Daily Archives: January 30, 2013

Sushi, code, and craft

On the recommendation of my friend and colleague Alexis Richardson, last night I went along to the ICA in London to watch a documentary. Not at all my usual fare of sci-fi, action or comedy, but Alexis convinced me over lunch last week that Jiro Dreams of Sushi would be worthy of my time and interest.

Evidently the UK is substantially behind the rest of the world in getting this documentary on release – it’s apparently available to stream on Netflix in the US already, but only arrived in the cinemas here a fortnight ago. Ho-hum.

So, in a nutshell, it’s a film about an 85-year-old man who has been making sushi for a living for 70 years, and works with his eldest son in a 10-seat restaurant in an Tokyo subway station. So far, so quirky.

A few things elevate this documentary to a far more worthy status, though. The cinematography was thoughtful and beautiful; it was nicely paced; I learned a lot about the thinking of the individuals featured. I also came to realise how what I know as sushi, simply is not what Jiro serves to his patrons. What we consume from supermarkets, chains with conveyor belts, even the “good” individual sushi restaurants I’ve visited in London, is more mass market, mass produced popular style raw fish dishes.

Jiro is a craftsman – so are his sons and other apprentices. He’s obsessive, and he aspires to be better every day.

That’s interesting, because tomorrow is the Monkigras – Redmonk’s “craft beer-and-developer craft” event – and the theme this time is Scaling Craft. Over the past few weeks I’ve been back and forth with my very good friend James Governor about the topic of craft, and how it applies in software and technology. I think, after watching Jiro, I have a far better understanding than in the past. Interestingly, afterwards I had a discussion about professionalism, chartering / accreditation, the bcs, and whether or not professions exist to act as a barrier to entry or as an encouragement towards craftsmanship, too. I wonder how those themes will be reflected throughout Monkigras this year.

For what it’s worth, I had proposed a Monkigras talk taking the concept of glass and the craft of glassmaking and applying some technology themes, but unfortunately I’ve not been able to pull it together in time this time around. I’m looking forward to learning and soaking up the atmosphere (and seeing good friends from across the community) again, instead!

Oh, and if fish and subtitles are not your taste, I’d still encourage giving Jiro Dreams of Sushi a try – if not, on a technology topic instead, you really should watch Indie Game The Movie, the best documentary I watched last year and a fascinating insight into programming, obsession, and the gaming industry.

Different Spokes

When Jeff Douglas from CloudSpokes contacted me last week to ask if I would be interested in being a guest on their Different Spokes show to talk about Cloud Foundry, help to review a book on node.js, and generally talk tech, I was delighted to be able to say “yes!”. I met Jeff back at Monktoberfest in October and I love the stuff the CloudSpokes team are doing around application challenges to build skills in different areas.

It turns out that these guys are spending a lot of time with Javascript lately and the brief was to review The Node Beginner Book. We did talk about it for a bit, but I probably talked too much earlier in the show because I was getting excited about all the cool stuff happening around Cloud Foundry lately 🙂

This was my first use of the Google+ Hangouts On Air feature, which allows content producers to publically stream the group chat to a YouTube account. I have to say that I was extremely impressed. We used the lower thirds feature from the Hangouts Toolbox plugin to do titles, and I’m sure there were a bunch of other handy add-on features we could have used to enhance the experience too.

It was great to be able to respond to viewer questions coming in via Twitter, and I’d like to thank my colleague Raja for his cool node app examples (don’t forget to check out nodelogger which uses the Cloud Foundry authentication features too). A shout-out to Brian McClain for bailing me out when I forgot the features of my own product, too…!

All-in-all, a really enjoyable discussion, and I’d love to take part in that show again sometime – smart guys! They’ve posted a nice recap post if you’d like to check them out.