Failed in Public

Created by Wes Eklund, Software Development Engineer at Amazon Web Services
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What everyone's up to

Aug 25, 2021
Merged first Pull Request
Learning In Public
Failed in public
+ 1
After a few fits and starts, I finally merged my first PR at dutchie! While the PR was some simple refactoring and rearranging of files, it was a great way to get my feet wet and interact with the codebase.

I also may or may not (I did) introduce a bug that broke production for a minute. I guess that right of passage didn't take long!

New things I learned about include:
  • Tracking my progress with Jira
  • Documenting my thought process in the company wiki (Confluence)
  • Who to bug when I (inevitably) break something
  • How to make a hot-fix
  • Just how kind and supportive the entire engineering team at dutchie is 🥰

Software Engineer I, dutchie
Dec 15, 2016
Closed a business
Failed in public
Left a role at intraverse vr llc
+ 1
While we had developed some promising demos and had exciting success with our pneumatic soft muscle and tendon operator IK controls, the team at Intraverse VR encountered an issue that we would not longer be able to overcome with what we had developed. 

The pneumatic soft muscles we were producing had too small of a lifespan, and would fail after approximately 1000 cycles. Increasing production quality would require extremely specialized equipment and manufacturing partners, and be cost prohibitive. We had also encountered a few mechanical and maintenance issues that were making commercialization of our system to individual operators impractical, and would ultimately need an intensive support team and replacement part supply chain.

On December 15th 2016, our team signed articles of dissolution for Intraverse VR - a little wiser, a lot more grounded, and without breaking the bank or ending in debt!
Co-Founder, Intraverse VR LLC
Jul 22, 2021
Failed in public
Spoke at an event
Gave a live demo
+ 1
I gave a talk tonight! It was not good. It was so bad, in fact, that I'm going to have to record a short video that does the subject justice because it's actually really neat.

Long story short, you can use Nomad to run tasks on a variety of historical UNIXes, and hardware under emulation. And... the world got to see exactly none of that.
Every single element failed. The blinkenlights did not blink. I forgot history and blanked on how to operate the machine, and then I  rambled on a live stream. It was a train wreck, cinematically plummetting off a bridge into fiery doom! 🔥🚞😮

So, in conclusion: 

  1. Never, ever do a live demo if you can finesse it with some behind-the-scenes magic beforehand.
  2. Do not go in without visuals. You don't have to use them but you want them. 
  3. If you can't cram it into your talk, and you have lots of links, make a site. Just check it in and send the link. Your message gets out,  you yammer less, and anyone who is actually interested can look at that instead. 

World, I owe you an *actual* demo, and Nomad on a PiDP-11 deserves a little bit more time. Let's try this again without the disaster! 
I'll record a video in the next few days, post a link, and otherwise try to do this right because I want you all to see it. 
Failed in public
Wrote a Blog Post
I used to host women's networking events for a few years under the name ideate networking with a friend. We wanted to create small, intimate events where you would get to speak with every single person. We also sent out introductions prior to the event so you could make connections before you even arrive.

For this particular event, it was an after-work dinner event. I had promoted it all over social media and was collecting free registrations via Eventbrite.

Long story short, no one showed up.

It was one of the most embarrassing yet pivotal moments of my career. I decided to write about it and through sharing this story, I connected with people all over the world who have experienced similar situations but never felt courageous enough to share.
Wrote a Blog Post
Failed in public

Yes, I Actually Am a Professional Anticareerist. Ha Ha, Only Serious.

Polywork is inspiring me to tell the story of my work on my own terms, instead of trying to shoehorn myself into job titles, a resume, or a career trajectory.

In the process, I’m revisiting the idea that Professional Anticareerist may in fact be the best job title for me. For real.

Not just because The Anticareerist (well, actually its predecessor, was the first project I founded and launched on the web, or because this project and its predecessors have occupied 20+ years of my life.

Not just because I’ve got a resume with questionable “gaps” and a thoroughly interdisciplinary academic past (psychology, philosophy, and accounting.)

Not just because I’ve got a big collection of anticareerist quotes that I made into memes.

It’s the best title because I’ve harbored resistance to careerism as far back as I can remember. Even in my college-prep high school I remember thinking: But what if I don’t want to go to college? What if I don’t want to get a job? What if I just want to stay home and read, think about stuff, and write? Why do people call me a dilettante or a flake for that?

That is, in fact, what I’ve wanted my entire life: to spend most of my days reading, thinking, and writing. I “published” my first “book” at the age of nine. It was about a horse. I taped the pages inside a manila folder with contact paper on the cover. Decades later, I still have it.

I now earn the bulk of my income through writing and editing. But not through the kind of writing and editing that lives inside me. Not through the writing that presses on my awareness and steadfastly demands to be translated onto the page when I wake up in the morning. That writing has never earned me more than a pittance.

Copy editing is the best “day job” I’ve ever had, by orders of magnitude. In that sense, I’m living the dream. I respect and appreciate my clients, too, which makes all the difference in the world.

But that split between what I do to “earn a living” and what I’m driven to write out of intrinsic motivation is something I’ve struggled with all my life, and The Anticareerist is the project through which I explored that tension.

Maybe it’s time to revive the Twitter account for The Anticareerist, if not the blog. If I’m feeling inspired to document the project’s history for Polywork anyway, perhaps I could share some of it there, too.

I had a website for The Anticareerist as recently as 2019, and I also started a Patreon and a Substack newsletter for it in the early days of those platforms. I deleted them all. Most of the material I published can be found through a search at the Internet Archive, and some of the links on the Twitter account still work, but otherwise the project has not kept up a current public presence for the past two years.

Why not? Burnout.

Honestly, the project was a money pit, and it’s damn hard to be a self-employed freelance writer in the U.S. I figured 20 years of failing to make it financially viable was quite enough, thank you very much. I earned that Failed In Public badge many times over.

I really am a Professional Anticareerist. With over 20 years of verifiable work experience, including moderation of a popular email list I launched in 2000.

I’ll refrain from commenting at length about the irony of being chronically overworked and underpaid by a project championing leisure and unconditional basic income.

I don’t know what kind of SEO magic they’ve got going on here at Polywork, but it’s impressive. People are finding me and following me quickly, even though I’ve only been here a few days. That’s helpful for someone whose publicity skills are underwhelming at best.

My chronic failures in the publicity department were pointed out to me on crypto Twitter recently when an influencer with 70K followers shared one of my posts. One of their followers, after checking my new crypto Twitter profile, commented: “A creator with 8 followers? Something’s off here…” (I now have 23. Baby steps!)

Whatever else may happen on Polywork, I’m grateful for their decision to hide follower counts from the public.