The hardest decision I've ever made

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I’ll cut to the chase: I’ve stepped down as CTO of CloudFab. I don’t want to discuss details, but life is too short to not be doing what you want with it. And, after a period of careful thought and consideration, it’s no longer the right thing for me. It was an amicable parting, and my replacements are already in place, and doing cool things. I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished, but it’s time for me to move on.

This raises the question: what am I moving on to? Here’s the answer: Hackety Hack. What I truly care about is teaching, writing, and discussing software. If I could do anything, I’d hack on Hackety, share what I know with others, and keep learning and playing with new things all day long.

However, there’s a certain question of sustainability here: I’m not made of money, and I have lots of bills to pay. However, doing the ‘obvious’ thing would be really, truly wrong: Hackety Hack is not and will never be a startup. It’s a social venture, if anything: it would be absolutely unquestioningly wrong for me to ever ask anyone for a single cent for it. It’d also be counterproductive: how could I share programming with everyone if I excluded those without disposable income?

So to this end, Hackety cannot be all that I do. And while I really want to teach, I also have a lot to learn. Luckily, I have some great allies in this area: I’ve been working alongside two teachers at the University of Pittsburgh over the past month or so: one in the English department, and one in the Computer Science department. In doing so, I’ve come to realize that my place in life is actually in the middle: while I love the theoretical side of CS, I’m actually much more interested in the application. And teachers need to be effective communicators, so investing in writing is absolutely worthwhile for me. At the same time, I’ve really enjoyed every chance I’ve had to write: there’s a reason I keep three blogs now! I’m also incredibly interested in the parallels that exist between computer and human languages. I like the comparison between refactoring and composition. I think the two fields have a lot to learn from one another. It’s something I’d like to explore more.

To do so, I’ll have to finish off my undergrad degree. Luckily, I’m very close, so I’ll be doing that in the spring. Afterward, it’s my intention to go to grad school in the English department, so I’m furiously working on my application, with the help of the aforementioned teacher. At the same time, I’ll possibly help teach or TA classes in the CS department as well. I’m hoping to combine my solid foundations in the hard sciences with the new perspective and improved analysis that the humanities can offer.

I don’t think that academia is where I want to stay forever, but I think it’s a good place for me to grow for now. It’s time for me to invest in myself a little. I think I’ll end up a much better person in the end.