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So long, and thanks for all the <-(:> :-)-<

Jul 27, 2012

Today I say goodbye to Relevance Inc. and Clojure/core.1 Next week I start a new adventure in programming. As many of you may have experienced, leaving a job that you enjoy, populated by brilliant people, provokes a strange mix of emotions. If you work at a job that you enjoy, populated with brilliant people, then why would you ever leave? I’ve thought long and hard about this very question and there is probably no answer other than – it’s personal.

I gently withdrew from a career in AI2 five years ago to explore the world of the web more deeply and have accumulated a fair amount of bruises along the way. From full time web-related client work in Rails and Clojure to my modest contributions to Datomic and ClojureScript I feel that I’ve contributed to pushing the state of the art forward – even if my contributions were a mere nudge. However, I feel that I’ve learned enough about web-development to realize that I’m not the person to tackle the burning problems of the web at this time. Therefore, I’ve decided to refocus my career on a field that I know fairly well and feel that I can offer fresh-perspectives to.

Helping to push the state of programming language design forward was always a primary goal when I chose to contribute to Clojure and ClojureScript via code, blogging, talks and even a book. Removing myself from the forefront of Clojure-related development pains me because I believe that Clojure, ClojureScript and Datomic are poised to change the computing industry both directly and via influence. However, as I move on I have every intention to continue contributing to and benefiting from them. I thus move from a stewardship role to one of a contributor, but the beauty of open source is that each role is important in its own way.

Since joining Relevance and Clojure/core I’ve worked with amazing people and true experts in design3, architecture4, Rails,5 Clojure,6 web development,7 project management8 and programming language and database design and implementation.9 In no other span of my career have I learned more than during my ~17 months with Relevance and Clojure/core. I will strive to take the lessons learned, internalize them, apply my own spin and help to grow a company and if I’m truly lucky, a field.10

Thank you.

  1. Clojure/core holds a meeting every Friday to discuss Clojure, ClojureScript, Datomic and every relevant topic under the sun. Of all the things that I will miss in leaving Relevance, I will miss these meetings the most. 

  2. Specifically, my AI focus has been in distributed simulation, computer vision and expert systems. 

  3. After working with Relevance’s talented designers Michael Parenteau, Jen Myers and Kevin Altman I can’t imagine finding satisfaction in my old jacked-up developer-oriented interfaces. 

  4. After working with the likes of Tim Ewald, Russ Olsen and Michael Nygard, I have a new appreciation for the art of architecture. In my prior experience the architect role typically prompted derision from developers. However, after working with these three gentlemen I must say that what they do and what the architects I’ve worked with in the past do is something else entirely. The only analogy that I have is that prior to my first trip to Japan I had only ever had sushi from local DC restaurants. However, during my trip I had sushi in a town named Otaru and compared to the “local sushi” … well, there was no comparison. Even though they had the same name, the fact of the matter was that they were not the same food at all. Good architects are like top of the line sushi. One goal in making my change is to get hands-on experience in architectural thinking. Working with, and engaging in discussions with these three gentlemen have shown me that I have a long way to go. Working with these three gentlemen has driven the future course of my career like no other influence so far (save for my first Lisp professor). Good architectural thinking requires more than just book-learning… it’s a frame of reference gained through experience and thoughtfulness — identifying this was eye-opening. I don’t know if I “have what it takes”, but I’m determined to find out. 

  5. Prior to joining Relevance I had very little prior experience with Rails. However, my outsider’s view of Rails was less than favorable. However, in the hands of masters like Rob Sanheim, Jamie Kite, Chad Humphries and Clinton Dreisbach Rails is an extremely sharp tool. I was at once both enlightened and humbled. 

  6. What can I say about the Clojurians at Relevance except that it was my pleasure to learn even more than I thought possible from the developers molding the language and its usage patterns. It was an absolute pleasure being the worst Clojure programmer in the room. 

  7. While working with the likes of Alex Redington, Sam Umbach, Brenton Ashworth11 and Jason Rudolph I gained an appreciation for (and fear of) the intricate subtleties of web development. To see them work is to wonder how any human can know such a hostile environment in such depth and create amazing tech in spite of it. 

  8. Relevance has a (somewhat) libertine’s view of management and management structures, but by gum it works! It’ll take a long time before I understand what makes Justin Gehtland, Muness Alrubaie, Marc Phillips and Maggie Litton highly effective managers — whatever it is I lack it, and I want it. 

  9. Datomic is the most amazing system that I have ever had the pleasure to participate in. The lessons learned (and yet learned) in watching Rich Hickey and Stu Halloway build this amazing system keep me up at night. I look forward to using Datomic as it grows, but I will miss watching two masters at work. Should I achieve a tenth of their ability, insight and vision then I will consider mine a worthy career. 

  10. But this is all about career stuff which is fine and good for sure, but I have no intentions on changing this blog nor any of my other worldwide personalities. There are more inanities, programming language ponderings, goofy images, dry presentations and hot air to come. Stay tuned! 

  11. Brenton has some amazing ideas about Clojure[Script] and web development. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with! 

9 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Will Gwaltney

    I gotta ask. Where are you going next?

  2. Craig Andera

    I’m truly bummed that you’re leaving, but glad that you’ll still be working in Clojure…not least since it means I’ll run into you at conferences! Of course, my sadness at your departure does not diminish my excitement on your behalf at your new opportunity implementing our coming robot overlords. It’s good to have friends in high places.

  3. Best wishes in your future endeavors.

  4. Hussein Baghdadi

    Good luck Mr. Fogus. You inspired (and still inspiring) me.

  5. Raju

    Glad to hear you will still be working with Clojure … Thanks for all the work, and the great book. I doubt you will need this wherever you are going next, but good luck anyway :)

  6. You’ll not escape that easily!

  7. Good luck, and I hope to still see you at CAPCLUG clojure hack nights in the future. We always learn something from you there…

  8. Jed Wesley-Smith

    Good luck, have enjoyed your telling of your adventures so far, long may they continue!

  9. Sam Umbach

    Your presence brings a team together like few others can. I’m so jealous of your new collaborators!

    So long, Fogus.

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