Starting to write Infrastructure Engineering.
This is my newest project, Infrastructure Engineer. You can also join the mailing list.
From late 2019 through early 2021, most of my creative output was focused on StaffEng, along with the overlapping book, Staff Engineer. I learned a lot working on that project, and it’s doing respectable numbers. I haven’t done much on that project in the past six months, and I spent some time over the Christmas holidays thinking about what I want to work on next. I write on this blog to capture what I learn along the way, but I’ve been working at getting more focused and more ambitious in my larger projects like Staff Engineer. More than capturing stuff I’ve learned, what can I do to nudge the industry forward a bit?
I’ve also learned a lot about myself over the course of working on a bunch of large, personal projects. I know that I simply won’t finish a project unless it’s personally interesting to me. There are a huge number of impactful topics to work on that I simply would never finish writing. Sprint planning comes to mind: certainly a useful topic, but not one I could finishing writing something about.
So, what personal project should I work on next? I’m in the early stages of thinking about a third book focused on infrastructure engineering, working with the exceptionally obvious tentative title of Infrastructure Engineering. At this point, I’ve scaffolded a website at infraeng.dev, and over the next year or so I hope to experiment with different approaches to writing a useful book.
At this point, I’m particularly interested in exploring the non-obvious types of content within the book. Some of the explorations in my previous book were using QR codes in physical books and Staff Engineer’s focus on sharing concrete stories. There are a bunch of other folks doing amazing work as well, like Julia Evan’s wizard zines which contain an extraordinary amount of content per word, and Brie Wolfson’s The Kool-Aid Factory with its emphasis on actionable tools to implement the practices it describes.
So far my plan is roughly:
- should there be interviews this time? (tentatively, yes, but only on website)
- can I include concrete leadership tools in a book ? (tentatively, yes)
- can I recommend explicit meeting structure? (not sure yet!)
- what else should I be considering? (not sure yet!)
- should the content be free? (yes online, paid for digital, physical and audio books)
- how to provide “redirectable links” for QR codes without using a 3rd party service?
I also imagine other ideas will come up as I iterate on these.
The only idea that I’m still explicitly not pursuing is community building. A lot of independent book authors are starting to include access to a community within certain higher priced packages, but I’m trying to simplify my life’s commitments, not add more. (More generally, here’s why I decided against hosting a Staff Engineer community.)
It’s very early days, but if you’re looking for a sense of the sort of work coming with this project, here is some initial work:
- Interview with Utsav Shah at Vanta
- Trunk and Branches Model to scaling Infrastructure Teams
- How to Navigate Headcount Planning Process
- Organizational Design Exercise
- Developer Productivity Survey Process
More to come on website, mailing list,and RSS feed.