Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 11:25 AM

The magic of working together

I usually don't offer advice to people specifically, but in this case, software developer Joshua Schachter asked, and I had an answer ready, so I did offer some advice.

The question: "What should I do for 2015? Join bigco, become professional investor, start a new thing?"

I said: "Build something that's compatible with another developer's work."

  1. I've been preaching this for most of my career.

  2. It's okay to be a developer. Even after a success. Imagine if the Beatles, after touring the US in 1964, decided to become professional investors or join a bigco? We'd never have had Revolver, Sgt Pepper's, the White Album, etc. Why should you stop developing just because you had a success? You're good at it. Don't you like creating new software? If so, why not do more?

  3. Does it have to be in the context of a company? In other creative things, people don't think in terms of companies. Collaborations are great. Actors, writers, directors, editors team up to make a movie. Sure there are companies involved, but the creative act isn't thought of as a corporate thing (I know some people will say it is, you're entitled to your opinion too.) There's something to be said for writing on your own. You get to do it at your own pace. Go back and re-factor to create a better foundation. Your second hit can be something you do slowly and carefully. Or if you get inspired, you can do it in a weekend. You have freedom now you didn't have the first time around.

  4. The magic of compatibility between products, that's a big part of what I do this for. All the great stuff is built around agreements between developers to let users move data between the products. It's not always because the people are visionaries or idealists, sometimes it just happens that way. Schachter's past developments benefitted from the compatibility the web offered in the 1990s (he developed, the first popular web-based bookmark manager).

  5. Users are excited about developers working together. Especially now. We're at the end of a cycle that evolved into very big silos. It's really incredibly easy to bootstrap a new layer, just takes a few developers, working independently, deciding to work together. If you haven't got anything better to do, why not indulge in doing something outrageously powerful? Might not make you the most money. But all good art is motivated by something other than money, again my opinion.

  6. I spent a couple of days recently working on a collaboration between two longtime friends, David Weinberger and Doc Searls, authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto. The project will come out soon. When I mentioned this on Facebook on Jan 1, there was so much support for the idea. And we were able to make something that would have other uses beyond this one project. Just by following the software where it led us. It may not be that information wants to be free, but software does. Working together, building on each others' strengths, if you can do it, is incredibly rewarding.

  7. I would gladly plug my stuff into Josh's project if he does one. He (or anyone else) could plug into mine by supporting RSS or OPML, or just flavors of JSON. Lots of ways to hook up. I added support for the Facebook API in two days. I use Twitter identity in most of my web apps. Fargo hooks into Dropbox.

PS: This piece was cross-posted on Facebook.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:08 AM

By Dave Winer, Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 11:25 AM. Don't slam the door on the way out.