Derek Sivers

Founder, CD Baby

Coming Back to Rails
43 minutes, 19.9mb, recorded 2010-06-09
Derek Sivers

Often when someone poses an idea, we take that idea as unquestionable fact. That is until we realize the opposite may be true. Derek Sivers' 2010 Railsconf keynote begins by showing us some solid examples of how our own perceptions may be different from others, especially from those of other cultures. "That's why we travel the world and why we learn new programming languages."

Sivers had already built his popular music selling website (CD Baby) using his own cobbled-together PHP framework, when he realized he needed to do something different. His quirky code was not able to scale as the site grew and he discovered Rails was the solution. "Quirks can come in handy for personal expression..." and are what makes us different, "...but quirks in design code are only great if you are the only one using it."

So Sivers set out to build his award-winning site using Rails. "The most considerate thing you can do is do what others do" when designing for usability. He was not used to working with others and quickly developed a delegation mindset, looking to hire people who were intrinsically motivated. He also understood that in order to hire well he first had to be able to describe the project well. In this insightful podcast, Sivers takes us through the journey he took in building his project with Rails and the thought processes behind it.  

NOTE: There are some expletives that may not be considered safe for work.  

Derek Sivers is "a hopeless learning addict, who's endlessly fascinated with the technical/programming/design process...". In 1998 he combined that fascination with a desire to help himself and fellow musicians sell their CDs online and created CD Baby. CD Baby went on to become the largest seller of independent music on the web. In 2008 Sivers sold his project for $22 million and bequeathed the proceeds to a charitable trust for music education.  Winner of the 2003 World Technology Award and one of Esquire Magazine's "Best and Brightest", Sivers now runs a new company called MuckWork, which helps musicians focus on being creative rather than doing "uncreative dirty work". 


This free podcast is from our Rails Conference series.

For The Conversations Network:

  • Post-production audio engineer: Jeff Kirkland
  • Website editor: Douglas Coleman
  • Series producer: George Hawthorne