Garrett Smith


Garrett (@gar1t) is programmer at CloudBees, the company behind Jenkins CI and industry leading Java platform-as-a-service. There he leads the use of Erlang to manage platform services and infrastructure. He has over 20 years development experience and specializes in distributed systems and reliable software. Garrett organizes the Chicago Erlang User Group, teaches Erlang, and is a frequent speaker at alternative technology conferences. He is the creator of the popular videos MongoDB Is Web Scale, Node.js Is Bad Ass Rock Star Tech, and recently Erlang The Movie II The Sequel. He is the author and maintainer of e2, Psycho, Erlang CZMQ bindings, Erlang Redis client, and many others.

Garrett maintains his blog at

In Hans Christian Andersen's classic story, two weavers promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those too stupid and incompetent to appreciate its quality. It is a critique of the pretension and social pride of the times. Tragically, it applies to software today. 

A software product is open source or proprietary software that claims to solve a general class of problem. It is usually first built for a specific application but later generalized to appeal to a wider audience. It is released as a branded and promoted software package and over time becomes more and more complex as its sponsors add new features. 

The claims of software products are appealing: rather than invest in building your own software, you leverage the hard work of those who have already solved your problem. However, like the Emperor's new clothes, the value of software products can be nothing more than a claim -- an illusion. 

In this talk, Garrett Smith will discuss the problems of adopting software products and make the case for building software with lower level languages, libraries and tools. He'll dive into the process of solving technical and business problems and demonstrate how off-the-shelf solutions can be toxic to it. He'll advocate a position that is naive to political risk and is ruthlessly honest -- like the child in Andersen's story who plainly said what the others would not.

A pop-up talk by Garrett Smith

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