• Hacking Community: Interview with Dave Nugent

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    2/11/15– Kelsey Breseman

    I met Dave Nugent over Meetup several months ago. I’d been reaching out to various meetup organizers in the Bay Area, and his name kept cropping up. I’m continuously amazed at how active Dave is in the developer community, hosting events small and large both locally and internationally. He’s the face of the San Francisco JS meetup and of SF Realtime Coders, runs the upcoming ForwardJS conference, and is currently putting together a new conference called the IoT Stream Conference, scheduled for the end of April.

    Kelsey: How did you come to be such an active member in all of these developer meetups?

    Dave: I used to be a Java developer and a PHP developer. That was awful [laughs]. But I’ve really liked JavaScript. I started going to JavaScript meetups, and when the organizer of the JavaScript meetup stepped down, I stepped in.

    I started running meetups a few years ago, and now we’re doing a few every month. We have around 7,700 members. It just keeps growing.

    Kelsey: Can you tell me a bit about your role with PubNub?

    Dave: My title is Evangelist, and I do everything from helping with SDKs and client support to giving talks and organizing hackathons, meetups and conferences. I tend to handle the in-person stuff.

    We organize a ton of meetups that we hold here at the office, over 100 a year. [Ed. note: Dave wrote a blog post about this, which you can read here.]

    We try to focus on things that the developer community is interested in. We’re open to hosting any meetup as long as it’s technical in nature and we can spread the word about it as far as possible. JavaScript, iOS, Android, Ruby, Swift– those are our main meetup languages. We’ll do cryptocurrency and entrepreneur meetups every once in a while as well.

    Kelsey: What’s the purpose of holding all of these events?

    Dave: We usually try to do events where there’s an educational goal, a social goal, or just the goal of building something, where we can facilitate. And you don’t have to use PubNub; if you just want to come in and hack, that’s totally cool.

    We try to provide value to the developer community. And by the way, if you ever need real-time messaging, we’re here.

    That’s why we love Tessel. It’s really great to be able to say, come in and hack with Tessel and PubNub. You can use Tessel, you can use PubNub, you can use both, you can use neither, we just want to help you build something really awesome.

    What tends to happen is that people end up using both, but it’s not like they’re being forced to. They’re doing it because they’re actually getting value out of those tools.

    Kelsey: Why does Tessel make sense for you at these events?

    Dave: One thing that we really like about Tessel is that it’s so easy to just jump in and get started, and then, move from that getting started phase to building a full prototype. Depending on how much time people have, we’ve done hack nights where it’s three hours, and people are able to build a really cool prototype that does some visualization.

    There’s not many products where you can go from not knowing anything about something to a prototype in three hours. Especially in hardware.

    If you have more time, 24 hours, 48 hours, that just becomes more and more refined and polished. We’ve seen some things that come out of our hackathons where you’re like, this is a product. They could put this in a box, they could make a Kickstarter for this and sell it tomorrow. That’s really, really cool.

    Kelsey: Why is it useful for PubNub to bring in a hardware component?

    Dave: A lot of times, especially with software, people might not understand exactly what PubNub is. It’s sort of this ethereal PubSub realtime messaging framework.

    If you show them a demo with Tessel, using PubNub to exchange data with other Tessels, and a real-time dashboard, they say, oh, I got it. You’ve got an internet of things, and Tessel’s the thing, and PubNub provides the internet.

    It’s just really easy to comprehend. So instead of explaining what PubNub is, a lot of times, we’ll just point to the Tessel demo, and say, we power this.

    I point a lot of people to the Tessel projects page. Tessel is very modular, very plug-and-play. You can easily make a recipe where you’re like, Tessel, modules A, B, C, here’s your code that uses PubNub, and just plug it in, and you’ve got the same demo running on your local machine that somebody else built in Europe, or in Singapore or something.

    Kelsey: What do you see as the promise of the Internet of Things?

    Dave: The thing that excites me about the Internet of Things is this whole idea about an Internet of Things stack, where you can build a product by using multiple providers at different levels of the stack.

    When you go out and build websites these days, it’s not like you’re heading out to Best Buy, buying a webserver, plugging it into the internet. No, you say, I’ll spin up a server on Amazon or a Rackspace and use ready-made services on top of it.

    I like the idea of bringing that same stack architecture to the internet of things. Developers can take the components that they want, plug them all together, and build a super robust, high-reliability, low-latency application.

    You can have Tessel, that takes care of your hardware, PubNub, that takes care of your message bus, and on top of that, some big data analytics, visualization providers that store data and allow you to manipulate the data that’s already been communicated across your network.

    You can start to see huge enterprise applications and products being built on the internet of things, but where the company building the product doesn’t have to build the entire stack by themselves.

    Kelsey: That’s the focus for your upcoming IoT Stream Conference, right?

    Dave: That’s the idea: we want to get representatives from each area of the stack to talk about the difficulty of building things in that area that are reliable enough that you can launch products off of them.

    The audience is saying, I want solutions. I want to launch my product in three months. What can you do to help me today?

    [Ed. note: check out Dave’s upcoming conference at http://iot.streamconf.com.]

    #interview #Dave Nugent #Kelsey Breseman #hackathon #PubNub #Tessel #Technical Machine #hacking #meetup #community

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