Github is little known

“Little-known social coding start-up GitHub Inc. has raised $100 million in its first round of funding, in a sign of how big investment bets are continuing in Silicon Valley.”

Last week, The Wall Street Journal wrote about Github’s first round of funding calling the company ‘little known’. The software development community was outraged: how dare you call Github ‘little known’!

But Github is little known. Sure, they’ve just reached 1 million users, but compare that to Gmail with over 450 million and Facebook set to reach 1 billion within a month and it’s tiny. Anecdotally, no-one I know that doesn’t work in software development has ever heard of Github, and half of the people I know who do (including a lot of testers) have either never heard of or never used Github.

This is an classic example of the strange tech bubble we live in. Recently I was shocked to meet a couple of software engineers who had never heard of Selenium. I was like, oh my god, how could you have not heard of Selenium. Then I realised I myself was living in my own tiny little tech bubble, where I just assumed that something commonplace to me was commonplace to everyone. But it’s not.

That’s one of the reasons I think we design shit software. Because we think our users will know/do stuff that we know/do, even though they don’t and won’t. Hence the common occurrence of PEBKAC, ID10T and user-errors.




Introducing quoth: a random wikiquote gem

I just released quoth: a ruby gem that displays pseudo random wikiquotes on demand.

I really like the wikiquote gem, but it only retrieves the wikiquote of the day, so you’ll only ever run it once a day (or else see the same thing over and over again). Quoth displays a random quote from the entire wikiquote archive.


$ gem install quoth
$ quoth

The time is always right to do what is right ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.


$ irb
>> require 'quoth'
=> true
>> Quoth.get
=> "I like a huge range of comedy — from broad and farcical, the most sensitive, the most understated — but I always wanted my comedy to be more embracing of the species rather than debasing of it. ~ Lily Tomlin"
>> Quoth.refresh_quotes
=> "Successfully refreshed quotes from"

I’ll write soon about how you can use this gem in your automated testing. You can check out the source code on github. Enjoy!

The information Internet over the social Internet

“Sarcasm aside, I greatly admire Google. My goal is not to be acquired, because I’m in this thing for the long haul – but if I had to pick a company to be acquired by, it would probably be Google. I feel their emphasis on the information graph over the social graph aligns more closely with our mission than almost any other potential suitor I can think of.”

~ Jeff Atwood on why Google would be his acquirer of choice.

I’ve never really thought of splitting the Internet into the social graph vs the information graph, but it makes perfect sense. I imagine over 90% of my Internet usage is for information purposes: sharing and gaining, so I understand why I personally relate to sites based upon that premise: wikipedia, google, wordpress etc. I find social graphs chaotic and noisy, whereas information can be pure and soothing.

Twitter, meaningful coversations and happiness

“By engaging in meaningful conversations, we manage to impose meaning on an otherwise pretty chaotic world.”

~ American psychologist Matthias Mehl

This probably explains why I haven’t been enjoying twitter very much lately. At first there is a certain novelty factor, but soon it just becomes repetitive small talk, which Matthias shows doesn’t lead to happiness. I have never been a fan of small talk, but I guess I didn’t realize that’s what twitter actually is.

Update: 11 May 2010: Helen Razor explains why she has quit twitter, very interesting.