Introducing Jarod Reyes: Finding Your Tribe Without Joining The Khalasar

Hello fellow Twilions, my name is Jarod Reyes and I am thrilled to be joining Twilio as the new Technical Content Producer.

First off, let me explain the awesome blog title and what it means to me. Many years ago I discovered the Song of Ice and Fire books and was immediately whisked away, feet-first, into the cavernous world that George R. R. Martin had created. At the time Martin had only written two in the series and so I needed to find other books to fill the void in my life; which is how I became a fantasy nerd. After a year my bookshelf was starting to read like a Hugo Award nomination sheet; Ursula Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, all of the Terrys (Brooks, Goodkind, Prattchet) and of course Tolkien and Rowling. I was verifiably working my way towards the “Epic Nerd” merit badge and I was loving it.

Around the same time that Rowling and Martin were opening my eyes to the wonderful world of fantasy, another foreign world begin to appear on my horizon. I found a realm filled with just as many wizards, warriors and crowns as Westeros. It was the equally nerdy and glorious land of hackathons.

If it weren’t for hackathons I would have never met my tribe, those industrious few, whom, regardless of the challenge ahead, never balked, but picked up their weapons and made magic from code: I had met hackers.

Chapter 1: Abra-code-dabra

 

 

 

Blimey, Harry. You’ve slayed dragons. If you can’t get a date, who can? – Ron Weasley, Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire

 

Like any realm in the 7 kingdoms, hackathons have a trove of exciting characters. There are the quiet masters, who practice their art in solitude, the heroes who find glory in every bout, and of course the token 14 year old wizard who shows everyone up. But for me, long before I found out what kind of character I would end up being in the world of hackathons, one thing was obvious, these hackers were amazing. At the time I was steeped in the world of Harry Potter and I can remember feeling like a muggle who had stumbled into a world of wizards.

At the first few hackathons I was merely more than a bumbling hacker’s apprentice. Since I had web design experience I would relegate myself to the corner of the room, dreaming up pretty interfaces while the magicians did their work. But over the course of a couple months and a few overnight sessions, a miraculous thing started to happen, I was beginning to think like a hacker.

Chapter 2: WizardsRule[0]

 

 

 

Build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life. –Terry Pratchett, Jingo

 

For many people reading this article, this story is familiar. A Lad or Lady goes to hackathon, sees amazing stuff being built, starts going to more hackathons. But of course, the true magic of the hacker community is not the things they build, but instead their ability to turn any normal person into a card-carrying wand-wielder.

The first time a team assembled around one of my ideas was for a human-remote controller app that we called Joysticc. The idea was simple, we’ll create an iOS app that allows one human to control another human via earphones. Sixteen hours later, the team we had gathered had dreamt up a scenario, in some robot-master universe, where two computers play chess against one another using human chess pieces. Three hours after that we were demoing a human-frogger game. It was the most fantastic rush I had ever experienced. The kernel of a notion had occurred to me and this group of wisened magi had turned that kernel into an experience worth remembering.

Time and time again I saw this transformation occur. Some person would come to a table of hackers with their seed of an idea and those pointy-hatted wizards would undoubtedly bring that idea to life. More than the products I’ve built, more than the friends I have made, the thing that will always stick with me is what the community taught me. To be a true magic-maker you need only ask yourself one question, not “can I build it?” but “how will I build it?”.

Epilogue: Dragonglass futures are trading well

 

 

 

Forged in the fires of the gods, far below the earth…thousands of years ago. In place of swords, they carried blades of dragonglass. George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones

 

Recently a friend explained to me that “we developers all have an affinity for Jon Snow because he is obviously a badass and he’s also obviously a little different.” There’s one other thing that makes Jon Snow like developers: he is not afraid to challenge age-old traditions.

For over 25 years documentation has remained stagnant. We at Twilio think that there is room for growth here. Why don’t API docs know who you are? Why don’t they respond to your workflow and environment? What are the role of blogs and forums in technical documentation? With your help we will invent new ways to answer these questions and infuse old traditions with modern technologies. I couldn’t be more excited to take on this role and this challenge, and with your help and some magic, we will breathe new life into technical content.

So I say to all my fellow wizards, let’s make this real. If you’d like to help pilot new technical content, or talk Twilio please send me an email. Even if you just want to hang out and read the next GRRM novel while wearing Gryffindor robes, get in touch. I’d love to rap about how the Song of Ice and Fire is going to end; I’m pretty sure it involves a dragon.