It's me, Bike Dad!

Until the Citibike bikeshare program launched here in New York City, I'd ridden a bike perhaps once in the prior twenty years. Since it launched, I ride almost daily.

Because of the massive improvements in quality of life in the city as walkability and cycling affordances were improved, I've become a strong advocate for commuting by bike, and I was excited to talk about my experiences with NY1.

While the Full NY1 series on new commuting trends is unfortunately still a little slanted toward favoring privately-owned, under-utilized automobiles, I think the tide is turning overall because, as I've noted before, our investment in making New York City accessible and safe for pedestrians and bikers has made this the golden era for public space in the entire 400-year history of the city.

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Design Matters

I was delighted to get to speak with Debbie Millman for her venerable podcast, "Design Matters". If you have an hour to spare, please do check out the conversation —¬†we touched on a ton of topics that are near and dear to my heart.

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On Being and Tech's Moral Reckoning

Back in November, I got to sit down with the amazing Krista Tippett for a lengthy interview in front of an incredibly warm crowd in Easton, MD. Now, that interview has been edited down and is available as the latest episode of Krista's hugely popular show, On Being.
I hope you'll take a listen — we cover the contemporary tech industry, the social impact of the major social networks, and even the bigger reckoning with how tech is changing our families and or kids and our relationships. I'm really proud of how this came out, and can't wait to hear what you think. And, of course, if you're interested in more on the topic, you can check out my Humane Tech series on Medium.

If you are interested, there's also a full, 90-minute unedited version of the conversation. With Krista and her team coming from Minneapolis, the Prince mentions you might expect from me are in the uncut version.

I'm at Fog Creek. And we're introducing Gomix!

Okay, here’s the story: I’m the new CEO of Fog Creek Software! And we have an awesome new tool called Gomix that just launched today, and you should go try it out and build the app of your dreams in a few minutes.

Want to know more? Okay, there’s more.

If you know me, you might be familiar with Fog Creek Software. Cofounded by Joel Spolsky and Michael Pryor in 2000, it’s one of the most venerable and respected software companies in the world. I’ve known it from its earliest days, as both a customer and a fan, and have gotten to watch excitedly as they launched hugely influential tools like Trello (which Michael is now CEO of as an independent company) and Stack Overflow (also independent, and headed up by Joel as CEO). Fog Creek’s flagship product FogBugz has long been the best tool for helping teams make great software — I know because we used to use it to make Movable Type and TypePad back when I was helping get those products off the ground a decade ago.

Fog Creek product history

Built on Values

But Fog Creek is a lot more to me than just a company that’s made a bunch of hugely popular applications. What first resonated for me was reading Joel’s words in his seminal posts on tech culture, like the Joel Test. Though some of the references to old Windows software are a little bit dated now, the insights in Joel’s writing are so essential and timeless that they’ve become part of the canon that almost every developer is expected to read.

And what I found in these seminal documents of Fog Creek’s culture were a few simple statements of values that could be easily summarized:

  • Workers matter, deeply. The things they create, the environment they work in, and the ideas they imagine are worth protecting, respecting and honoring.

  • Technology and software are better when they’re accessible to more people. We need to build tools, platforms and organizations that prioritize the thoughtful dissemination of technical information, to stop coding from being an exclusionary priesthood for a small few.

  • We can build our values into our software. We aspire to having a point of view and to being thoughtful, and we can build tools that encourage other creations of technology to do the same.

What I found was that I had a chance not just to work with some of the most talented people in the world, but to do so in an environment that was actively countering the worst excesses and abuses of the tech industry. It’s no secret that I’ve become increasingly critical of the conventional tech world’s lack of focus on ethics, humanity, and inclusion.

But at a personal level, I realized I couldn’t in good conscience just criticize from afar. If the best way to criticize software is to make software, then the best way to criticize tech companies is to make a better tech company. And it turns out that one already exists. Even more fortunate, its brilliant and thoughtful founders Michael and Joel were willing to trust me to be the CEO of the company that have so carefully shepherded all these years.

And frankly, after challenges like shutting down ThinkUp earlier this year, I started reckoning a bit with how to be most effective in pushing the tech industry to be a little more thoughtful. This personal inflection point became clearer as the team at Activate released this year's Activate Outlook — seven years after we'd set out to create the leading strategy consulting company, I realized we'd not just succeeded, but done so to the degree where the team could now run effectively without me being involved day-to-day. Between stepping back to an advisory role at Activate and sharpening the focus of my work for the organizations whose boards I serve on, I was able to bring some clarity to the work in front of me.

I realized that I wanted to fully engage myself with a single, all-encompassing role that would use all my skills, and that Fog Creek's legacy of leading the industry made it the perfect place to try and push things forward again. So now, I have a simple answer if someone at a cocktail party asks what I do.

What do I do? I'm the CEO of a small software company in downtown Manhattan that’s as influential in the tech world as companies 1000 times our size. And we're trying to make awesome products that remind people how tech can be creative, thoughtful and humane.

(If that sounds good, we're hiring. And we welcome you, as you are, to join our team.)

Gomix brings back the fun of the “view source” web

Which brings me to our next chapter: Gomix. Many geeks of my cohort came of age building things on the desktop using HyperCard or Visual Basic, or by using View Source in their browser to tweak HTML pages that they uploaded to Geocities. The web’s gotten a lot more mature and a lot more powerful, but the immediacy of that kind of creation has been lost. Today, even if you’re a skilled developer, the starting point you’re working from is usually a pile of unassembled parts.

Gomix lets you start from a working app (or bot, or site, or whatever) and then remix it into exactly the app of your dreams. If you just want to change a button from blue to green, or add your logo, you can be running instantly. See a fun or smart Alexa skill or Slack bot? You can jump in, edit the responses to be the text you want, and have your own version running in just a few minutes.

For the past several years, I found that the overhead of provisioning servers, or trying to maintain a dev environment, or wrangling with version control took all the fun out of coding for me, to the point where I don’t just hack on things for fun anymore. I can’t imagine how much more intimidating it would be if I hadn’t spent many years coding.

Gomix fixes all that. Really. We’re still just getting started (you might have seen the earlier preview release under the name “HyperDev”) but we’re out in beta today and I think if you have ever edited a spreadsheet or just tweaked the HTML in a blog post, you’ll immediately understand how Gomix can help you create.

I hope you’ll give it a try, and along with the entire amazing team at Fog Creek, we’re excited to see what you create.

Read more

November 9, 2016

Forget “Why?”, it’s time to get to work.

September 14, 2016

It's more than just "teach kids to code"

September 11, 2016

Fifteen is the past

August 19, 2016

There is no “technology industry”

July 15, 2016

New York-Style Tech

July 8, 2016

Launch

June 18, 2016

Set Adrift: Beneath the Surface of P.M. Dawn

May 28, 2016

Prince’s Own Liner Notes On His Greatest Hits

April 28, 2016

Goodbye, Prince

March 21, 2016

Water for Gambhariganda

February 24, 2016

On the Hunt

January 26, 2016

Another Round on me!

December 19, 2015

Awakenings!

November 25, 2015

Beyond Doing Half the Parenting

October 10, 2015

A little less rocking with you...

September 11, 2015

Fourteen is Remembering

September 4, 2015

Let's Support The Girls Club

August 19, 2015

"It is miraculous."

July 11, 2015

The Internet of Tweets

June 30, 2015

Why, Bobby Jindal?