A letter from Paul to Doc
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This newsletter is an experiment of sorts: Doc and I email each other weekly, with you lovely people bcc’d. Please hit reply if you’d like to talk to me about anything I cover below.



I've been writing code.

And nothing else it seems. I got to our meeting yesterday and you said "I noticed you didn't send the newsletter" and the realisation hit me like a tonne of bricks. So I'm squeezing this in, late on a Friday, after writing a LOT of code.

I even almost forgot to wake up the napping two-year-old yesterday. Being able to wrangle software is both a boon and a hindrance.

We spoke about this on Office Hours yesterday and you asked me: "is coding your happy place?" and I wasn't quite sure how to answer. I do derive a certain satisfaction from writing code, but it's not happiness per se. The Oatmeal has a great comic on being "perfectly unhappy", which talks about flow, or being in-the-zone. It's neither fun, nor is it a pursuit of happiness, but there's an inescapable appeal to it.

The consequences of it are tricky though. When I am in the zone, everything seems to become less important. I'm so focussed on the problem-at-hand that simple things like eating, or simple admin tasks are pushed so far to the back of mind that they don't even register.

When I'm working on a project that involves writing code, slugging the code into some combination of completeness becomes more important than anything else (whether functional, aesthetic or even completely arbitrary). When I'm having lunch, I'm thinking about it. When I'm chatting to you, or my wife, or even my kids, I'm thinking about it.

This all has the potential to cause unintended consequences. Not tending to simple tasks can be interpreted as me not caring about those tasks, when it's not the complexity of those simple tasks that stops me from doing them. It's the mental overhead of context switching away from my very important problem.

On our Office Hours call, you and I looked at a feature that is about to ship. It was mostly put together by Murray, one of the three Team Tito full-time engineers. Apart from a few comments, the feature was pretty-well all there, and what was most exciting about it was that it had been implemented with very little input from you or me. Now that was exciting. I think we'll be there for most new features on Tito and Vito soon.

The Vito overhaul that I'm working on right now though is the coding equivalent of me painting or sketching. I'm using code to put my ideas into a web browser to see if they stick. I'm moving things around, making lots of fast decisions that have big consequences, taking a step back, then zooming in again. It's both collaborative and anti-collaborative work that can be really frustrating.

But I know that it's something that you support, because we talk about it every day, and I ask you every day if you still think it's the right thing to be working on. And it's coming together. The feedback has been good.

So I'll keep coding for a little while longer, with the belief that the outcome will be a great product that we believe in, and maybe some resulting freedom for me to step away from the text editor for a while and focus on little things like showing I care. A lot.

Over and out,


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