Favorite recreational activity in Austin: Taking my kids to one of Austin's many parks


Austin, TX


Norman, OK

Damon Clinkscales


  • Web engineer at VitalSource building an e-textbook platform. Founded @austinonrails and @cafebedouins. Shepherd. Lover of ideas and the pursuit of dreams.
  • First and foremost, I'm a software developer, a Ruby on Rails developer, I do mostly back-end engineering, APIs and things like that. But I'm good also at community building, so I have good listening skills. I'm good at sort of finding out what people are about and motivating toward some goal.
  • Austin on Rails was started back in 2005. Just a few of us were kicking the tires on a very new technology. Most of the people in the group were hobbyists. I was lucky enough to actually be building software with Rails back in '05.
  • We do a little survey at the beginning of every Austin on Rails, "Are you  looking for a job doing Rails? Are you hiring?" The last month, that was pretty even. It was like seven hiring, seven looking, so that's good, right? We want something on both sides of that equation. Now whether they're a perfect match and they can just go hire those people, I don't know. But it's positive to see things on both sides of the equation.
  • We're growing as a group and we're getting more and more people coming in to Austin on Rails that are kind of new to the framework. And so there's been sort of a rash of training opportunities that have kind of popped up, which is great, so that we try to get more people built up on their skills. 
  • I'll sit in the coffee shop. I'll drink good coffee. I'll code. I'll communicate with my team. But as far as teammates and being in an office, I think being in an office is overrated in general. I mean, there are times when being a person is the right way to solve a problem and it's really, really useful. I think those times are a smaller number of times than people think.
  • So on the side, I guess I'm a geek. I continue to try to build websites and things on the side in my spare time. So I mentioned Cafe Bedouins earlier. Cafe Bedouins is a Tuesday night, kind of hack night, where people come together and they're working on -- whether they're building websites, they're doing open source contributions, maybe they need to write a blog post, whatever it might be. These people are creating things.
  • I would search Twitter. I would search Twitter for my technology. I would say Austin-space-my technology, like PHP, Rails, Austin-space-startup. If you're into startups, I would join the Startup Digest,  which is this weekly email that tells you all of these entrepreneurial events that are going on.
  • But, yeah, by following Twitter searches, I would find the groups in town, and then I would look to see who those groups follow. It should tell you who the leaders of those groups are or maybe the numbers, and then start following those people, and it'll just spread out from there. And fairly quickly, because we use Twitter a lot in Austin, you'll quickly find the people and the groups that you want to attend.
  • In terms of Austin, you know, in its growth in tech and entrepreneurship, I feel like it has a strong base, but it's just getting started. I feel like we're happening. We're one of those places where people are hearing about and thinking, "Hey, maybe I should go to this place. It's in all these top ten lists." But really, I feel like we're just starting to actually kind of get our legs and being one of the best entrepreneurial scenes and the tech scenes.
  • I mean, there's a tech meetup almost every night. I recommend going to geekaustin.org, and clicking the Tech Meetups link, and you'll see just about every night there's something to do that's tech-oriented, anyway.
  • I stay in Austin because I'm raising a family. I mentioned that before, but it's affordable to live here. We have a yard for our kids, a yard for our dog, and it's very accessible. It's 15 minutes to drive anywhere, unless there's a heavy traffic day, but for the most part it's easy to get around. For me, personally, just the network that I'm a part of now, in terms of tech and entrepreneurship meetups, that makes me want to stay even more.
  • What's been kind of been built up around me and I've done some small part in building it, but it's mostly just quality of life, is what it comes down to. Cultural activities, great places to eat, easy to get around, lots of outdoors activities. There's the Town Lake Trail. There's the greenbelt. There's Lake Travis if you're into boating. There are just so many things that are positives around being here.