Steve Jenson's blog

How work is going?

How work is going?

Since I started working at Twitter last month, I put up a standard work disclaimer along the side. It always applies.

Jack posted on the company blog: I have this graph up on my screen all the time. It should be flat. This week has been rough.

So we have open job postings for something called a Systems Engineer, which is what I do at Twitter. Systems Engineering means building systems where graphs like that stay flat and where downtime means it was either planned or making sure that particular problem won't happen again (if it can be avoided: typical engineering trade-offs apply).

Our problems are really interesting, I think. Lots of users, lots of connections, lots of messages flowing through the system, lots of endpoints, and lots of details to keep straight. All of this needs to be turned into a cohesive system that's simple to reason about and to run in order for me to consider my job a success. It's a tall order but it's what I signed up to do. I've been watching Twitter for a long time (I'm user #150) so I walked into things with my eyes wide open.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I'm more interested in engineering than hacking together a site. Thinking and then doing. Measuring and then reasoning. Making guesses and then testing them. There's a natural tension between cowboying around and Analysis Paralysis and you have to learn to walk that tightrope if you want to succeed and I think at Twitter, we work pretty hard to Do the Right Thing.

I'm writing this quick post because we're looking for great people who are interested in engineering big systems and in helping to make Twitter the utility-class company we see ourselves as needing to be. If you think you either have the skills or can learn them, please send us your resume to

# — 22 May, 2008