database app with a UI. By which I mean: just as every programmer has built a database app with a UI, every American musician has played twelve-bar blues. It is a framework on which many many many songs are hung, from Count Basie to Jimi Hendrix to the Ramones. This particular video is a great example of agile practice. Listen to
Watir Project Manager Charley Baker is blogging . First post is an example of driving scriptaculous AJAX with Watir. I know that Charley is doing really big, nifty things with Watir and Ruby. I'm looking forward to reading about them.