Building Tech for the Next Generation

December 13, 2022

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Technology has far-reaching implications for societies at large and for the children who grow up in those societies. How should companies think about the effect their products might have on future generations? How do you design a product with the future—and those who will live in that future—in mind? In this episode, host Rachael Lewis-Krisky moderates a panel of guests who will take us through futuristic and, more importantly, critical thinking around technology’s impact on kids, all to give listeners the tools to consider how their business will fit into the future.


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Episode transcript.

[00:00:00] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Welcome to ‘Making Work Work,’ the DigitalOcean Podcast, where we explore everything about work - the tech that makes it possible and the people that make it happen. And of course, that’s never as simple as it sounds. I’m your host, Rachael Lewis-Krisky.

Technology has far reaching implications on society, politics, and especially, kids. From today’s TikTok children going back to the first home computer generation, these interactions have a direct impact on us as we grow up and set out in the world.

In this episode, I’m moderating a panel of guests who will take us through the critical considerations technology creators need to have around the impact their products have on kids. I hope we give you a few tools to help think about how your business shapes the future.

Let’s dive in.

Thank you everyone for coming together on ‘Making Work Work’ for what I know will be an intriguing discussion.

I’d like to introduce you to our listeners. First, my coworker, Matt Cowley, DigitalOcean’s Senior Web Developer and Cloud Chat’s host.

[00:01:32] Matt Cowley: Hello. Hello.

[00:01:33] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Next we have Mike Loukides, the VP of Content Strategy for O’Reilly Media.

[00:01:37] Mike Loukides: Yes. Thanks for having us. This sounds like fun.

[00:01:39] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: And lastly, Tim Osborne, the CTO and Co-founder of Atom Learning.

[00:01:43] Tim Osborne: Thanks for having us.

[00:01:44] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: So when looking at the future of technology, and its impact on next generations, I would love for us all to take sort of a step back and reflect on technology that had an impact on our lives when we were young. So, for example, for myself, that highlight would be the iMac G3. You know, remember the one with the see through casing.

Um, my family had the Bondi Blue one, which was beautiful. And having that experience with computers at such a young age gave me this proficiency and savviness with technology throughout my life. So what technology for you all, when you were kids, had that kind of impact on you? So, uh, Matt, would you like to go first?

[00:02:18] Matt Cowley: Sure. And I don’t know, I’m gonna date myself here. I’m quite young. I, I was born post 2000, so technology was, I don’t know, a lot more kind of established in my life. I’ve had a computer, in my, in my life, most of my life. Um, but I don’t know.

The thing that really got me into like technology probably was weirdly Minecraft. I played it a lot as a kid, but then started getting into like the server administration side of it. Started building up websites, started running a Minecraft server for a while myself. And I think watching Minecraft be around for so long now and be like - I think it’s the world’s most popular game at this point - it’s such a gateway for those that want to get into it.

Um, for a lot of people it’s just a, it’s just a game. But, you know, there’s a huge community around running a server, and I think actually for a lot of, a lot of kids, it’s a really good way to get into it. And then even like the features in inside Minecraft, Redstone teach you a huge amount about logic and stuff.

[00:03:09] Mike Loukides: I was really impressed, oh, this is a number of years ago, but we, uh visited some friends just before my daughter was going off to college, and uh, she had a child who was in fourth grade, and she was a competent Java programmer. And it’s like, how, you know, how did you do this?

I mean, you like, buy our books from O’Reilly. It’s like, no, I, uh, she does Minecraft and she is actually almost completely uninterested in playing the game, but totally loves building stuff.

[00:03:35] Matt Cowley: Yeah, it’s it’s wonderful.

[00:03:37] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Well, Mike, what was the technology that you used, um, as a kid that you felt like shaped your, your future a little bit.

[00:03:44] Mike Loukides: Well, well, two things. Uh, ham radio, I mean, I’m, probably the oldest person here, so I mean, I got a ham, ham radio license in like '69. But a couple of years after that, when I was in high school, we had a PDP-8 and I started programming on the PDP-8. Um, we learned how to do terrible things like, we had some very primitive time sharing and we figured out how to kick everybody off and we didn’t like. The, uh, teachers in the math department, which had custody of the machine were, actually terrified of us because if we stopped cooperating, the machine would never work again. I mean, we could just do that by refusing to show up and make it work when something went wrong.

So, uh, but pretty soon I was trying to program in assembly language and to write the world’s first interpretive assembly language, which is a crazy idea, but I almost got it working before I graduated. So, So that was it, you know, the PDP-8.

I mean, the thing that I really love about computers from that generation- not that I’d really want to go back- but because, you know, you really had your hands on literally everything that the machine did. You know, I remember, in the 1990s, a friend of mine got a 386 machine, or maybe it was a 486 at that point, and said, I will never program a computer in machine language again.

The machines now are just too complicated and there is no need. The compilers are too good and there is no need to, and that’s totally true, but at the same time, Yeah, I mean, I really like that feel of writing down every single instruction that the computer was gonna execute.

And it does magical things. and I mean, I suppose that’s fine, but there’s a part of me that says, We’ve really lost something there.

[00:05:23] Matt Cowley: Yeah. As I’m with you there, when I studied, uh, computer science at uni, we did, two weeks of like heart low level machine code and everything. I was like, I’m never ever gonna use this. But it’s actually really nice to have at least the awareness of what’s happening and to be reminded of like, what’s, what’s fundamentally happening when a computer operates.

[00:05:42] Tim Osborne: I definitely agree with that and it’s like, 'cause the computers are so complex, it’s very easy to not actually have any idea what’s, what’s going on under the hood. And, um, as you say, you never need to use it but having the knowledge of like, okay, this at some point gets turned into an instruction that gets processed by a piece of silicon, um, is really helpful context and I think really helps you kind of become better programmer as a, uh, as a result.

[00:06:07] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: And Tim, would you like to share?

[00:06:08] Tim Osborne: I guess from my perspective, I kind of fall in the middle of the two there. So I wasn’t, uh, I was born in the nineties, so I just about grew up with a computer, um, around all the time but it was definitely dial up internet and, you know, having to ask people to get off the phone in order to use the internet kind of territory. Um.

[00:06:28] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Same.

[00:06:29] Tim Osborne: And I, I loved, I just sort of, randomly bought a book from our, from my school, library, uh, which was called "Build Your Own Website," which I’ve still got on my bookshelf. Yeah, I basically just found an interest in that and I, I really liked building stuff and yeah, kind of went from there, started building websites for literally anyone who would let me. Um, I would badger various family, friends and, and, uh, friends of my parents to say, "Do you need a website building?" and then eventually ended up doing computer science at university.

But I feel left out that I didn’t do the Minecraft thing, which sounds, which sounds kind of cool.

[00:07:06] Matt Cowley: I mean, the, the Minecraft thing was, was just a gateway into making websites with PHP still, feel like is, is a very common path for a lot of people nowadays is. I hacked together some websites when I was younger using PHP, and now I’m now I’m a developer.

[00:07:19] Tim Osborne: Absolutely. Yeah.

[00:07:21] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Now, Matt, I wanted to ask you, um, with tech being this infinitely growing world, right, it, it feels like you’re out of touch if you only take a week long break to kind of tune out the world. Where do you follow along with developments and how do you stay in touch without getting fomo?

[00:07:35] Matt Cowley: Oh, boy. I don’t know. I, I feel like I’ve somewhat embraced at this point and just not being aware of everything. Um, I, we, at work we have a Slack channel that is subscribed to a ton of our RSS feeds for, uh, libraries and stuff that we actually rely on. So we’re, we’re keeping up to date with releases there, um, for the things we use.

But other than that, I honestly, I kind of live in a little bit of a bubble. I mean, I follow a lot of tech people on Twitter, so whatever turns up my timeline, I have some awareness of. Sometimes it’s interesting stuff like when Bun got released- pretty cool new run time for JavaScript. That was a cool thing to hit my radar.

Um, I also read Hack and use pretty regularly. It’s, it’s almost always a tab on my desktop, which again, gives me a very high level awareness of the big things happening in the world. But I don’t know, I, I kind of just embrace not knowing about things at this point.

[00:08:25] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Embraced fomo. I like it. Mike and Tim, how about yourselves?

[00:08:28] Tim Osborne: I definitely agree. I think it’s impossible to know about everything and there’s just so much stuff going on that you’ve gotta find a way to kind of limit yourself. I’m kind of the same. I, I, I have various subscriptions, I read a lot of Medium articles and, even attempt to write some media articles.

I think the other thing that I draw on a lot as a CTO is I’ve now got lots of developers and, and engineers who work for me and they all have their own sources and there’s a huge kind of community within Atom that is all kind of about discussing latest developments and how they could implement them at Atom.

But sometimes just out of pure interest is like, have you seen this new cool thing, um, that that’s going on? And I think if you work in the field, it’s one of the healthiest ways to, to stay in touch with not only what’s cool, but also what might actually have an impact on your business as well.

[00:09:16] Matt Cowley: Yeah, that’s it. Definitely. Like everyone has their own little side projects of some sort, and they’re always different technologies, so with enough people you get quite a good amalgamation of knowledge.

[00:09:25] Tim Osborne: Definitely.

[00:09:25] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Yeah, word of mouth is, uh, incredibly powerful. And I think it’s funny for people who are outside of technology but interested in it, there’s sort of this air of, well, how do I possibly know to keep an eye on and what’s worth tracking? But, to hear that for everyone in tech industry and in technology is like, well, you can’t, so just follow along with what you’re passionate about and that’s enough. Um, I think is actually kind of the, the good inside scoop that we all needed to hear.

[00:09:51] Mike Loukides: There’s another thing that sort of plays into my thinking, which is that on, on one level, yeah, you’re right, technology moves very, very quickly. I keep on getting asked sometimes by, you know, other executives at O’Reilly, you know, uh, so what’s happened in the last week, that’s really, really important and it’s like if you really look at it, technology really doesn’t actually move as fast as we like to think it does. Node.Js is still here, you know, Java is still here, python is still here. Things change, but the rate of important change is not all that great. We’re going to be writing about what’s important in AI for the next, you know, for the next five years. I probably more than

[00:10:30] Matt Cowley: Mm-hmm. Yes, we, we have the same thing with cloud chats. We used to do news articles every week of what’s happened in tech and it gets very difficult after a few weeks to start talking about stuff 'cause it’s like, nothing big’s happened. Some library released a new release, but nothing really changed in it either it was just a patch. And you actually realize, yeah, things aren’t moving that fast.

[00:10:50] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: And switching gears a little bit, Tim, you co-founded Atom Learning with the mission to use smart technology to provide personalized learning experiences for children. And so with your company using technology that not just exists kind of along side generations, but it’s sort of directly shaping younger generations, right? So what kind of considerations did you and your team have early on, um, about the impact that you wanted to have on kids?

[00:11:14] Tim Osborne: Yeah, I think, um, what we kind of set out to do is, is just improve the learning experience for anyone who wants to learn. We focused on kids at the beginning, but obviously it’s kind of applicable to, to any environment really. I think the key thing for us in terms of technology was. Keeping our focus on the thing that we were innovating versus all of the supporting infrastructure that we were using. You know, our algorithm and the central bit of Atom is obviously very important, and whilst we’re kind of innovating with that and we’re trying to figure out, okay, we’re doing something new here, so that there we’re kind of writing stuff that’s never been written before, looking at a lot of research papers, looking at a lot of academic work that we can kind of turn into more commercial things. Everything else, we focused really heavily on trying to use things that kind of already worked.

I think like as a business, one of the, the biggest mistakes you can make as a startup is to try and use every single cool new thing because there’s always a cool new thing. And if it turns out that that cool new thing doesn’t get traction and suddenly goes out of support nine months later and your entire startup is based on it, it can end very badly for you.

So I think it’s like defining what your company is trying to do and innovating in that specific area and pushing the boundaries with that. But trying to keep the nuts and bolts kind of aligned with, with best practice and kind of things that have been used for a while. You know, so many websites still use J Query even now, like, there’s stuff that, it does just work. I’m not advocating for using J Query, but you know, if you’re at that stage in your business to really consider, what am I trying to innovate and then what do I just need to work and, and keep the same and, and make sure you keep that distinction.

[00:12:55] Mike Loukides: Yeah, there, there’s a classic article called ‘Choose Boring Technology,’ which is all about that. like, you know, you don’t have to use React or Angular or the frameworks that came afterwards. You can build a perfectly good website in PHP- Facebook has done it.

[00:13:09] Tim Osborne: Yeah.

[00:13:10] Mike Loukides: And, you know, and if you, if you do that, you’re not gonna be spending all your time chasing your tail on the latest revision or as you said, being blindsided because suddenly a company goes out of business or decides to make changes in the product that are completely incompatible with what you were doing or blah, blah, blah. You know, all the dangers, you know.

[00:13:28] Matt: Use

[00:13:28] Matt Cowley: what works. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

[00:13:30] Tim Osborne: Apart from the thing that you’re trying to change,

[00:13:33] Matt Cowley: Yeah. Apart from the the core little bit. Yeah.

[00:13:34] Tim Osborne: Yeah.

[00:13:36] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: And to that extent, beyond a business just thinking long term about their technologies, what about kind of critically reflecting on the impacts those technologies could have on future generations? You know, recalling the phrase, it’s not that it could be created, but should it be created? Mike or Tim, do you have thoughts on that?

[00:13:54] Tim Osborne: Um, yeah, certainly in terms of Atom’s strategy, it’s kind of at the heart of what we, what we’re doing. I think we’re very, very aware of how easy it is to create something that’s incredibly negative for kids, and that can have an, an impact on their entire lives. So it’s something that we thought very hard about.

There’s not many times that people kind of praise the GDPR and like data legislation in, in the UK, but there’s actually uh, a really good code of conduct called the Age of Appropriate Design. And that is really good guidelines for how to design something that’s for use with children.

And it really helps you check what you’re doing and make sure that you’re not using these kind of unhealthy patterns, like nudging them to share more data or nudging them to compete with each other and things like that. So it’s something that we think about a lot at Atom as to the features that we’re, that we are making, we’re ensuring that we’re incentivizing the kids to enjoy the learning experience, but, you know, setting things like targets so that they have a limit on how much they should do each week and they should, not spend their entire time doing thousands of mock tests on, um, on the platform 'cause that’s not a, a, not a healthy pattern to get into. So, yeah, it’s, it’s very important for us and we kind of keep it very aligned with our, strategy as a, as a product.

[00:15:11] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: I did wanna ask directly if there were certain stock gaps or checks and balances put in place to look out for that. Is it weekly meetings? You know, what does the actual process look like to keep an eye?

[00:15:21] Tim Osborne: Yeah, it is mostly in RFI meetings, so, um, our product team will be coming up with various ideas and, um, they all have training on that code of conduct, which is really, really good at kind of guiding you. We have a safeguarding committee that internally in Atom it looks after not only kind of live safeguarding things and anything that might happen on the platform, because obviously we’re interacting with lots of kids who might report something. But also the safeguarding committee has a kind of review capacity of any new features that anyone thinks, have we done this in the right way and, and is this being properly designed for, ages seven to 11, which is kind of our target audience.

[00:15:57] Matt Cowley: I love hearing that. The fact that you’ve got a committee dedicated to making sure us don’t have dark patterns is so wonderful there’s like so many apps out there that do the exact opposite of that.

[00:16:10] Tim Osborne: So I, my background is I used to work in child protection, so I’m, I was pretty fundamentally aligned with, like, I, if I’m gonna build an app for seven to 11 year olds, I want it to be kind of one of the safest apps that someone can use.

[00:16:24] Matt Cowley: I would love to have a side tangent with what you one day about, like the laws and stuff around that, 'cause that is a very young audience to, uh, be tracking data for at all.

[00:16:33] Tim Osborne: Yeah. I would, I we can definitely do that.

[00:16:36] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: You could have that tangent now. Honestly,

[00:16:39] Tim Osborne: I’ve gotta be shown up for my, my lack of knowledge of the law. No, I, it’s, it varies from country to country. Um, the UK is, is pretty good at it but I think the challenge that all laws have is they are very slow to get approved and you don’t want them to ever be kind of tested and interpreted in the wrong way.

And I think you know, technology does move on at a pace that outpaces law often. And I know there’s lots of stuff going on in the UK at the moment around changing the law to try and improve that safety for children. But there’s, there’s lots of counter-arguments about free speech and how that affects that.

It’s definitely something that I don’t have a good answer for. I think it’s just a really complex space to, um, to try and navigate.

[00:17:22] Matt Cowley: A lot of it relies on the good nature of the people writing the code that’s tracking data currently, which for someone like you is wonderful 'cause you’ve got the committees and stuff in place and you care about the kids. But look at apps like I know TikTok, for example. They just harvest every bit of data they want and encourage addictive behavior.

[00:17:38] Tim Osborne: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:17:40] Matt Cowley: So, yeah, it would be nice to see some more, more laws around that.

[00:17:43] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Well, as a direct follow up to that point, Matt do you all see ways that we as a society or individual products and businesses might be failing to provide for kids today? You know, are there technologies that should be taught sooner or even should not be integrated into kids’ lives?

[00:17:57] Matt Cowley: I think like in terms like failing to provide for. I think to my point, like TikTok and stuff, a lot of the apps that are out there now market themselves to kids without marketing themselves to kids. A lot of times, like app stores don’t let them do that, but they, they work around that and they encourage really addict to behaviors like, you know, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, they’ve all got this shorts feature or equivalent now, which is just ten second clips and kids just aimlessly scroll through that all day long. I don’t know, it doesn’t feel like a healthy behavior to be, uh, ingraining in a generation.

As with technology, I don’t know. I went through school a while ago but it felt like, IT and computer science could be brought in at a younger age. Not in any complex way, but just teaching more fundamentals of logic earlier on and building from there.

But I dunno how it, I dunno how it translates across the world. The UK curriculum is probably very different.

[00:18:47] Mike Loukides: You know, I mean, my personal experience obviously is way too long ago to count. But when my daughter, who is now 26, was in high school she took a programming course and they were teaching Java because that’s what you teach, and it became painfully clear That the teacher who was teaching the course couldn’t actually program in Java.

I think in the, in the US at least, and I suspect probably, I suspect probably also the UK and most other countries. We don’t have the teachers in the schools that we would need to, do a good job of teaching programming, which increasingly, I think of as a fundamental skill.

I don’t think that means everybody should have a job as a professional programmer. I think that’s silly. But everybody should be able to program just as, just as much as everybody should be able to drive a car, um, or everybody should be able to read their credit card statement.

And at least in the US I think we’re falling down on that. I mean, fortunately we do have things like Minecraft, uh, and kids have a way of figuring out what they need to learn or what’s fun and doing it on their own.

[00:19:51] Tim Osborne: Yeah, I, I definitely agree. And I think the the point around the teacher not knowing how to teach is, I think that’s probably the fundamental issue with the kind of why kids haven’t had such good service in, in schools is that ultimately the generation of people who would need to teach them, didn’t learn it themselves and, aren’t programmers, so therefore really struggle to teach classes like that.

That will hopefully improve as, as more generations become living and growing with tech. But I think also, um, I think as Matt said, breaking it down to the logic fundamentals , I think, I think certainly when I was at school, the approach to programming was like, this is Visual Basic, and you just go through how to write precise stuff in Visual Basic. And it was quite hard to break out of that box and go, Okay, but why am I doing this and what’s the, what’s the logic around this?

And I think it’s kind of a similar to maths almost, you know, it’s a, it’s an additional module inside maths where you, where you’ve, where you actually teach people to think critically about the logical problems that you might solve in programming and then the actual syntax can cover a, a later stage.

Something I always say to my developers around kind of language choice and it’s like, okay, we currently use JavaScript in our, in our stack. Um, but actually the specific language that you learn isn’t that important. It’s more about the, the fundamentals of how things work in a programming language. And then once you know that, and once you know one language, it’s very easy to learn another language 'cause you basically spend your time Googling equivalent of this in Python. Um, and, and you can kind of feel your way around, uh, another language because you know how it should be structured.

And I think that’s something that we could be putting much more in the curriculum at the, at the early stage when it’s, you know, those fundamental building blocks. I definitely agree that those that are interested will play around and hack around with, with things. But I think there’s a duty as well to get those who don’t necessarily know they’re interested in that, to start thinking about that and um, and kind of set them off on that path as well.

[00:21:59] Matt Cowley: Yeah, ab, absolutely seed it. Seed the idea as soon as you can. Teach critical thinking and then those that wanna go with it can go with it.

[00:22:07] Mike Loukides: yeah, and I, and I do think that that is actually somewhat harder in a world where, yeah, you know, you spend all your time scrolling through ten second videos on TikTok.

[00:22:15] Matt Cowley: Yeah, Why? Why would you go and write some code when you can just sit there on your phone? What’s more fun?

[00:22:21] Mike Loukides: Yeah.

[00:22:21] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: And Mike, do you have some tips for how businesses or developers or any technology creators, frankly, can sort of scenario plan and consider these sort of negative impacts on future generations? You know, do they really need to hire a futurist or consultants or there are ways that they can have these conversations in house?

[00:22:37] Mike Loukides: Yeah, that, that is a really interesting question and it’s I mean, first one of the things at both of the startups that I worked at prior to O’Reilly, and I’ve been at O’Reilly from a real, from a really long time, but, one of the things I observed was that, part of working at a startup is that, you know, you have to drink the Kool-Aid. You really have to believe in what you’re doing. At the same time, both of those startups and a number of other startups that I’ve seen or known people at have failed because they had people on the staff who were skeptics, and they didn’t listen to the skeptics.

I’ve never figured out how to write about this or, you know, I mean, I suppose if I was a venture capitalist, I would probably make a big slide deck about this to, uh, put in. But I don’t think you need to have a futurist, but I do think you need to have people on the staff who don’t drink the Kool-Aid, who are willing to ask the hard questions, and make you think critically. And you have to listen to 'em.

Just to give you a hopelessly abstracted example of that. I mean, the company I was at just before, uh, O’Reilly built a mini supercomputer and it was like, Yeah, we built it. It works like this. This is what it does. And one of the guys on the team was saying, That’s all true but it actually does this other thing incredibly well and you’re not willing to talk about it because it makes this machine sound like too much like our competitors. That was a whole bunch of learning and knowledge that we didn’t take into account.

An another thing that I’ve been thinking about recently is there’s a tendency to look at newer, interesting technologies that are taking off and assuming that they’re on an exponential growth curve. But nature doesn’t like exponential growth. That’s sort of the opposite of what you hear, but you know, exponential growth goes, if it goes on too long, something explodes. Technically the word is a sigmoid, but it’s, you know, sort of an S-curve where the exponential growth evidently flattens out. I think companies really have to be looking a lot more for where does that, curve flatten out?

I mean, that’s something which I think we’ve done a really good job at O’Reilly when I started, O’Reilly was largely a consulting business that was just getting its toe into publishing books. Uh, with, well, with the crash in 2001, the book market sort of fell apart and we started making a long transition to being what we are now, which is a company that’s a learning platform. And a lot of that comes from seeing, Hey, you know, this is not gonna be an exponential curve forever. We have to figure out the next thing. And, you know, we’re still doing that. The ability to reinvent yourself, I mean, that’s hard. It hasn’t been easy for us, but it’s something which I think every company that succeeds for more than like five or six years in a row has to do.

[00:25:12] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: So I wanna ask for all of you, what’s something you either read, you know, books, articles, or, or watched or listened to in your regular life, which actually helped inform your work. You know, if something completely unrelated, even, um, it could have sparked creativity or helped you solve a problem or maybe just kept you standing when things got hard.

Mike, what do you think?

[00:25:32] Mike Loukides: I do a lot of bike riding. And sometimes that’s a good time to think about, an article that I need to write or something. Unfortunately a lot of those good thoughts come at like 2:00 AM when I’m trying to sleep and then I can’t get back to sleep, and they’ve disappeared by the morning.

I also play piano. I mean, I’m a fairly advanced classical pianist, and. I think it’s just, doing creative stuff that’s not directly involved in technology. I mean that just, keeps my mind active. so I don’t know. I mean, it’s, I think the more, things you do, the more things that keep yourself mentally active, the better, the more likely you are to have the good ideas.

[00:26:04] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: appreciate that. And Tim, what about yourself?

[00:26:07] Tim Osborne: Yeah, I, I definitely agree. Time away from everything is, is really important. And I really have learned now the day to day work as running a company means that. It’s always really busy and it’s really hard to get your focus time. And you can do it, you can structure it in your work day and you can put in a big block saying no meetings and put your slack status to busy and stuff.

But I don’t think there’s any substitute for completely removing yourself from, you know, physically from where you normally work. I suppose my clearest ideas have come whilst abroad on all day, on a beach somewhere, and I’ve come back from most of my holidays with, uh, my team can probably tell you of kind of new ideas and new energy for like, Okay, cool. I think we’re gonna move in this direction. Which I think is really hard to do unless you, unless you do kind of make that time. And it could be doing an activity, it could be, um, yeah, as Mike says, kind of, uh, reading or music kind of stuff I’m sadly not gifted at at, um, anything musical.

Um, so yeah, I, I kind of just use that time to be away from the, the kind of busyness of, of day to day and thinking more kind of high level of, yeah, that, that’s probably how, the direction that we want to go in. And then you come back really kind of energized and excited to, to implement those sorts of changes.

[00:27:28] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: And Matt, how about yourself.

[00:27:30] Matt Cowley: I have a really specific example actually. Um, at the end of each day, I like to switch off and, uh, I’m afraid to admit I am of the generation that likes to watch a lot of YouTube. So I’ll switch off at the end of the day. And, uh, Adam Savage, famed MythBuster, uh, has a YouTube channel where he posts like, almost daily now of just building stuff in his workshop.

And that for me just gives me so much energy watching someone that’s so passionate about what they do, just do it. It gives me energy and reminds me kind of to have that passion in what I work in as well. You know, actually care about the end product we’re putting out. It just for me, it’s so relaxing to watch him do stuff with that pure passion and energy for it.

[00:28:11] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: The passion and the inspiration that comes from that, it definitely is like rejuvenating.

[00:28:16] Matt Cowley: Yeah, definitely.

[00:28:17] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: Well, I appreciate all the advice and critical ideas that you’ve all brought to the table today.

[00:28:21] Tim Osborne: Thank you very much.

[00:28:22] Matt Cowley: Yeah.

[00:28:23] Mike Loukides: I enjoyed it.

[00:28:23] Rachael Lewis-Krisky: This has been ‘Making Work Work.’ Whether you’re a listener or a customer, the work we do wouldn’t be possible without you.

Special thanks to all the people that make my work work, my DigitalOcean colleagues and friends.

Our music is composed by Mirco Altenbach.

And on this episode, this end credit song is by DigitalOcean’s Haley Mills, a Manager of Technical Editing.

Our employees are diverse in experiences and talents, so we’re excited to bring you a unique original song from one of our sharks nearly every week. Hang out and listen to the rest.

Check out for more info.

Until next time, I’m Rachael Lewis-Krisky. Keep swimming friends.

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