Scott Hanselman

Social Networking for Developers - Conference Talk Video

April 22, 2009 Comment on this post [13] Posted in Back to Basics | Programming | Speaking
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UPDATE: Better quality videos from another conference were found and are up here.

First, a disclaimer. This is some really seriously guerilla video. Paul Mooney was kind enough to bust out his video camera and film my keynote at Devscovery in NYC this last Monday. (This was the same trip where I hung out at the Fog Creek offices and did a "Hanselminutes on Channel 9" video.)

Paul edited the video and put it up on Here's a link to the WMV file if you want to download it. You can also watch it embedded at Neuronspark. He put a lot of work into the editing, so thank you Paul for your community efforts!

I was a little silly so it was a lot more informal then most of my talks. I ran it like a classroom/university lecture with a lot of interactivity. Basically, the talk was loose, so be aware.

One of the things that I liked about this talk was that the talk was largely influenced by a StackOverflow question. The idea was to make a talk about Social Networking using a Social Networking site. I also think, that while the question isn't a programming-specific question, it's a good example of all things community (crowd-sourced)-related.

People voted on the best answer, some voted to shut down the question completely (!), comments broke out in the question and some answers, and the question was eventually turned into a "community wiki" question with collective ownership.

Here's a snapshot of the StackOverflow question (in case it's edited). Forgive the self-quoting:

How can social networking sites make you a better developer?

I am giving a keynote at Devscovery tomorrow at 9am. The title is "Social Networking for Developers." It's 90 minutes long and I don't want to waste anyone's time.

Everyone I talk to who uses Twitter, Blogs, StackOverflow, etc, says that these sites make them "better developers." However, few are able to qualify HOW and fewer will are able to quantify HOW MUCH better.

Is it just about getting answers to questions? Is it about the developer's third place?

Help me, O Stack Overflow, O great social network of developers, with my Keynote on Social Networking. ;)

What makes developers, usually an anti-social bunch, strive to use the internet for social purposes?

How do Social Networking sites help you better do your job?

And here's the answer with the most votes, from Rob P.:

  • Social Networks are loaded with people who will remind you not to wait until the night before a talk to ask such questions :)

But seriously, I think the biggest thing it does is remind people what a good developer can be. If you are someone who enjoys to go for a jog 2-3 times a week, you could very easily be the best runner you know. You might think that what you do is at or near the limit of what anyone could expect to do.

Until you go to a 5k filled with other serious runners. Then you realize where you stand.

As a younger/not so great developer - I used to think I was a great developer. I was the best developer in my family, the best developer of all my friends and when I finally got into programming classes at school, I was the best then. Even in college. And, honestly, even in a lot of the jobs I've had.

The reminder that there are other people out there who really are leaps and bounds ahead of me and the exposure to things I didn't know existed or were possible - gives me something to strive for.

The answers and resulting discussion, along with some tips I've developed on blogging added up to a fun talk where I eventually ran out of time. I hope to give this talk again in a more organized and formal setting in the future.


About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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April 22, 2009 4:28
I didn't see that comment on Stackoverflow, but I know exactly what they mean. As the person with the 'Architect' title at my office, I'm often in the position of showing other people new technologies. Without places like these blogs and stackoverflow and twitter, I would not have the resources and drive to improve myself.

I forget where I saw the quote but something I remember way back from school is that "You never want to be the smartest person in the room". Well, social networking makes it a 'very' large room.
April 22, 2009 4:59
Very good talk.
I like that you pushed for more software developers to create their own blogs.
All the world's problems are solved over again every day and most of that knowledge never makes it to Google.

You should tape all your talks.
April 22, 2009 5:51
A great talk Scott. It's good timing - I have recently started my own technical blog (been a couple of months now) as I began to feel embarrassed that I have been calling myself an internet developer for many years and yet there is was little evidence of that fact on the internet. It's just as you said - if you go for an interview and claim that you know all this stuff, why should there not be a clear record of this fact on the internet?

Another thing I found was that I was repeating myself so many times to my fellow developers about how to do something, I just wanted to be able to point them to a url and save the time re-explaining every time!
April 22, 2009 7:40
(sorry if double comment, I think I'm screwed up with openID)

I echo the comment. My first job out of school was as an electrical engineer doing process control type stuff. As I assume most recent graduates, I felt pretty self conscious about what I didn't know until I learned that people who have been doing my job for 5-10 years didn't know it all either. I always assumed there was some 'expert' out there but instead its just a bunch of people doing the best they know how (which isn't always all that great).

Switch to the computer science field and while it shares that characteristic (people doing the best they know how) the mythical 'expert' people are actually identifiable. There are blogs and other community communication tools where you can actually see the 'correct' way to do something. Correct is obviously subjective, but so frequently when I do something 'novel' at work I feel this problem has been solved before and just want that reassurance at what I did was right or that in fact there really is a better way to do it (usually there is!).

This type of resource doesn't exist for all fields and so you stop wondering and move on with things (again, doing the best you know how).
April 22, 2009 7:44
Of course there is this thought too:

“Don’t allow Best to be the enemy of Better.” (

April 22, 2009 14:03
Good talk Scott,
I also really like the idea of having a "code garage sale". It encourages us mere mortals to get some posts out as well and give our "writing muscles" a workout.
April 23, 2009 1:01
Recently, I was discussing with my wife the merits of accepting take-away orders using twitter as one of our clients runs a Chinese restaurant.

Then just a couple of days later, I came across your blog post TweetSharp and Introducing Tweet Sandwich.

I downloaded the Tweetsharp dll’s and referenced them in my Visual Basic WPF Project and was able to read tweets from my friends and the public timeline.

There were a couple of questions I had so I put them out on Twitter. Less than 30 minutes later I got a reply from the guys that developed tweetsharp (how cool is that?).

I was making great progress, but I am still a little new to WPF and found that I was having some problems using time delays.

I was using System.Threading.Thread.Sleep(TimeSpan.FromSeconds(3)).

Wait a minute, how did Scott do that? Check his bog post again.

mmm. He uses a DispatcherTimer, which is the way to go in WPF projects.

Tricky bits (The bits I had to find out how to do) in project now done. Rest is just straight forward programming (The stuff that I already know how to do).

I work from home and do not have the advantage of GGD (Geek Group Dynamics), so help from an extended family is a great resource.

Yes, I have just started a blog. The orignal intention was to use it like online code snippets. I hate having to open old projects to copy and paste code. If I put them in a blog they will be available to me no matter where I am. I might need this code if I work for a someone else in the future. So some of the content will fall in to the garage sale category.

Other blog uses include describing problems and asking for solutions. You can put much more detail into your problem description when using your own blog real estate.

Interesting talk. I don’t know that it will make us better programmers, but it will certainly make us more effective programmers.
April 23, 2009 2:49
Hey, sorry to have a comment that isn't relevant, but I couldn't get the contact page to go through. You've made's list of Top 100 Blogs for Freelancers. Congrats.
April 23, 2009 19:33
Over the past couple of years my attitude towards blogging has gone from “Why would anyone do this”, to “this seems pretty helpful”, to “I need to start doing this”. Your video and coming off the high of helping run a great code camp @ Philly.Net this past weekend have pushed the issue to critical mass. As someone getting started I saw a lot of people seem to really like WordPress as a blog engine, but being a .Net programmer I found myself naturally drawn to tools ending in .Net. This is probably not a good criteria on which to base my decision ;) Any tips for choosing a shoe for someone taking his first steps?

Thanks for a great video
April 23, 2009 20:01
Great post and presentation.

Pre-Google, DejaNews (which I believe was eventually bought by Google) was the ultimate for finding stuff that had already been done, problems that had already been solved. And everything already had been done ... and documented in a newsgroup somewhere. DejaNews was the way to the truth. Now it's all documented, but in separate blogs and forums. Sigh. The good ol' days. ;)
April 24, 2009 19:49

Really enjoyed the Talk and style in which you presented it.

I'm surprised that more developers aren't blogging whether it's about development or some other passion. It really helps to go back on thoughts, notes and great finds in your own development blog - whether you make it public or private.

Thanks again for a great Talk -- looking forward to Part II!
April 28, 2009 16:38
>> I was a little silly so it was a lot more informal then most of my talks.

don't be silly now! the talk was great!
June 08, 2009 17:35
loved the talk.....thank you

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.