[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Monday October 24

Tuesday October 25

Thursday October 27

Saturday October 29


When you vote, vote the whole ballot. Your down ballot candidates need you. If your state has initiatives or other ballot measures, your input is needed.

If you don’t live in the states above, you can type [“your state name” voting] into Google and get a voting schedule and requirements – BUT CHECK WITH YOUR STATE’S ELECTION OFFICE to make sure that’s the right information. It probably is, but don’t get disappointed.

Filed under: civics
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Jason Reynolds is well-aware that he doesn’t fit the stereotype of a writer. He has long hair and tattoos and prefers sneakers to tweed.When he visits schools, he says, “there’s always one or two kids who say, ‘I didn’t think you were gonna look like this. I didn’t think a writer could look like you.’ ” What they mean, he points out, is that they they thought he’d be white, or at least lighter skinned.

Slack 103: Communication and culture

Oct. 21st, 2016 05:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

How to be a good citizen of Slack

Illustrations by Pete Ryan

After Slack 101 and 102, our final installment of the Slack onboarding series is about one of the most difficult aspects of adding people to your team: growing and maintaining your culture.

Putting things out there

Slack is designed to add transparency to an organization, so it’s best to default to communication in public channels whenever possible. Slack’s own team sends tens of thousands of messages each week — in a recent summary, 70% of those were posted in public channels, with 28% occurring in private channels and just 2% in direct messages. Posting messages in public channels means anyone in the organization can see what various teams are working on, see how much progress people are making on projects, and search the archive for context they need.

Minimized disruptions

It’s tempting to make sure no one misses your very important message, but it’s courteous to refrain from notifying large groups of people if it’s not truly necessary. We use @everyone, @channel, and @here alerts, but rarely, because doing so sends a notification to a whole bunch of people who might not need it.

In the past year and a half, I’ve only seen an@everyone message pushed out twice during emergencies. Even though I follow hundreds of channels, @channel is only used a few times per month for important announcements. Slightly more common is @here, which only pings members of a channel who are logged in. Pare it down even more with user groups: if I just need the people I work with directly to see a message, I alert @editorial-team and spare the rest of the channel.

Time and boundaries

It’s a good idea to check the number of members in a channel, as well as the purpose in the channel info pane whenever you’re going to ask a question or post a general comment — you want to make sure you’re doing it in the right place. If it’s your own team of, say, eight people, an off-topic message won’t be as big of an issue as if you’re in a large channel with hundreds of members.

There are many members here, so tread lightly

We ask everyone in busy channels to search before you ask. It’s another way to be respectful of everyone’s time. Spend a few minutes searching related channels for keywords around your specific problem, and chances are you might find your answer, or at least you’ll be aware of previous discussions you can reference.

The posting patterns of most teams at Slack vary throughout the day. In my own immediate team, we typically spend the first hour of the day planning, meeting, and sending reminders of project due dates, then our team channel goes mostly quiet until the afternoon. We close up each day by turning in work and getting feedback, but try to give everyone a few hours in the middle of the day to focus on work. It’s not completely silent, and some work requires real-time discussions in Slack for a decision, but our channels are slightly lower traffic between 10am and 4pm.

Every team and company’s workflow will be different, but we’ve found it helpful to be clear about our communication expectations.

For example, one of Slack’s internal mottos is “work hard and go home” and we take it pretty seriously — almost all of us use the Do Not Disturb feature to protect our non-working hours (which may vary for team members working in different roles, across time zones, or with different lifestyles). Our rule of thumb is if you need to send a message outside of the recipient’s normal working hours, there is no expectation of an immediate reply. Generally, this is a good rule to keep, given the recipient of any message might be otherwise occupied — in a meeting, heads down on project work, or eating lunch.


There’s a saying at Slack that “all channels tend towards #random.” We use the term “raccoon” (and an associated custom emoji) to denote when a discussion should take place in another channel. In a busy general channel where someone is asking lots of very specific questions, it’s not uncommon to see a message saying someone should “raccoon their questions to DM” or a specific team instead. It’s not used to shame anyone, but instead to help teach everyone where a better place for the discussion might be. Here’s a good example:

Getting raccooned to a more specific channel


Over the past year since emoji reactions launched, we have adopted several ways of using them internally. Our most common use is polling or voting. We regularly ask in channels if everyone prefers option 1 or option 2 by marking each with a reaction, and decisions are quickly made as everyone’s votes get tallied up.

We’ve also introduced a small workflow using reactions. Often someone will make a request and another person will “claim it” by marking it with the eyes emoji to say “I’m going to take a look at this.” Once the question is answered and the task complete, that same person will mark it with a white/green checkmark to let members of the channel know it’s done. If you leave your mentions and reactions activity sidebar open, you’ll know the moment someone completes your request.

We hope these three installments of our onboarding series give you plenty of ideas how to use Slack thoughtfully as well as offer tips on how to train up new employees for your own team.

Matt Haughey recently butt-messaged the entire company’s #general channel. On a Saturday.

Slack 103: Communication and culture was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Yellow Time

Oct. 21st, 2016 04:38 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
HappyDayThe color yellow gets a bum rap. I think it’s too often seen as being insufferably peppy, but I have an ardent fondness for it. It’s more modest than red and less ingratiating than orange. I even painted my home office yellow so that it will help boost me as I stumble out of bed and get to work. A morning person I am not. I need the humble cheer of yellow to nudge me toward things like speech and common courtesy.

We love it when the numbers turn over

Oct. 20th, 2016 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

A little update on Slack’s growth and platform

Hitting milestones is always fun. When you’re a fast-growing company, you get that hit of gratification pretty frequently. A million users! Two! Three! Four! But it’s not just enjoyable — it is also an important reminder of the impact you are having in the lives of your customers and partners. We take that seriously.

Over the last few months, we’ve had many occasions for cheers and high-fives around the office: cruising past a million paid seats and $100,000,000 in annual recurring revenue over the summer. Just last month we crossed 2.5 million simultaneously connected users. And, most recently, a new favorite: eclipsing six million apps installed on Slack teams.

Continued momentum on the Slack platform is an important sign of the expanding role we play in the business software ecosystem. When we say “Slack is where work happens,” we don’t just mean people sending messages to one another, but the integrated workflows, business processes, data streams and applications that spin the gears of work for tens of thousands of our business customers around the world.

And so our beloved Slack-using friends, please join us in celebrating a few more of our recent milestones. And…thank you! :)

We love it when the numbers turn over was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Facing the Consequences

Oct. 20th, 2016 05:02 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
This she gets: that “first time” meeting with your parents. When they tell you they love you, but you no longer feel like the girl they thought you were or want you to be. The soccer star and perfect student, happy and “killing it” at college. Now past tense, and the new you reflected in their voices, in their eyes. Their disappointment and pain like gasoline poured on your personal pyre. It was hard for her, what must this be like for Jenny?

Google Drive + Slack

Oct. 19th, 2016 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Create and share without losing your groove.

At work, you create — be it a proposal, a presentation for an upcoming project, or a new financial model for your business. And now, with our new Google Drive integration you can create and share Google Docs and Drive files directly within Slack.

Simply click the + button next to the message box in Slack to create new Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. These files can be shared in the Slack channel where you’re working and saved to your Google Drive. You can also import files from Google Drive into Slack, and your original sharing preferences will be preserved so that only the people you’ve specified can access your file.

Create a Google Doc file from Slack

Every Google Drive file you share in Slack is automatically indexed and searchable, so you can tap into your team’s collective knowledge and quickly find past conversations and files.

Add the Google Drive integration to your Slack team today from our App Directory, or if you’ve already integrated Google Drive with Slack, reload your Slack team to get these new features.

Now, let’s all get back to work.

Not using Slack yet? Create a new team to get started. Once you’ve signed up, connect Google Drive, add some teammates, and kickoff a project.

Google Drive + Slack was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Sonia Patel

Oct. 19th, 2016 05:08 am
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Patel is the most common Indian surname in the U.S. The name comes from a caste of village leaders and landowners in the state of Gujarat, many of whom moved to North America in the 1970s, buying hotels and shops to support their families. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a lot of stereotypes about what it means to be a Patel: first and foremost is an intense focus on family.

Going with the flow

Oct. 17th, 2016 10:33 pm
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Why sometimes having no plan is the best career plan

Hans Fenger’s Langley Schools Music Project got some unexpected attention from big stars like David Bowie. Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

An extended audio version of this story can be heard on Episode 1 of Slack’s new podcast Work in Progress, about the meaning and identity we find in work.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most people have been asked that question (hopefully, expectantly) at some point in their youth. Some people have a clear-cut answer, others leave matters to fate.

Musician Hans Fenger was in the latter camp. The holder of a highly practical degree in Medieval English and Music Studies, life in the 1960s influenced him to pursue a path as a rock star — or at the very least a guitarist with steady paying gigs. That was he until he found out he was going to be a father.

Innocence & Despair by The Langley Schools Music Project. Bar/None Records.

If at that moment you’d have told Fenger he’d wind up a beloved music teacher who’d later get invited to festivals by David Bowie and whose career would inspire a popular Hollywood movie, he surely would have laughed in disbelief.

Fenger’s Langley Schools Music Project, which produced a now-famous collection of recordings in the mid-1970s, is an icon of unconventional music education and the inspiration for the 2003 film School of Rock. But it started in an unglamorous, accidental way that a lot of people can relate to: necessity drove Fenger to a job he hadn’t planned on or prepared for, and by winging it, he stumbled into a new calling.

Fenger’s impending fatherhood meant he needed to start making money. A friendly neighbor tipped him off to a teacher shortage — particularly a shortage of subject matter specialists, like music and language teachers — in a rural community just outside the city.

Hans Fenger and his students at Glenwood Elementary School. Photographs by Kevin Finseth.

“I didn’t even come from a high school music program. I came from my own music program, which was really the rock and roll background,” says Fenger, “I wasn’t a big fan of school. I didn’t do well in school.”

Naively, Fenger entered a one-year teaching program expecting it to be a breeze. It wasn’t. What he hadn’t accounted for was how he’d react to the everyday realities of the job.

“I was good at teaching, I was not good at the profession of teaching,” says Fenger unabashedly. “I was not good at staff meetings. I was not good at report cards. I was not good at talking to parents. I was not particularly fond of a lot of other teachers. I liked me and the kids and the guitar. That was the part of teaching I liked, the teaching part of teaching.”

His aversion to pedagogy and practice, scales and sheet music, form and function ruffled some feathers, though that didn’t stop him: “I never changed my method of teaching, which was no method,” he says, “I never changed how I prepared for a class, which was no-preparation.”

Instead, he chose his lesson plans based on his mood, which swung often as he grappled with the worries and anxieties of becoming a father for the first time. Rather than teach classical music, Fenger had his students play rock classics. The Beatles were in heavy rotation.

To Fenger’s surprise, the kids “glommed on,” soaking up the emotions of the music they were learning and throwing it energetically back into their own renditions. In relating to their real feelings about the world around them, Fenger managed to deepen their appreciation for the craft.

“Even a nine year-old is cynical enough to know that joining hands and singing is not going to bring peace to the world,” says Fenger. “They needed a way to express themselves musically and it wasn’t going to be with songs about loving their cats or how much they enjoy math.”

Fenger’s a bit of a legend in that community, even though his teaching career didn’t last very long. To this day, 50 years on, he occasionally runs into his former students, who enthusiastically address him as “Mr. Fenger,” though he struggles with defining himself as a teacher.

“I was a single parent. I was a school teacher. I was a rock and roll musician. I was up and down, like most people are,” admits Fenger.

“Heck, I was just moseying along like a lot of people, trying to adjust to a world I hadn’t really expected.”

Lima Al-Azzeh cried her way through grade eleven math.

Going with the flow was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

October Country 2016

Oct. 17th, 2016 07:33 pm
[syndicated profile] kirkus_ya_feed
Every October, in addition to rewatching Twin Peaks and watching as many horror movies as I can cram into thirty-one days, I read a lot of horror, dark fantasy, and Gothic fiction. I do it because I love it, and I do it because it feels right for the season.
[syndicated profile] slack_feed

Posted by Slack

Stories about the meaning and identity we find in work

“And what do you do?” It’s so common, even trite, to ask. We’ve all used it to strike up a conversation, seeking to connect with another person, a simple way to establish common ground.

On the receiving end, the question can feel loaded. When we answer with “music teacher,” “actor,” “taxi driver,” “comedian,” “chaplain,” “fourth-generation family business owner” — just a few of the people whose stories you’ll hear in Work in Progress, Slack’s new podcast about the meaning and identity we find in work — we are describing more than what we do for a living. We are describing who we are.

Whether we welcome it or not, our professional lives have become a big part of our personal identities. It’s a symptom of modern life that we seek ever more purpose in our work; our jobs, careers, occupations, and gigs have come to mean a lot, both to ourselves and to others.

Yet the premise of Work in Progress remains optimistic. In a world where we are decreasingly defined by traditional cultural, religious and geographic identities, we are more free to create ourselves.

On Work in Progress, you’ll hear the accounts of a former slave who escaped on the Underground Railroad and found freedom driving a taxi in Toronto, an industrial seamstress who landed her dream job at NASA, an engineer who quit his job to run the family business, a humanitarian war crimes lawyer who finds her true calling as a stand-up comedian. And lots, lots more.

These are stories from real working people, some of whom you may have heard of and most of whom you’ve not, and their search “for daily meaning as well as daily bread” (borrowing words from Studs Terkel, whose work as a radio producer and oral historian inspired the show).

Hosted by Dan Misener, the show will take you across industries and time, diving deep into a human desire we can all relate to: finding meaning and a sense of purpose in how we spend all the little moments that fill the hours between nine and five, and beyond.

If we’ve done our jobs right, maybe you’ll like it.

Download the first episode of Work in Progress on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you listen to podcasts. The show also airs each weekend on Sirius XM. Follow along @slackstories.

Julie Kim’s dream jobs have included artist, pediatric neurosurgeon, architect, and travel guide. She settled on words.

Behind Slack’s new podcast ‘Work in Progress’ was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

[syndicated profile] alaskanlibrarian_feed

Posted by Daniel Cornwall

Want to get the 2016 election over with? If you live in one the states below, you likely can thanks to early voting. If you’ve made up your mind, vote this week and get it done:

Monday October 17

Wednesday October 19

  • Tennessee
  • Kansas – In some counties, early voting might be November 1-7

Thursday October 20

Friday October 21

Saturday October 22


When you vote, please vote the whole ballot, including initiatives if you have them. With Congress people think about whether you want to aid or hinder the next President in their agenda and vote accordingly.

If you don’t live in the states above, you can type [“your state name” voting] into Google and get a voting schedule and requirements – BUT CHECK WITH YOUR STATE’S ELECTION OFFICE to make sure that’s the right information. It probably is, but don’t get disappointed.

Filed under: civics
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed

half-scratched-out bpython logo, Python code, and technical prose written and drawn on paper, with notebook and pen, on a wooden table that also has a mug and a laptop on it

MergeSort, the feminist maker meetup I co-organize, had a table at Maker Faire earlier this month. Last year we'd given away (and taught people how to cut and fold) a few of my zines, and people enjoyed that. A week before Maker Faire this year, I was attempting to nap when I was struck with the conviction that I ought to make a Python zine to give out this year.

So I did! Below is Playing with Python: 2 of my favorite lenses. (As you can see from the photos of the drafting process, I thought about mentioning pdb, various cool libraries, and other great parts of the Python ecology, but narrowed my focus to bpython and python -i.)

Zine cover; transcription below

Playing with Python
2 of my favorite lenses
[magnifying glass and eyeglass icons]

by Sumana Harihareswara

Second and third pages of zine; transcription below

When I'm getting a Python program running for the 1st time, playing around & lightly sketching or prototyping to figure out what I want to do, I [heart]:
bpython & python -i

[illustrations: sketch of a house, outline of a house in dots]

Fourth and fifth pages of zine; transcription below

bpython is an exploratory Python interpreter. It shows what you can do with an object:

>>> dogs = ["Fido", "Toto"]
>>> dogs.
append count extend index insert pop remove reverse sort

And, you can use Control-R to undo!

[illustrations: bpython logo, pointer to cursor after dogs.]

Sixth and seventh pages of zine; transcription below

Use the -i flag when running a script, and when it finishes or crashes, you'll get an interactive Python session so you can inspect the state of your program at that moment!

$ python -i example.py
Traceback (most recent call last):
    File "example.py", line 5, in 
        toprint = varname + "entries"
TypeError: unsupported operand type(s) for + : 'int' and 'str'
>>> varname
>>> type(varname)

[illustration: pointer to type(varname) asking, "wanna make a guess?"]

Back cover of zine; transcription below

More: "A Few Python Tips"
This zine made in honor of
NYC's feminist makerspace!

CC BY-SA 2016 Sumana Harihareswara
harihareswara.net @brainwane

Everyone has something to teach;
everyone has something to learn.

Laptop displaying bpython logo next to half-scratched-out bpython logo, Python code, and technical prose written and drawn on paper, with notebook and pen and mug, on a wooden table

Here's the directory that contains those thumbnails, plus a PDF to print out and turn into an eight-page booklet with one center cut and a bit of folding. That directory also contains a screenshot of the bpython logo with a grid overlaid, in case you ever want to hand-draw it. Hand-drawing the bpython logo was the hardest thing about making this zine (beating "fitting a sample error message into the width allotted" by a narrow margin).

Libby Horacek and Anne DeCusatis not only volunteered at the MergeSort table -- they also created zines right there and then! (Libby, Anne.) The software zine heritage of The Whole Earth Software Review, 2600, BubbleSort, Julia Evans, The Recompiler, et alia continues!

(I know about bpython and python -i because I learned about them at the Recurse Center. Want to become a better programmer? Join the Recurse Center!)

Check Us Out!

Oct. 14th, 2016 03:19 pm
[syndicated profile] aotus_feed

Posted by davidferriero

The National Archives provides many “entrances” to our content. We have facilities located across the country to bring our records to you and you may find our records where you go to on the web, including Wikipedia, Facebook, Instagram, and many more.  We know that nearly one third of you come to our website via your phones and this experience just got much better.

A few days ago, our website (Archives.gov) underwent a substantial behind-the-scenes overhaul. Nearly 3 million visitors come to Archives.gov each month to search and discover information about the National Archives. The website serves as the primary face of the agency both nationally and internationally and plays an important role in our Open Government efforts to provide greater transparency and access to the records of the National Archives.

The underlying infrastructure was completely rebuilt and migrated into Drupal, an open source content management system. Drupal allows more NARA staff to more easily update the site content, resulting in a fresher experience for you, our users. Although this effort focused on our back-end systems—and was not a visual redesign of the site—there are some enhancements that will be readily apparent to you and I want to highlight here. These improvements include: a better experience on smartphones and tablets, an updated section of the site dedicated to America’s founding documents, and a new searchable calendar of national events.

1. Responsive to mobile devices: Nearly one third of our web visitors browse Archives.gov on a smartphone or tablet. The updated site now adjusts to provide the best experience for your screen size.Responsive to mobile devices

2. Refreshed look for America’s founding documents: The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights are viewed more than 18 million times a year and are consistently in our top 5 most visited sections of the website. In the past, these important documents were featured in a design that was distinct from the rest of the website and the user experience on mobile devices was poor. We’ve incorporated this content into the main site, making it more accessible on mobile devices, improving the navigation, and better integrating documents with the rest of our online offerings.

Refreshed look for America's Founding Documents


3. Searchable calendar of events: Want to find a fun event for kids or a workshop for genealogists? Our new calendar interface provides simple ways to search by keyword, filter by event location, and by event type. You can also easily add an event to your own preferred calendar (iCal, Google, etc.) so you’ll never forget where and when to join us!

Searchable Calendar of Events

4. Featured records on the homepage: We have added a prominent spot on the homepage for highlighting relevant items from the Catalog. Check here for connections between our holdings and current events and anniversaries as well as newly-digitized records.

5. Improved search: Our new website search is designed to provide more relevant results. We’ve made the search more comprehensive as well, so you will now find results from our Presidential Library websites and the latest news from our many social media accounts.

Improved Search

Our website plays an essential role in helping the National Archives make access happen and connect with our customers. While most of the changes we’ve made to date are behind the scenes, these back-end upgrades are a critical first step towards a full redesign that will improve the look, navigation, and user experience. We are excited to roll out these initial changes and look forward to hearing your feedback.  Add your comments below or send in to webprogram@nara.gov.

[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Ashley Bryan has been a prolific children’s book author and illustrator throughout his long career. He’s received several starred Kirkus reviews and is a three-time winner of the American Library Association’s Coretta Scott King Award, given each year to African-American authors and illustrators. His latest book, Freedom over Me, was inspired by his own collection of slavery-related documents, which date from the 1820s to the 1860s. In poems and illustrations, he imaginatively expands upon rudimentary descriptions of slaves to tell stories of their lives and dreams. He lives in Islesford, one of the Cranberry Isles off the coast of Maine. We asked him a few questions about the book and its creation.
[syndicated profile] kirkus_kidlit_feed
Those are the words of Civil Rights leader John Lewis from his book, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, published in 1998. It was this moment of Lewis’ childhood that inspired author Jabari Asim to write Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis, illustrated by the great E. B. Lewis and on shelves this week. Back in May here at Kirkus, I mentioned this one in a Fall picture book preview, and it remains one of my favorite picture books thus far this year. In the book, Asim shows us but one aspect of the legendary congressman’s childhood, and by doing so he eloquently captures the man who grew up to “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves,” just as he did for the chickens, whom he not only preached to but kept from being traded to neighboring farmers.
[syndicated profile] sumana_feed
Some thrown-together thoughts towards a more comprehensive writeup. It's advice on about how to get along better as a new open source participant, based on the fundamental wisdom that you weren't the first person here and you won't be the last.

We aren't just making code. We are working in a shared workplace, even if it's an online place rather than a physical office or laboratory, making stuff together. The work includes not just writing functions and classes, but experiments and planning and coming up with "we ought to do this" ideas. And we try to make it so that anyone coming into our shared workplace -- or anyone who's working on a different part of the project than they're already used to -- can take a look at what we've already said and done, and reuse the work that's been done already.

We aren't just making code. We're making history. And we're making a usable history, one that you can use, and one that the contributor next year can use.

So if you're contributing now, you have to learn to learn from history. We put a certain kind of work in our code repositories, both code and notes about the code. git grep idea searches a code repository's code and comments for the word "idea", git log --grep="idea" searches the commit history for times we've used the word "idea" in a commit message, and git blame codefile.py shows you who last changed every line of that codefile, and when. And we put a certain kind of work into our conversations, in our mailing lists and our bug/issue trackers. We say "I tried this and it didn't work" or "here's how someone else should implement this" or "I am currently working on this". You will, with practice, get better at finding and looking at these clues, at finding the bits of code and conversation that are relevant to your question.

And you have to learn to contribute to history. This is why we want you to ask your questions in public -- so that when we answer them, someone today or next week or next year can also learn from the answer. This is why we want you to write emails to our mailing lists where you explain what you're doing. This is why we ask you to use proper English when you write code comments, and why we have rules for the formatting and phrasing of commit messages, so it's easier for someone in the future to grep and skim and understand. This is why a good question or a good answer has enough context that other people, a year from now, can see whether it's relevant to them.

Relatedly: the scientific method is for teaching as well as for troubleshooting. I compared an open source project to a lab before. In the code work we do, we often use the scientific method. In order for someone else to help you, they have to create, test, and prove or disprove theories -- about what you already know, about what your code is doing, about the configuration on your computer. And when you see me asking a million questions, asking you to try something out, asking what you have already tried, and so on, that's what I'm doing. I'm generally using the scientific method. I'm coming up with a question and a hypothesis and I'm testing it, or asking you to test it, so we can look at that data together and draw conclusions and use them to find new interesting questions to pursue.


  • Expected result: doing run-dev.py on your machine will give you the same results as on mine.
  • Actual observation: you get a different result, specifically, an error that includes a permissions problem.
  • Hypothesis: the relevant directories or users aren't set up with the permissions they need.
  • Next step: Request for further data to prove or disprove hypothesis.
So I'll ask a question to try and prove or disprove my hypothesis. And if you never reply to my question, or you say "oh I fixed it" but don't say how, or if you say "no that's not the problem" but you don't share the evidence that led you to that conclusion, it's harder for me to help you. And similarly, if I'm trying to figure out what you already know so that I can help you solve a problem, I'm going to ask a lot of diagnostic questions about whether you know how to do this or that. And it's ok not to know things! I want to teach you. And then you'll teach someone else.

In our coding work, it's a shared responsibility to generate hypotheses and to investigate them, to put them to the test, and to share data publicly to help others with their investigations. And it's more fruitful to pursue hypotheses, to ask "I tried ___ and it's not working; could the reason be this?", than it is to merely ask "what's going on?" and push the responsibility of hypothesizing and investigation onto others.

This is a part of balancing self-sufficiency and interdependence. You must try, and then you must ask. Use the scientific method and come up with some hypotheses, then ask for help -- and ask for help in a way that helps contribute to our shared history, and is more likely to help ensure a return-on-investment for other people's time.

So it's likely to go like this:

  1. you try to solve your problem until you get stuck, including looking through our code and our documentation, then start formulating your request for help
  2. you ask your question
  3. someone directs you to a document
  4. you go read that document, and try to use it to answer your question
  5. you find you are confused about a new thing
  6. you ask another question
  7. now that you have demonstrated that you have the ability to read, think, and learn new things, someone has a longer talk with you to answer your new specific question
  8. you and the other person collaborate to improve the document that you read in step 4 :-)

This helps us make a balance between person-to-person discussion and documentation that everyone can read, so we save time answering common questions but also get everyone the personal help they need. This will help you understand the rhythm of help we provide in livechat -- including why we prefer to give you help in public mailing lists and channels, instead of in one-on-one private messages or email. We prefer to hear from you and respond to you in public places so more people have a chance to answer the question, and to see and benefit from the answer.

We want you to learn and grow. And your success is going to include a day when you see how we should be doing things better, not just with a new feature or a bugfix in the code, but in our processes, in how we're organizing and running the lab. I also deeply want for you to take the lessons you learn -- about how a group can organize itself to empower everyone, about seeing and hacking systems, about what scaffolding makes people more capable -- to the rest of your life, so you can be freer, stronger, a better leader, a disruptive influence in the oppressive and needless hierarchies you encounter. That's success too. You are part of our history and we are part of yours, even if you part ways with us, even if the project goes defunct.

This is where I should say something about not just making a diff but a difference, or something about the changelog of your life, but I am already super late to go on my morning jog and this was meant to be a quick-and-rough braindump anyway...

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Posted by Slack

Communication tips from a digital etiquette expert

I f your boss’s mother passes away, is it best to send your condolences via email or an old-fashioned card? If a co-worker makes an epic gaffe in a presentation, should you message her feedback or tell her directly?

In this digital age there so many ways to communicate, but are there any rules about the most appropriate ways to do so?

“Absolutely yes,” says Daniel Post Senning.

And he would know. His great-great grandmother was Emily Post, who became synonymous with proper manners in the US nearly a century ago with the publication of her book Etiquette.

Senning carries on the family tradition today by dispensing etiquette advice with a modern twist through his work at the Emily Post Institute, in a podcast with his cousin Lizzie, and in his book Manners in a Digital World: Living Well Online. Here are some of his pointers on the best ways to communicate when technology and manners intersect.

The medium carries a message

One of the golden rules is the medium you choose will be part of the message. In Emily Post’s day, for instance, the formality of a wedding invitation was part of the message being conveyed. It indicated that you were invited to a formal occasion and to approach it with a level of seriousness.

Today, with so many ways to get in touch — email, message, text, tweet, etc. — you can say more with your choices than ever before.

“Just being aware of this is crucial to making good choices,” says Senning.

When in doubt, speak up

One of the biggest communication tips Senning offers is that the written word is best for communicating facts — who, what, when, and where.

“When you start to get into the why’s or emotional content, you have a much better chance of being understood if someone can relate to you in person,” he says.

If people can hear the tone and quality of your voice and your body language, it provides them with another level of information. When in-person won’t work, video conferencing and the telephone are good back-ups.

In general, he advises against communicating in difficult situations with quick messages, such as texts. He especially advises against texting people apologies.

Make it easy on ‘em

A core tenet of good etiquette is making other people feel comfortable and at ease. When applying this to the decision to email, message, text, or tweet someone, Senning advises using that person’s preferred method of written communication.

For instance, if your grandmother has a hard time turning on the computer, it’s probably best not to email her. Likewise, a text to your teenage nephew is probably better than a Facebook message.

Tried and true

When it comes to really important messages, such as recognizing someone’s retirement or new baby, or to send your condolences, channel Emily Post and break out your old-fashioned note cards.

“There’s a seriousness and weight to a handwritten note,” says Senning, which can leave a lasting impression about both the message and the sender. “As my Uncle Peter would say, ‘Would you rather be deleted or remembered?’”

Picture the person

A final trick Senning recommends is to imagine the person you are communicating with sitting beside you as you tap out a message to them.

“It can really help hold you accountable,” he says. “The vast majority of us don’t intend to be rude and know the right thing to do if we think about it.”

Bringing your awareness away from the computer screen and back to the person you’re communicating can help you be a little less removed and a little more empathetic.

“In some ways we do etiquette work, but in a lot of ways, it’s work on mindfulness and awareness,” Senning says. “It’s about helping people to think about what they’re doing rather than telling them what the standards are.”

Emily Brady ceased texting apologies since writing this story.

How to choose the most thoughtful medium for your message was originally published in Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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