Jan Lehnardt: Scotland.js Opening Keynote

Orde Saunders' avatarPublished: by Orde Saunders

Jan Lehnardt (@janl) gave the opening Keynote at Scotland.JS, these are my notes from his talk.

JavaScript World Domination

JS <3 You

The main reason I do web development is the community. From early web dev, PHP, MySQL and now as the lead of CouchDB the people are super great. The JS community is special.

2008 - Peter Ford put on a conference called Ruby Fringe which was inspirational talks about technology rather than details of the technology: the "why" not the "how". Chris Williams was there and saw this was the future of tech conferences. There was no JS conference at this time and he set up JSConf which sold out. It attracted people from all language community as they were all doing a bit of front end stuff and, during the conference, they realised that they were a JS community that were doing things to support the front end. This was the birth of the JS community. From this we did JS Conf EU in Berlin - now in it's fifth year. This in turn inspired Front-trends in Poland. There are now JS conferences all over the world.

We are an important part of something bigger.

The Web

The web disrupts everything! There isn't an industry that isn't touched by the web. What makes JS special is that it sits on top of all of this.

"Any application that can be written in JS will eventually be written in JS" ~ Jeff Atwood 2007.

With Node.js JS now runs on the server as well as the client. It brings server side to people who write JS. It's just a general purpose POSIX API so it's a systems programming language too. Nodecopter is a great example of this, brings hardware hacking to front end devs. JS is everywhere, it bridges. We don't want a JS monoculture - we need to learn from other communities, every body has their own strengths. JS will rule - I hope you agree.

We will be building the future

Everything that isn't driven by software, will be. And we will be building it. How do we make sure we don't fuck up? Normally there are a small group of people who have access to the power and history is the process of distribution of this power. There are always people who argue against what will eventually prevail. I want to be on the right side of history.

What do we need to build an internet?

  • Network - who doesn't hate their internet provider? Run by a small group of corporations who fuck us over.
  • Web server - Sir Tim thought that everyone would run a webserver. Everyone. Not just big companies. There was a financial incentive to build centralised internet. We need to build a distributed internet - it may take a while but we're moving towards it.

I'm not a big fan of Capitalism. Capitalism is a tool to scale ideas. Fuck the VC driven model. You spend two years building something and the only exit strategy is the death of what you worked for in one way or another.

Sunsetting is a California term for: "in two years we'll shut it down and everyone who uses the service is fucked."


Mozilla is a non-profit that owns a for-profit. The for-profit can use capitalism to scale an idea but the people who benefit are those who own the vision as the non-profit. The people who make the money can never fuck up the vision. What if Mozilla did a teleco? Wherever you went in the world you could get a reliable connection. This is the right side of history. Every company should be set up this way - we should figure out how to do this. We need to get back to the definition of company: company !== evil but company == people


We live in a culture where it's cool to be negative to people, especially on line. This has been happening for a long time. This negativity kills innovation. If you don't have anything nice to say: SHUT THE FUCK UP! Ideas are brittle and easy to break. At Pixar they have a culture where they pick the good parts of an idea and try to grow it rather than trying to identify the bad parts. Rails Girls is a workshop to teach non-programmers to build web apps. JSFAB (JS For Absolute Beginners) is the JS version of this. This is a 'forkable event' - all the resources are on GitHub. This is a great way to teach tech and OpenTechSchool is an umbrella for tech workshop.

We are on the eve of JS world domination

  • We want to be on the right side of history
  • We want to build better technology
  • We want to build better businesses
  • We want to build better communities

We are the JS people - the future is ours!

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