Humans of computer systems

I follow "Humans of New York" account on Twitter, and I am inspired by the interesting stories of everyday people tell in that account. 

I like to have the same thing for "Humans of Computer Systems". I want to read about the human stories from people working on computer systems (including distributed, security, databases, webservices, OS, hardware, enterprise, cloud etc.).

"Coders at Work" was a great book. I think it came close to capturing the humans of computer systems vision. But I want to see this to be open to everyday people of computer systems, not just famous coders.

I want to hear human stories from developers, practitioners, graduate students, hobbyists, theoreticians, open-source hackers, hardware hackers, automated verification people, self-learners, veterans, everyone. OK, fine, even machine learning people.

I want this to be instructive as well. Let's learn from everyone. Every one has a story to tell, and interesting thing to teach. And possibly something to gripe about. I want to read about the gripes as well. 

I prepared some questions and put them on Google forms. I will check this periodically and choose some responses and publish them on this blog. 

Let's keep this pseudonymous. This will keep it interesting, and solve a lot of problems about people being shy or worried about sharing about themselves. Please do respond. You can skip most of the questions. You can tell your heart out on other questions. Keep it human. 

I am guessing this will most likely flop. People are lazy. For every 1000 people that reads a blog post, only 1 person writes a comment. I don't know if this will reach enough people. But it is worth trying and I hope this will stick, because I am really curious to read these answers and learn more about the human side of our field at large. 

Here is the link to the Google Form. Please do respond.


How did you learn to program?

Tell us about the most interesting/significant piece of code you wrote.

Who did you learn most from about computer systems?

Who is the greatest programmer you met, and what is impressive about them?

What do you believe are the most important skills to be successful in your field?

What quality or ability do you value most in a computer systems person?


Which of your work/code/accomplishments are you most proud of?

What comes to you easy that others find hard? What are your superpowers?

What was a blessing in disguise for you? What seemed like a failure at the time but led to something better later for you?

What do you feel most grateful for?

What does your perfect day look like?

What made you most happy in the last year?


What was your biggest mess up? What was the aftermath?

What was your most interesting/surprising or disappointing interaction at work?

What do you like most about your job/profession?

What do you dislike most about your job/profession?

What would be the single change that would improve your work environment most?


What do you think are the hardest questions in your field?

What are you most disappointed about the state-of-the-art in computer systems?

What are the topics that you wish received more attention? What do you think is a promising future direction for computer systems work?

What is your favorite computer systems paper? Why?

What are the most interesting blogs/twitter accounts you follow?


Is there an interesting story you like to tell us?

Rant your heart out.

Suggest another question for this form, and if you feel like it answer it as well.


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