Software Developers Journey Podcast

#184 Sydney Lai web3 code-switching sociologist


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Sydney Lai 0:00
I think that I think frankly, the biggest thing to like the concept to learn and understand is from sociologists that you should probably take over as software engineer is, why are we building this? And how does this impact society? That's essentially it? I think that's really the main question. Right? There are engineers who build because we love building, it's a hobby. It's so fun. It'd be so cool. To have this. I just enjoy, you know, writing line by line. There's different types of engineers. But I think that if there's one big question is, again, why does society need this? Why are we building this? Yeah, I think that's the biggest because then from there, you can then start to disseminate into much smaller deliverables, objectives, tasks, you start to prioritize your build differently, so on so forth.

Tim Bourguignon 0:59
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey to podcast bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers. To help you on your upcoming journey. I'm your host, Tim bourguignon. On this episode 184, I receive Sydney Lai. Sydney is a Developer Advocate bridging the web two and web three industry by providing education and funding resources for devs. To build, she enjoy building as well. And by that she means mining rigs, parody demos and Pokemon card collections. Sydney. Welcome to their journey.

Sydney Lai 1:35
Hey, awesome. Thank you for having me.

Tim Bourguignon 1:37
But before we come to your story, I want to thank the terrific listeners who support the show every month, you are keeping the dev journey lights up. If you would like to join this fine crew, and help me spend more time on finding phenomenal guests, then editing audio tracks, please go to our website, Dev journey dot info and click on the Support me on Patreon button. Even the smallest contributions are giant steps toward a sustainable dev journey. journey. Thank you. And now back to today's guest, as I told you before, the show exists to help listeners understand what your story looked like and imagine how it's shaped their own future. So as always on the show, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start off? You're definitely.

Sydney Lai 2:26
Oh, man, I think what's so great about dev journeys is that everyone has a starting point, there is this pinnacle moment that we all remember. And for me it was geo cities. I think geo cities. Yeah, I do. I do remember geo cities tumble Yes, I do. Oh, yeah. Right. And, and I just remembered geo cities. Specifically, it was how do I describe this? It was like you're building a website. But you didn't realize you're building a website? And it really came down to what kind of I didn't have the words for this. But what kind of disgusting landing page could I create? And there was Yeah, right. And I remember going through Yahoo, and then you had to click through the pages. And then it was a website, I don't remember what my first website was, it was probably a website, either about me or probably about just my hobbies and interests. And it was just such an incredible experience building through geo cities. And that really led me to just building all other sorts of tchotchkes.

Tim Bourguignon 3:27
Do you remember what attracted you in building for the web instead of doing paper stuff? Or Legos or something else? Entirely?

Sydney Lai 3:36
Yeah, I think that when it came to building the web, I just remember when I was really young, I think I was in third grade, my mom had gotten us a computer. And she said to me, Hey, I don't know how to use this. However, I hope that you learn how to use it, and you can teach me one day, and that has left a huge impression on me to this day, which is why I'm so like, excited and passionate about helping others with literacy in terms of technological adoption. And so I think ever since that moment, in third grade, I was like, Alright, this is this is a giant box and there's I can go on to the internet and discover different things and, and that kind of led me into, you know, kind of the classic, kind of the classic story of I'm gonna go through geo cities, Neopets, MySpace, front end pages, and then yeah, that kind of like gravy train.

Tim Bourguignon 4:28
That's the that's the hallmark of creating for the web, Neopets MySpace, and what came next? on making your own

Sydney Lai 4:38
there was blogger as well, like Google had blogger or something like that letter. Yes. Yeah. It's hard to even it's also just hard to keep track but I think it was, yeah, it was that computer in third grade and then you know, all the typing classes, right. So it was just constantly there was this retention, right? This constantly bring you back and it was, in a way almost So, in evitable I, yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 5:04
You had typing classes.

Sydney Lai 5:06
Oh yeah, we had typing classes in high school or no, this was in middle school. We had our typing classes in seventh grade. I can type properly. Yes. My fingers

Tim Bourguignon 5:16
10 Finger typing. Wow.

Sydney Lai 5:18
How did you learn how to type Tim? By doing it? Oh, okay. Yeah, no, we had typing classes. The game the typing games. I forgot what it was called. Something with space I don't remember. But it was on the the Macintosh that were the different colors. So this is probably like early mid. I can't even remember the timeline. But it was you know, the see through purple computer, the turquoise computer. The magenta computer for Macintosh. Yeah, the was the the first IMAX. I don't know. But they were the beautiful colors. The bubbly ones? Yes. The bubbly. Okay, exactly. So I learned how to type on those Macs. I mean, I guess before that I was just clicking and

Tim Bourguignon 6:00
doing stuff. You know what, at the time of this recording, I'm waiting for my new keyboard to arrive. I mean, it's a moonlander which is an How do you call that two pieces mechanical keyboard, and which is not. It's also linear. So the keys are not are not misaligned. They are all aligned in vertical. So I'm going to have to learn how to type again.

Sydney Lai 6:21
Yeah, I really know 100%. I've been thinking about getting what you just described. But my fear, I suppose is having to reroute my brain to type in a different way which I'm afraid they will reduce the speed but I think for you is it for like is it for your

Tim Bourguignon 6:41
shoulders, I realized that my shoulders are turning turning inward and it's starting to be painful and so I have to spread my shoulders of artists breadline. My arms are

Sydney Lai 6:50
incredible. I can't wait to see that because my keyboard has a smaller form factor and it just cramps my hands together. But yeah, I always feel like doves. I don't know that maybe this is a common like misconception but that we are just obsessed with either mechanical keyboards are playing with our keyboards. I mean, this is like our car. I don't this takes us to work every single day. We just want to customize it. We want to play with it. We have different versions of keyboards. Yes,

Tim Bourguignon 7:19
it does. It does. I mean, I'm more I'm more accustomed to speaking about chairs. But we're sitting on the same chair every day. And yet, we still fret about buying a chair that is something like $1,000, just sitting eight to 15 hours every day on that. But no, that's a workplace. That's what we work with.

Sydney Lai 7:38
That's true. That's true. Starter Pack, keyboard and chair.

Tim Bourguignon 7:41
Absolutely, absolutely. So let's go back into your story before we delve too much into the startup package. So starting with that, so you always already had in mind, I'm going to university, I'm gonna study computer science. And off I go.

Sydney Lai 7:55
Did you? Yeah, that's a great assumption. I studied sociology. Oh, you did? Yeah, I studied sociology. Most actually, most people don't realize that. Because I think that for me, I knew that computer science and just building computers was always going to be around. But I think my draw to technology has always been the social layer. How does technology affect society? And how is technological? How is technological advancement, a representation of social advancement? So that was always my underlying driver. Right? My, my obsession with a tech adoption or tech education? Always, if you look at the core is the obsession with how does this progress society forward? How does society evolve with the advancement of technology? Yeah, wow. Yeah.

Tim Bourguignon 8:51
Okay, so you always had this technology in mind, but decided to go another route to better come back to it?

Sydney Lai 8:59
Yeah, yeah, I think I think that's the case is that. I mean, I think in retrospect, it's really easy to see now because I'm sure you'll hear stories of developers who had non traditional paths, or they went through a boot camp, or they, you know, they never finished college. I think that those narratives are very common. But I think that my attraction to technology is on a very, I think macro base level, right? Do I have certain programming languages that I prefer? Are there ways that I prefer building the technology? Do I enjoy finding bugs? No, I don't. But as an example, it was never so much really the daily granular aspects of designing systems. I do enjoy that. But I think that the pole and my obsession is on a very macro level. It's on a very macro level. And so even though in college, I study sociology, I still went to hackathons. I still built things. I still participated and I I mean, even my first like my first class, my first college class in, it was in hardware computer systems. I was in seventh grade. So I was in seventh grade in the US. And I took a class at the local community college, because I wanted to learn how the systems work together both on a hardware perspective, as well as cloud computing perspective, this was a bit early on. So it wasn't necessarily that but it was all about like network integrations, hardware and, and all that stuff. So I think that it was, it was always there. But I think in college, it's really the time where you can have a academic and peer setting where you can dive into deep conversations and research on sociology specifically. And of course, you use it on a daily basis, right? We live in society. So I use it every single day.

Tim Bourguignon 10:55
You said in seventh grade, you went to community college? Do you take a class? Is it something you can do in the US? Yeah, yeah. Wow. That is cool.

Sydney Lai 11:03
Yeah, it's not yea, America.

Tim Bourguignon 11:07
But that is really cool. It's really cool. So when you started this sociology studies, you already knew you wanted to have still all you wanted to apply it to technical systems with big air quotes.

Sydney Lai 11:19
It was it was more so applying it to what is it I want to build? I don't think I think for me, there wasn't really a difference between, I guess, like software engineering and just building things. I think they were kind of the same things. In my mind. It was just, you're building things. And they're typically software engineering based or computer based, because the barrier to entry is so much lower, if that makes sense, right? It's a lot easier and less friction to build something virtually, rather than let me go build a swimming pool as an example. Right? Absolutely.

Tim Bourguignon 11:54
Absolutely. How did you envision back then your first step into your professional life? So after the end of your studies? Yeah, that's

Sydney Lai 12:03
a really good one. And I think this kind of goes back to this kind of goes back to, you know, why sociology? Or why, like, how does this kind of transition into the first career, which was, I really wanted to understand why do certain societies adopt certain things? So I remember that was the main thesis or theory that I had. And it was how do we get adoption of technology, languages, whatever it is that we're trying to create? How do you get a certain group of people to adopt that? And I think that that narration actually is very similar to what I do today as a developer advocate, which is like, how do we get developers to adopt either this education, either this type of tooling, or this type of stack, right? And so when it came to my first, when it came to my first career, right afterwards, it was I had worked at a bank, right? And so for me, my my logic was that there was two main logics. One, money is everywhere. And I should probably learn how this works. And then number two, everyone needs money, everyone needs to adopt money. It was a kind of a, it was just a necessity. I think, for me, I think technology and money were always correlated. It was the literal currency that runs technology. I mean, technology needs to get funded, right as an example. And so I remember when I worked, when I worked at the bank, I was on I played different roles, but one of the roles that I played was on the labs team. And I remember at the time, even nights and weekends, I was still getting going to hackathons, I was honing my skills. And on this r&d team on the labs team, it took us about 18 months to just enable or build in a mortgage lending feature in the mobile application itself. And I was just thinking to myself very clearly, I was like, 18 months, right? Well, you know, I was young, so I forgot about regulations. But but for me, I was like, I can build this in like three hours as an example. Right? And so I think I was not I, how do I say this? I wanted to speed the adoption and the build of technology. And so I think for me, it was always how can we build this faster? How can we have least amounts of friction? How do we scale this? And so I think from then, until now, the world of development that I always have played in anywhere from startup to enterprise level is kind of the balance between, you know, financial engineering, and software engineering, I think, you know, every part of that, and that goes even to to today, where it's like, you know, what are you trying to build as a developer and here are some developer grants, here are some scholarships, here are ways for you to build a whatever it is you're trying to build. So it's, I think it really comes down to the intersectionality between large organizations, and then how do we build? How do we build these software's and toolings that will impact large amounts of people. And you typically see that in either finances or software engineering, something like that.

Tim Bourguignon 15:20
It sounds to me like you should be heading towards some kind of developer tools space and into then growth hacking in this regard. You're smiling right now.

Sydney Lai 15:33
Yeah, that's actually really impressive. Because because I worked originally as a growth marketer as well. So every single Yeah, it's I'm an engineer of many various talents. But I think yeah, I think that when it came to working as a growth marketer, again, it's kind of reiterating is just how do we get people to adopt X, Y, and Z? And I think this really goes back to this goes back to the just this obsession with how do we get either society enterprises, the people of the enterprises to adopt this type of technology. And I think that especially in the early days of growth, marketing, I don't remember how it really happened. I think there is this guy named Guy Kawasaki, who was one of the early dev evangelists at Apple, I think it was like, he was like the first OG dev evangelist at Apple and like the, in the 90s. And I think he was also considered one of the pioneers of growth marketing. And depending on what kind of growth marketer you are, you have the ability to create landing pages, a lot of the early growth, marketers back in the day had to know a lot of front end, because there wasn't anyone on the traditional marketing team who knew how to make landing pages, create different types of integration, build out databases to collect your user information, such as like CRMs, or anything like so. Yeah, I actually haven't thought about that in a while. But that's definitely was part of the journey. Yeah, it was definitely part of the journey.

Tim Bourguignon 17:07
Did you have a special for lack of a better word target in mind, when you think about people that you want to? Is it? Let me rephrase that there's this technology adoption curve? Who the innovators, the early adopters, etc, we can criticize the model if you want. But maybe it's not the point of the discussion? Do you tend to focus more on the left side of the curves, the innovators and the early adopters or more into the belly of the of the bell curve? Do you have a sweet spot where where you feel more at ease? Helping people?

Sydney Lai 17:34
Yeah, that's actually a really good question. And something that it's not a question that I oddly get, like, get very often, I think, a really good way to illustrate that question is, so I spent my career in both Silicon Valley for eight years, and then here in New York City for the last six years, right. And when you when it comes to when it comes to, especially Silicon Valley, a lot of the early adopters is exactly what you said, which is on the left hand side, I think that in the very beginning of my career, it was very much focused on how do you get just your peers, the early adopters, right. But I think that when it comes to as it became more exposed and experience in my career is actually to get this change. How do we get the mainstream adopters? Right. And so I think that has been probably one of the challenging parts, but also a very important part I'll give, you know, as you probably know, a very common example may be I'm trying to think like, it can be even, I think, a very controversial one is crypto adoption, right? I think one of my mentors in 2014. He's also German, his, his name is Michael ILG. And he was a graduate researcher at Berkeley where we both met. And in 2014, he was one of the core developers at Aetherium. And so a nights and weekends, we would meet together, and he would teach me a lot of how do you design as a core developer on Aetherium? Right. And so I think that you have on the left hand side, you have researchers, innovators, engineers who can see and, quote, easily adopt a technology, right, so let's say Aetherium in 2014, however, it even in 2017, arguably, that was kind of the shift and it wasn't really until 2020 pandemic, I don't know, Game Stop, stop right. Then there is this then this huge mass adoption, I think that in between those years from 2014 to 2020, there is a slew of different opinions of you know, this is good, this is bad. This is a scam. This is a build. But I think that this can be the same with if we remember the adoption of just cell phones or even Uber. Don't get into a car with a stranger or don't stare at this phone for too long, it's going to, you know, blow your brains out whatever it is. So I think with every single type of adoption, there are difference in opinions and a huge aspect comes down to how do we understand this. And if we don't understand this in a certain way, we're going to build up frictions, to adopt this. So I think, again, just to circle back to, you know, what part of this bell curve are we trying to adopt? I think without a doubt, there has to be a sequence, you have to get some of the folks who are open and wanting to adopt this first, and then, and then at some point, you need to get the mass adoption, because otherwise, it won't get adopted. That's kind of point. Yeah, yeah. So yeah. So I guess to your point, it really depends on I'd say most of my work has been the early adopters. And, and I think as within the last few years, it's been really focused on the mass adoption. And I think it's also due to, I think it's also just due to the evolution of technology as we know it, right. So even today, I remember just the early YC companies, I remember interviewing at Coinbase, in 2014, I remember when DoorDash, and food deliveries were just getting started. And I would see all the kind of the test flights in San Francisco. And I think, about 567 10 years later, now they've all matured, right? So I think almost by force, it's alright, it's time to adopt the mainstream audience, because the last several years was adopting, I guess, the early adopters.

Tim Bourguignon 21:36
What I found particularly hard in my work, it was not necessarily about adoption, but it was about learning, which is some kind of adoption as well, was really to realize that you need to attack different groups of people with different words and ideas. If you stick to your guns that worked for one group and try to apply it to the next one, you're running into a wall, you really have to rethink this. And this is awfully hard to rethink and try to think out outside of the box and sing for somebody else and say, Well, this is not me anymore. This is so easy to think about the people who are like you, but then try to target different group and you have to rethink everything. This is so hard.

Sydney Lai 22:19
Yeah, I really resonate with that because especially as educators or software engineer mentors, we are constantly being in the presence of just different types of engineers from different walks of life may be different languages, different perspectives, different educational backgrounds, and what you just described in sociology, we call that code switching, right? We call that code switching. So as an example, if I am talking to a web three developer, I will use certain types of languages, I will use certain types of examples and case studies, if I'm talking to a web to developer that will also be different if I am talking to, you know, as an example, one of the IDE that I'm using right now, it's a nice development. So there's a lot of internal tooling, we have what's called a forge component. And so in that process of code switching, when I'm educating or helping other software engineers, I don't use, you know, forge component, this, this doesn't really mean anything, it's an internal example. But what I say it's a, it's an it's a consumed API that's wrapped, right? And then it's exposed, and you can integrate it into this application or this IDE. And so in that example, it's a lot easier. Or if I'm explaining, you know, web three development, as an example, is, hey, it's, you know, IPFS. It's like Amazon, AWS or Azure. However, instead of having a centralized storage, or having a peer to peer storage solution, so, again, it's this code switching, and you need to understand, you know, what's going to resonate best with that engineer so that they have the ability to just adopt it, even from an informational standpoint,

Tim Bourguignon 23:58
that makes a whole lot of sense. You mentioned web two and web three again. So I guess it's time to to dig a little bit in there. First of all, what is it and where would you place it on this curve? Are we still in the early adoption of web three? Or are we a bit further away already?

Sydney Lai 24:14
Yeah, I think that's a really difficult question. But I guess to start with just the context, web three is kind of a colloquial meaning. It can encompass many different things, meaning primarily, it's about blockchain industry.

Sydney Lai 24:38
But what it's also about is that it also incorporates artificial intelligence machine learning, but I would say for the most part, when software engineers use web three, it's colloquial and all encompassing for blockchain development, crypto development, the future of financial infrastructures, stuff like that, right. So again, that's kind of an overall it's about This decentralized web approach. So whatever you're building in the decentralized web, and then web two is kind of like the centralized web. And then you have web 1.0, which I guess was kind of, what is it called? Like, oh, gosh, I'm forgetting the terms right now. It's just like a static web page where you can click on the link, and you can go to XY and Z. And so, you know, when you ask, where are we on this adoption curve? I say it's hard just because I can imagine I have my own biases. I think that because I've worked in the industry for so long, you know, this perspective has skewed whereas, you know, those who are just now adopting, it's like, oh, this is still new. So I think that, you know, to, to an extent, it's still, you know, what, I guess isn't new, just relative? I think, you know, Blockchain was invented in the early 90s. Right. So yeah, that's how I think about this at least,

Tim Bourguignon 25:50
Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. So let's imagine a developer who is knee deep into web two, what are the major milestones toward getting more into web three, and maybe the major roadblocks that usually stand on their way? Kevin, have you been?

Sydney Lai 26:08
Oh, gosh, well, I think a huge piece in terms of roadblock is just the networking component. Right? I think that it almost sounds overly simple. But for one, to really be able to work in web three, it's just, frankly, the networking component. I mean, if you literally want to work in the industry, be hired to get paid, you need to know someone who is going to pay you to do that. Right. You can, of course, still go to GitHub, you know, a project and just start building and then contribute. Yeah, great. That's your you're technically still building web three. But if you want to work in web three, it's frankly, the same as any industry. If you want to be an influencer, you know, a car salesman, whatever it is, like, you still need to know someone who's going to give you that paycheck, right? And I think that when it comes to web three, because people work online, because it's so decentralized, there's just so many different companies, what I've come to understand is that there's almost this analysis paralysis of like, how do I choose which team I should go forth with? Right? I think that when it comes to when it comes to web two companies, so Microsoft, Facebook, Netflix, dating apps, dog walking apps, food on delivery apps, like you can just read the description, and you know exactly what it is like, oh, I can date on this app, I can walk my dog on this app. This all makes sense, right? But when you have, and this kind of goes back to what we just talked about this code switching when you have a web three company, and you have all of these just jargon, and you have no idea what it means. And then all the companies start to look the same. And then why is crypto even related to blockchain? And how does this all work? I would say, I think not either knowing the context are knowing the right people is one of the biggest preventative measures that I've seen, I think people jump into the web three space. But I will say this, that there is a huge demand for web to developers to become web three developers. And this is kind of, I mean, gosh, this is like, in a way, no different than how you know, my friends. And I were originally Ruby on Rails developers. And now people are like React Native developers, right. So there's this transitional period, and it can all be done. And it's I don't know, you know, musicians, right, you all kind of learn how to play piano at some point. And then you transition into either Qatar or a stringed instrument, and you can kind of typically play at least one or two, one or two different types of instruments. You know, you and I both speak at least two languages, right, as an example. Right. So I think that I think that, I guess the easiest part is that if you are a web developer or whatever software engineer that you are, you can transition into web three, just like if you can play piano, you can learn another instrument. If you can speak one language, you could probably learn another language. Someone from

Tim Bourguignon 29:08
my my ex agile coaches, alarms are going up. When I hear you talk about web three. And mentioning all those buzzwords. I hear tech, and I'm searching for. Yes, but so what are we trying to reach what we couldn't reach with web two? Stay with us.

Tim Bourguignon 29:29
We'll be right back. Hello imposters. If you work in tech want to work in tech or are tech curious in any way you'll want to listen to this. We've launched a community of professionals who come together to share information and advice about jobs, roles, careers and the journeys we all take throughout our lives as the designers, builders, fixers investigators, explainers and protectors of the world's technology. We call it the impostor syndrome network. And all are welcome Though find the imposter syndrome network podcast wherever you listen to find podcasts and look for the isn community on your favorite social platform hashtag impostor network.

Sydney Lai 30:13
Wow, wow, this is that's so beautifully said. I will say Not everything has to be web three. Not everything has to be decentralized. I think, again, this is just one person's opinion. I think that there are many people who are pursuing blockchain for different reasons. And I think it goes back to how do you? How do you democratizes access? I think when blockchain is built on peer to peer, right, open, Blockchain is able to speed along development much faster than how regulations can be created. But you know, for better or for worse, for better or for worse, just like Uber, you know, regulations came after Uber and Uber is web two, by the way, how do you just essentially democratize that access? And I think that, you know, there's so many examples, one example can be in again, in 2020, when I think there was just this huge adoption of retail traders, as an example, right, this huge adoption of retail traders, I think 2020, for me, was an example of people. Millennials, adopting Robin Hood, for the first time in masses adopting crypto for the first time in masses, it was my, my first experience of visually watching people, the consumers essentially adopt a finance as a consumable consumer product as an example, right. And so when you go back to this web three space, it's being able to create different experiences, assets and products that you as a consumer is able to access like never before, right? So as a really weird example, okay, I'm going off on this tangent is I have Pokemon cards, right? For the most part, people are like, okay, Pokemon cards are pieces of paper that are not worth anything. That is fair, right? If you put it on eBay, web to platform, hey, this is on eBay, I can sell you this Pikachu card for $7. And someone somewhere will like, Okay, I will buy this Pikachu card for $7. Right. So at that point, there is a demand for that item. Now, a web three version this is happening now is I can put my Pokemon card collection onto a contract, in a line of code, I can put it in, I can essentially attach my whole Pokemon card collection into a line of code. And then I can hold this collection as a tradable asset as an asset for value. And you can use it as an investment vehicle. So again, what I'm trying to say here is you And mind you, I'm using a lot of financial engineering examples only because this is primarily my specialty, there are far greater examples, I just don't have the exposure or experience. And so you can create new products or experiences. And again, you know, I have a friend who's a software engineer, and she works on self driving cars at Uber, right, you know, there's of course teams that are creating, you know, peer to peer self driving services, right. So not like me facilitating with Uber that will find me a driver, but me facilitating through IPFS to connect directly to 10. So that Tim, like, send me a car, right instead. Right? Well, so even with that, I still had to use a website. Right. But so I think that yes, there are well, gosh, no, sorry. No, I'm just wondering, like how well like a peer to peer dating app? You know, I'm sure that's gonna be isn't that just friends connecting with friends? That is web three. Yeah, maybe dating web three is just 10 Making intros to you know, his friends or something like that. Right. So I Yeah, yeah. I mean, yeah, there's tons of jargon and tech in general. And what was it the oh, okay, sorry. I'm gonna close up this tangent is I have a friend. He has smart lightbulbs. Right? And so when he would walk into his room, it was so silly. He would say, you know, like, you know, Alexa, turn on lights, and there's this awkward like, two, three seconds, and then the light turns on. And then I was like, Okay, I love technology. But I just want to flip my switch on like, I don't worry, right? This was awkward. The delay is too much. I I don't need my lights to be in web three, or in web two. I guess one sees as my brain like, I guess one could argue in the future. When you have like technological warfare. Maybe you do want your lights on a decentralized platform because if The companies decide to turn off your lights, then they can technically turn off everyone's lights. But if it's on a web three grid system with your own generator, then I guess maybe I see. So like, you could create an argument, I suppose. But at the end of the day, I do not want my lights connected to a smart home device, because I just want to flip it on rather than waiting like this awkward three seconds, and then telling my lights to turn on or off. That's just

Tim Bourguignon 35:28
a couple of things that don't put on the internet. And the whole IoT in my home in my house isn't isn't gonna be there. So it has to go right in the house, stay there and react to react on 100 millisecond timeframe. When I hear you talk about all this, the picture I have in mind is all the things we've seen with web two is basically more of the same is what we've seen before just on steroids. And when we come to web three, we're bringing new product, we're breaking things, the way things were working before, we're fundamentally making changes, I was thinking the whole time about new ways to not voting for one person, but then voting for all the candidates at the same time, which is something that is absolutely not available to technology or wasn't available to technology 10 years ago, but it's becoming now because we have all this all these mechanisms. And we're making almost societal changes with this. And this is what I associated with, with web three, also going to finance bringing new ways to think about financing. And not just this exchange of money, but our exchange of Fiat fiat currency and paper, but more going into very esoteric, esoteric, stuff that we couldn't do before. And that's what I associated with web three before. Um, am I off with

Sydney Lai 36:52
you? You're actually so on the money like that is perfect. Yeah. So air five, right. Like you actually, I've worked in this industry for quite a while now. So I think that you being able to say exactly that is that it is fairly esoteric, right. I think that this goes back to a lot of just like I said, you know, my early mentors, my early, you know, software, engineering, mentors, whatever it is, it's very philosophical, this kind of goes back to the sociology major, right? This kind of goes back to what look, again, like I said, people can build, you know, dating apps, you know, Netflix on, you know, web three, whatever it is great shirt. And but I think with, you know, this goes back to this learning curve, this, excuse me, this adoption curve, which was the early builders of web three technology is very pursuance of this exoteric. This society and technology, how do we transform? How do we? How do we remove access? How do we shift the point of access? Right? And so how do you remove the centralized forces of as an example, maybe the Facebook, the Ubers, I'm just pulling up these random examples that people recognize this decentralized, peer to peer version of Airbnb. And I think that this actually harkens back to web two, right, or even web one 1.0. Right, because the what the internet was originally created for, again, researchers, the military, people who needed to have and originally it was still, you know, in that context, peer to peer, right. And then it was geo cities that became like, Hey, you can have these cities, geo cities back in the day was like you have, you know, these pages for like, the LA area, as an example. Right. And so we started to build into these hubs. So we're having kind of this like ebb and flow of, you know, peer to peer than the greater internet and then kind of moving back to that to that peer to peer again. And I think when it comes to web two developers, or people who are just building for, you know, applications, as we typically do today, the biggest question that web three companies have, which is how do we get more web two developers to build for web three? You know, a lot of the early adopters have kind of gone over. So how do we get web two developers to build? And then what I, you know, really focus on and specialize in? Is this interoperability. So how do we get different types of blockchain protocols to work together? How do we get web two and web three stacks to build together? How do we get web two IDE s and toolings? And web three IDs and toolings to build together? How do we have different types of integrations and APIs that can build together and so I mean, I think that alone is a huge piece of it. And yeah,

Tim Bourguignon 39:48
I just have no idea where to start. You just opened a whole new universe for me to research into. If not, I guess I'm just was having a glimpse of what you what you're talking about. And, and I just cannot imagine what's behind.

Sydney Lai 40:07
There's an analogy and you know, I've gotten feedback that sometimes this analogy works. Sometimes it doesn't work. It's not exactly technically correct, but it actually illustrates this the best. So, as an analogy, Blockchain is like an operating system, like Mac OS. And Bitcoin is a very famous app, like Tiktok. Right? So actually, sorry, not Mac, if it's Tiktok. So then it needs to be technically mobile. So iOS, right. So so. So Bitcoin is a tech talk, as blockchain is to an operating system, like iOS and Bitcoin runs on blockchain. But just like iOS, many different types of applications also run on iOS, or many different types of applications also run on blockchain.

Tim Bourguignon 40:59
Yep, that makes sense.

Sydney Lai 41:01
Yeah, that checks out, right. And so I think that this kind of goes back to many different things can be built on web three. But the most common ones, as you can imagine, also, driven by just the fact that it's lucrative is, you know, crypto applications, as an example. But there's many things that I can you know, that you can build, like just the other day I, you know, one of the toolings that I absolutely love is it's an AI system development platform. It's an IDE, and I built an NFT wallet, right? So I built an NF T wallet, it's interoperable. I use filecoin. I use IPFS, to host the decentralized images. And you can just you can build a look, you can build whatever it is that you want everything. The idea is to achieve interoperability. And, and this really started with, I think, it just really goes back to like Aetherium, as a protocol was created. And it kind of led in the adoption of developers because, yeah, you can build crypto, absolutely. But you can also build different, you know, what they call daps applications, you can build applications on a theorem, you can build mining, for Aetherium, you can, and then it kind of goes into then I started adopting polka dot, I adopted polka dot, which is protocol or code switching framework, if you want to call it that, where you can have different types of chains, not just Aetherium, you can cross chain with the Bitcoin protocol, the Etherion, protocol, harmony, Solana. And then of course, there's Bitcoin, which is, again, an application that is built on the Bitcoin protocol, but only really recently, through languages, like the coding language of the language like clarity, can you then start to start to build operational utility use cases on the Bitcoin protocol before certain languages were created? You could only pretty much just build, you know, like, contribute to Bitcoin Core, but only within probably the last year or two, just from my perspective, has there been a much wider adoption of bring utility to these different types of protocols? And I think this really brings me to this, like push a narrative of how so how does one become a web three developer, if that is the path that they want to pursue? And I think there's really, you know, four things that I really want to highlight in light of kind of, that I've kind of brushed over one is the fact that you are a software engineer of whatever level primarily web two, you're able to bring in this new language, right? So number one, is the fact that you are a web developer, that's the starting point. And number two, just like web two, just build projects, right? If you don't work in the industry, just find GitHub examples, build, create medium articles about it, just having some sort of a portfolio to showcase number three is just like web to attend these boot camps. There are so many different types of boot camps that are offered by so many types of web three companies, web two companies, it doesn't really matter like that teaches you how to build in web three. Right. And then kind of the last piece is just this whole networking aspect. I think that the stereotype goes that, again, I think might be an outdated stereotype, maybe it's no longer relevant, but like, you know, devs, they don't want to socialize, they like to put their heads down and just build, you know, to to whatever extent like someone's got a someone's got to pay the check or support you on this. And that check can be either an employer or grants or whatever that may look like, but you need to know who that person is for grants, you need to know who that person is for that income. So it's the the transitional piece is actually no different than the web two aspect, but I think it's all about reaching out in that networking aspect to fully bring you over to that chasm. And I think it's the same as just having mentors through through my life. And in pulling that over, or just random people you meet at a meet up.

Tim Bourguignon 45:09
That makes a lot of sense. This has been a whole bunch of advice already. But I have one in mind that I really wanted to ask you. So I'm going to ask anyway. What is the one thing that software engineers should learn from sociology?

Sydney Lai 45:23
Wow, no one has ever no one has ever asked me that before. I think that I think frankly, the biggest thing to like the concept to learn and understand is from sociologists that you should probably take over as software engineer is, why are we building this? And how does this impact society? That's essentially it? I think that's really the main question. Right? There are engineers who build because we love building, it's a hobby, it's so fun, it'd be so cool. To have this. I just enjoy, you know, writing line by line. There's different types of engineers. But I think that if there's one big question is, again, why does society need this? Why are we building this? Yeah, I think that's the biggest because then from there, you can then start to disseminate into much smaller deliverables, objectives, tasks, you start to prioritize your build differently, so on so forth,

Tim Bourguignon 46:20
that is very good. Thank you very much. I already have a score of companies who want to say, well, they should have asked themselves this before. So Amen to that. They Thank you very much. Where would the the best place to continue the discussion with you?

Sydney Lai 46:35
So I would say twitter.com, forward slash, Sidney, lie, and I say this because my DMs are open. And as a developer advocate, I'm very passionate about how do I hope you build whatever it is that you want to build? Right? So really, Mike, my give is, hey, if you're a dev and I, currently to this day, I have devs DM me all the time, like, Hey, I like to get started in a career and web three, or hey, I like to build this project, you know, whatever it is great. Here are the toolings. I would recommend, if you want to get some grant funding, this is what you can do go and build, right? Because this kind of goes back to my, my obsession, which is like, what does society want to build? And how do I empower people to build whatever that is? Right. So really, my, the best way to get in touch is just Twitter. My DMS are open, feel free to shoot me projects, shoot me a questions if you want to start working in this industry. If you want boot camps, I've got boot camps for you. Right. So like, I'm here to provide resources, and just be like this Twitter mentor of some sort.

Tim Bourguignon 47:42
You heard it, don't hesitate to reach out and he yells you want to plug in.

Sydney Lai 47:46
Now that's awesome. That's That's it.

Tim Bourguignon 47:48
Fantastic. Sydney. It's been a blast talking to you listening to a story, digging to web three, although I have to feel like we've just barely scratched the surface. Yeah,

Sydney Lai 48:00
thank you very much. Thanks, Tim.

Tim Bourguignon 48:02
And this has been another episode of tapestry. We'll see each other next week. Bye. Thanks a lot for tuning in. I hope you have enjoyed this week's episode. If you liked the show, please share rate and review. It helps more listeners discover those stories. You can find the links to all the platforms to show appears on our website, Dev journey dot info, slash subscribe. Creating the show every week takes a lot of time, energy, and of course money. Would you please help me continue bringing out those inspiring stories every week by pledging a small monthly donation, you'll find our patreon link at Dev journey dot info slash donate. And finally, don't hesitate to reach out and tell me how this week story is shaping your future. You can find me on Twitter at @timothep ti m o t h e p or per email info at Dev journey dot info. Talk to you soon.