Twingly Team Interviews: “Automate as much as you can”

We have been doing our 8th Twingly Team Interview! This time we spoke to Oskar Skoog, one of our developers. Oskar explains which Twingly service has challenged him the most, which Internet phenomenons amaze him and how he stays informed on his areas of interest.

Please tell us a bit about who you are and how you came to Twingly.
My name is Oskar Skoog and I’m 29 years old. I’m one of the developers here at Twingly. I first found out about Twingly back in 2007. A friend wrote her thesis there. I was still studying computer science and had just started looking for a job. She suggested that I should send an email to Twingly. And here we are…

Why did you follow your friend’s advise to get in touch with Twingly?
It seemed like an interesting place, but honestly I didn’t know that much about the company before. So I’m glad I got called to the interview and got to meet Martin and Björn, two of the 4 co-founders, because that was when I got really interested in working for Twingly. The idea that Martin told me about was something like an European Technorati. At that time, neither Google nor Technorati were really good at blog search, especially not in Europe. So this is what later became Twingly Blog Search. We started developing the engine one or two month after I began working for Twingly.

Which of the other Twingly tools have you been involved with? Which one was the most exciting or the most challenging one?
I think I have been involved with more or less all of them by now. Today I’m the developer who’s been at Twingly for the longest time, but it’s also a small company, so you end up working with everything. The most challenging project was Twingly Channels, without any doubt; and possibly also the most exciting one, although I also really enjoyed working with the blog search.

Why was the development of Twingly Channels particularly challenging?
Due to lots of new technology at that time. The real-time web was new and there didn’t exist a lot of common knowledge to learn from. It was also quite different from our other products, especially in the back-end system, so we had to learn a lot of new stuff quickly.

What’s your biggest learning from almost 4 years of developing for Twingly?
It’s hard to think of anything specific, but if I had to say something I believe in, it would be to automate as much as you can. It both becomes easier to do it again and it works as kind of documentation of the process. I think most developers know that they should automate if you ask them, but the value of it might not always be that apparent.

What’s your take on how the Internet has evolved during the past years?
What amazes me the most about the past few years is how social media has grown and how it got such a huge influence everywhere. I’ve always loved using the Internet, but I think this has really changed how everyone perceive and use the Internet.

Which services or apps do you find particularly remarkable or ground-changing?
Facebook is perhaps an obvious answer, but their massive user base is incredible. Another amazing site, closer to the things I work with, is Github. Unless you’re a developer, you might never have heard of it, but Github has really changed how collaborating with code works in open source projects, by making it much easier and also more social.

How do you stay informed about programming techniques and other areas of interest?
Hacker News is a great site and community for tech and programming news. Most of the programming related blogs I read are quite narrow in their field and there are a lot of small good blogs. Some of the best, and also more popular, ones are Etsy’s Code as Craft, igvita.com, MySQL Performance Blog and Ajaxian.

After many years at Twingly, do you remember an occasion or event that made you especially happy?
Asking this just a few days after our awesome 5-year birthday party makes it hard to think of anything else… : – ) It was an amazing party. Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate with us!

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