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Cover image for Good vs. Evil: The Radicalization of Pokemon on FidoNet with Jason Yee

Good vs. Evil: The Radicalization of Pokemon on FidoNet with Jason Yee

mandymoore profile image Mandy Moore ・28 min read

In this episode, Jason Yee, Director of Advocacy at Gremlin, talks about community: growth, monetization, and sustainment, as well as creating a sense of belonging amidst living life during a pandemic by attending virtual events and participating in the new wave of online streaming.

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Jonan Scheffler: Hello and welcome back to Observy McObservface, proudly brought to you by New Relic's developer relations team, The Relicans. Observy is about observability in something a bit more than the traditional sense. It's often about technology and tools that we use to gain visibility into our systems. But it is also about people because, fundamentally, software is about people. You can think of observy as something of an observability variety show where we will apply systems thinking and think critically about challenges across our entire industry. And we very much look forward to having you join us. You can find the show notes for this episode along with all of The Relicans podcasts on We're so pleased to have you here this week. Enjoy the show.

Hello, internet. Welcome back to Observy. I am joined today by Jason Yee. How are you, Jason?

Jason Yee: Hey, I'm doing good.

Jonan: Jason and I are sitting here on a muted Zoom call and recording in our podcasting software. We use Zencastr here on the DevRel team. It's actually a great product if you are looking for a way to record podcasts; I'm a huge fan. But all to say that in the background now I can see a large collection of Pokémon balloons. How is it that you have so many Pokémon balloons, Jason?

Jason: I have a ton of Pokémon balloons thanks to Tammy Bryant, who's my manager at Gremlin. Tammy is an amazing person. It was my birthday ten days ago. And she knows of my love of Pokémon Go, and so she surprised me and had a bunch of Pokémon balloons delivered.

Jonan: This is fantastic. I really wish that I had Tammy for a boss now. Pokémon balloons are amazing. I am curious to hear more about this Pokémon Go, though. So I remember it coming out, and it was all over the country. I remember just walking outside -- I was in Denver. I was traveling for work, and you're on a conference circuit, and it can be quite lonely. And it was nice because it was the third day the game was out. I went out playing Pokémon Go and eventually ended up in a pack of maybe 50 people in a park playing Pokémon. Is there still that kind of community around it?

Jason: There is. It's definitely not as big as it once was. But your story is exactly how I got into it. Prior to being in DevRel and traveling all the time, I was a remote developer, and I was working -- It was 2016. So I think I was with maybe O'Reilly, or maybe I was ending my term at Mongo. But I was home all the time, kind of like we are now with pandemic stuff. And so I realized one day that I hadn't gone outside in over a week because you buy your groceries, you sleep, you get up, you go to the next room or you just go to the couch and you work then you go back to your bedroom. I literally hadn't left the house. And a buddy of mine, this was probably like a couple of weeks after the game came out, he's like, "You should play this game. It's amazing." And I'm like, "This seems so stupid." But I started playing it, and I realized now I have this gamification that forces me to go outside and interact with the world.

Jonan: I actually thought it was going to catch on faster. I thought that those kinds of augmented reality-style games -- There was one from Google back in the day. Do you remember? With like --

Jason: Yeah. So that was the precursor.

Jonan: What was that called?

Jason: Gosh, why am I spacing out on the name now?

Jonan: It was called Cybertech Vaporwave something.

Jason: [Laughs]

Jonan: I remember it having lots of TRON-looking graphic things. There are still people who play this game, and I'm sorry to all the diehard fans.

Jason: Yeah, I don't know. I'm spacing out. That's the precursor to Pokémon Go. So essentially, that Google team that created that spun off and became Niantic, which created Pokémon Go, and then they've done the Harry Potter Wizarding something which is similar, and apparently they're working on real-world AR Settlers of Catan, which sounds amazing.

Jonan: Oh yes. I want to lose friends in real-time in real life.

Jason: [Laughs]

Jonan: That sounds awesome. Settlers of Catan, if you have not played this board game, it's sometimes violence-inducing. Maybe play it with people who you are willing to just write off as human beings the first time till you get your groove because it's a great way to make enemies out of friends. This world that I thought we're headed towards, where we're building things like that to drive community, I was pretty excited for it. And then we had a bump in the road, just a little bit of an off-year right before. And I feel like community fractured a little bit in the United States certainly. I was really looking forward to that technology because I was feeling exactly like you are that I suddenly have a reason to go walking in the park every night. And I'm not going to lie since the pandemic; there have definitely been weeks when I haven't gone outside. I have wished that that wasn't true but coupled with all of the things going on in the world and a busy work schedule and a company that's adapting to a remote work style, there's a lot going on. Do you think that those are going to continue to grow, that there will be more companies like Niantic?

Jason: I think there will be. I think there's definitely a marketplace for companies that build more community. I think the question is trying to find that right balance of how do you build an engaging community? How do you monetize it? Et cetera. One of the challenges that we found with Pokémon Go is Niantic is all about the money, and so there's just this constant barrage. And if anybody has played Pokémon, whether that's Go or any of the regular console games, you know that a lot of Pokémon is all about grinding, right?

Jonan: Yeah.

Jason: It's just catching the same stupid Pokémon over and over and over again to get candy.

Jonan: [Laughs]

Jason: And I've realized even with the pandemic and having this game that incentivizes me to go and do things with other people, there's still this burnout aspect. Because when you get together for a raid and you're in person, you're still six feet apart, and you don't want to hang out afterward and chat with people, and so even that has worn down on the community. So I think yes, there's definitely a future. I don't know what it looks like, but there's this nice balance if someone can find that of building a great product that promotes community and at the same time can make money without making it impact the quality of community.

Jonan: This is an interesting phrase you used, monetization of community, because I feel like you and I are both working in developer relations might have some thoughts on the monetization of community. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, actually. I saw someone tweet the other day that someday they want to start their own company and hire their friends and do work because it's the right work because it's good for the world, do work that values people over profit. And working in DevRel, I try to marry the two all the time. I try to find a company that supports my purpose here, which is not profit. As it turns out, not a whole lot of people when you ask them why they're here on this earth we'll answer, "Well, I want to get all the money and then die." That's just not -- [Laughs] Nobody's planning that. That's how it ultimately turns out. And so I try and find companies which rightly are motivated by money. I get it. If I was a CEO of a public corporation, I would feel a pretty intense obligation to keep feeding and clothing the families of all those people working at that company; that would come before a lot of things. And I've been trying to find a place where I can marry those two things, and I can have my purpose and the things that I find fulfilling and hopefully, make some money for the company as well. Do you think that DevRel as a whole is succeeding in that? Do you think that on average DevRel teams, because it's small -- There are maybe 10,000 people in DevRel around the world. Do you think of those 10,000 half of them have a similar view?

Jason: I would say so. To be honest, I think that a vast majority of folks in DevRel have a similar view. One of the things that we always chat about is when you're in DevRel, what are the KPIs? What are those metrics to track success? People get really conflicted about things. And I think that's largely in part because a vast majority of us in DevRel have that notion of we're out there to make the world a better place to teach people new things, to get people excited about technology to make their lives better. And the money is definitely a distant second. But we do understand the conflict comes when you're like, but it can't be too distant of a second-place because the company I work for has to make money in order for me to have this job and for me to get paid.

Jonan: I agree with you. I think that a lot of DevRel people feel the same. I also have seen a shift lately that I wasn't too keen on, to be honest, where we kind of over-corrected, I think towards product messaging where it was a lot of -- I equate it to sign spinning, but that's probably overstating things where you're standing on the corner saying. "Buy! Buy! Buy!" I think there was an overcompensation towards well, of course, your DevRel team is going to talk about your product all the time and, therein, address exactly your existing market, which never made sense to me. [Chuckles] I work at New Relic, and if I talk about New Relic all of the time, I'm talking to people who are looking for New Relic content on the internet. I am a New Relic user, but if I'm an anonymous New Relic user out there on the internet looking for information about how to use New Relic, I'd probably go to, [Laughs], and I would find it there, and I would read the documentation. And I think that a lot out of what you're trying to do with developer relations is show up, support the communities that you're there for, and in so doing, create awareness around the product. New Relic is a hell of a product. I think that we actually have pretty deep market penetration in a specific segment of the industry but that segment is -- I mean, I don't even know the numbers, and I couldn't comment if I did since it's a public company. But there's a lot of room for growth certainly for both of our companies, right?

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things about doing DevRel is having that belief in the company that you work for and having a belief in that product, right?

Jonan: Yeah.

Jason: It's easy for me to say chaos engineering is definitely a process that everyone should adopt. And when you look at what's out there, yes, Gremlin is a market leader, and so it makes it easy; I don't have to shill anything. I believe in what we produce, and therefore, if all I can do is convince you that chaos engineering is something that you ought to be doing, the odds are that you're going to end up at least looking at Gremlin if not buying it, similarly with New Relic. I worked for a competitor, I won't name names, but if I'm being completely honest, New Relic One, when that came out, the idea of a unified backend that stores all of your information that had been the dream for so long. You don't have to show that that's going to work. That's where things needed to go anyway. So if someone's like, "What's observability?" And you can teach them about what that is; obviously, they're going to end up at least taking a look at New Relic if not buying it.

Jonan: Exactly, exactly how I feel about it. I can't work for companies where I don't believe in the product. It's not a question of I won't enjoy it; I'll be unhappy. I can actually do some pretty crap jobs for a long time being unhappy. I worked in factories making plastic handles to hold milk jugs together. That was not deeply gratifying work. It did not fulfill my life's purpose, but I did it, and I was fine. I can survive that. What I can't do is be asked to trade my authenticity. I can't, without truly believing it, say that this is the right choice. And you're right that really I'm only in a position, competitors are not, to convince people that observability is a good idea. "Hey, you should measure your software so that you can improve the quality of your software." And we try and build communities of people who care about quality software and care about teaching and learning so that those communities continue to grow. I am curious to hear your thoughts on that, on growing a community because I have some ideas, but this being a podcast that I'm on pretty regularly, there are plenty of opportunities for me to share those. [Laughter] What do you think are some of the ways that you can reinforce and grow communities or even to set them free and set them growing on their own?

Jason: This is an entire podcast series in and of itself is how to build communities.

Jonan: It is.

Jason: But I think ultimately, what you said about having them grow themselves is a key part of it. Community gets thrown around a lot these days, and community in most senses isn't actually community. It's just, hey, I've got an audience, and I'm just speaking at them, or my community is my customers, and that's not really community. I think the key to a sustainable community is that idea of being self-sustaining. Community members are not just the recipients of the information or the resources, but they're also the producers of that. And then the question becomes, well, how do you encourage people or incentivize them to actually go and become resource producers and contribute back to community? And again, this is why this is a whole podcast series. There are a number of ways to do that.

Jonan: You mail them t-shirts, that's what you do.

Jason: [Laughs]

Jonan: It's funny because New Relic actually did exactly that. Back in the day, that was a big part of how New Relic got their start was mailing out those data nerd t-shirts; I had one.

Jason: They were great t-shirts.

Jonan: Yeah. I still have many data nerd t-shirts, but I had one before I worked here because it was a good way to spread that. I agree with you, though, that real healthy, organic community growth can't come from a one-sided relationship. We talk about our customers being communities, and that's certainly valid in some contexts, but I don't think it's valid most of the time that we're using it. We are changing the name of our customers to our communities in our company without actually embracing the values that are necessary to turn that into a real community. And that piece where you set it off and growing on its own is this magic spark that a lot of people don't understand how to generate, but I have a hypothesis: just love them. Just be there for them genuinely and authentically and support them. If you hire people who are in DevRel like you and I, and you set them loose on the world, they're going to go out and just do good things for developers. They're just going to go and try and make developers' lives better. And you will benefit in things like community growth and in many other ways that are, as you said, difficult to measure or quantify but very tangible for your bottom line as a business.

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. It's funny, totally random thought dovetailing back to sending out t-shirts as community. Include a postmarked package inside that if you receive a New Relic t-shirt, you have to take one of your old t-shirts, put it in there, and send it to the next person. How about that?

Jonan: I think we should make a website about it. [Laughter] I think we should have a tech t-shirt exchange where you just swap random tech t-shirts with people. That would be hilarious. There's a pretty significant quality differential, unfortunately. [Laughs] I've seen a lot of bad tech t-shirts.

Jason: Oh yeah.

Jonan: I saw someone the other day made an art piece out of it by taking the t-shirts and wrapping them around presumably a square of wood and then hanging them all on the wall in a grid.

Jason: That's cool.

Jonan: I think that could probably wallpaper my house.

Jason: Yeah.

Jonan: Do you think that conferences are going to come back, those live events?

Jason: Yes.

Jonan: I think so too.

Jason: It was unclear early on. Early in the pandemic, we were like, oh, this online thing is great. I don't have to fly anywhere. Well, for a lot of people, it was the, “I don't have to fly anywhere,” et cetera. And I think at this point, we are all way past the point of we just want to be outside. We just want to hug our friends.

Jonan: Yeah. The first conference that I put on after this is all over is called Hug Jonan Conf or the Jonan Show. You could just come to Portland. We're all just going to take turns lining up to get hugs, and that's it. You just hug each other for a couple of -- I mean, the talks are really just extra when you think about it. I'm going to watch the videos anyway. Let's just stand around and hug each other. [Laughs]

Jason: Yeah. Now, that's one thing that I have loved; you mentioned watching the videos. I've loved virtual conferences that have you prerecord because I've had a ton of fun making little mini-movies rather than just being like, here's a slide deck, and I'm just going to talk to these slides, and you're going to watch this horrible PowerPoint presentation.

Jonan: Right, which is, unfortunately, most of what's out there right now, and I think why virtual events are struggling so hard. Again, I can't probably talk about how engagement for the industry has gone from my perspective because I have some inside information there, but my impression is not great by and large. I think virtual events are kind of falling flat for exactly that reason. What we're going to do is we're going to take that stage experience, and we're going to remove the part where you get to shake that presenter's hand, and ask them questions, and go out to dinner with them afterward and talk to them in the hallway the next day, and share the conversation around that talk with the other people in the hallway for the rest of the conference. We're going to take all that boring stuff away, and we're going to replace it with slideshows because PowerPoint is really why we're here, after all. No. It's so, so bad. [Chuckles]

Jason: Yeah.

Jonan: The engagement is just entirely missing. This is part of what I think is so valuable about live streaming, which has been picking up in DevRel and in other parts of the software community. Twitch's traffic over the last year has doubled. They've been doubling for many years, but you can see a visible spike when the pandemic hit. Everyone was craving that sense of engagement, I think. Do you think that we should continue having those kinds of events? Let's imagine for a moment then that maybe Twitch isn't the answer, but maybe there's something. We find a way in this new virtual world on the information superhighway of recreating just a portion of that engagement experience when the physical events come back. And I agree with you because I'm starved for that sense of community. Do you think that virtual events will be stronger? Because before, they were pretty dead, in my opinion.

Jason: That's a great question. I think when things come back, everyone's still going to go back to in real-life physical events. I think those will definitely change for the better. I'm not quite sure how much virtual events will continue to survive because they're already seeing a decline because of that, because people are missing that engagement. And I haven't seen too many virtual conferences that have really leaned into the idea that it's virtual and gotten creative around how people interact. And so until we find that until somebody finds a really good model that's easily replicable, I don't think that virtual conferences really will continue to survive.

Jonan: Yeah. I think even in a chat setting, you suffer from a thing that many real-life conversations suffer from where everyone is just thinking of the next thing to say, and they're kind of on their own little journey with their conversations. It's rare to find a chat room where people are maybe in a small enough group that they're all following the same thread and engaged. I remember that from the early days of the internet. When was the first time you went online?

Jason: Oh, man. First time I went online was probably '91.

Jonan: Wow.

Jason: It might have been even a little bit earlier than that. I was online pretty quickly.

Jonan: You grew up in the Bay Area.

Jason: That's part of it, yeah. I grew up in the East Bay in the Bay Area. And so my cable company -- my parents had cable. And I remember a good friend of mine; he just lived a few blocks away. He had cable, and he managed to get into this beta program of cable internet before cable internet was a thing.

Jonan: Oh, by a lot. This is 1991?

Jason: This is '91. And so we had a really basic modem. We had a 14.4 modem, and I had dial-up. You abuse the AOL CDs until that ran out. And so we found a really cheap dial-up, and I got online just surfing the web and stuff. And my buddy had gotten cable internet, which at the time if I had a 14.4, it was probably the equivalent of 56k or something, but it was blazing fast. And so I'd go to his place all the time. I ended up doing an internship with the department of energy. A family friend worked there and was like, "Oh yeah, we've got this internship program." And so that got me even faster internet because it was government labs that I was essentially their errand boy. They put me in a lot of situations where I'm like, I'm pretty sure this wouldn't be legal now.

Jonan: [Laughs]

Jason: They'd be like, "Oh yeah, go into this..." We built this giant furnace essentially to test industrial gas burners. And it was just a giant cylinder that was filled with a fiberglass on the inside. And every time we ran this burner for 24 hours, they'd turn it off, and then someone needs to go in and clean the inside and take samples and stuff. And I was like, well, of course, the kid can fit through this tiny hole better than a 40-year-old man, so they made me do it. But in the downtimes, I had access to the internet, and that's essentially how I got into programming. I had known a little bit of programming, but the web being new, you quickly run out of things to look for, especially as a kid. You don't have too many interests, so you're just like cool; I looked up all the baseball stuff that I could. I looked up all the comp book stuff that I could. There's literally nothing left on the internet; I guess I'll make a webpage.

Jonan: Oh yeah. I mean, for any given topic at the time, there may have been fewer than a hundred web pages on that thing, depending on how obscure it was. I think the nerd topics got picked up pretty quickly early on. But I installed the internet at my high school. I was on the internet committee, and it was in 1993, I want to say. And we'd had it before, but at a different school. They had had some internet, and it was definitely not widely available to the kids. We got it in 1993 for everyone. You could just go into the computer lab and use the computers. It was a very different internet back then, Archie, Veronica, and there were some dog ones, maybe I'm thinking of the dog-themed search engines like Lycos and Fido. Was there a Fido?

Jason: There was FidoNet.

Jonan: Yeah, FidoNet. Wow. And back then, if I found myself in a chat room somewhere, which really for me was not IRC, it was ICQ or Prodigy. We had prodigy before AOL was really a thing or before AOL just dominated at least. I think they were both kind of out at the same time. But I'd sit in a Prodigy chat room, and there are ten people in there all about my age, and we're just chatting about a thing, but we're holding the same thread. We're holding that same conversation. And you're Googling in the other window, you're not Googling, but you're AltaVistaing in the other window to try and sound smart about whatever topic is at hand, right?

Jason: [Laughs] Yes.

Jonan: It's a very different experience today. I don't want to say it's more performative, but you don't see that kind of intimate conversation, I guess.

Jason: There was a realness based on the fact that it's not that you didn't need to hide who you were, but it wasn't a thought. I feel like we were all so naive that when you said that you were a 14-year-old kid or something, of course, you were. You weren't some 50-year-old creepy dude because who does that?

Jonan: Right. Who does that? ASL checks, you don't hear about that anymore. For those who are unaware, this is an Age Sex Location check. This is basically the first message in the chat room. Drop-in a chat room, ASL check. Is anyone near me? Is anyone about my age? If we were to do that today, I mean, it's a joke, right? I'll probably tweet ASL on my timeline after this, but I bet I don't get very many responses. I'll probably get like 142 or 112, whatever. [Chuckle]

Jason: [Laughs] Yeah. It's crazy, the thought of we just did that. Because I remember being in college, so this would be in... I think it was like '97 or '98. I've got friends today that I met back then that was literally that. It was a Telnet based chat called The Spacebar. I was going to Purdue at the time, and I managed to find one other person that was at Purdue, one other person that was in Indiana, and some folks in Chicago and decided to just hang out with these people. Of course, someone's throwing a party, I'm going to drive halfway across the state and just go meet these people and hang out. These days --

Jonan: It's terrifying.

Jason: Yeah.

Jonan: That's how Burning Man started. I remember meeting someone at a TacoTime to trade for Doom on floppy disks. I don't remember what I had to trade. We were swapping our copied games on a stack. It was rubber-banded together. There must have been 14 disks. I wish I remembered what it was. On one side or the other, I think it was Doom. But I regret for the next generation and all generations after that, that's not really going to be a thing for them. There's no real default sense of community just by being online; that is the default. You could find community if you were, I don't want to use Luddite this way, but if you were someone who intentionally is one of those people who have a flip phone on purpose, the monsters, that's the thing you could form a community around. But you can't just form a community because you're internet people. It was so cool back then. I met someone on the internet, and then we met in real life? It's a miracle I didn't get murdered at that TacoTime.

Jason: Yeah. Same here. Getting in a random car and driving, again, halfway across the state or to a new state with random people who all turned out to be really amazing folks.

Jonan: The flip side of that, of course, is we're raising an entire generation of digital natives, people who will come to write the next generation of software. And I'm actually pretty excited about that. I think that up until now, we've had a lot of tools that were made by tech people for tech people. And I think that we're at risk of continuing that right now. There is a risk that we will perpetuate this cycle. When the internet gets bigger, there's already going to be a large population of people who have the skills and the knowledge, and the money in place, and then it's just a land grab to some degree. But if you and I doing the work that we do for a living can succeed in trying to educate developers in a way that they are motivated to go and form communities and educate developers, then we get to have this recursive exponential effect on the world and solve a little bit for the problem where fewer than 1% of the Earth's population has most of the money and power.

Jason: Absolutely. The really nice thing about that, too, is as this snowballs, you get that accumulated knowledge. And so all of the mistakes that we've done and the work that we've put in, there are now really great solutions, and people don't have to recreate that wheel or rediscover the problems, and they can build off of that. So they already have a great headstart.

Jonan: To bring it back to that Pokémon Go example, one of the things that was really difficult about Niantic was the real-time backend. Do you remember what the -- Was it Bigtable? There was some Google technology backup.

Jason: Yeah. So, as far as I know, it was Google Bigtable and then it's running on GKE.

Jonan: GKE. Okay. And they actually broke it. When Pokémon Go went live, they brought down whatever services they were using at Google Cloud because of the scope and scale and the inability to keep up with the explosive growth of this thing.

Jason: Yeah. They definitely had that massive scalability problem. From what I've heard, there was also some advice given by Google's Customer Success engineers that was ignored. I don't know the full story behind things in the backend, but they definitely had issues with scale.

Jonan: It's Pokémon. It’s a Nintendo property. You have raised an entire generation of people for whom Pikachu is a family member. You have to be expecting this to some degree, but having exceeded already the wildest expectations of Google nerds for what this Pokémon game would be, that's pretty impressive. My original point one was, hey, Google. There’s this company, New Relic; they’re really good at predicting those things. But two, the technology that enabled Niantic to exist and then to break and then to learn a lesson, the next time that there's going to be a company, to answer our question earlier, if there are going to be more of these companies, these augmented reality companies, these community-building game experiences, things that actually create good for the world while they make money for Nintendo and for Niantic, they actually create good, we're paving the way to some degree right now. So maybe there is something to be hopeful for there, that those technologies and tools that we are developing today and breaking and learning lessons from, the second person to come along, it's basically the first follower problem, right?

Jason: Yeah.

Jonan: You're the person out there dancing in the field, and there's a risk that eventually, you will just stop dancing. But if you get two people, then you got a community. Do you think that the harm that tech does to the world -- And I don't think either of us is under the impression that that's not real. There has been a good example recently of some very real harm that tech has brought to the world. Do you think it's outweighed by the good right now in this moment? I can say someday, yeah, probably it will be, someday it won't, for sure. But right now, do you think that we're teetering towards good or evil?

Jason: Oh, that's such a deep question. I would say overall; technology has done good. Obviously, there are recent situations where it's enabled, you know, we talk about community, it's enabled communities of disinformation and of hatred. But I think in the grand scheme of things, if we think of technology more than just social platforms, technology and what we have has enabled medicine and things like the vaccines that have been created in a timescale that's been much faster than anything ever before. So I think in the grand scheme, technology is a force for good. But I think what we've really learned is it's less about thinking of technology as good or bad but as thinking of it as it's a tool, and it really comes back to us as people and how we govern, how we think of others, how we treat each other, how does that influence not only our use of the tool but as we continue to evolve the tool and create these tools, how does that influence it?

Jonan: And as we march forward into the next year and beyond, is it necessary for us to modify the system, or is the system going to trend towards good long-term on its own? I think that it's safe to say that we're probably going to have to inject something there. We're going to have to make a conscious effort to turn the ship because those toxic communities, those communities of disinformation and hatred, they're in many ways easier to grow, I mean, always. I think having a common enemy -- Some days, I hope for alien invasion just so we can all turn our eyes to the sky and have something to shoot at other than each other.

Jason: But you're right. It's got to be conscientious. One of the recent news articles was about GPT-3 and this AI learning. And there's been analysis that it's extremely biased, and it's extremely racist. And part of that is simply the fact that when you feed it information, when you take machine learning when you take anything like that, including just what we think of as vanilla technology that we're building, it comes with the baggage and the history that we have. And we all have things from the past. We grew up in racist systems. And so without consciously thinking of How can I change the system? How can I improve the system? Then you're inevitably going to be building in all of the stuff that you've had from your own environment and your own background. And so you've got to be conscientious when you're building things.

Jonan: Did you ever think when you were sitting there on FidoNet that someday you would be on a podcast talking about artificial intelligence as being biased based on who built them? I didn't imagine that.

Jason: No, not at all.

Jonan: I think that the conversation is shifting. Someone pointed out to me recently that a good reason to have some optimism after what we have just been through, the collective trauma of our country, is that these are conversations that had to happen for a long time that we have been building up and building up to these conversations, and they're finally here for better or worse. And I think that the key to turning the world towards good is to just keep having them and to not retract from the hellish year that we have had and pretend that we didn't talk about those things because it's easy; you can back away from that. It's uncomfortable. We got to go into that to heal from it.

Jason: I think what we've learned is that the perceived uncomfortability of talking about it. Nobody wants to talk about it because it is awkward, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. That pain is so much less than if you ignore it and it's allowed to grow. And you've got to deal with it at some point.

Jonan: So get counseling, talk about your feelings, and then talk about your feelings on the internet and stop creating toxic communities, listeners, okay? You out there who are listening to this show who are actively radicalizing the baddies, just stop that, please, if you could. You've got to address your trauma to move past your trauma.

Jason: I think it's a snarky tone that you're putting on it which is totally fine. But I think it does come down to that, to bring it back to technology, and really the foundation of this podcast is communication. What we've learned in technology and what we're building so much of it comes down to just communication. That's why we've had things like DevOps. DevOps isn't about CI/CD; it's about communication. And it was that awkwardness of backend developers and frontend developers or operations and backend and nobody talking to each other because it's awkward, and it's uncomfortable, and I just want to do my code, and I don't care. But you realize once you talk with people, it's probably going to be a little less awkward than you had thought it would be. And the end results are so much better than if you had just ignored it.

Jonan: That's my takeaway, to communicate. And I apologize for being snarky. It's hard not to be a little bit snarky about these things after everything. But you're absolutely right that that's one way that the world is getting better undeniably is that we are getting better at communicating with each other in new mediums and in new ways. We're finding more options to express ourselves and to see and be seen. So I'm going to go through the rest of my day with some hope. And I thank you very much for that, Jason. This was a great conversation. I really appreciate you coming on the podcast today.

Jason: Yeah. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Jonan: If people wanted to find you on the internet, where would they go?

Jason: You can follow me on Twitter. I'm @gitbisect, which is the best git command despite the fact that I think 90% of git users have never used it.

Jonan: Please use it. It's so good. I love it. You have to write tests to use git bisect, though.

Jason: You don't really. I mean, you should, it makes things a whole lot easier, but you can manually use it. I guess I should explain it now. For those who haven't used git bisect, it is literally a binary search to figure out where your code broke. So I'll just leave it at that. Go look it up. You don't necessarily have to write tests, but if you have tests written, it makes it a whole lot easier.

Jonan: For those of you listening who maybe have your eyes glazed over when you hear binary search, what we're talking about is stepping back in history change by change to find the place where it broke. So if I had a test in my application that had turned red, somehow something broke, and I don't know when. Then I could use git bisect to step back in history, run the test, run the test, run the test and automagically find the place where it broke, and it was green and then it was red. And it takes me right there to the commit, and I can look at what actually changed to make that happen. Well, I think we should drop it there for now, but you're going to have to come back on this podcast and all of the other podcasts because that was a lot of fun. Thank you again, Jason. I will see you in the Pokémon Go-verse. I'm getting into that game again, thanks to you.

Jason: All right. I look forward to it.

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