Jenn Webb

Jenn Webb is a veteran of the newspaper industry turned freelance scribe, editor, and researcher. She is a nerd with a passion for technology and cultural disruption. She currently serves as O'Reilly Radar's managing editor and helps to investigate topics in the Design, IoT+, Data, and Emerging Tech spaces.

Signals from Velocity Europe 2014

From design processes to postmortem complexity, here are key insights from Velocity Europe 2014.

Practitioners and experts from the web operations and performance worlds came together in Barcelona, Spain for Velocity Europe 2014. We’ve gathered highlights and insights from the event below.

Managing performance is like herding cats

Aaron Rudger, senior product marketing manager at Keynote Systems, says bridging the communication gap between IT and the marketing and business sectors is a bit like herding cats. Successful communication requires a narrative that discusses performance in the context of key business metrics, such as user engagement, abandonment, impression count, and revenue.

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Holistic experience design: the O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Mary Treseler talks about O'Reilly's new design investigation, and Trina Chiasson talks about typography and visualization.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes, SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

In this week’s Radar Podcast episode, I talk with Mary Treseler, director of strategic content at O’Reilly, about our new investigation into experience design and how it’s shaping our future. Treseler notes a couple of key factors driving the investigation:

“What I’m seeing here and what I’ve been watching is the focus move from technology to design. Experience design or interaction design has always been around, but there are a couple of factors that are really pushing it into the spotlight. One being that we’re seeing more widespread support of design as a corporate asset, as something that could be a competitive advantage to businesses. The other is the Internet of Things, looking at the convergence of the digital and physical worlds, and what that means for designers and how they can impact the future.”

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From factory to data center: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Nate Oostendorp on manufacturing and the industrial Internet, and Tim O'Reilly and Rod Smith discuss emerging tech.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes,SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on manufacturing — will the industrial Internet’s effect be as significant? In this podcast episode, Nate Oostendorp, co-founder and CTO of Sight Machine, says yes — where mechanization ruled the Industrial Revolution, data-driven automation will rule this next revolution:

“I think that when you think about manufacturing 20 years from now, the computer and the network is going to be much more fundamental. Your factories are going to look a lot more like data centers do, where there’s a much greater degree of automation that’s driven by the fact that you have good data feeds off of it. You have a lot of your administration of the factory that will be done remotely or in a back office. You don’t necessarily need to have engineers on a floor watching a machine in order to know what’s going on. I think fundamentally, the number of players in a factory will be much smaller. You’ll have much more technical expertise but a fewer number of people overall in a factory setting.”

According to Oostendorp, we’re already seeing the early effects today in an increased focus on quality and efficiency. Read more…

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Use data or be data

Trina Chiasson argues that data has arrived at the same threshold as coding: code or be coded; learn to use data or be data.

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Trina Chiasson

Arguments from all sides have surrounded the question of whether or not everyone should learn to code. Trina Chiasson, co-founder and CEO of Infoactive, says learning to code changed her life for the better. “These days I don’t spend a lot of time writing code,” she says, “but it’s incredibly helpful for me to be able to communicate with our engineers and communicate with other people in the industry.”

Though helpful for her personally, she admits that it takes quite a lot of time and commitment to learn to code to any level of proficiency, and that it might not be the best use of time for everyone. What should people commit time to learn? How to use data. Read more…

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What happens when fashion meets data: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Liza Kindred on the evolving role of data in fashion and the growing relationship between tech and fashion companies.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes, SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

In this podcast episode, I talk with Liza Kindred, founder of Third Wave Fashion and author of the new free report “Fashioning Data: How fashion industry leaders innovate with data and what you can learn from what they know.” Kindred addresses the evolving role data and analytics are playing in the fashion industry, and the emerging connections between technology and fashion companies. “One of the things that fashion is doing better than maybe any other industry,” Kindred says, “is facilitating conversations with users.”

Gathering and analyzing user data creates opportunities for the fashion and tech industries alike. One example of this is the trend toward customization. Read more…

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The human side of Hadoop

Doug Cutting on applications of Hadoop, where "Hadoop" comes from, and the new partnership between Cloudera and O'Reilly.

Roger Magoulas, director of market research at O’Reilly and Strata co-chair, recently sat down with Doug Cutting, chief architect at Cloudera, to talk about the new partnership between Cloudera and O’Reilly, and the state of the Hadoop landscape.

Cutting shares interesting applications of Hadoop, several of which had touching human elements. For instance, he tells a story about visiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and discovering the staff using Hadoop to reduce stress in babies. Read more…

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A foundation of empathy: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Putting ourselves in the shoes of the user is key to building better systems and services.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes, SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

In this podcast episode, Tim O’Reilly talks about building systems and services for people, keeping a close eye on the end user’s experience to build better, more efficient systems that actually work for the people using them. Highlighting a quote from Jeff Sussna, O’Reilly makes a deeper connection between development and the ultimate purpose for building systems and services — user experience:

“[Jeff Sussna says in his blog post Empathy: The Essence of DevOps]: ‘It’s not about making developers and sysadmins report to the same VP. It’s not about automating all your configuration procedures. It’s not about tipping up a Jenkins server, or running your applications in the cloud, or releasing your code on Github. It’s not even about letting your developers deploy their code to a PaaS. The true essence of DevOps is empathy.’

“Understanding the other people that you work with and how you’re going to work together more effectively. That word ‘empathy’ struck me and it made me connect the world of DevOps with the world of user experience design.”

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The promise of Promise Theory: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Mark Burgess chats about Promise Theory, and Geoffrey Moore discusses a modern approach to his Crossing the Chasm theory.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes,SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

As systems become increasingly distributed and complex, it’s more important than ever to find ways to accurately describe and analyze those systems, and to formalize intent behind processes, workflows, and collaboration.

In this podcast episode, I chat with Mark Burgess, founder and CTO of CFEngine, about the origins of Promise Theory and its connection to DevOps. Read more…

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Be a squeaky wheel, but always bring oil

Camille Fournier on becoming a “multiplier” — and why multipliers are more effective than managers.

There are times when we all wish we could clone ourselves so we could get more done at work. In a Velocity New York 2014 keynote, Camille Fournier, CTO at Rent the Runway, presented an alternative, practical solution, that she argued is far more effective (not to mention feasible): become a “multiplier” rather than a manager.

Technical skills are important, she said, but they’re not ultimately the bottlenecks you experience later in your career — eventually, time and focus become the main hurdles. To overcome these hurdles, Fournier argued that you need to take a step beyond managing and focusing on creating additive value, and focus on multiplying your value by increasing the effectiveness of the people working around you.

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It’s time for a “commitment escalation”

Mikey Dickerson on why he moved from Google to the West Wing, and where we need to be allocating our engineering resources.

In a keynote address at Velocity New York 2014, Mikey Dickerson described his journey from working for Google to working in the West Wing of the White House, leading the US Digital Services group. He told the story of how a three-day review turned into a nine-week “herculean effort” by a team working 17 hours per day, 7 days per week to get HealthCare.gov up and running. The challenges, he stressed, boiled down to a few big, though basic, things — building a monitoring system, creating a war room to provide development direction and organization, and establishing a sense of urgency to get the problems fixed. “This very formidable obstacle, when you pushed on it even a little bit, fell apart; it was made out of sand,” he said. “Nothing we did was that hard; it was labor intensive, but it was not hard.”

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