Since Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter I've been unable to look away. The mood on my Twitter timeline has gone from smug "get a load of this guy" to something like watching live hurricane coverage. My schadenfreude faded quickly when I realized Elon was not suffering.
I'm doing my best to reserve judgment, but it looks like it's going poorly. The company, the application, and the societal impact – It all looks bad. In the midst of this mess I’m not sure how it'll turn out. SRE buddies say the systems are doomed. Acquaintances in marketing tell me advertisers will evaporate without content moderation. Reuters warns Musk has $12.7 billion in debt to juggle. Governments and individuals around the world are suing. Real people are suffering because new ownership underestimated technical, social, and political complexity.
There's a scene in Star Trek into Darkness where Capt. Kirk loses his command (spoiler alert). The admiral berates Kirk. He closes with "you don't respect the chair" and I love it. I wish I had a more academic reference for the responsibility of leadership, but pop culture will have to do.
It’s easy to get cocky. It’s easy to take success for granted. Luck can be mistaken for skill. When I’m tired, lazy, glib, or preoccupied I remember responsibility. We depend on one another.
Kirk, you, me, and Musk are in command of something. We make software and we work as teams. You may be responsible for a few people or a lot of people. Your impact may be a line of code, facilitating a meeting, or pointing a teammate in the right direction. The scale doesn't matter, the crux of responsibility is the same. Colleagues and customers depend on us every day in ways big and small. Please don’t underestimate the impact of your contribution. Keep up the good work.