Why I Joined Collective Idea

When my cofounders and I started Ars Technica back in the summer of 1998, I made the conscious decision to focus the majority of my coverage on hardware, because to me hardware was more interesting than software, though I had been obsessed with the latter since I got a Commodore 128 at the age of 9 years old. By the time I left Ars in 2011 and joined Wired, I had switched my focus to the collection of technologies and trends that many were calling “the cloud”.[1]

I initially approached “the cloud” as a hardware story, because that was my wheelhouse. But one of the things that I learned pretty quickly upon diving in is that most of the innovation in cloud computing was taking place in the software realm. And I also learned that, for all its usefulness to journalists and marketers, “the cloud” is a pretty worthless abstraction for actual engineers, whether they’re hardware or software engineers.

As part of my foray into “the cloud” I found myself doing software again – at first thinking about it, and then making it. On the recommendation of one of the engineers at Heroku, I hired a small but prominent software shop based in Holland, MI, to build the software for a customizable children’s book project that I was working on. I then left tech journalism and apprenticed myself to them, hacking away at that project and others under their expert tutelage.

That software shop is, of course, Collective Idea, and it has been a great pleasure to work with them on my projects for the past 4+ years. The Collective Idea team are amazing coders and wonderful teachers, which is why at the beginning of this summer I decided to take a sort of “programing sabbatical” and really learn the craft from them. I’ve been cowboy coding since I was 9, but I wanted to learn to do it right, as part of a team with best practices and code review and the works. So I called up Daniel Morrison to ask if I could go from being a client to, uh, being a server… (I’m so sorry for that joke).

Dan said “yes”, and I’ve been happily hacking away as part of the [i] family for the past few months. I also now believe in the reality of the 10X programmer, because I personally am 10X faster than I was just a few months ago. Of course, this rate of improvement can’t go on forever, because if it did I’d personally reach the Singularity sometime next summer.

So if you’re looking for me, you can find me here at Collective Idea, where I’ll be doing a mix of coding, blogging, and learning.

[1] “The CPU” is a thing. “The GPU” is a thing. Even “the user interface” is a thing. But “the cloud”? Even in 2011 the term was of dubious technical value, and was better thought of as referring to a set of conversations around how to price and deliver networked compute and storage capacity, and to not a particular technology or even family of technologies. And in 2015, “the cloud” is well past its “use by” date – it’s best to just use the term “software” when talking about software, and “hardware” when talking about hardware, and “AWS” when talking about AWS, and “AppEngine” when talking about AppEngine, and so on.

Image via Yuri Samoilov on Flickr

Photo of Jon Stokes

Jon is a founder of Ars Technica, and a former Wired editor. When he’s not developing code for Collective Idea clients, he still keeps his foot in the content world via freelancing and the occasional op-ed.