Gina Trapani

Co-founder of ThinkUp and Makerbase, Founding editor of Lifehacker

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON March 15, 2016

Discussion

Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
I'm a developer, writer, and podcaster, currently building Makerbase http://makerbase.co, a user-editable IMDb for apps. I was the founding editor of Lifehacker, where I launched and ran the site for its first 4 years, and authored 3 editions of the Lifehacker book. During that time, I released an open source set of to-do list apps and a file format called Todo.txt http://todo.txt, which I still maintain. You can often find me podcasting on the TWiT network on shows like This Week in Google and All About Android. Find out more at http://ginatrapani.org. UPDATE: Well, that was fun! Thanks everyone for a great conversation. Get in touch with me anytime on Twitter @ginatrapani. Have a great day!
Yoshi@dnxx28 · Student
Hi Gina-san. I'm Japanese Yoshi . Thank you for coming today. 1: I used to make recommend app with IMDb. However what movie do you like? 2: I live in Tohoku area where 3.11 occurred . If you'd like , why dont you come to Sendai?
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
@ginatrapani wow what a moment for me, big fan of your work and love Lifehacker, thanks so much for joining us today, my question is what were the pivotal moments in the growth of Lifehackers, was it a specific partnership, marketing etc where you saw real upticks? When did momentum really start to build and why (basically!). Btw, would love to have you on @twentyminutevc would be an honour!
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@harrystebbings Hi Harry! Thanks for your kind words. Lifehacker had a few pivotal moments in growth back when I was running it (which, remember, was ages ago, pre iPhones, Twitter, and Instagram). First was launch. Lifehacker was a Gawker Media site, and we'd landed a launch sponsorship from Sony. Back then, in 2005, that was virtually unheard of. Big brands advertising on blogs really didn't happen then. That got us coverage in the New York Times and Ad Age the day we launched, plus cross-promotion from other GM sites, which were already huge, like Gizmodo. Then, about 9 months later, we had another big moment: when the site transitioned from a sole blogger doing everything (me), to hiring a team. Then we were able to publish new content every hour to half hour all day long, a mix of short posts and long feature posts, and that helped us do well on other traffic-driving sites (like Digg).
Sean K. Gabriel@skaulana · Product & UX aficionado
@ginatrapani @harrystebbings Hi Gina! Quick follow up on this - how did you pick your first hire at Lifehacker, and was it your first time managing? Today what are your criteria for building an awesome team?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@skaulana @harrystebbings For editorial, copy editors, interns, and bloggers I had the most success picking hires from Lifehacker's existing community, watching who wrote well in the comments, who was able to make corrections without coming across like a know-it-all jackass, who understood the tone and voice of the site, and who wrote their own blogs and had experience writing about tech. It was my first time managing as a professional; as a college student, I managed the help desk staff at my school's computer lab.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Something new
What does the future of Makerbase look like?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@bentossell I wish I knew! 🤔 Right now we want to create a resource that helps makers -- especially aspiring makers -- see the connections between other makers who have "made it" and their trajectory through the projects they worked on. We very purposefully omitted companies from the equation, and want to include weekend projects and art projects and student projects. There are a lot of different ways we can expand, but the main mission is to empower and enable makers. Speaking of, if you haven't already: Please go to http://makerbase.co and add yourself and all the awesome projects you're working on!
Guillaume H.@geecko86 · Founder, QuickLyric
Hey Gina, I was curious to know why ThinkUp wasn't participating in GSOC this year :)
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@geecko86 Google Summer of Code is a fantastic program, and I had the privilege of being a GSOC mentor for many years. To tell you the truth, this year, my cofounder and I were (and anticipate continuing to be) too tied up to give GSOC the attention it requires, so we decided to skip, for now. Maybe next year!
Tim Dillenberger@tim_dillenberger
Do you think there is Homophobia and Sexism in the Technology Space, when it comes to companies and tech guru's?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@tim_dillenberger Well, the tech space is representative of larger society, and certainly there are pockets of it that are much more progressive and inclusive. But to answer your question, yes! It's not an opinion, it's a fact. Look at the numbers: whether it's the wage gap, harassment cases, or (even unintentionally) exclusive culture, homophobia and sexism and racism, etc, is alive and well and it's something we all have to work on changing, myself included.
Tim Dillenberger@tim_dillenberger
@ginatrapani Thanks for answering my question.
David Colburn@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
Is Todo.txt still your primary to-do app? Do you use different ones for work projects? Most importantly, did you have a favorite pie for Pi Day yesterday?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dscolburn Yes! Todo.txt runs my personal todo list, and not just because I'm dogfooding. It just works the way I work. Todo.txt is purposefully very simple and doesn't support sharing, due dates, recurring tasks, or project management-level features. So for work projects, I don't use it: I use GitHub issues, Trello, and Asana.
David Colburn@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
@ginatrapani Good to hear you still love Todo.txt! So many people jump from app to app that I love hearing about someone who picks a good system and sticks with it. You're a productive machine!
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
Hi Gina! What three things should every new founder constantly be thinking?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@ems_hodge Great question! I try to start every day, when I'm reviewing what I'm going to do that day, with a simple question: "How am I going to move my business forward today?" Other than that, I constantly have to remind myself that if you're not failing, you're not being ambitious enough. That's only 2 things. 3rd thing... I often have to think "when was the last time I ate today?" because I get pretty cranky and ineffective if I've skipped breakfast or lunch. 👹
christina sponselli@sponselli · Social Media Director, UC Berkeley
Has diversity in the tech workforce increased or decreased since you started?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@sponselli Well, the statistics I've seen show that fewer women are going into computer programming than they were back in the 1980s. But I've also watched the conversation about diversity in tech explode over the last couple of years, and that gives me hope. Companies are releasing their diversity numbers, we have a language for the issues, and since I'm an optimist, I do believe things are getting better, even if that means that someone can call out a tech conference for having an all-male or all-white speaker roster. That kind of thing wasn't happening 10 years ago.
B. Scott@bscottx
@ginatrapani @sponselli I feel like it's similar to the progress on these issues in the US in general: it's happening, but much slower than we wish it would.
Daniel Tavares@dfvtavares
I am currently studying computer science and you truly are an inspiration for me. Do you see yourself updating todo.txt Android app with your new skills or maybe new app? How's your nexus 5x treating you? Any regrets?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dfvtavares Good for you! Good luck on your studies, and thank you for such a nice compliment. I will definitely be updating Todo.txt for Android soon, using my newfound skills -- it desperately needs a Material makeover. I am also planning a new Android app now that I'm starting to really know what I am doing. The Nexus 5x is.... just okay. I'm experiencing some of the lag and performance problems I've heard about from others, but it hasn't bugged me enough to move to another device. Yet.
David Colburn@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
@ginatrapani @dfvtavares Yay, Todo.txt update! I need to take another look at it. I've been using Asana for work + personal, but it's too much sometimes. I have a 5X as well and it really lags, especially when I have Maps navigating me. A restart usually fixes it. An update is rolling out now that will hopefully fix it: http://www.droid-life.com/2016/0...
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dscolburn @dfvtavares Ah, fingers crossed the jank-fixer March update actually fixes the jank!
@ginatrapani @dfvtavares Good to hear that I am not alone in lag and performance issues on the 5X
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Community and Marketing, Product Hunt
What most excited you about working in tech?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@ems_hodge The web. I'm old, so the first time I saw a web page, I was in college. I didn't understand what I was looking at, but once I did, my little English major heart exploded. ANYONE could publish online and anyone else could see it? I was beside myself. Then, when I learned how to make web pages, I was hooked.
Matt Jacobs@capndesign · Product Designer/Dev
Hi Gina! You’ve been working on small teams — or on your own — for a number of years. Is this a function of your entrepreneurial bent or your preferred working style? I’m pretty much in the same boat, but I catch myself daydreaming about a seat in a giant tech company’s open seating plan, where the paychecks are fat and regular.
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@capndesign You know me too well, Matty! My best work experiences have been on small teams, because you get the chance to really get to know people, and what they're working on, and what they're struggling with. You also get a chance get your hands dirty on lots of different aspects of the project (particularly in small startups), and that really appeals to the generalist in me. I'm not ruling out ever being a smaller part of a bigger company though, because bigger companies often have a bigger impact in the world.
Lesley Wu@deleted-407305
um...how to find the right co-founder?!
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@lesley_wu I wish I had the answer to this! I highly recommend starting your business with a cofounder, but finding the right person isn't easy. My only advice is to work with someone you've already collaborated with successfully, someone you consider a friend, someone who provably has your back (and you have hers/his), someone who 1. has similar values but 2. has different, complementary skills. It's a tall order, I know.
Rob Morgan@rbdgswg · https://about.me/rbdgswg
How did Lifehacker begin? What's the origin story?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@rbdgswg It's a long and sordid story! JK. The upshot is, I owe a great deal of my career to Danny O'Brien, the gentleman who coined the term "life hacks" at an O'Reilly conference in 2004, which inspired the site. I wrote a detailed version of Lifehacker's origin story in my goodbye post, here: http://lifehacker.com/5132674/so...
David Colburn@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
What are the last three books you've loved and would recommend? Podcast suggestions acceptable if you can't think of three books or had bad luck picking reads!
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@dscolburn I've been on a self-help book kick lately. I loved Chade-Meng Tan's Search Inside Yourself. Right now I'm reading an anti-diet book, Intuitive Eating, which I'm finding freeing and enlightening, as someone who has the capacity to eat pretty unconsciously on my way through my days. I also got the chance to read a preview draft of Eric Meyer and Sara Wachter-Boettcher's new book, Design for Real Life, which just got released. That's required reading for anyone making apps and web sites, in my opinion.
David Colburn@dscolburn · Sci-fi nerd and Google lover
@ginatrapani Awesome! Thanks for the suggestions!
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Something new
What tech space are you most excited about at the moment?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@bentossell I've always been an Android enthusiast, and I'm a self-taught, fake-it-till-you-make-it Android developer. I'm trying to change that and become legit, so I'm currently halfway through Udacity's Android Nanodegree. So I'd say mobile, particularly Android, is the area I'm most excited about at the moment.
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community, Product Hunt ⚡️
What industries would you place your bets on in the next 10-20 years?
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community, Product Hunt ⚡️
Who would you invite to dinner, dead or alive, and why?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@jacqvon Honestly? My dad. He passed 20 years ago and I miss him dearly.
christina sponselli@sponselli · Social Media Director, UC Berkeley
A recent Pew Research poll (http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/...) finds Americans are equally divided about the benefits of gaming. As a technologist, employer, and mother, what benefits and drawbacks do you see for teens and young adults who are avid gamers?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@sponselli Generally, I think there are a lot of benefits to gaming. It can be a much more participatory and collaborative medium than, say, television, or reading books, even though I love those things too. If my kid becomes an avid gamer -- she's starting already with reading and letter games on the iPad -- I will generally support that, as long as I feel like she has a good balance in her life. She's only a toddler right now, but I see myself falling on the more lenient side of how much time I'll think is "okay" for her to game as a teen.
Tim Dillenberger@tim_dillenberger
@ginatrapani @sponselli my nephew is not yet exposed to media devices as he is only 14 months old. but my brother is saying that my nephew will probably when older have Computer time and Viewing tv time as most kids do. although the TV will be mostly on-demand streaming services.
christina sponselli@sponselli · Social Media Director, UC Berkeley
@ginatrapani Thanks for your answers today.
Richard Williams@rlswilliams · Teacher of ICT AND Computing
Love your work and discovered you via the TWiT Network. Any 'stealth' projects you have going or are thinking about?
Gina Trapani@ginatrapani · Building software at Postlight
@rlswilliams Thank you! For better or for worse, I am one of those people who constantly has ideas for things I want to build. Unfortunately the lifespan of my excitement is often shorter than the amount of time it takes to build said things. I've got a few projects I've been thinking about and sketching out lately, but nothing I'm ready to announce yet. One thing I can say: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released their 2015 wage data, so I will be updating this site shortly. http://narrowthegapp.com