David is an AWS Technical Architect at Cleanslate TG who focuses on understanding the macro scale challenges facing a rapidly changing cloud landscape.
By striving to deeply understand institutional, structural, and systemic requirements, he creates and advises architectural decisions that lead to wholistic solution plans that leverage modern technologies while ensuring development teams are free to do what they do best: Ship Solutions.
While creating Solution Architectures and implementation plans, David considers all key stakeholder’s needs and constraints inherrent in the current landscape, and collaborates cross-team to see value shipped from concept to production.
We asked him a few questions about his current work at CleanSlate, what he thinks the future holds for Cloud Architecture, and how he got involved on Twitch.
What makes you excited about working for CleanSlate? Tell me something about a recent project you’ve been working on.
Being in a unique position (AWS Technical Architect), in a unique company, carries with it it a bit of privilege. I am able to enjoy the perfect combination of autonomy, trust, accountability, and leadership support that let’s me work in a way that is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had in this industry. I am able to balance interests, propose options, advise decisions, and then execute in the way I know best: Shipping Solutions.
In a recent project, a client didn’t have knowledge around a specific set of technologies. I was able to document, teach, and show by example how to leverage some 5 different technologies so their team could now have this in their experience arsenal. By shipping the product, and being diligent about Teaching & Learning, the effects of the effort compounded many times over to enable an entire team to do great things long after I shipped my contribution and moved to my next challenge.
What advice do you have for someone entering your field right now? What are the most important hard and soft skills?
Right now is the best time to be learning in this industry. The availability of resources to learn from is vast and varied, suiting every learning style, time commitment, financial ability, and technical interest. And these resources include your peers.
Never stop learning. Be a forever junior developer. Regardless of what title you earn in your employment, don’t lose the junior mindset. None of us are as smart as all of us. Learn to network as much as possible. And I don’t mean invites on LinkedIn. Not that “networking”. I mean make friends with developers at other companies, in other countries, in different tech stacks. Share with them, as they share with you.
Stay humble. As you learn something new, find a way to teach it to someone else. I recommend keeping a Digital Garden, and learn in public. This will not only start gradually reducing your “imposter syndrom” by illustrating that you know there are things you don’t know, but you desire to know, but it will also serve as a learning resource for those after you who are looking for a guided path through the journey you just completed. Be the person you wish you had access to when you first started.
What do you think the future of Cloud Architecture looks like?
The future of Cloud will still be about the same things it always was. Agility. We’re going to see a future where it really doesn’t matter what “cloud” vendor is chosen, the only important part is: how fast can you ship. The particular decisions, understandably, will be dictated by constraints from various interests of the entire delivery platform from Fianance & Legal, Security, right down to individual developers. But the main selling point (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise) has never been “cost”, it’s about Agility.
How did you get started on Twitch? What has been your favorite part about growing with the platform?
I started as just a regular viewer, watching Science & Technology streams on a separate monitor, mostly in the background, went about my daily work, and my evening escapades. Gradually I got to know the streamers themselves, and their communities. I started contributing by helpfully dropping links into chat for topics that were being discussed, helping new viewers get acquainted, and alerting the streamer to any broadcast of technical issues.
Over time, as trust and reputation was built, I was promoted to Moderator in many prominent Science & Technology streams and continued to help, and started helping in other ways. Keeping things friendly, inclusive, and safe was a primary duty, and one that I performed well on streams as small as 5 viewers to as large as 15,000 viewers during live conferences.
I eventually started streaming, myself, after learning the ins-and-outs and getting some appropriate tech, and was able to enter the Twitch Affiliate program in record time. Beyond that, I was personally invited to join a newly-growing Twith Stream Team called The Live Coders as member number 12. We are now almost 200 members streaming Science & Tech on Twitch across all timezones of the world virtually 24 hours per day.
My favorite part has been the friends I’ve made. I’ve been guests on streams, been recognized by leaders in the field I admire, and been able to participate in large events such as Microsoft’s Dev Across the Sun, Twilio Signal 2019, Twilio Earth Day 2020, and 2 online virtual conferences that my own The Live Coders team has put on in 2020.
The community is designed, from the ground up, to be open, inclusive, friendly, and beginner-friendly. Despite strong passions in particular technologies, it is nearly universal that we accept there is a place for every tech, there is room for every person, and everyone deserves to learn in an inclusive environment.
If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?
Stop questioning your abilities. There are plenty of people in the world who will do that on your behalf. The reason you are where you are is because you know what you’re doing. Your friends and colleagues know this, even when you don’t believe it. Trust in the leadership team who put their trust in you and go do great things.