Blog Posts by Murray Rowan

  • History Hack Day – It was, therefore it now isn’t!

    Image of King Henry the Eighth, on his way to History Hack Dayhenry8

    For the first time as far as anyone can remember,

    on a cold and damp London day,
    a group of souls with a weekend to spare,
    gathered to plot on History Hack Day.

    As far as we know, no governments were overthrown this past weekend, and the Queen is still on her throne. But a lot of fun was had by throwing together a group of history buffs with a group of web geeks, to see if they could come up with any new and innovative insights, visualizations, and applications from the wealth of history data out there in the world.

    History Hack Day is the latest in a series of events that highlight a growing appetite for subject-matter hack days. It follows the format of the successful Science Hack Days, which took place in London and San Francisco in 2010. I expect to see a lot more of these popping up, as it's hard to think of a subject that wouldn't be suitable for a Hack Day. Sports Hack Day? Yes!; Finance Hack Day? Why not?!; Celebrity Hack Day? Well, maybe.

    Big thanks to Matt Patterson for

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  • Scalecamp London 2010: Big is Beautiful!

    ScaleCamp 2010 board showing PostIt notes with topic suggestionsscalecamp-board
    On Friday 10th December, YDN was at Scalecamp London 2010, held at the Guardian offices, and it was a blast. Scalability and Performance are art-forms that are close to our heart at Yahoo!, so we felt both honored and obligated to sponsor the event. There was a good turnout for a cold December day, with approximately 120 campers. The event was organized by Michael Brunton-Spall from the Guardian. Big thanks to Michael for putting on the event for us!

    Scaling Teams

    The first talk that I attended was hosted by Gareth Rushgrove, and covered the often overlooked subject of scaling teams. The debate focused on three key areas: the human factor, development process, and technical architecture.

    Most folks agreed that focusing too much on technical skills vs. team fit when hiring is a common factor in failing to scale teams effectively. Also, once you have people onboard, you have to look out for sources of discontent. Some people are either miserable by nature, or the working environment

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