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Imagining the End

Published 12/28/2020

It's hard to construct with deconstruction in mind. It's difficult to imagine designing for final shutdown. In this episode, we talk about the importance of transformation and change, and the ultimate reality of everything: it all ends, at some point. If we want to build better software and lead better lives, we should build with open eyes about the end.


Today, we also celebrate the shutdown of Spec.fm, the podcast network Developer Tea has been a part of for over 5 years!


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Thank you to long time sponsor and friends of the show Linode for sponsoring today's episode!

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Listeners of Developer Tea can now enjoy $100 in free credit! You can find all the details at linode.com/developertea.

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Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Everything comes to an end. No, we're not announcing the end of Developer Tea, but we are having a little announcement today, but I want to explore this idea that everything comes to an end and talk a little bit more about what that could mean for us as software engineers and as people and how we can approach that more mindfully. My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to Developer Tea, my goal on this show is to help driven developers like you find clarity, perspective, and purpose in their careers. And when I say that everything comes to an end, I do mean it in the grander sense that our lives and all of our friendships, even our memories, everything about us will eventually come to an end. We don't want to focus on this sadness because there are some things that we can be happy. In fact, theoretically, we can be happy about all of it. But this also means that the bad things come to an end, the things that are unpleasant for many people that might include this year. But it could also include your current bad job, some kind of pain that you're going through. All of this will end in some way or another. Sometimes thinking about the ending of something can be not very exciting. It can be a little bit exciting inducing, even, right? We don't really like to think about ending something because when something ends, we often feel some kind of negative sense of loss or longing for that thing to not have ended. This is certainly true for a lot of the things that we care about. But interestingly, another important factor here, when we talk about our avoidance of thinking about the ending, is recognize that we often live under the illusion when we create something that it won't end. In fact, we very well intentionally start projects and we even use phrases like we're in it for the long haul or we're built to last. In today's episode, I want to explore the idea of building things that don't last, which is everything. Building things that we understand won't last. Because you may have heard from others announcing this already, the network that Developer Tea is a part of, spec, spec.fm where you can find this show, the network is shutting down. This isn't because of some catastrophic failure. It's not because we had some kind of internal strife or struggle or frustration. None of that happened. In fact, we all kind of intentionally chose this as the best path forward. We chose the end. That doesn't mean that this was easy. It doesn't mean that it was an easy choice. It certainly doesn't mean that we want to leave behind all of the good. We want to carry forward the good. We want to kind of honor the legacy of this company that we've built, even though we're shutting it down. This may feel like a shock. The language doesn't make sense, and we're going to walk through a little bit of why this approach should be, and very rarely do we say should on this show, but it should be the way that we imagine all of our work. Before we do that, I want to talk about today's sponsor, Lin-Out. Lin-Out has been with us since basically the beginning of Developer Tea and of spec. They've been on and off sponsors for many years now, and there's a reason for that. It's because Lin-Out has stuck around investing in software engineers for years. With Lin-Out, you can simplify your infrastructure, cut your cloud bills in half. With their virtual machines, you can develop deploy and scale your modern applications faster and easier. Whether you're developing a personal project or managing larger workloads, you deserve simple, affordable, and accessible cloud computing solutions. Lin-Out has one of the best listener deals that I've ever heard of on a piecast. It's $100 in free credit, not $20, not $50, $100 in free credit for listeners of Developer Tea. You can find all the details at linod.com slash Developer Tea. And $100 carries you a long way on Lin-Out. Remember, their plans start at $5 a month, and you get $24.7 human support that's support regardless of what you choose to spin up. You don't have to have a $20 server a month. You can get that at their entry level plans. You can choose shared and dedicated compute instances, or you can use your $100 credit on S3 compatible object storage, managed Kubernetes, and much more. If it runs on Linux, it will run on Lin-Out. Visit linod.com slash Developer Tea and click on create free account. It's a button that you'll click on to get started and you'll get that $100 worth of credit. Thanks again to linod for sponsoring today's episode of Developer Tea. I'm very proud of the work that we've done at spec. As many of you probably know, this piecast turned six years old on January 5th, and spec is right behind that. We started spec not too long after that. The work that we did with spec was largely just support. We supported the hosts of some incredible shows. The credit goes to the hosts. Certainly to Sarah, Bren, Brian, these are the people who ran spec and really did the day-to-day. Day in and day out, Sarah is the producer of this show and has really been at the helm of spec for a little while now. At the very beginning, Bren and Brian and myself, we started the piecast and Sarah was there along the way at that point too. We couldn't have done this without the listeners. We certainly couldn't have done it without the shows. We're very proud of the work we've done and I just wanted to take a moment to talk about it because it's been such an important part of the life of this piecast. It's probably been an important part of your piecast listening experience because if you're listening to Developer Tea, then you've probably heard of these other shows as well. The thing that we're most proud of is that we were able to pay out to the hosts of the shows of spec.fm. We were able to pay out over $700,000 worth over the course of our lifetime as a network. This is not our full-time jobs. Nobody on the network was really totally dedicated to this 100%. This has been such an incredible process but I wanted to bring this up, not just to talk about all of the good work we've done, but rather to talk about how well the shutting down and stopping process is going because we've chosen to do this. We've chosen to have a company, to have a network that is flexible enough that has the right kind of people where shutting down is healthy, where the deconstruction process, we construct this network over the course of many years. Now we're deconstructing it. The deconstruction process is not a demolition process. We aren't destroying everything through some violent step. Instead, we're taking it apart so that the pieces that are important to carry forward remain intact. This is so often missed. We often build things imagining, tricking ourselves into thinking that they're going to last forever. We build things thinking that they are our legacy and that the whole point is to never imagine stopping because for some reason we have equated stopping with failure. So I want to encourage you to think more as you go through your work, as you go through your life, even as you're planning your career. Think more about what it means for this to end. What does it mean for your relationship with the client to end? What happens when you're no longer working on that project? What happens when you're no longer working for that startup? Or what happens when that startup is gone altogether? These are not scary events. In fact, they are inevitable events. The only question is when? When will this end? We knew all along that spec would shut down one way or the other. We didn't know exactly when, but we knew it would happen. And so when you know there's an inevitability here that everything that you do will come to an end. When you can accept that, then you can start to design the deconstruction process. It's very easy, let's imagine that you're taking a part in engine to replace a part that's deeply embedded in that engine. It's very easy to take the engine apart. There might be a few tricky parts, but for the most part you're finding the right sockets, you're pulling the pins out. Taking the engine apart is largely a kind of imperative discovery process. Once you've taken that engine apart, if you were to stare at the pile of parts that you have haphazardly threw on the ground as you were deconstructing this thing, it would be very hard to go back and put it back together. For this reason, deconstruction is very often mindless. We don't think about the process of deconstruction. We don't think about the process of taking something apart nearly as much as we think about the process of putting something together. We often don't imagine that constructing software from the ground up, we often don't imagine that that is inextricably linked to the process of reconstruction, which is deconstructing and then constructing again. When we think about deconstruction, when we think about something ending or transforming from one form to another, it's common to allow our brains to freedom of not thinking about the deconstruction process. Because we imagine that deconstruction is just falling apart, that we can drop our stick of dynamite in and it's all going to come apart, however it will. But we do so much deconstruction as fundamental steps in our lives. Even looking for a bug in your software is really a process of deconstruction. Most of our efforts in understanding the world could be boiled down to deconstruction. In fact, the vast majority of what we do is observational and kind of at its core is a process of deconstruction. So it makes sense for us to imagine the end. Imagine how this comes apart. And more times thinking about how things change rather than how they should be. If we imagine all of our work and all of our lives are headed towards some transformation rather than some kind of permanence, then a lot of the problems that we have with finding perfect solutions disappear. Because the concept of having a solution in an ever-changing environment, that evaporates. Imagine that everything is in flux. And as you move forward in your career, imagine that that flux involves construction, but perhaps most importantly, it involves deconstruction. It involves lots of beginnings, but necessarily a lot of endings. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. Thank you so much. I can't express my gratitude for these people that have run spec with me, Sarah, Brian. These are the world's best kind of people. And of course, all of the hosts of the wonderful shows that have been a part of this network. I've been, it's been such an honor. And truly, I can't imagine having a more incredible experience as a podcaster, as just a guy who listened to Naze. They connected with all these people. It's a very, very important part of my life. And I'm so grateful to have encountered these people. So, send your love to Sarah, Brian, all of those people who have been a part of the spec network as we shut this thing down. It's been such a great time. We'll talk more about what Developer Tea is going to do into the future, where the show is not going anywhere. In fact, we're probably going to expand the show. We have a lot of cool ideas, but we need your feedback. So please, please let me know. You can reach out to me and developertea@gmail.com. You can also find me on Twitter, and add Developer Tea and my personal Twitter is at J. Cutrell. This episode was made possible by Linode. EvertoLinode.com slash Developer Tea, you can get $100 in free credit for listeners of this show. Thank you so much for listening. This episode and every other episode of Developer Teacan be found in the podcast player of your choice. It was a quick side note. Spec.fm is going to remain up for the time being. Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, enjoy your tea.