Software Developers Journey Podcast

#129 Jackie Luo is interested in the impact of tech on society


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Jackie Luo 0:00
I think it was like, especially noticeable in college, where I was taking philosophy courses in computer science courses and actually graduated with just a philosophy major. Basically, it was really interesting to me the points at which, you know, some of the classes overlap. I remember one semester, I was taking Symbolic Logic for philosophy and discrete math for computer science. And a lot of it was just like, super similar, because, you know, it's like, building blocks of philosophy tend to be sort of the same logical components of computer science. And so yeah, like, I think there are like interesting intersections between different fields. And I thought that that made my experience. I'm, like, more positive.

Tim Bourguignon 0:56
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon. And on this episode 129, I receive Jackie Luo. Jackie joins from Brooklyn, and most recently worked as a front end engineer on the platform engineering team at square. She is the founder of the IRL society and the framework project. She's also deeply interested in worker cooperatives and collective models of ownership and governance. When she is not actively pushing communities, you will find her cooking, reading, playing video games, making candles and Oh, yeah. Restoring furnitures. Jackie, welcome to the the show.

Jackie Luo 1:48
Thank you so much. Hello.

Tim Bourguignon 1:49
Hey, happy to have you here. Jackie, the show exists to help the listeners understand what your story looked like and imagined how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginning. So we where would you place the start of your developer's journey?

Jackie Luo 2:08
So I guess there's like a more concrete like, start point. But I think if you trace it back, like what got me interested in in the first place is probably when I was pretty young. And I was a huge Tumblr user, like, super super into Tumblr, spent all my time there. And got really involved with a bunch of online communities. This was like, you know, I was a teenager at this point. Maybe like 11 or 12, maybe not even teenager preteen. And I was really involved in sort of like these online, art, fashion, whatever communities on Tumblr with all these other like teen kids, and it was really interesting, like, I found a lot of people that I had a lot in common with that I, you know, never really could have found at my school, like, I grew up in Houston, Texas. And so, you know, a lot of like, the, whatever, hipster kids in Houston, lead a very sort of tortured teen life, I think, wanting to be, like, quirky and artsy and whatever. And having like, not as much outlet for like, this is like a presumption to not necessarily reality. But, um, but yeah, I suddenly had access to all these people all across the world. And, you know, develop these friendships, and I started an online magazine that got like, a million readers. And that was like, kind of an incredible experience, like all before I graduated high school. And so I had sort of, like, from that experience, and also some other experiences, become really excited about sort of the possibilities that I'm like technology could produce, and that's what got me interested in going into tech in the first place. And then I'd never really considered like engineering at all. I don't know, like, it's like a perception thing. I think, like, it's just not something that I had even like, had on my radar despite wanting to like, you know, work in tech and like, start a tech company knows like, Yeah, but like, you know, I don't know what I imagined. But I was like, Oh, I'm not writing code, though. Um, but I went to college and in college, I got kind of involved with a bunch of other students who were part of this like student organization that was oriented around like startups and the tech industry. And so that was really nice because I just got to meet a lot of you know, People in tech, like founders and engineers, and also there's kind of all these other people who, you know, we're doing interesting things. And I've met a lot of women who were founders, and not a single one, probably my entire first year of college. And we met like a lot of founders, none of them had any technical background. And all of them basically talked about, like, you know, how difficult that was, for a lot of reasons. Like, oh, like, we had to hire, like, contractors. And, you know, there were a lot of issues with that. And it took, like, the past five years to sort of, like, get our code base now to a state that, you know, we've kind of like, move past all that tech debt and things like that. And so I was like, oh, wow, like, that seems like, you know, like, I want to be able to understand what's going on, like, on a technical level, and how hard can it be. And so I was originally majoring in, I think, at the time, I had been only majoring in philosophy, and then I decided to switch to a double major in philosophy and computer science. And, you know, spent basically, that year trying to do everything I could to sort of, like, get to like a point where I could get an internship the following summer, and I did feel kind of like, behind, because there were a lot of people who were like, this is like, my sophomore year of college, a lot of people had been writing code since, you know, high school or even earlier. Um, and I was kind of just like, coming to it completely from scratch the second year of college. But yeah, like, I did a bunch of stuff that year, like I did a, you know, commit every single day for a year thing. And I actually wrote about that. And it actually ended up being like, 500 something days in the end, um, and just like, you know, tried really hard to kind of, like, get myself up to speed. And yeah, I found out that, you know, I did enjoy it. And there was a lot that I felt like it unlocked for me, in terms of, you know, just like, understanding how a lot of the things in my everyday life actually worked. But also, like, you know, feeling kind of like more empowered to build things and be kind of like more intimately involved with, like, the technology that like I had thought was so incredible, and like, powerful as a preteen. So yeah, that's kind of how I ended up where I am now, I guess.

Tim Bourguignon 7:50
More recent years, but so if I can summarize, you had an itch to scratch, meaning do those art projects or startups, and out of necessity, you started this, this, or you, you added this major to your curriculum, and ended up liking it? That is amazing.

Jackie Luo 8:13
Like, I think it wasn't even that I, I can't even really explain, like, my perception of it mostly just, you know, I grew up with, like, some family friends who was like a very typical, like, Chinese family friend network, or whatever. And, like, all of the boys, obviously, were, like, you know, computer science majors, the ones who weren't pre med and, you know, investment bankers and stuff like that. But, um, but yeah, like, I definitely didn't know, like, any girls who were studying computer science. And so I think that definitely fed into that, to some extent. But yeah, like, I think, like, once, I sort of got over that initial, like, mental block around, you know, this not being a thing that, like, was even really an option. I was like, Okay, this is like, you know, like, interesting. And there was a lot of stuff there that like, just felt really, really cool. Like to be able to do something and have like a computer, you know, respond in a particular way. So, yeah, it worked out I think,

Tim Bourguignon 9:28
did you have to bench all your ideas, your startup ideas and your creative ideas during that time in order to learn or could you could you continue doing both at the same time,

Jackie Luo 9:39
I kind of did bench them, I guess, like, I worked on a bunch of projects at the time, but I think for the most part, I was like, oh, like I really want to gain sort of engineering experience. And like that was something that was really important to me, because I think like there is a difference between like knowing how to code and like understanding how to, like, do engineering, like on a production scale. And I think a lot of like, you know, the learning to actually code bit, I think was like, pretty quick, pretty straightforward, but like actually, applying, like, the practical side of that, I think was a lot more complicated. And I also thought it was really interesting, like, the, you know, there's a very, like wide range of things that sort of come into play with the sort of, quote unquote, like, applied, I guess, programming skills. And, and I felt like that was definitely something that I was lacking. So just like leaning really hard into that for basically the past few years.

Tim Bourguignon 10:50
Do you think not having a typical, typical background having coded for your childhood, it gave you an an edge, or a different look on on new studies and on the field? And if so, which, which could that be?

Jackie Luo 11:09
I think so I think it was like, especially noticeable in college, where I was taking philosophy courses in computer science courses, and actually graduated with just a philosophy major for a few other reasons, which we can go into later. But basically, it was really interesting to me the points at which, you know, some of the classes overlapped, like, I remember, one semester, I was taking Symbolic Logic for philosophy and discrete math for computer science. And a lot of it was just like, super similar, because, you know, it's like, the kind of like, building blocks of philosophy tend to be sort of the same logical components of computer science. And so yeah, like, I think there are like, interesting intersections between different fields. And I thought that that made my experience, I'm, like, more positive, but probably depends on the person.

Tim Bourguignon 12:14
That it is interesting to just say this, I've had two guests before. I think it was chi, chi shevlin. And the other names that moved me. We're a philosophy major and a theology major. And we'll say exactly the same thing. Yeah, exactly the same thing, that studying Scriptures for one was a very logical endeavor. Yeah. And that it felt like coding or reading code. And the other thing that's that the study of logic on the philosophical level, was exactly preparing him to, to read and write algorithms.

Jackie Luo 12:55
Yeah, like, there are definitely a lot of sort of unexpected overlaps. Like just I don't know, like, the way you kind of think about edge cases, for instance, or like, you know, in philosophy, you want to be very precise with language. And like, what is being used where and how and things like that? I think it tends to be obviously like a more like a looser framework, because you're using, you know, the English language or whatever language, but a lot of the kind of fundamental bits tend to be like, not that different.

Tim Bourguignon 13:31
Do you think we are, we are making a mistake, I'm forcing so many students to go through math, in order to become to become software engineers, that there could be another way that would be almost or even more practical or effective for them that wouldn't necessitate to the grudge of going through algebra and all the rest?

Jackie Luo 14:00
I think probably, I don't know. I I know this is probably like, sort of controversial topic. But I think, you know, people are doing very different jobs in practice, right. Like, there are definitely some roles where the left side of things and like the algorithm side of things and like, you know, all those other pieces that like are, like do tend to like brush up on more sort of like math, adjacent computer science concepts Really do come into play, but you know, for the kind of like, work that I do, for instance, it just has basically never come up like Not a single time. And I do think that that increases like the threshold for a lot of people. Yeah, like I think it would be a lot more accessible if this was like, you know, like, you could actually I choose kind of like the focus of like, oh, like, this is like, the type of engineering that I would probably be doing. And then, you know, learning things that are associated with that. I think the thing that's a lot more important, like in terms of skills is, you know, understanding how to solve problems and like, you know, learning how to learn learning how to think, which is not very well taught really, anyway.

Tim Bourguignon 15:28
But that might be exactly what you learned in this little feature.

Jackie Luo 15:33
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I think like, that. Also, that was something that I thought was kind of interesting and useful, like, kind of coming into it with this approach of like, you know, I don't know, like thinking about, like, the fundamentals in a particular way. And yeah, there was an epistemology course, I was taking, um, I think around the same time that I started, um, the computer science major. And that was also kind of interesting, because I just kept feeling like, you know, overlap between, like, the two courses to which were not similar at all, like, I think the computer science course I was taking was, like, intro to computer science in Java or something. So not like very theoretical. Um, but yeah, like, it just made me think a lot about, you know, like, the study of knowledge and what it means to know something and like the, the kind of different frameworks of thought that people have used to, to think about that and test that. And like, there's, there's some sort of like, that's like a much more abstract version, I guess, of the way like, I sort of started to think about like writing code.

Tim Bourguignon 16:54
Let's go into your first work. So you said you majored in philosophy? Only?

Jackie Luo 17:01
I graduated.

Tim Bourguignon 17:03
Yeah, you graduated, sorry. You majored in this dual major, but you graduated with philosophy? But what did you do next? Did you start doing something with philosophy? Oh, did you start doing something with engineering and computer science?

Jackie Luo 17:19
Yeah. It wasn't exactly next, it was kind of during. So I left school in the middle of my junior year, and ended up working at a startup in San Francisco. And this was like a spring internship. which had actually happened through Twitter, like I had tweeted about this startups, new product launch or whatever. And the CEO, emailed me and was like, oh, like, would you be interested in working here, and I was like, Oh, I mean, I had been kind of looking for, you know, a spring internship, I was very burnt out at school at that point, for a lot of different reasons. And so, you know, it seemed like a great opportunity to take a break from school and also, like, see San Francisco a little bit for the first time. Like, I'd been there before, you know, as a kid, or whatever. But like, I'd been in New York for the past few years involved in the tech scene and had grown really familiar with it, and was getting kind of curious about what things were like in the Bay Area. Um, and so I went there. And then I was supposed to go actually intern at Apple for like a machine learning internship, and ended up getting an offer to stay full time at the startup. And so I just did an extended my leave from school and was working there full time. And then I was still working there and then was like, oh, like, I do want to get my degree. I don't want to like, you know, give my parents a heart attack. So I just figured out how to condense my last year and a half of school into a semester and basically was like, okay, like, I can't finish both majors, but I'll just finish the philosophy degrees since that only requires like two more classes or something and graduate with that. And then I went back to work at a startup immediately after graduation so yeah, just break out pretty well, I think cuz I was also like, oh, like, you know, I'm not really as worried about getting having a computer science degree like to get a job if I already have software engineering job. So that's more comfortable for sure.

Tim Bourguignon 19:49
Definitely. But what were you doing there? Because, um, he started as an internship, but he probably evolved into a job.

Jackie Luo 19:59
Yeah. it did, I was working on anyone, which was an open source, extensible email client built on electron. So it was kind of like, it was actually a weird thing where, you know, I had only ever had like, sort of like back end experience. But they didn't know that for some reason. So they showed up, and they're like, we heard you're really good at JavaScript. And I was like, Oh, I like literally have never, you know, written a line of JavaScript. But it worked out really well, because I turned out to really, really enjoy it, and learn a lot about like, react, which at the time, like, blew my mind, I was like, Wow, this is so much better than, you know, whatever, like, jQuery, rails, whatever setup that, like I had dabbled with before. Um, but yeah, that was mostly the work that I was doing. They're just working on this desktop email client. And I mean, it was a startup, it was pretty small when I joined. So there was also like, you know, some sort of like back end stuff like API related, which was another product that the company had, but But yeah, mostly sort of front end stuff. It was also really cool working on electron, um, like an electron product, because it was like very, very new at the time. And the team there had started using electron before, it was electron, it was originally like a fork of atom, I think. And so that was kind of exciting, just because we've had to interact a lot with, you know, the people at GitHub, and just like the growing community of electron users, and now there's, I think a lot more. But at the time, it was like, a very small group of people, which is exciting.

Tim Bourguignon 21:52
I sorry, I have to leave electron for a second. You said you said 10 minutes ago. So yeah, I was studying philosophy. And I had the feeling. I wanted to be a technical to learn the technical part of startup and so so I just learned it. And now you just say, Well, I didn't know JavaScript, but no biggie, I'll just learn it. How do you learn? Learn like you.

Jackie Luo 22:24
I think at the time, I was very, very motivated. I think like, that is not necessarily the case now. Um, I don't know, I think like I was kind of coming off of a bad breakup in college. And, like, you know, looking for ways to spend my time. And, um, yeah, like, that turned out to be a good way to like, direct my energy. And then when I was actually like, at the startup, I had just a really, really great team of engineers that I was working with, it was like, I want to say, three or four people on my, like, direct team, and they were all just super, super smart, super nice. And I really felt like I was able to learn a lot, like just get like, you know, kind of dropped off in the deep end, but in a good way. And I never felt, you know, too overwhelmed or whatever. Which is, I think, I think, pretty lucky experience. Because at a startup that size, I think you can have a very wide range of experiences. If you're like, you know, like, relatively new to everything and like don't know even where to begin and like people don't have the time to teach you. But yeah, I definitely had like good mentors. I

Tim Bourguignon 23:54
have the feeling we're we're not putting enough effort into finding mentors and polishing those, or, or keeping those mentoring relationships afloat and living and really spending not enough time. nurturing those relationships?

Jackie Luo 24:11
Yeah. And it's hard because, you know, a lot of the time there's not really any formal way that that gets encoded, like you kind of just have to get lucky with someone who's willing to put in the time because they care about it personally, which is not a very reliable way to make sure that people are getting mentored but

Tim Bourguignon 24:34
very true. I wish there was a way to, to dissociate a little bit the the relationship chemistry from the mentorship, but yeah, from what I've seen so far, both are really interconnected. I have yet to see a mentoring relationship, where it's only purely professional, when there's not some kind of The very first instances of a friendship behind it. Yeah. It's very interconnected. In my opinion.

Jackie Luo 25:09
Yeah. Like, sometimes you just have to click. And I definitely like rush with people, since we're, you know, I respect them a lot and think that they are really good at their job. But it's not quite like we just don't like get each other in a particular way. And that makes it harder to have that kind of relationship that requires you to go, you know, sort of outside of your job description.

Tim Bourguignon 25:34
Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. Did you keep contact with those people? Since you move jobs are going to be in?

Jackie Luo 25:42
Yeah, they're probably the people that I met at that job are probably still in a lot of ways, like, my closest friends. Which is nice. I think like, that's probably one of the things I got luckiest on just kind of showing up at this random startup and moving across, you know, the country and having not met anyone there before. And meeting a lot of really good people who I still have relationships with.

Tim Bourguignon 26:11
Three cool, and even though you move back to New York, since you so keep in touch with them.

Jackie Luo 26:16
Yeah. Some of them like a lot of them live here.

Tim Bourguignon 26:20
Okay, you took them back with you.

Jackie Luo 26:23
Maybe they took me back here.

Tim Bourguignon 26:27
Ooh, there's a story behind this.

Jackie Luo 26:30
Oh, not exactly. I think it's just like, I moved in March. And, you know, obviously, I lived in New York before when I went to college, but I had been planning on staying in San Francisco for a while, and then a bunch of my friends, several of them from the startup or whatever had moved here, and are like, you know, we're spending more time here or whatever. And that was definitely a big motivating factor where I was like, oh, wow, like this. Um, you know, I wanted to move back at some point and had thought it was further off, because, you know, I just was like, oh, like, I have all these really close friends there with Cisco. But yeah, and everyone laughed, and I was like, Okay, now seems like a great time.

Tim Bourguignon 27:12
How was it to, to leave? What can be considered like the, the holy place of tech, still? From a European standpoint, that might sounds a bit funny to say this. But still, when you think about about software development, you instantly think about about San Francisco. And leaving this or even though you you were there you were starting your career there? Yeah.

Jackie Luo 27:39
Um, yeah, I have, like, sort of mixed feelings about it, I think, you know, it is really incredible, in a lot of ways. Like, I remember the first year I moved there, especially, um, it was just like, surreal, like, the entire year was like, kind of surreal, just because, you know, the, it was, like, going to a place where like, the entire city is, I mean, this is not actually true. But this was like, the way it felt initially, like, the entire city was just like, you know, like Twitter, it's like, everyone is like someone you know, or like a friend or friend or like, you know, connected in some way to someone who's like, somehow, like, rich and powerful or whatever. And it was really, really wild. And like, you know, that was exciting for me, in a lot of ways. But I think after like four years, I was kind of like, I don't know, had gotten past a lot of like, the, the shiny bits and was kind of looking more for, you know, I don't know, the the big thing really was like housing. It's like, how do I like justify continuing to spend the amount of money I'm spending here. And, you know, obviously, New York is attempting to but like, there's really no comparison between like the, you know, the quality of life or whatever that I can have here for the same amount of money compared to at least what I had in San Francisco, which some people might be luckier or less lucky, or whatever, but But yeah, so like, I think like a lot of like, the sort of like daily life factors really added up. And my personal goals also had kind of changed and across the four years, because, I guess in part because I've been so immersed in kind of like tech and startup culture and all these things and and yeah, I don't know, and a lot of ways my own priorities kind of shifted and a lot of the things that I thought were, you know, really important and whatever, like had sort of designed my life around, I think, no longer worry Same way. So that made it easier to

Tim Bourguignon 30:03
I understand I understand having moved from from Paris to a small German city. It's when priorities shift, then you need something else. I love my studies in Paris That was really good, but to create a family and have a more relaxing life and still do some interesting things. A smaller study you were a bit more trees, a bedroom. I understand that. And in having been in San Francisco as well, I can. I can underline this. This is an impressive city. Oh, it was Lisa. It was almost 10 years ago. But I'm running around doing my jogging around in Sunnyvale. And seeing Oh, I know this company. And as well, Oh, another one. That's, um, that was something but but I really understand what you what you mean to that. I was it to, to rediscover the, the New York scene tech scene. After a few years.

Jackie Luo 31:09
That was changed a lot. Um, it definitely feels different than it did a few years ago. Um, so. Um, I'm not sure how to describe it, I think there are more companies here now that are working on sort of, like, quote, unquote, you know, tech, tech companies like capital T, or whatever capital C. were before. It was like a lot of sort of e commerce companies and a lot of fin tech companies specifically. But now, you know, there are more kinds of companies that you see in San Francisco, where, like, if you view it from, you know, an engineering perspective, like the kinds of jobs that you have, I think might be more varied. And, like, for me, at least, like more interesting. Um, and so I think that's really exciting. And then there's also like, I don't know if this is just, you know, my personal perception, because of the people that I'm familiar with, or like, this is, you know, actually changed. But there's also just so many people who are kind of doing their own thing, which I think is really exciting. Like, you know, maybe they're doing like freelance or like working like across like, a few different industries, like not necessarily just tech, but like, you know, tech as relates to like, art or tech as it relates to government or things like that, which I think is exciting. And, yeah, I don't know, I get more of a sense that people here are able to live a little bit more like multifaceted existences in some cases. It's like that's more encouraged or incentivized or whatever. And I also feel like I identify with that more. So I think that's, that's been something that I've been excited about, but have not really reached many of the benefits. Since, you know, we've been on lockdown basically. The day that I moved to Brooklyn, so not much socializing, as I've been able to do, but

Tim Bourguignon 33:32
you said you came back in March. So exactly when the whole world went into lockdown. Yeah. Speaking of the timing, um, when you were talking about more multifaceted existences, and it's an interesting, this reminds me of how we started the conversation when you said, you actually wanted to learn to program to be able to, to, to to scratch your own itch, but not for the tech itself for the each itself. And it sounds more like what you were describing about New York, more tech for something, take for its own sake.

Jackie Luo 34:13
Yeah, for sure. I think that's one thing that I always kind of, um, I wouldn't say struggled with because it wasn't i don't know what i'm not dramatic, but like, I think, you know, that's one thing that I always felt, I guess different from a lot of my peers in engineering roles. Where you know, I am not like, like, my friends have a thing where we sort of this is not like negative behavior at all, but like, we talk about language Bros. Like just like, you know, guys engineering who are just really really into like programming languages. Like love to think about talk about learn more about coding. languages. And, you know, I've heard a couple of those, and they have almost all been unilaterally like brilliant and great engineers and, you know, etc. also super nice. But I never felt that compulsion, personally, like, I don't really relate to that. Um, and so like that I kind of felt like, you know, made me feel like more at a distance to like, the, like, I guess, like, you know, the people who are in it for like, they like love the thing itself, where I'm like, I like it, like, I enjoy it. But I think for me, the interesting part, like a thing that I can like, think about all day and talk about all day is like, the, the part where like, you know, it hits, like, the people or whatever, like the end users who and like how it affects them as individuals and people like on a, you know, more societal level, whatever, like, that's the stuff that matters more to me.

Tim Bourguignon 36:02
And the things that so that's a perfect segue into one of the projects or your side projects I wanted to talk about, you have many side projects, I wanted to talk about the framework project, which from its description, his conversation with people thinking about taking and its impact on society, which is pretty much exactly what the what you just described, how did it can you give up the the longer pitch maybe and, and how that came to be and what you took out of it,

Jackie Luo 36:30
it was kind of a project I wanted to do for a while. So basically, you know, I just did interview series with people in tech, kind of talking about different questions, a lot of them sort of, like, ethical nature, or, you know, political, whatever. I'm thinking about the broader implications of technology. And I've been interested in doing something like that for a while. And then the semester, I was back in school after leaving for a year, I was taking a course called technology, religion and future. And we had to do a final project and the professor was like, you can do literally anything, if you can tie it back to this class in some way. It was a very, like, cliche, like, college professor who was just like, like, you know, the cool college professor, whatever stereotype, whereas, you know, you can write a song, you can do a movie, whatever. Um, so I ended up doing this, I was like, Oh, you know, I had wanted to do this anyway. And I can definitely tie this into the class. Because a lot of the things we talked about in the class were kind of also around, you know, I don't know, talking about like, AI and whatever life extension technologies and things like that, um, for sure, push was, you know, pretty timely, um, especially then, there was a lot of there were a lot of like, you know, parent events, or whatever tech news, quote, unquote, related to things like that. So that was kind of like, what actually got it going. And, yeah, it was really good. Like, I think I got to talk to a lot of people that I really respect and, you know, have kind of like, more of those long form conversations about you know, the things that I knew that they also spent a lot of time thinking about. But sometimes it's like, hard to find actual stuff to read by them because, you know, writing something can be like pretty high effort. It does things get in the way basically, and I think like having a conversation is like a pretty lightweight way of like, getting someone to you know, communicate whatever is like the thing that they're thinking about what's on their mind. So yeah, I haven't thought about in a while now, but I would like to get back to it whenever we can see people in person again,

Tim Bourguignon 39:19
okay, you're doing your your interviews always in person. So it's people you meet in your vicinity only,

Jackie Luo 39:26
um, basically Yes, I'm not like 100% tie to that like I've kind of been thinking about, you know, whether or not I would want to take it remote, but like, I don't know, I have enjoyed kind of like the vibe of I think like, in person interactions are like pretty important to me, despite you know, having a lot of positive experiences interactions people online, which is also why I do IRL society. Because I feel like that in person. Dynamic is really hard to replicate. But But yeah, I'm not like committed to it, but I do have like a preference for it. So I would have to also I do like, you know, like a photo I took a photo of them and things like that. And it's not quite the same over a webcam I think

Tim Bourguignon 40:18
now that you say it, they all have the same player. So yes, indeed, you took them. This was like a you pick pictures from the internet. So that is where I started. In fact, the podcast the same way I started by recording only in person. Oh, wow. at conferences, mostly. And but at some point, there's only so many people I can meet. Yeah, so I had to, to go online. And, and since we're all in our basements now. We don't have a chance to meet people anyway. Yeah. You didn't mention the the IRL society. Um, what is it?

Jackie Luo 40:58
Um, it's basically a monthly event series that I was doing in San Francisco, um, there were, you know, like, several 100 people on a mailing list. And basically, I would try to every month post, like some gathering. And it was kind of a venue to sort of, like, experiment with different modes of social interaction. Um, just because I think like, at the time, I was, like, you know, like, I want to be having more meaningful conversations with people and just like, you know, I want to be able to interact with people in like, different ways. And, like, something like, I felt like this sort of like, oh, like, small talk, and then, you know, like, focusing on like, what's happening in your life right now, like, kind of surface level? Wasn't really doing it for me, I guess. And, um, I think like having, you know, a space where you kind of designate a social contract of sorts, like, hey, so if you come to this event, we're doing this thing, which is like, maybe like, you know, I did for instance, like a readings night where everyone like, brought readings, and it was like, supposed to be like, something that you know, shaped the person you are today or whatever, and then everyone would just, like read something and kind of like, talk about how that affected them basically. And why that why they picked it like what you know, how that trace into, like, their current existence and things like that, or like, there's like real conversations of untreated with basically, like a game of sores, like now, there are more like games like this, where, you know, you can just, like buy a box of questions and ask or whatever. But, um, but yeah, like, things like that, basically, that were supposed to be kind of, like, fun, different things to do. Apart from, like, the things that, you know, you typically do as like a 20 something person. like to go to restaurants and go to house parties, and all those things.

Tim Bourguignon 43:30
Was, were there a goal for yourself be beside meeting people

Jackie Luo 43:35
experimenting a little bit with like, what works and what doesn't, because, you know, like, not everything works, right? Like, he might, like, want a certain thing with an event and have it not actually, like, turn out a certain way. But also just like, you know, creating a way to bring people together closer, in a deeper way. And it doesn't have to be a long lasting thing, like a lot of these were, you know, like groups of strangers. They never meet again, or whatever, but like, just like kind of that I'm getting, I guess, like a little bit of a taste of what it's like to interact with people, um, and, you know, get past kind of like the surface or whatever, and kind of learn about who they are. Um, so yeah, I think like, to that end, it worked out pretty well. And I think I I definitely got that like for myself. But yeah, that's definitely something I would love to, to continue but again, is fantastic.

Tim Bourguignon 44:51
As soon as the pandemic is over, as soon as

Jackie Luo 44:56
Yeah, hosting all kinds of events.

Tim Bourguignon 45:00
I'm pretty sure the pandemic is gonna bring a lot of conversation starters and, and ideas on what to how to talk interact and think about what to do to stay on this vibe about the, the the social interactions? And what do you do when you encourage people to do to? To jump over their fear of this social interactions? Um, they do have some some tricks for them, do you have some some advice for them to? Yeah, maybe be a bit less awkward in this situation,

Jackie Luo 45:36
I think it depends a lot on your personality and like, what your natural tendencies are, to, you know, figure out like what you need to do to counteract it. I think, for me personally, like, I tend to sort of like, like, occupy whatever space of like a given group or whatever that is unoccupied. So for instance, if there's someone who's, like, very, very outspoken, I'll probably like, you know, be pretty quiet, but if the group is like, all kind of quiet feels uncomfortable, I'll generally like fill the void and like, kind of tried to, you know, act more as, like a host. Um, so I think that's part of it, like identifying, you know, what your natural tendencies are there, and, and then like, figuring out, like, what are things you can do to, like, nudge yourself in the direction you want to be. And another thing I tried to do is just really, really remember that, like, a lot of the socially anxious thoughts that people have, and I also have sometimes are, like, just like, not accurate at all, um, like, you know, I don't know, like, people are generally very, very, like, willing to talk about themselves, like, they want to, like, connect with people and, you know, learn about you, like, be more vulnerable personally, and a lot of cases and, and so, going out on a limb a little bit, I think a lot of ways can be like a good thing, even if it is like scary, like, not always, obviously, you kind of have to feel the room a little bit. But in a lot of cases, like people are kind of, like grateful for that, like they, you know, leave feeling like they've connected with people, once we've kind of had some conversation about something that like, you know, people don't get to talk about writing much about themselves. Whether it's like, you know, the thing that they like, whatever, like, your like the sort of embarrassing, like, dream like life dream or whatever, that you haven't really talked to many people about, or like something that like, I don't know, shaped your experience growing up or things like that. This is all sounds kind of cliche. I guess, the quote unquote, like keep calm, and this can be like anything. Um, they're also like, sort of, like interesting sort of intellectual questions, which, you know, don't necessarily Delve as much into the personal but also can be really, really interesting and like telling And, similarly are like not conversation topics that necessarily get broached all the time. So I think like, that's, I guess, one way to go into it. That's less grounded on you know, personal history or whatever and more on hanging out something that maybe feels like important, but without having to like delve into your own life story.

Tim Bourguignon 48:48
Amen to that. Being curious, is everything I have the feeling, it's really getting people to start talking and being genuinely curious, listening to what they say, with with curious ears and curious eyes, and rebound them what they say and dig for more. That's, it always works. Just kind of like what we've been doing for the past 15 minutes. But we've reached the end of our time box. Jackie, where could people be genuinely curious and continue asking you questions online? Where should we send them?

Jackie Luo 49:30
Yeah, um, feel free to tweet at me or DM me? My handle is @jackiehluo on Twitter. And I think you can also get in touch with me through my website, which

is http:

Tim Bourguignon 49:49
Any other links links you want to share? Beside the URL society and the framework project which will be in the show notes?

Jackie Luo 49:57
I'm making candles for charity, so people in the US would be interested in buying a candle that goes towards a good cause. I can also send a link for that.

Tim Bourguignon 50:10
Okay, yeah, please, we'll add end it to the show notes. Okay, cool. Jackie, it's been a blast. Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. So that was really cool.

Jackie Luo 50:18
Thank you so much.

Tim Bourguignon 50:19
And this has been another episode of developer's journey. We will see each other next week, bye. All right, this is Tim from a different time and space with a few comments to make. First, get the most of these developer's journey by subscribing to the podcast with the app of your choice, and get the new episodes automagically, right when the air. The podcast is available on all major platforms. Then, visit our website to find the show notes with all the links mentioned by our guests, the advices they gave us, their book, references and so on. And while you're there, use the comments to continue the discussion with our guests or with me, or reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn. Then a big big THANK YOU to the generous Patreon donors that help me pay the hosting bills. If you have a few coins to spare, please consider a small monthly donation. Every pledge, however small counts. Finally, please do someone a favor, tell them about the show today and help them on their journey.