Elixir Wizards
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Jessica Kerr on Systems Thinking for Developers

A superpower of software development is teaching our code to teach us what’s happening. This is observability, and it’s why Jessica Kerr works at Honeycomb, where she is a Developer Advocate. After twenty years as a developer, Jess sees software as a significant force in the world. As a symmathecist in the medium of code, she views development teams as learning systems made of both people and software. She believes that, if we allow the software to teach us, it becomes a better teammate and, if this process makes us into systems thinkers, we can be better people in the world! Today, Jess compares the way we work in teams to game design and we find out what she means by observability and how it can serve everybody on a team. She elaborates on the remarkable agency that software developers have and how the languages they use can empower them, especially when they aren’t having specific architecture imposed on them! We also touch on what being a polyglot means to Jess, the value of working with rather then against complexity, and what Jess means when she says a software team is the perfect example of a symmathesy, plus so much more, so make sure to tune in today for this fascinating conversation with Jessica Kerr!

*Key Points From This Episode:

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Jess starts by drawing an interesting comparison between teamwork and game design.

Insight into her journey as a developer and how she was introduced to Elixir.

Discover Jess’ connection to Elixir iteratees via Jose Valim!

Her role at Honeycomb, the languages she uses, and what she means by observability.

Why Jess believes that developers have agency and enormous power.

Why the best language to use is the one that you and your team know best.

The value of standardizing the platform rather than trying to dictate the language.

How observability reveals connections and acts as one tool that serves everybody.

Congressive versus ingressive behavior as per Dr. Eugenia Cheng.

What being a polyglot means to Jess: accepting that others don’t think just like you do and actively learning from them.

Working skillfully within complexity rather than trying to eliminate it.

How people gain exposure to different languages at Honeycomb.

The importance of understanding what architecture is being imposed on you.

Jess’ favorite talk on symmathesy and why a software team in particular is a symmathesy.

Opportunities and/or weaknesses that being in a polyglot environment can introduce.

Ways you can connect with Jess and even sign up for a 30-minute chat with her!

*Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

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Jessica Kerr — https://jessitron.com/

Jessica Kerr on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessicakerr/

Jessica Kerr on Twitter — https://twitter.com/jessitron

Honeycomb — https://www.honeycomb.io/

Schedule a Call with Jess — honeycomb.io/office-hours

Games: Agency As Art — https://objectionable.net/games-agency-as-art/

OpenTelemetry — https://opentelemetry.io/

Matthew Skelton — https://blog.matthewskelton.net/

Team Topologies — https://teamtopologies.com/

QCon — https://plus.qconferences.com/

Keynote: ’The Language is the Least of It’ — https://youtu.be/nvV-4040xXI

Dr Eugenia Cheng — http://eugeniacheng.com/

x + y — https://www.basicbooks.com/titles/eugenia-cheng/x-y/9781541646513/

'Backend for frontend (BFF) pattern’ — https://medium.com/mobilepeople/backend-for-frontend-pattern-why-you-need-to-know-it-46f94ce420b0

Abstract syntax tree — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abstract_syntax_tree

Keynote: ‘Collective Problem Solving in Music, Science, Art, and Software’ — https://jessitron.com/2019/11/05/keynote-collective-problem-solving-in-music-science-art-and-software/

SmartLogic — https://smartlogic.io/

Special Guest: Jessica Kerr.

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