FutureStack14, New Relic’s second annual technology and user conference in San Francisco this October, is all about the people doing important things with data and software. Case in point: JD Maturen (@jdmaturen on Twitter), analytics lead at GitHub, will explain how the widely used code repository leverages user data and feedback to build a better product.
Maturen has been working on data analytics projects for years. While with the network analysis service Boundary, he designed its streaming analytics engine. Before that, he helped the social networking service Formspring scale up to handle 25 million active users and helped build the service’s site metrics monitoring tool.
We asked JD about his background and what he was looking forward to at FutureStack14.
When did you first realize you were a data nerd?
Data is the basic currency of the Internet. Without being able to measure, view, and conceptualize what our software is doing, what our users are doing, and what our machines are doing, we’ll never get ahead of the curve. This realization was forced upon me very early, from working on systems with millions of users where there is no alternative to instrumentation and measurement.
What do you think are the most important issues in modern software and data handling?
My background is in distributed systems and infrastructure. There is still a lot of work to be done building reliable data storage systems that meet app developers’ needs. The other big hole we have is in statistical knowledge and libraries. Folks like Evan Miller have made some great strides in helping to fill this gap and outlining what needs to change. It’d be great if we can get to the point where it’s easy to store all of our data in one place and have the appropriate stats functions baked into all of our tools.
How does your work at GitHub play into that?
Our goal is to have every developer using GitHub. All of our projects work towards that larger goal, from making it easier for new users to get started all the way to optimizing workflows for established users. Some of the things we try have a minimal effect or a negative effect. We use controlled experiments and other analytic tools so we can roll out changes in a safe way that minimize the potential downside.
Why were you interested in speaking at FutureStack14?
Because software and data are the future 🙂
What are you most looking forward to at FutureStack14?
I’m most interested to see what questions other people are asking of their data.