I joined the Tidepool team a year ago, celebrating my new job with a friendly greeting to the world and an eagerness to share all of the great work we are doing with all of you. It’s been remarkable to be part of the process and gain a genuine appreciation for what it takes to get this stuff right. Developing high quality software is not easy. Developing high quality software that deals with personal health information presents its own unique set of challenges.
For everyone at Tidepool, our mission to deliver high quality software is personal. Nearly everyone on the team either has diabetes or is caring for someone with diabetes – we understand the necessity to get this right. Over the past year I’ve come to appreciate how everyone on the Tidepool team approaches their job to contribute to the larger goal of making our software awesome.
I took two Computer Science courses in high school, and know my way around an if-then statement, but from my perspective the work that’s being done to update the Tidepool Uploader, visualize your data in Tidepool, or make sure your data stays in sync is infinitely more complicated than I could have ever imagined. I knew this stuff was not easy, but I didn’t think it was this complex.
I have the privilege of working with some very, very smart people. When we add a new device like Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre to our supported devices list, all you see is a software update and an email announcement. What you don’t see are the rounds of code review, the thousands of automated tests that validate code updates, the rigorous testing and documentation, and the collective collaboration that went into this update. As Tidepool’s Community Manager, I have the easy job of bragging about all the work our engineers do. But it’s their effort that makes all of this possible, and part of the reason my job is so rewarding.
Beyond gaining a newfound appreciation for the work that goes on behind the scenes, I’ve come to appreciate interacting with all of you at our public appearances. Last summer we traveled to Orlando to exhibit at Children with Diabetes’ annual Friends for Life conference and since then I’ve taken Tidepool’s enthusiasm and a hefty quantity of stickers to JDRF TypeOneNation Summits in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and Illinois with more appearances planned for later this year including larger conferences like American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions and the American Association of Diabetes Educators Annual Meeting.
Each of these appearances gives me an opportunity to not only share the story of Tidepool, but more importantly to hear your story and bring that back to the rest of the team. I often joke that at times I feel like a politician getting to “be among the people”, but I sincerely believe these types of interactions will make Tidepool more meaningful to the diabetes community.
At TypeOneNation Summits I’ve met people who have been living with diabetes for 50 years right after I speak with a family who is dealing with a diabetes diagnosis that is just a few weeks old. The range of diabetes experiences often means I have to change my own perspective in participating in these conversations.
Most of the time I speak as Christopher Snider, Tidepool Community Manager and deliberately walk through how everything works and why you might want to give our free software a shot. Other times, it’s best to simply be Chris, the diabetes advocate who has been living with this disease since 2002 and is married to someone with diabetes as well. Sometimes, stressing the importance of seeing all your diabetes data in one place needs to take a backseat to knowing that it’s going to be okay.
This is where I try to find my balance. At the end of the day, I’m a person with diabetes, too. I understand what it’s like to live with this thing. I know what it’s like to give someone juice for a low blood sugar and wait for the longest fifteen minutes of my life while I watch that CGM line slowly trend upwards. When I meet someone who is learning about Tidepool for the first time, I believe my personal diabetes experiences make my pitch that much more compelling.
What I do is more than talking about what our software does and what devices it works with. Making connections with people with diabetes and their families is what makes my job particularly rewarding, and I can’t wait to see what my next year at Tidepool will bring.
Yours in data,