I’m in favor of Article 13

There’s a very neat trick when it comes to obscuring discourse: conflating unrelated-yet-confusingly-similar issues to make them seem bigger than they really are, and to steal support from otherwise-legitimate causes.

This is an ongoing example (link):


Hillary Clinton is facing backlash for arguing that European leaders should try to assuage the concerns of a growing right-wing populism across the continent by refusing to offer “refuge and support” to migrants.


… politicians expressed shock and concern with Clinton’s comments, which some said appeared to contradict her 2016 campaign position on welcoming immigrants and refugees.

Eliza Relman, Business Insider US

Immigrants and refugees.

There’s a world of difference between the two. Personally, I’m in favor of more open borders and a greater flow of immigrants: people who explicitly and voluntarily decide how and where they want to live, and are prepared to put in the work to contribute positively and assimilate into the culture are all right in my book.

Refugees are very different. They’re not moving by choice, but by necessity. Being coerced out of the land they chose to live in means they’ll hang on to their culture and traditions (as they should, by their own volition).

When this issue is reported though, immigrants and refugees are routinely conflated, to the point where they’re treated as synonyms for eachother – when they clearly are not. So now, even though I completely support as much voluntary, legal immigration as countries can bear, I’m also expected to support the unmitigated flow of refugees to systems that cannot integrate them at all.

I feel the exact same thing happening with this Article 13 issue.

At its core, the EU leans in favor of human rights. The regulations handed down are more often for the protection of citizens than not – GDPR being a stellar recent example.

Article 13 protects rightsholders by preventing unauthorized use of their work. The initial draft of the bill proposed some truly terrible mitigations (requiring automated content filtering on all uploads to catch violations), but the final bill has watered that down quite a lot.

When Article 13 is reported on though, it’s usually with a message like this:


the EU’s new copyright directive have stoked fears that memes will effectively be banned


platforms will have to pay a fee to share a link to a news article and have to start filtering and removing memes.


they will arbitrarily remove content based on their terms and conditions. As a result, many creators will see their content get blocked


Only platforms with deep pockets will be able to comply with the Article 13 requirements

It’s all horseshit, reasoned from a faulty premise that legitimizes theft under the banner of “user-generated content”. The internet that anti-Article 13 activists are fighting to protect was largely built on wide-scale infringement, with the inability to enforce existing laws taken as tacit permission to break them all.

But every wild west is eventually tamed, and the internet is long overdue for this. The truth (especially in Facebook and YouTube’s case) is that copyright-infringed content has been the biggest driver of their success. While they’ll fight Article 13 and sell it as the platforms “standing up for the creators” (and we’ll come back to “creators”), in reality they desperately need the freely-generated content to keep flowing – that’s all that keeps eyeballs on the site, and ad dollars flowing.

As platforms, between DMCA, Fair Use and Safe Harbor, they effectively have a license to print money (or in this case, monetizable attention). They can provide platforms that permit millions of people to violate copyright, then simply take their time to remove infringing content, while never having to compensate the victim.

While they claim to be acting in the best interests of “creators”, they’ve managed to come up with a very narrow, self-serving definition of “creator”: anyone who uploads anything. Truly independent creators are suffering the most under the current regime, illustrated beautifully by Kurzgesagt:

It’s that “immigrants and refugees” trickery all over again: conflating the independent artists who put their backs into creating original content, with the vampires who cut and re-share it without attribution (or fair compensation) to build their own profiles. To the platforms, these are both considered “creators”, which is why this statement from YouTube’s CEO should come as no surprise:


Article 13 as written threatens to shut down the ability of millions of people — from creators like you to everyday users — to upload content to platforms like YouTube. And it threatens to block users in the EU from viewing content that is already live on the channels of creators everywhere. This includes YouTube’s incredible video library of educational content, such as language classes, physics tutorials and other how-to’s.

Susan Wojcicki

(I wonder if Susan’s “educational content” includes these horror shows aimed at young children.)

There’s a whole lot of very subtle trickery in that paragraph. For one, and this is probably the most important point in the whole debacle:

People are rightsholders too.

Most of the criticism about Article 13 sets up this dystopian scenario where a few large companies (Disney, FOX, etc) will end up being the only ones who can publish anything, since Article 13 protects copyright and copyright is evil.

Except, it’s not. In most common-law countries, copyright is actually very simple: You make it, you own it. And if you own it, you should have some say in how it gets used – including permitting people to use your stuff for free, which is what Creative Commons is all about.

Copyright is only evil in a world where you can’t create new things, and the reality here is that a lot of this outrage is coming from people who have built businesses, careers and social standing off the work of others. They’re the ones with the most to lose if laws like Article 13 pass, which is why “copyright” is routinely cast as this benefit that only applies to large companies with expensive lawyers. 

Copyright is a thing we’ve had since 1886, ratified at the Berne Convention and adopted by pretty much every country on Earth. 

You could go (right now) and outline a story about a high school for wizards. Apply some creativity, take on a new angle, mix in your own experiences, draw from a large array of influences and produce something unique – and by default, you’ll have the copyright on it.

That’s creation. That’s what authorship is supposed to look like. Taking a three-second clip from a movie and dubbing a different voice over it is, at best, imitation.

But it’s that imitation that’s now being heralded as “creation”, defended by companies that desperately need large volumes of content to monetize but cannot (or will not) invest in producing it themselves.

Of course, there are more arguments against Article 13, for instance:

Only large companies will be able to afford compliance! Only big platforms like Facebook and YouTube could possibly do this!

Garbage. Setting up your own website comes with a cost of $free, and you have full control over what goes up on there. The only reason these large companies are the “only ones who can afford compliance” is that their business model depends on large-scale, unmonitored, unchecked user-generated content that can be monetized – with bonus points for presenting all of that as a defense of free speech.

This will kill creativity! Nobody will be able to make anything new! Copyrights prevent people from experimenting!

More garbage. The thing about copyright (other than it being a basic human right, globally enforced and freely available) is that the rightsholder can do whatever they want with the rights, including making it available for adaptation.

It’s as if everyone’s taken crazy pills and forgotten that CC-BY-SA exists.

Even in a world where that experimentation/remixing/adaptation is universally good for business, rightsholders (everyone from Disney to neighbour Dorothy) should have some say over how their work is used. If they decide to prevent remixes, that’s their business. Everyone that takes a more relaxed approach will benefit, and the free market will sort itself out.

Ultimately, that’s why I’m in favor of legislation that tries to protect rightsholders from unauthorized use of their work, while still giving them the option of making their work available for adaptation and re-use: Because people are rightsholders too.

Definitely not missing the bird

Next week Tuesday (27 November) will mark the 1-month point since I decided to completely ditch Twitter from my daily routine. On Tuesday itself I’m likely to be very busy, but I wanted to take a moment to write some feedback on this experiment.

I can confidently say I don’t miss it one bit. The trade-off just wasn’t worth it: For every connection that was worthwhile, there were at least 20x more knee-jerk reactions and vapid hot takes, and 100x the volume of neurotic, click-bait psychic garbage swirling around a monetized trash compactor explicitly designed to make people feel angry. It felt like mental chemotherapy except it was also giving me cancer.

Twitter had basically become an abusive relationship. For the slim chance that something nice might happen, I was hanging on through torrents of garbage that made me jealous, depressed, despondent (specially the South African political feeds!), and ultimately self-destructive.

Granted, there are much better ways to use Twitter, and there are definite upsides to staying informed. Keeping abreast of major news stories is the easiest form of social currency there is, and it’s a great way to stay updated on interesting projects and useful tools. I was using it badly – as an actual social network.


Even the rage engagement is not real rage. It’s a faux rage. No one writes a snarky reply to @realdonaldtrump because they’re really engaging with The Donald. No, they’re posting to their mirror engagement crew, who they know is also in a rage engagement with @realdonaldtrump. It’s not even virtue signaling. It’s pure entertainment. It’s a simulation where they can “engage” with the President of the United States in the company of their supportive mirror engagement crew. Plus dopamine!

Ben Hunt, A Game Of You

Many months ago an old friend of mine asked me about my daily Twitter habit. He also has a Twitter account, but does maybe one post a month related to projects he works on. I explained that Twitter was becoming the national conversation platform – it was the place that journalists, newsmakers, political parties and influencers converged, and being part of that was probably a smarter move.

It turns out I was wrong, for the reasons so neatly encapsulated in A Game Of You. While there was real engagement (and real connections formed), so much more of the engagement on social media is effectively a simulation: Yes, you’re technically “engaging” with the accounts of notable people and organizations, but in reality your voice isn’t actually heard – and every post is just increasing the risk of damage.

It’s also increasingly performative. The US dealt with this years ago, and South Africa is just catching up to it now. Smart, unethical people have realized that the more outrageous shit you post, the further it circulates, the more it boosts your profile, and the greater opportunities it opens up for you. Yes, it comes at the cost of poisoning the well for everyone, but that’s a small price to pay for quasi-celebrity status.

Then there’s the short-term thinking effect, which has probably been the biggest learning for me over the last month. Twitter (or any fast-paced information environment) doesn’t so much inform you as constantly trick you into thinking you’re learning – but really its just reinforcing the stuff you already believe.

Since quitting I haven’t technically had more time to think, but I’ve been able to think through ideas that take a lot longer. Among them, I’ve been developing a sort of mini-philosophy for how I see the world (more a statement of principles and arguments at this point), and it was only after reasoning through lots of examples I came up with better explanations for things. Hot-take shitposting in humanity’s garbage compactor would have been of little help there.

(Core to that is measuring rules and behavior on a voluntary-coercive axis and balancing it for the maximum liberty of the individual, but that’s better suited for another post.)

P.S.

Then there’s The Noscript Show! Every week, I co-host an hour-long livestream on which we just decompress and unpack the stuff going on in the world. On every successive episode we’ve improved on our production quality, while sticking to the principle that we script absolutely nothing on the show – and it’s a lot of fun to do.

God punishes people like you

Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten.

That maxim has been part of my thinking for as long as I can remember. So has the simple, one-word slogan “Evolve” – applied to as many aspects of my life as I could manage.

It’s a mode of thought that’s brought me quite far. Every so often, I re-evaluate everything I’m doing, to see if there’s anything I could be doing differently. It made me a very engaged employee (for as long as there were new opportunities), it pushed me over the edge into quitting my first (and longest!) job, and it keeps nudging me into trying different things.

When I quit my job, one of my medium-term plans was to get myself set up for mobility. Partially because I fear South Africa has already sunk past the point of no return, partially because I like the idea of travelling around the world slowly, working and experiencing different ways of life.

I know – both from experience and from empirical research – that it’s precisely that sort of perspective-broadening experience-deepening travel that has a major, positive impact on your sense of self. And ultimately that’s where I’d like to end up, having graduated from an office desk/home desk/bed lifestyle, to one where I’m not afraid to dive into new experiences.

And so, through a set of happy coincidences, I landed a few customers that are based in the Cape Town CBD. Every few weeks I plan on spending a few days over there. In-person meetings really are the best kind (as much a fan as I am of telecommuting), and every trip gives me the chance to spread my wings a little more, acclimatizing to a lifestyle that may define the next few years of my life.

The most recent trip was my longest by far – 1.5 weeks, 3 different Airbnbs, and an overwhelming sense of gratitude that these sharing economy systems exist. I can’t imagine finding trustworthy, low-cost accommodation in a foreign city 10 years ago. Today it’s just another app.

This most recent trip is memorable for another reason, captured in the title. While standing outside the entrance for my final Airbnb room, waiting to hear back about how to actually get into the place, a local beggar came up to me.

I generally don’t like beggars. I’m a generous person by default, and happily share what I can with people that genuinely mean well.

It’s the entitled beggars I can’t stand, and Cape Town has among the most shameless beggars around – exemplified by the beggar that came up to me that afternoon.

My usual response over the years has been a half-hearted fakeout – usually something about not having cash on me (near-universally true). This time around though, looking at the situation for what must have been the hundredth time, I had one of those “eh, fuck it” moments.

So when I told him no, and he asked me why, I looked him dead in the eyes and told him it was because I didn’t want to.

If you ever want to see someone go from fake-pleading to outraged in less than a second, step directly on their sense of entitlement with your own intransigence. It works wonders.

He actually looked taken aback for a moment, then got angry, waved a finger in my face and went “You know what, God punishes people like you.” and walked off.

I thought about that one for a while, and concluded that since I’ve dealt with a decent amount of punishment already, there’s not that much worse I can go through – and besides, if He does show up to punish me, there are a bunch of questions I’d love to ask. 

And then I checked into a very stuffy 1-bedroom apartment for two days.

The real winner was the following night, when a young woman and child pulled up next to me at a kiosk and started begging. There, I’ve found the most effective response is “Are you really teaching this child to beg?”, at which point they usually realize the manipulation isn’t going to work, cut their losses, and run.

Those two incidents were, in their own way, perfectly timed. That night I spoke to the manager of a local restaurant, who bemoaned the fact that the drunk, loud vagrants around Cape Town routinely scare away tourists, hurting his business.

I heard the same from an old friend of mine, when I relayed to him the anxiety I felt sitting in Greenmarket Square. I didn’t recognize the city around me, and I had lived in it for years. Somewhere, somehow, some important things have broken and are not being repaired.

In my case, these things just motivate me to keep pushing for the next milestone. By this time next year, I hope to be travelling, and continuing to set myself up for a new life somewhere else.

Ideally somewhere God doesn’t punish people like me.

Change is coming

It’s nearly six months to the day since I announced my departure from full-time employment, and while I didn’t quite plan for this, it’s a serendipitous turn of events all the same.

I should lead with the headline: Yes, I just unfollowed everyone on Twitter. If my following you was important, I’m sorry for the disappointment but I need to do this for my mental well-being. My mentions and DMs are open and I’d be happy to chat.

Now on to the main event:

When I resigned in April, what I was really beginning was a journey of self discovery. Over the last few months there have been many, many changes for me – most of them good! In my April post I mentioned that:

In future, I might write more openly about the life I came from, the demons I’ve wrestled with over the years, and the moments of breakthrough that have set me free.

And here we are right now, in the future, and I’m holding up my end of the bargain with past-Wogan. This is going to mean a few changes for me.

The way I blog is changing. For about ten years, there was a lot of stuff I was frankly terrified to say. Some poor decisions early in my career (and a tenuous situation at work) meant I self-censored a lot of the things I would otherwise have posted. What little I did write here was filtered, sanitised, and effectively produced with a formal tone and at arms length. Most of my posts could be copied straight into a corporate email and nobody would raise an eyebrow.

I’m not upset about any of that – if anything, I’m grateful. There’s a lot of dumb shit I absolutely could have said, that would have gotten me in far more trouble. With observation came experience, and this time around I’m a lot more sure of where things stand.

Most of the trouble comes from my interest in politics. Actually it’s my interest in most things related to the construction and maintenance of civilised life – from languages, to infrastructure, to the cultural climate within which we relate to eachother. Figuring all these things out (and trying to explain them) is my absolute favourite past-time.

Since resigning, I’ve taken to Twitter a lot more than usual. I found it to be a very stimulating platform, with a massive feed of new information coming in every single day. And I’ve responded to that, tweeting and engaging on a near-24/7 basis.

Jun 2018: Your Tweets earned 47.5K impressions over this 30 day period
Oct 2018: Your Tweets earned 487.4K impressions over this 27 day period

I love doing this – the debates, the arguments (constrained as they are by the 280-character limit, threading, and like-baiting), and meeting like-minded people this way. Unfortunately I can’t keep doing it at the same pace, though – I have new responsibilities.

In April I quit my job to pursue a new set of opportunities. Over the last 6 months, it’s panned out better than I had expected. I’ve been able to accumulate something of a runway, enabling me to do what I really want to do: Carve out large blocks of time to do in-depth SaaS builds on products I think I can sell.

That requires relentless focus, though. While it was easy to spend hours a day on Twitter in the beginning, it’s becoming a distraction now that I’m fully engaged in work. I don’t want to lose any of the momentum I’ve built, so I’m trying something new.

I enjoy thinking about complex things, then discussing my ideas with people who have interesting things of their own to say. It’s hard to do that on Twitter though, thanks to the sheer firehose of data:

After spending an ~hour with @WotanZA having an actual conversation (diverse as it was), and the next hour sitting on a quiet balcony and just processing everything, I felt like I was in a much better mental state. Then I checked Twitter and it all went to shit.

I currently follow many great accounts, and I get a massive amount of new info every day from all sorts of places: left- and right-wing news media, cryptocurrencies, financial services, gaming, mergers, tech industry news, psychological studies, the list goes on.

It’s an addiction I can’t really afford to feed anymore, though. I’ve consciously observed how I use Twitter over the last month, and I’ve noted several things:

  • Opening the app to check for new content has become routine, and I’ve often found myself in the aimless-fridge loop: Opening the same door over and over again even though there’s nothing new.
  • I typically scan the entire timeline every morning, consuming every single tweet
  • I post knee-jerk reactions to a lot of stuff, and more detailed threads when I’ve had the time to think about it
  • I get into arguments quite a lot, which is hard to fit into the platform’s limitations and doesn’t give me a good place to fully express my argument. Most importantly:
  • Every time I open Twitter, even just for a 10-second check, disrupts minutes worth of productivity.

In effect, I lose hours of daylight productivity (which is when my feed is the most active), and have to make up for it in the evenings. It’s led to a disrupted sleep schedule and failures to make and stick to my plans. I’m also pretty sure it’s contributing to weight gain and hypertension, but the disruptions to the first two mean I have no disciplined regime for monitoring the rest.

So for my own health, discipline and mental well-being, I’m trying something new. I’m going to unfollow every single account on Twitter.

This means that the only things I get from the app are things that people send to me directly and deliberately: @-mentions, tweet replies and DMs, which I will happily respond to. As a messenger app, Twitter would be as manageable as WhatsApp, which takes up very little of my time every day.

I’ll still use Twitter to share stuff, but they’ll either be long-form threads or links to posts like this one. I decided months ago that I need to get into the habit of producing more long-form content anyway (part of another long-term goal), and this is a good way to do it.

This does mean that I’ll be quitting a very strong addiction cold-turkey. FOMO is real, and I think I may have developed a dependency on the constant stimulation, so it’s probably not going to go well at first.

After the jitters though, I hope I can direct my writing energies into something more productive: Longer, more detailed posts made on this blog, shared for discussion on Twitter. I think this is the environment that will let me do my best work, while providing quality content to the people that follow me (which is something I take very seriously).

It should also result in more consistent, “on-brand” stuff. Using Twitter like a personal account means I end up shitposting a lot, and long-term that’s not really adding much value for me. Other than being entertaining, of course.

This blog will get a lot less formal, a lot more conversational, and will probably focus on politics and the culture wars as much as technology. I doubt I’ll ever write detailed technical articles here again, but I’ll leave the full history intact – they’re my best-performing posts right now.

I generally leave comments open on my posts, but if you want to get in touch directly and have a private conversation, my details are on the Contact page. Let’s do this!

Consume Laravel APIs from VueJS with Passport

Laravel 5.6 suggests a simple structure for creating API-driven applications. Your API routes are declared in their own routes/api.php file, and can leverage the auth:api Middleware for security. By default, the system uses the built-in API TokenGuard for that, which requires you to come up with your own system for issuing tokens against users. Passport offers a simpler way that doesn’t require you to use the entire system.

Five steps!

To implement this into an existing Laravel project, there’s only a few edits you need to make: 1. Install Passport
$ composer require laravel/passport
Out of the box, Passport sets you up for a full-on OAuth system, which we don’t really need. So to prevent it creating unnecessary tables, add the following to register() in app/Providers/AppServiceProvider:
\Laravel\Passport\Passport::ignoreMigrations();
2. Include the CreateFreshApiToken Middleware Add this Middleware to your web stack, in app/Http/Kernel:
'web' => [
    ...
    \Laravel\Passport\Http\Middleware\CreateFreshApiToken::class,
]
This will attach a JWT token called laravel_token as a cookie on all future web requests. 3. Include the HasApiToken trait on your User model
class User extends Authenticatable
{
    use Notifiable, \Laravel\Passport\HasApiTokens;
}
This trait looks for the laravel_token field and automatically logs you in if it’s detected – as long as you’re using the passport driver. 4. Use the passport driver for api auth Edit your config/auth.php to set the api driver up:
'guards' => [
  'api' => [
    'driver' => 'passport'
  ]
]
5. Generate the keys Last step, generate the public/private keys for Passport:
$ php artisan passport:keys
Passport will use these within the passport driver to generate and decode the laravel_token JWT payloads, then use that to authenticate the User model with the HasApiToken attached. From this point on, you should be able to use VueJS with your secure APIs out the box.

Sample Project

With the laravel_token cookie being set, and axios headers configured with the defaults (inside bootstrap.js):
window.axios.defaults.headers.common['X-Requested-With'] = 'XMLHttpRequest';
let token = document.head.querySelector('meta[name="csrf-token"]');
window.axios.defaults.headers.common['X-CSRF-TOKEN'] = token.content;
Any requests you make to a route secured by auth:api will log you in automatically. route/api.php
Route::middleware('auth:api')->get('/user', function (Request $request) {
    return $request->user();
});
resources/views/home.blade.php
resources/js/app.js
const app = new Vue({
    el: '#app',
    data: {
        user: null
    },
    mounted() {
        axios.get('/api/user').then((response) => {
            this.user = response.data;
        });
    }
});
With that all compiled and run, it’ll fetch the logged-in user object and render it out:
Cropped from the default app

It’s just about GDPR time!

(Image credit: Flickr)

I still remember back when the Internet was an escape from the real world. Today, it seems that the real world is an escape from the Internet. Over the last 30 years, a substantial amount of daily life has moved online for billions of people: News, communication, sharing, commerce, banking, and entertainment.

Wherever human activity goes, regulation inevitably follows. This year it seems like the internet is truly going mainstream, with new regulations from 2 of the 3 largest economies in the world: the US’ FOSTA, and Europe’s GDPR.

I’m actually quite a fan of GDPR – or at least, what it’s trying to do. In GDPR, there’s an attempt to extend protection of EU citizens rights across the Internet, following their personal data wherever it may end up. And the regulations make a lot of sense from a consumer perspective: If companies want your personal data, they have to prove they can handle it responsibly, and you retain basically all the rights.

GDPR goes “live” on the 25th of May (just under 3 weeks!), and I’m hoping it heralds a new era of more responsible data practices. I think everything they’re trying to do is achievable, and should be baked into organizational and system design for new businesses (“privacy-first architecture”).

For existing businesses though, it’s going to be hell of a slog. I’ve worked on data audits and compliance for some of the world’s biggest brands, and it’s impossible to overstate how tricky full compliance is going to be. When your database software vendors have gone defunct, when your processes have spiraled out into spreadsheet nightmares, when your primary method of data exchange is email attachments, you’ve got a problem.

Over the last few days I’ve put some stuff live to help with that. For one, there’s already a wave of companies that are blocking the EU from accessing their services outright. It’s a sensible short-term move if you need time to assess the impact, and update your processes to comply. The rights of Erasure and Portability could require non-trivial work if you’ve been historically lax with how you manage data internally.

For that use-case, I pulled together a repo (gdpr-blackhole) of the IP ranges (IPv4 and IPv6) of all 28 EU member states, UK included. Brexit or not, early indications are that the UK will adopt GDPR in its entirety.

Then, since I work mainly in Laravel, I wrapped that up in a simple Middleware class that makes blocking EU IPs straightforward (laravel-gdpr-blocker).

Finally, I’ve just put a short blog post live on Amberstone: “What small businesses need to know about GDPR“. Large businesses already have armies of lawyers, auditors, and officers to assess their liability. Small businesses are not exempt, and if you want to participate in the second-largest economy on the planet, you’re going to need to know a bit about what GDPR asks of you.

Overall, it’s an exciting change. The ICO has already indicated that they’d sooner work with non-compliant organizations to improve their stewardship of personal data, making the eye-watering fines a last resort. And if all goes well, this is exactly the sort of bar-raising work we’ve needed on the world stage.

And with any luck, it means less Excel spreadsheets loaded with personal data. Time will tell 🙂

Oh boy, where to begin.

On the 5th of May, 2008, I started my first day at work.

I doubt I’ll ever forget it: To beat the traffic, I carpooled with an intern from a nearby law firm, arriving in Cape Town at around 6am. I had to wander around the darkness of Kloof Street for a while, trying to keep busy (and warm) until someone showed up to let me in.

It was a surreal morning for me. The preceding family drama is complicated, but the summary of it was that I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do with my life at that point. I ended up on a bus from Pretoria to Cape Town the week before Christmas 2007, and lived with my father for a few (very strained) months before I got any semblance of an act together.

I was nervous as hell. At the time, I didn’t actually think I’d land the job. Luckily I had some experience building websites, and between a meager portfolio and an old friend’s insistence on listing at CareerJunction, a recruiter found me.

I failed my first interview. It still amuses me to know that the person who decided not to hire me back then still works at the company, and we’d ended up working together on a few things over the years. Sometimes I wonder if she regrets not having hired me, but I suspect I wouldn’t have lasted in her team anyway.

Luckily, I passed the second interview – between the recruiter and the HR director, they thought I might have some potential. In the end, I landed in the Paid Search team.

While my dress code (on the whole) has been very informal over the last 10 years, I dressed for the occasion on my first day. And it was while wandering around Kloof Street that the outsole on my right shoe became partially unstuck, making an embarrassing noise every time I walked.

Nervous, overdressed, surrounded by people I didn’t know in a city I’d never lived in, praying that my shoe didn’t completely come apart before I could get home. That was my introduction to the company that would carry me through the next ten years.

I get a weird look when I tell people my first job’s lasted this long. It doesn’t feel that way with all the roles I’ve held since 2008. I’ve done pretty much everything there is to do in digital marketing – search, email, display, analytics, consulting, architecture, compliance, project management, team leadership, training, and staying on top of the never-ending waves of technological and social progress.

Right now it feels more like I’m graduating from one of the most arduous post-secondary education experiences imaginable. I’ve had hundreds of hours of theory and thousands of hours of practice. If Gladwell’s Outliers is to be believed, I’ve sunk the requisite 10’000 hours required to achieve mastery in digital marketing. And then some.

And I’ve traveled. My god, have I traveled.

DbYkZptVQAIgrkH.jpg
Every airport I’ve flushed a toilet in.

I’ve been as far east as Phoenix, Arizona (connecting flight on a return trip from Salt Lake City), and as far west as Melbourne (my first on-site development/consulting gig). It’s been a privilege to see so many different parts of the world, and the exhaustion of business travel has thoroughly disabused my notions of the glamorous lifestyle I once thought it was.

The world has changed. 2008 was a different time: Facebook was only 4 years old, Twitter was a toy that gained some media traction during Barack Obama’s campaign. The iPhone 1 had been released just last year.

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The top story that week – food riots in Somalia. Today, there’s food riots in South Africa.

And I’ve changed. In future, I might write more openly about the life I came from, the demons I’ve wrestled with over the years, and the moments of breakthrough that have set me free. For now, it’s enough to acknowledge that 2018 Wogan is a far cry from 2008 Wogan, and I’m grateful for every bit of progress in between.

Today’s my last day. It’s a mixed feeling – strange, to think that I’m moving on after so many years; a relief, knowing I’ve reached the end of this road; anticipation of what the future might bring, and the confidence that comes with real-world experience.

At last, it’s time to move on. I don’t know for sure what the next ten years are going to look like, but I’m eager to find out!