Classical Music Rocker

I work and sing with the opera band The Cast and other revolutionary classical groups, to present some of the greatest, most powerful, most fun music ever composed as popular culture.

Because music is for everyone.

Open Source Evangelist

I speak in open source communities like Drupal to empower normal people to help with the software that is changing the world.

Because contribution goes both ways.

Technical Strategist

I work with Forum One to help non-profits extend their influence through open source values. I have worked with groups like the United Way, the German Marshall Fund and OxFam International.

Because together, we can do more.

Code and music
have a lot in common.

They're better when shared

I believe that both programming and music are at their best when they are shared experiences.

We all have the image of the coder living in a basement, staring into their screen. The stereotype never has any live human contact; they are a lone genius in monk-like isolation. The programmer is driven by abstract structures and the image of a perfectly engineered product. They probably smell a little.

We also all think of the musician locked in a practice room. For 12 hours per day - maybe more - they drill every detail of a performance to reach perfection. The abstract structures of the musician's thoughts are not so different.

But where the similarities really shine is when a musician steps onstage. A live performance is a shared experience with hundreds of people. The performers and the audience feed off of each other, making the piece into something much more powerful than notes on the page, greater than it ever was in the isolated practice room. When they talk about music that changed the world, it's not the notes on the page. It's the shared experience of a performance that made it happen, from the premiere of Tristan und Isolde, to Woodstock.

Code is also a shared experience. The lone basement-work that creates the Firefox web browser is all preparation for hundreds of millions of people to use it at once. We write code for the shared experience of using it. In this way the relationship between performer and audience is a lot like the relationship between programmer and user. Just like with music, when we talk about code that has changed the world, it's the group experience that made it happen. It's not the quality of code that changes lives, it's the users, from Twitter to Google.

In both code and music, the ultimate experience is shared creation. As moving as a concert can be, nothing beats the moment when the whole audience sparks their lighters and sings along. It's why generations of families have gathered to sing songs together, it's the reason for every jam band ever formed. It's also the case with code. The real power of Open Source is that shared creation experience, when we build something amazing together with a group.

In both fields, it doesn't actually matter if you have professional experience or not. I don't want my sing-along audience to have degrees in music, and I don't want my beta testers or documentation writers to be professional coders either. In fact, it's the lack of professionalism that makes those kinds of participation tick.

Simply put, both music and code only grow when they are shared. Musical experiences are only made more powerful in a group, and code is the same.

This is the unifying thought that drives my work in code and music. I try to bring the same message to both fields:

Music and code are for everybody.

It's better when we make it together.