Have you ever read a technical blog post and wondered how a developer made their way into writing? Are you curious about the backgrounds, inspiration and motivations of practitioners churning out blogs?
For us, it’s simple. We know by experience that our practitioners come from diverse backgrounds. Not every developer wants to write about their work (unless it is code in GitHub). There’s certainly a fear that comes with putting one’s voice out into the world. The ones who do intrigue us. So we want to share our practitioners’ stories.
With that, I’d like to introduce you to Daisy Tsang — developer, writer, and a young woman who uses her practitioner communities and writing to build and share her development knowledge archive.
Tell me about yourself. Your name, where you live, where you are from, your job/company, your area(s) of expertise.
My name is Daisy Tsang. I grew up in Toronto (Canada) and currently live in Berlin (Germany). I work as a freelance developer and technical writer at the moment and have a strong interest in open source software, fostering diverse and inclusive cultures, self-care, and mentoring underrepresented groups in programming. I’m a full-stack web developer that leans toward the backend. I am a strong believer in good docs, learning new things, refreshing fundamentals, and maintaining healthy work-life balances! I have long been a user of open source software and have recently begun to delve more actively into making contributions.
How did you come to live and work in Berlin?
I studied abroad in France while I was in college. That gave me a taste of living outside North America, and I really enjoyed it. I was able to get a working holiday visa to Germany, so I moved to Berlin. I love it.
What motivated you to become a developer?
As a child, I was a curious and avid learner who was interested in a wide variety of things (which is something that I still identify with as an adult). When I entered university, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, took some introductory programming courses and was drawn to the creative and analytical aspects of programming. I ended up graduating with a double major in Media Studies and Computer Science in Canada. After graduation, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do professionally. I was a marketing intern for a few months and also applied to be a flight attendant, among other things. I wasn’t sure whether a career in programming was for me but I randomly decided to apply to this one programming job that came on my radar amidst a bunch of communications/marketing ads, got offered the job, and had my first taste of working as a software developer in a small company in Canada. Over the years, I have learned that although the software industry can be stressful and unwelcoming at times, I do love how it is quick-evolving and offers an infinite amount of things to learn about.
What motivated you to start writing about developing?
On a personal level, I started to write about developing because I am a bit of an information sponge and I am always reading up on something and doing deep dives about topics that interest me. I figured it would be a good idea to organize my thoughts and research and share them publicly (https://infoverload.github.io). I see it more as a documentation of things that I have learned about, and if other people should find it interesting and useful, then all the better! I write about whatever I find interesting. The articles largely relate to tech at the moment, but that could definitely change.
I started to write technical articles professionally because it seemed perfect for me. Doing market and technical research on current technologies helps me to stay up-to-date on the ever-changing technical landscape and feeds my thirst for learning new things.
How did you find out about Fixate?
I found out about Fixate through a friend!
Why do you continue to write for Fixate?
I write for Fixate because it is the perfect combination of learning, doing research, and writing about it to solidify and communicate my learning. My Fixate colleagues are very professional, passionate about technology, and friendly. Writing for Fixate is a different way of writing. It’s more of a professional platform and a different audience. I am quite proud of my work with them. I enjoy doing research and learning new concepts and delivering quality work to a community that trusts and values my efforts. I enjoy collaborating with others who are passionate about the same things as I am. Contributing to Fixate helps me to stay current and learn a lot.
Can you point to something meaningful that has happened for you personally or professionally as a result of writing for Fixate?
So far, I receive a lot of consistent and positive feedback from my Fixate editors, and that is rewarding. People have also reached out to me about things that I have published when I post them on Twitter. Moreover, I have a never-ending list of things I would like to learn about, and being assigned a given topic with Fixate often gives me the focus to push to pick up a new skill. For example, I recently learned ReactJS in order to create a simple web app that interacts with the API of a client that I was writing for. I also dove into GraphQL a lot for another article that I wrote about how to replace REST APIs.
What makes you interested in a client project?
I become interested in writing for a client if the topic interests me, basically. I will see if it is something that I already have some knowledge in or if it is a topic that I am really interested in learning more about.
How do you stay current yourself in terms of your profession?
My favourite way to stay current is listening to podcasts! There are a lot of good podcasts out there relating to software and web development. I find that to be a great, optimal, easy way to keep up-to-date on things and I will often listen to an episode when I am going for a run, doing groceries, etc. Aside from that, I attend a lot of technical conferences and am quite active in the Meetup scene in Berlin. I have also made friends who are very interested in learning about networking concepts, and we meet up around once a week to study together. Being around the right people is a great boost, needless to say!
I am a huge fan of Julia Evan’s blog (https://jvns.ca), and she was a great motivator in my decision to start a blog myself. I love the way she can present seemingly complicated topics in very fun, casual and accessible ways.
What new technology are you most interested in/learning about?
It is difficult to choose, and always changing! Generally, I am interested in all parts of the technology stack and enjoy having a well-rounded, general knowledge of how computers, the Internet, and the Web works. But I write about containers quite a bit, so it was pretty interesting for me to learn about Podman and Flatpak at a conference around Linux technologies. Podman is a project that aims to build and manage containers differently than Docker and improve upon some of its weaker points (e.g. running as root). Flatpak is a new way to build and distribute applications on the Linux desktop. Through containerization features, apps can be built once for all the different distributions.
What have you written that you are most proud of and why?
I am proud of pieces that I have written that I feel are well-researched, and I have put a spin on things. I strive to produce work that I would like to read myself and would find useful, and that has a different perspective. I’ve written a few pieces about containers and container monitoring that I think are helpful to other developers. I recently finished a piece about the differences between monitoring containerized applications and traditional applications that I think turned out quite well, and was a joy to write about.
Daisy introduced me to a concept that I had never considered — writing as a way to organize and build a personal knowledge archive. She engages the expertise of the Fixate contributor network and other developer communities routinely. Through her published writing, she literally gives us that mindshare. Mind. Blown.