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Building a community for developers: this week Paul Ford and Gina Trapani talk to Jenn Schiffer, community engineer at Fog Creek’s Glitch, a platform for developers to write, share, and remix code that is, in Jenn’s words, helping to “lower the barriers for developers to build great things.” Topics discussed include development frameworks, how coding is taught, cultures of harassment online and in the tech world, and the (sort of mind-blowing!) way a Bloomin’ Onion® is made.


Paul: So you’re a big VM fan?

Jenn: Yeah, yeah. I was super into Sun products when I was in college.

Paul: Oh, wow. OK.

Jenn: I was doing work with OpenSolaris and stuff, and then I kind of fell out of it when Oracle bought them, but…

Paul: It was a disappointing day.

Jenn: Yeah, yeah. And I was, like, very young, and I was just, like, “Wait, everything about this new — ” I was just learning about open source, and then I’m like, “Wow, all of this can just be, like, taken away by, like, a large company?” And then I became an anarchist. [laughter]

Jenn: I want to introduce people to code in a friendly, cool-looking environment, but something that they’re not going to entirely miss when they move on to bigger tools. Because again, all these projects may scale at some point.

Paul: Sure.

Jenn: There is this startup based in New York called Lorem, as in, like, “lorem ipsum,” and they built their product and then, like, had to get rid of all of it and start from scratch, and they wanted to raise money really quickly, so they prototyped it in Glitch and they raised a million dollars, and they’ve since scaled to, like, a Heroku instance. So it’s like, a great use case for people who are prototyping something, people who might not have a development team, but they’re a good product person, and they wanna raise funding. I think it’s easier now to raise funding without an actual product, but just an idea.

Paul: So everyone who uses Glitch can raise a million dollars.

Jenn: Everyone — yeah, that’s actually, yeah. The next 10 people that sign up to will get $10 million. [laughter]

Paul: So you get out of college. There are no jobs.

Jenn: Yeah.

Paul: So you’re like, more college?

Jenn: I’m like, oh, I’ll just, like, get my master’s. I was actually, at that point I’m like, well if I’m getting my masters I might as well get my PhD and be a professor, and I had this thing, when I was growing up, my father was a manager of restaurants, and I was, like, a cook at Outback Steakhouse at some point, and any job that I had I was kinda like, “Wow, like, this is, like, run by a bunch of goons. Like, I can do this better.” So I was like —

Paul: OK, wait —

Jenn: “One day I’m gonna own my own restaurant!”

Paul: Stop. Stoooop. [laughter] We’re gonna need to unpack a few things here.