Follow the Mission

Author: Quinton Wall
Originally published on LinkedIn:

For most of us, 2020 has been a huge year of uncertainty and change. We’ve been forced to reinvent almost every part of our lives: from figuring out how to work from home (perhaps live at work is a better way of saying this), shift learning to online, social distancing, contactless delivery, and so much more. For me, 2020 has been one of introspection and figuring out what is important to me – in my life, career, and future. I set myself a mission to follow my passions. I left my job to start working for myself again.

Am I crazy? Maybe. Probably; but it felt right. A pandemic forces you to reprioritize. For me, it was to figure out how to do the two things I love: travel and build developer communities. It got me thinking about what really drives change.

Change is constant, especially in tech. I can’t remember how many programming languages I’ve learned, used briefly, and forgotten. A former colleague of mine used to have the following picture in every presentation he did. 

I was on a panel last year talking about Developer Relations when I mentioned communities should focus on a technology vs. a language if you really want to build something that lasts. Focus on mobile, rather than Android, front-end web development rather than a particular framework, or Cloud rather than on-premises. It’s the mission that is important, and much more sticky than a passing technology. I spent over 10 years at Salesforce because I believed in the mission, finally moving on when I felt the mission had become the norm. For the next few years, I worked at Twilio helping make communications accessible to every developer.

So what’s the next big mission that is going to change how developers work? I think it is Edge Computing. I recently started working with a company called Alef Edge because I believe in their mission – to make Edge computing accessible to every developer. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? That’s what makes it so powerful: abstract away the complexity of infrastructure, networks, delivery, and wrap it with a great developer experience.

If I look back at technological shifts that have inspired me, it’s always been about a mission that uses a particular technology to enable me to build better, and more rich user experiences. I saw Java applets as a way to deliver a rich web experience, iOS to deliver a rich mobile experience, cloud to deliver a rich services experience, APIs to deliver a rich communications experience. Edge Computing takes this to another level.

With Edge Computing, I can see how, by pushing compute as close to the end-user or device as possible, we can start to realize the true potential of the internet – one where experiences aren’t dictated by where you live, the amount of bandwidth available, whether a carrier has rolled out 5G, or the type of device in your pocket. I’ve spent years building mobile apps in sub-Saharan Africa where an iPhone is three months salary, and $40 Android flip phones, or dumb TVs are the only way to reach rural communities for living saving services like crop management and healthcare. Too often, we build experiences for where we live. 

With Edge Computing, I believe we can build experiences for everyone, everywhere.

It’s still early for Edge Computing, which makes it the perfect time for developers to get involved. Alef recently started accepting early access submissions for their platform. The biggest thing we have been asking is “What do you want to build?” As a community, we are all still figuring out the killer use cases, whether it is extending existing apps to deliver ultra-low latency for HD video streaming, or create entirely new native Edge apps like connected screens that use the Edge to perform AI processing for facial, injury, or disease recognition. But this is the time of change and exploration I love. It’s the time where the innovation of a community, driven by the mission, makes amazing things. And, that is truly a mission I can get behind.


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