Hello, world! I'm a short stack web developer and community professional, fascinated with everything philosophy, psychology, and technology. Also, beer.

I'm a North Bay native that wears many hats. Notably, I'm a program manager in Google's Open Source Programs Office, director on the Open Source Initiative (OSI) board, co-founder of Web & Interactive Media Professionals (WIMP), and community manager emeritus for O'Reilly Media covering open source and web technology.

You can learn more about me in my bio, or peruse this here feed. See you in the wild blue nowhere!

Stepping Stones and Rocketry

By | March 15th, 2016 | Personal Note

There's being fired and then there's being let go. I was fired from my startup in 2013 because I failed to rise to the occasion of CEO. I was let go from O'Reilly Media last week because the company made strategic choices about its future, and community, at least as I know it, wasn't a part of that.

Both were intense experiences seared into my memory. Both made me extremely grateful for my friends, family, and the communities I run in as they sprang to support me in the wake of a terrible event.

As many people suggested in the hours following my layoff, one door closes and many open. Basically? You nailed it. Many opportunities have surfaced themselves and I received a compelling offer which I am currently mulling over no more than 24 hours after I turned in my badge and laptop. And today, I learned that I've been elected to the Open Source Initiative (OSI) Board of Directors!

While I'm excited for my future and upset at being laid off without a day's notice, I can confidently say that O'Reilly is a company that I still believe in; I drank the kool-aid long before I joined the company. O'Reilly will continue to be the most innovative media company serving students and professionals from programmers to sysadmins and designers to data scientists.

I loved my coworkers at O'Reilly and will be forever grateful for how the company allowed me to grow into a community professional, a speaker, an author, and a traveler. I'm grateful for how O'Reilly threw me into the fire of open source as the community manager for OSCON where I began to serve a world I've long benefited from.

It's been an edifying 2.5 years at O'Reilly and the future is bright. While I may never be a "Foo," I'm what O'Reilly now calls a "Goo." A Graduate of O'Reilly. I look forward to a long career serving the open source communities and collaborating with O'Reilly every opportunity I get.

Friends, family, coworkers past and present, colleagues, fellow community organizers, and community members: Thank you. You've always been there for me and I've never been more confident that I'm in the right line of work.

O'Reilly: Thank you. You were more than a stepping stone, you were a rocket ship.

Here's to what's next!

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When did you start coding and why?

By | March 7th, 2016 | In the Media

I was recently interviewed along with 24 other leading web developers about how I got started as a coder. Here's my response, but you can click through to read all of them:

Eight year old Josh had wild ideas about how computers worked when my family got our first computer, but the reality was even more magical than I had imagined. I spent the next seven years moving from script kiddy to baby coder and the rest is history.

First it was macros and QBasic. My brother recognized my interest and picked up a copy of Visual Basic 6 for me -- being able to quickly build interfaces blew my mind, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover web development.

I was thirteen when a brave MUD made me an implementor and gave me access to my first *nix box and C code base. That's when I fell in love with open source and shifted over to PHP from ASP.

These days I do less coding and more community work, but the die has been cast. I'm an open source citizen and coder for life!

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Failing in Santo Domingo

By | February 21st, 2016 | Presentations

I gave my "Fail Early, Fail Often, Fail Well" presentation for perhaps the last time in February at PyCaribbean. It was my first Python event (which was fantastic) and my first time speaking internationally. It was also the first time I managed to get the talk recorded -- something people have been asking for since I first gave it in 2014.

You can learn more about PyCaribbean, which, continuing the theme of firsts, was the first annual event in the Dominican Republic as well as the first Python conference in the Caribbean, in my partner's blog post: "Python in the Caribbean? More of this!"

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Becoming a Web Developer

By | January 21st, 2016 | Presentations

In this presentation, I cover philosophy, core technologies, the web in practice, gotchas, and how to choose a language -- whether it's JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Go, Java, .NET, or functional. I first gave this talk at WIMP in 2015 and refined it to present at Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) in 2016.

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The Growing “Gig Economy” in the North Bay

By | October 2nd, 2015 | In the Media

Bruce Robinson of KRCB's North Bay Report reached out to Melissa Geissinger and I to discuss how work is changing.

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Tech High alumnus carries the torch

By | October 1st, 2015 | In the Media

Best birthday present ever - my hometown newspaper did an article on me!

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Life After Wimptator

By | August 28th, 2015 | Personal Note

Melissa and I first met at A’Roma Roasters on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011. It’s easy to remember, because the WIMP meetup was registered on the same day. That’s probably the first sign that we were going to kick ass. Since then, WIMP has changed Sonoma County: it’s a far less lonely place to be a technology or media professional now than it was 5 years ago.

WIMP has changed me, too. For all my labors of love, none have been as enduring or meaningful as WIMP. The friendships I forged, especially with Melissa, Randy, and Cole, are ones I can’t imagine living without.

Now it’s time for more change. After four and a half years, it’s time for me to step down from WIMP leadership. Deciding to resign is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, which I recognize makes me one of the luckiest guys alive. But giving up your baby is hard, especially when it’s doing so well.

I have spent the better part of my adult life as a scrappy careerman trying to overcome circumstance — and myself. While the journey continues, my time as a careerman has to end.

I still have ambitions to leave this world a better place than I found it. Hell, I’ll still be a big WIMP supporter. But my priorities have to change… As I approach my 30’s, I want to spend more time with my family and friends. I also want to think about building a family of my own.

And WIMP is growing up. What WIMP needs now is different from what it needed to get started. While I’ve got some skills, I’m no CEO — I learned that the hard way with my startup, Bluebird.

In closing, I just want to say thank you. Thank you for the support. For the creativity. For the love. I’m sure I’ll see you around.

Wimptator emeritus,
Josh Simmons

This was cross-posted from Josh's original blog post for Web & Interactive Media Professionals: "Life After Wimptator."

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Why You Should Doc Code with Eric Holscher & Marcia Riefer Johnston

By | August 8th, 2015 | In the Media

I've been interviewed many times, this was my first time on the other side of the table! It was a great experience and it went well, though I've learned not to wear white on video and to stick to nonverbal cues when the interviewee is speaking.

In this, I speak with Marcia Reifer Johnston and Eric Holscher, organizer of Write the Docs, a conference that's bringing technical writers and documentation practices into the 21st century while promoting awareness of the need to doc.

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The Art of Embracing Epic Failure

By | April 19th, 2015 | In the Media

I joined my WIMP co-founder, Melissa Geissinger, for episode 2 of her new podcast, The Naked Freelancer. The topic? Epic failure. My failure - as a freelancer and as a startup CEO. Don't make the same mistakes I did!

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