Show cover of What We Talk About When We Talk About Tech

What We Talk About When We Talk About Tech

A podcast about tech storytelling. Jennifer Riggins and Rich Gall explore the way words and narratives shape the technology landscape with the people who define, explain, and sell it.


Open technology in the UK with OpenUK CEO Amanda Brock
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk with the CEO of OpenUK Amanda Brock about the role of open technology in the UK's tech industry and wider economy.Amanda explains the work of Open UK and highlights some of the work the organisation does to promote open technology. She also discusses exactly why this work matters so much, and suggests that the UK doesn't always do as good a job as it could in talking about the extent to which it contributes to the global communities of developers and other practitioners making use of open technologies and data.We also talk about some of the challenges facing the open movement, and Amanda also highlights some of confusion that the increasingly complex world of software licensing has caused. Finally, we also touch on the State of Open report which provides some detailed insights on the importance and role of open in the UK right now, and the Open Awards, which celebrates the people that are making an impact in the field. Follow Amanda Brock on Twitter: @AmandaBrockUKLearn more about Open UKRead OpenUK's State of Open report
57:19 9/8/21
Why we need digital anthropology: culture, ethics, and power in tech with Caitlin McDonald
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk with digital anthropologist Caitlin McDonald about what it means to be a digital anthropologist and why it matters in helping us to understand the way we build and use technology today. Caitlin begins by talking through how her work intersects with questions of agency and digital literacy, providing some useful context on how perceptions and understanding about what techbology does and how it's made can have an impact on the way it influences our lives. She also explains why there's a growing need for anthropological thinking in the tech industry, and why businesses and governments are starting to see the value in the disciplines specific ways of thinking about culture and communication. She also talks about digital anthropology in the context of the emerging conversation around ethics, and how changes in legislation and compliance rules is increasing demand for work that can help companies tackle these issues head on.We also discuss ethnography, and compare it to quantitative research. Caitlin notes that there's an emerging scepticism of quantitative methods and its ability to deliver value. Finally, we talk about Caitlin's work outside of digital anthropology, such as her work as a coach and her personal technology projects.  She emphasises the value of having a space to adopt a more playful and less productive approach to technology and to "reconnect with technical skills in a low-stakes way."Follow Caitlin MacDonald on Twitter: @cmcd_phdExplore Caitlin's techy projectsLearn more about EPIC and ethnography in industryLearn more about Microsoft's ethics game, Judgment CallRead Tricia Wang's Why Big Data Needs Thick Data
48:07 8/18/21
Responsible technology and ethical venture capital: Reimagining possible futures with Sarah Drinkwater
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk with Sarah Drinkwater, the Director of Responsible Technology at Omidyar Networks to discuss how we can cultivate organisations and people that will enable a more equitable, responsible - and ultimately compassionate and exciting - technological future. We talk about the challenges the tech industry faces, and why it can be difficult to talk about responsibility and ethics. Sarah explains how the work she does at Omidyar Network attempts to support projects that will help us to reimagine the way that we build and use technology in society. We also discuss the ways storytelling can help us improve accountability in the industry, and how it can restore some sense of agency in an environment where it can feel like it's impossible to create change on a personal level. Sarah also talks about the Ethical Explorer project she put together, which offers tools to people in the industry - from engineers to product managers to founders - for tackling a range of ethical issues seriously.Finally, we touch on a theme that exemplifies Sarah's work - joining the dots between different domains, and getting different groups of people talking to one another. We discuss the limitations of the core institutions that shape tech - large corporations and universities - and explore what could replace them and offer us a more effective way forward.Follow Sarah Drinkwater on Twitter: @sarahdrinkwaterLearn more about Omidyar NetworkGet the Ethical Explorer pack (it's free!)Watch the Ada Lovelace Institute event mentioned in the episodeListen to the conversation between Claire Stapleton and Ifeoma Ozoma that Sarah references towards the endRead Casey Newton's comprehensive piece on Basecamp (an incident mentioned a couple of times in the episode)
47:31 7/28/21
We need to talk about EdTech: Online resilience and privacy with Michelle Wolfe
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to privacy advocate Michelle Wolfe (aka "Stella" on Twitter) about the challenges of security and privacy in today's increasingly sinister landscape of surveillance capitalism. Taking in key terms (including the monstrosity that is "cyber"), and looking closely at some of the limits and flaws in the conversation around online security, Michelle/Stella explains how she approaches her work and why she thinks we need to reevaluate the way we talk about cybersecurity and online safety. She discusses some of the problems with the field, such as the perception that it's somewhat insular and elitist, and argues that we need to stop thinking about user fallibility as a problem, and instead urge greater accountability across the tech industry for the systems that are designed to confuse, dupe, or simply exhaust us.We also talk about the problems with EdTech, and examine exactly why so many private companies are eager for a piece of a sector that has never been particularly lucrative (hint: it's probably not altruism).While Michelle/Stella raises plenty of issues that we should be seriously converned about, it's not all doom and gloom: she also explains why she thinks the younger generation are a cause for optimism and hope when it comes to privacy and taking on big tech.Follow Michelle on Twitter: @RisuToInuRead her writing on her blog
56:19 7/21/21
From technical stories to user stories: APIs and the evolution of the tech industry with Lorinda Brandon and Mike Amundsen
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to Lorinda Brandon and Mike Amundsen about APIs and the evolution of the tech industry in the last 30 years in a very special episode - the first to feature two guests. We discussed issues of equality in the industry, in particular how 'women in tech' has emerged only in recent years - Lorinda offers her perspective on what it was like working as a woman in tech in the eighties, and also explains what frustrates her about the way we talk about toxicity in the industry today. We also talked storytelling, and how the stories we tell about technology - and the way we explain technologies - have moved from the purely technical to the user-centric. In the context of APIs, Lorinda and Mike explain, this is particularly important, as it demonstrates not only their ubiquity but also the fact that they are things for which the value is today obvious to many. It wasn't always that way - Lorinda and Mike undoubtedly played a huge role in getting us to where we are now. The episode also looks at the nature of the information ecosystem, and how established experts like Mike and Lorinda transfer and share their knowledge. For Mike this is often about presenting and narrativising problems in books: for Lorinda it's about building relationships with teams in a way that allows her to guide people, to support them to uncover their own solutions. Not only was this a wide-ranging conversation, it was also exceptionally fun, so thanks to Lorinda and Mike. Enjoy!Follow Lorinda Brandon on Twitter: @lindybrandonFollow Mike Amundsen on Twitter: @mamundRead Mike's takes on the MuleSoft blogLearn more about BetterCloud
60:29 7/14/21
Telling the stories of tech's trailblazers and laying the foundations of a more equitable future with Saron Yitbarek
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) are joined by Saron Yitbarek, Founder and CEO of audio learning platform Disco and co-host of the brilliant Command Line Heroes podcast, to discuss the virtues of audio learning in age of excessive screen time and the importance of highlighting the stories of the people that have shaped the technology and software landscape today. Saron talks about her background and some of the challenges she faced when starting out in the software industry, explaining how they informed the work she has done since. She describes the thinking behind Disco, and how her earlier venture CodeNewbie (which has now been acquired by the team behind, has laid the foundations for the types of work she is doing today. She also explains why she believes audio learning can be an important addition to the wide varity of formats available for people learning technology skills. We also discuss Command Line Heroes, with Saron talking about one of her favourite episodes, and touch on some of the parallels between that podcast and this.Saron also explains the importance of thinking carefully about how we onboard people into the tech and industry: she points out that we need to  better support systems for people moving into the industry from any background and at any point in their career.Follow Saron on Twitter: @saronyitbarekLearn more about DiscoLearn more about Code NewbieListen to Command Line HeroesWatch Saron's talk on CodeNewbie at Codeland 2020
40:21 6/30/21
Psychology and storytelling in cybersecurity and skill development with Yin Mei [Clubhouse Special]
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to Yin Mei, Director of Strategy and Curriculum Design at Per Scholas about her career and background in psychology in this special episode that went out live on Chubhouse.In the conversation Yin talks about her journey into the field, and how she developed an interest in technology from a young age as a child of Chinese immigrants in Minnesota, and explains how she moved from an academic background in psychology into tech training and cybersecurity. The episode covers everything from Yin Mei's work at Per Scholas and how she works with subject matter experts to develop curricula that are always relevant and up to date, to some of the communication issues the tech industry faces around privacy and information security.Follow Yin on Twitter: @MsYinMeiLearn more about Per Scholas 
55:48 6/23/21
Serving coding skill realness: How coding drag queen Anna Lytical teaches tech
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk with the "sickeningly entertaining" coding drag queen Anna Lytical about drag, software development, and the LGBTQ+ community in tech.Anna discusses how they found their way into the tech industry and explains how they gradually discovered a way of bringing their love of software engineering, drag, and performing together. They also describe the journey from starting out making videos on YouTube, to building a huge audience of learners across many different platforms (including lots of love for TikTok).The episode is both a look at how we talk about queer experiences in the software industry as well as an exploration of how we can find more creative, engaging and unique ways of helping people to understand technical topics and ideas. (You'll have to DM Jennifer if you want to find out why her math teacher made her class watch The Great Escape.)Follow Anna Lytical on Twitter: @theannalyticalCheck out Anna's YouTube channel for tutorials and computer science lessonsTake a look at Anna's TikTok
39:58 6/16/21
Impostor syndrome and the Dunning-Kruger effect in tech: The anxiety of curiosity with Jessica Rose
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk with Jessica  Rose, a DevRel at CodeSee and advocate for improving access to technical education and the tech industry, about burnout, impostor syndrome and the challenges of learning the skills needed to navigate a fast-paced and occasionally hostile industry.Jessica talks about her role at CodeSee, a developer tool currently in its 'stealth' phase, and explains why its such an exciting  project to work on, and explains why she decided to take on the role as a job share. She also talks about some of the problems facing those seeking tech jobs, and why hiring processes in the industry can make life difficult for those from backgrounds that have typically been excluded from tech. We also discuss impostor syndrome in the tech industry, and the broader challenges of deciding what to learn in a field that is demanding and sets many standards that can sometimes feel arbitrary or irrelevant. We look as well at the other end of the scale at the Dunning Kruger effect, and ask whether we need to focus more on the comfortable incompetents in the industry - who do we let fail? And who do we reward for failure?Follow Jessica on Twitter: @jesslynnroseListen to Pursuit PodcastLearn more about BOMLabLearn more about CodeSeeLearn anything on Learn Anything 
54:04 6/9/21
Meme wrangling and the rough edges of software: Neal Ford on tech publishing, software architecture, and consulting at ThoughtWorks
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to author, software architect, and meme wrangler at ThoughtWorks about the importance of storytelling, language and communication in his worker as both a consultant and an educator.Neal discusses his career in tech publishing, with 8 books already under his belt (the most recent being The Fundamentals of Software Architecture, published in January 2020), and explains what makes it so challenging but so vital in today's saturated information ecosystem. He shares his useful criteria for evaluating whether a topic or an idea should be a book and not something else. He also discusses the importance of being multimodal and flexible about the media through which you share ideas. He explains why he's missed in-person conferences, and describes how the switch to remote events has forced him to change the way he tells stories to an audience. We also discuss the role of a software architect, and the importance of communication skills. Neal explains the importance of ubiquitous language, and how software architects should attempt to build a common mental model across an organization. Finally, Neal talks about ThoughtWorks role in today's software industry, and explains how ThoughtWorks Radar gets put together. He highlights how its quantitative and almost ethnographic nature provide context and detail around emerging tools, platforms, and concepts.Follow Neal on Twitter: @neal4dVisit Neal's websiteLearn more about (or buy) The Fundamentals of Software ArchitectureFind out more about ThoughtWorks Radar
54:04 6/2/21
How to fight your way into the tech industry: Nikema Prophet on bootcamps, job searching, and authenticity
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk with Nikema Prophet, Community Marketing Manager at Armory, about how she fought her way into tech. Nikema recounts the ups and downs of getting started in the industry, including the challenges she faced as a founder, and discusses some of the benefits and drawbacks of going through a bootcamp route. We talk in depth about Lambda school and Nikema gives her perspective, providing useful insights for anyone interested in taking a non-traditional route into the tech industry. It adds additional context to some of the stories that have emerged in recent years, with a group of students suing the bootcamp, and a report that its placement rate is much lower than claimed in its marketing material.Nikema also talks about landing her job at Armory, explaining how she's approaching learning about a new tool and new community, and discusses why she believes its important to bring your authentic self in your writing, even when creating technical tutorials. Follow Nikema on Twitter: @dev_nikemaFind out more about Nikema's work and links to her writingLearn more about Nikema's book:
64:14 5/26/21
Content and community at Red Hat: How Matt Broberg helps software architects tell their stories
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to Matt Broberg, Managing Editor of Red hat's Enable Architect publication, about how Red Hat uses content and storytelling to support and engage with a broad community of software architects, engineers and sysadmins. Matt talks about how he got into content marketing and editorial after starting his career working with databases and servers, and also explains how his time in college - where he studied the interesting combination of computer science, philosophy, and psychology - helped to inform his perspective on the work he does today. Matt also explains how Red Hat uses content more broadly as a strategy for building a community, before discussing how Enable Architect came about. It's a good case study for anyone interested in content marketing and marketing to technology professionals. He also gives Rich and Jen an insight into the way he works, waxing lyrical about Notion, and describes the habits that help him to stay up to date with what matters in the industry and to the Enable Architect audience.Follow Matt on Twitter: @mbbrobergCheck out Enable ArchitectRead one of Matt's favourite pieces: How Ansible brought peace to my home
53:30 5/19/21
Open source developer advocacy at Facebook: Dmitry Vinnik on supporting and growing Facebook's 700 open source projects
Rich Gall (@richggall) and Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) talk to Dmitry Vinnik, an Open Source Developer Advocate at Facebook, about how he helps to enable developers around the world make use of the social media company's hundreds of open source projects. In the episode Dmitry discusses how Covid has impacted his work as a developer advocate, including what he misses about in-person events and what he prefers about remote conferences, and explains how he puts together content that's relevant to the needs of different audiences. He touches on his brilliant 'Explain Like I'm 5' series, in which members of the open source developer advocate team explain complex technologies in a simple and accessible way.He also talks about how the team manages to provide support across hundreds of open source projects, and discusses the importance of building narratives to enable clarity and set priorities. Dmitry also explains why developer advocates need to be platform agnostic and meet communities where they exist (rather than forcing them into new platforms and tools), and tells us about the role that open source plays more generally in Facebook's work.Follow Dmitry on Twitter: @DmitryVinnikFollow Facebook Open Source on Twitter: @fbOpenSourceWatch Explain Like I'm 5 on YouTubeRead more: Open source at Facebook: 700 repositories and 1.3 million followers
48:19 5/12/21
Belonging begins with discomfort: Building and measuring equity in tech with Abadesi Osunsade
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk with Abadesi Osunsade, the founder and CEO of Hustle Crew, VP of Global Community and Belonging at Brandwatch, and co-host of the podcast Techish, among many other things. Abadesi explains how she found her way into the industry and explains how her experiences led her to fopund HustleCrew, an organization designed to help organizations improve diversity and equality in their workforce and empower people from marginalized communities to find their way in tech. She also discusses the work Hustle Crew does, and talks in detail about why measuring the success of diversity and belonging initiatives isn't actually as hard as we might sometimes think it is. We also discuss how we can all assume responsibility for the struggle for equality and justice, the importance of sitting with our discomfort when having difficult conversations, and how to 'zoom out' gain a sense of perspective when our doubts about our ability to effect change are starting to flag.Follow Abadesi on Twitter: @AbadesiLearn more about Hustle Crew: hustlecrew.coListen to Techish podcast:
45:58 5/5/21
Machines made of words: Tech journalism from print to SEO to PR with Dylan Tweney
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk to the former Editor in Chief of VentureBeat, Dylan Tweney, about tech journalism and the role it plays in the industry. Covering a history of tech journalism over the last two decades, from the days of print through to SEO- and social media-friendly content, this episode looks closely at how the way we cover and explore technology has changed. Dylan offers their thoughts on some of the limitations of the current digital media ecosystems, and explains the way global tech giants control narratives have dramatically shifted in just a matter of years. Dylan also discusses moving from journalism to PR - their new role as EIC at tech PR agency Highwire means he is today helping companies to tell their own stories. They also talk about creative writing and his newsletter Tinywords, in which they send a Haiku to your inbox every weekday.Follow Dylan on Twitter: @dylan20Sign up for Tinywords: tinywords.comLearn more about Highwire: highwirepr.comFind earlier episodes of the podcast:
40:05 4/28/21
The scent of Hashicorp: Talking experiential marketing with Jana Boruta
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk to Jana Boruta, Director of Global Events and Experiential Marketing at Hashicorp, about experiential marketing and how the events sector has adapted to the Coronavirus pandemicShe explains how she and her team worked to make HashiConf digital-only, and discusses how a year of isolation gave her the opportunity to launch her own conference - EpicConf. We also discuss the role of events more broadly in the tech industry, and talk about how organizers and companies  can support more diverse voices in the industry and give more people a platform to be heard. Follow Jana on Twitter: @janaborutaLearn more about EpicConf: epicconf.comBuy Jana's book: digitalfirst.eventsLearn more about the podcast:
39:27 4/21/21
Bringing early stage startups to life: Go-to-market and telling founder stories with Austin Gunter
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk to Austin Gunter, Director of Marketing at Shoreline,  an automation tool for cloud operations teams, about marketing early stage startups and building a go-to-market plan. Austin talks about his (perhaps accidental) niche as 'the first marketer in the door' at a number of DevOps startups, including Gremlin, and explains how he goes about immersing himself in a new company. He also discusses the importance of understanding customer pain by looking closely at their jobs-to-be-done when preparing to go to market.Listen as well for Austin's thoughts on the DevOps and cloud space, an insight into Shoreline and why Austin was so eager to work there, and a little bit about Austin's book, The Liberal Arts Techie.Follow Austin on Twitter:  @austingunterRead Austin's book: The Liberal Arts Techie: How To Break Into Your First  Startup JobLearn more about Shoreline: to earlier episodes and learn more about the podcast by visiting
34:50 4/14/21
Just shut up and listen: How podcasts connect people and create conversations with Mandy Moore
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk to Mandy Moore, the producer and show manager of Greater Than Code - "a podcast that highlights the human side of technology" - as well as a range of other awesome podcasts. In this episode Mandy discusses her journey into the tech industry, including her first job working with Avdi Grimm, and explains why she thinks podcasting plays such an important role in the field, in helping the world talk about tech. She also highlights how podcasts can help cultivate more open communities and help make the industry more diverse and accessible to those who have been marginalised and pushed out in the past. Follow Mandy Moore on Twitter: @therubyrepFollow Greater Than Code on Twitter: @greaterthancodeListen to Greater Than Code:
43:08 4/7/21
Listening and enabling: Talking DevRel and neurodiversity with Wesley Faulkner
Jennifer Riggins (@jkriggins) and Rich Gall (@richggall) talk to Wesley Faulkner, DevRel at Daily, about how Developer Relations became a critical part of the software industry. Wesley gives his perspective of the history of DevRel, and provides a practical perspective on what it involves day-to-day - from support, to documentation, to social media. He also talks about why he loves doing DevRel for Daily, and how he works alongside the rest of the team to build and engage a community of users in a way that is impactful and authentic. He also discusses neurodiversity, and explains why embracing it can help the tech industry better support everyone - even neurotypical people. Follow Wesley Faulkner on Twitter: @wesley83Listen to Wesley's podcast: www.communitypulse.ioLearn more about Daily:
44:56 3/31/21
Why APIs are a storytelling technology: Talking open ecosystems and open data with Mark Boyd
Rich Gall and Jennifer Riggins talk to Mark Boyd, founder of Platformable, an organization that helps governments and businesses  develop tools and ecosystems that encourage participation. Mark talks about Platformable, explaining why it exists and how it works. He highlights some of the obstacles to building open ecosystems, and why he believes so passionately in their ability to engage people.  His experience in policymaking in Australia, particularly in HIV and AIDs care, underlined just how valuable data sharing can be. He describes how he moved from those formative experiences to the tech industry in Europe.We also discuss how APIs are a storytelling technology - they allow us to make connections and open up new perspectives that make things visible. Follow Mark on Twitter:  @mgboydcomLearn more about Platformable: platformable.comFollow the podcast on Twitter:  @_TalkAboutTech
35:17 3/24/21
Coding in pastel mode: Building a community for self-expression at Glitch with Alexa Scordato
Rich Gall and Jennifer Riggins talk to Alexa Scordato, Head of Growth and Marketing at Glitch, a coding platform that makes it easy to build creative software projects.Alexa tells us why she loves working at Glitch, and describes how she approaches marketing to the diverse range of people that use Glitch, from experienced developers to coding newbies. She also explains the importance of communicating with authenticity and integrity, and highlights how her time at Stack Overflow helped her to better understand the way software developers learn and talk aout the problems they're trying to solve day-to-day.Follow Alexa on Twitter: @AlexaLearn more about Glitch: glitch.comFollow the podcast: @_TalkAboutTech
49:00 3/17/21
Please hype responsibly: Talking about complex systems with Gemma Milne
Jennifer Riggins and Rich Gall talk to Gemma Milne, journalist, broadcaster, researcher, and author of Smoke and Mirrors: How Hype Obscures The Future and How to See Past It. In this episode Gemma explains the role hype plays in the technology industry, how it shapes the way the public understands and experiences the field, and highlights a number of ways we can all - as professionals and as citizens - better manage the impact of hype. Also discussed in this episode:The problems with hype in the world of battery developmentHow hype is making it difficult to have an honest conversation about artificial intelligenceWhat we can do as marketers and comms professionals to create a better information ecosystemHow we can hype responsiblyLinks Follow Gemma on Twitter: @gemmamilneCheck out Gemma's podcast Radical Science (follow it on Twitter @radicalscipod)Buy Gemma's book 
55:55 3/10/21
Welcome to What We Talk About When We Talk About Tech
Welcome to What We Talk About When We Talk About Tech. In this, the very first episode, Rich Gall and Jennifer Riggins explain why they started the podcast, how they found their way into the tech industry, and what they're excited to talk about with guests in future episodes. Follow the podcast on Twitter: @_TalkAboutTechFollow Jennifer on Twitter: @jkrigginsFollow Rich on Twitter: @richggall
28:19 3/7/21