picture of Josh Dzielak in 2016

Hi! I'm Josh Dzielak, writing here about technology and culture. Find me also on Twitter, Medium, Speakerdeck and Github.

Building search is hard. Can we help? :)

tl;dr: I’ve joined Algolia as a developer advocate!

Josh Dzielak and Algolia Happy hour in the Paris office

Algolia helps developers build amazing search experiences inside of products and apps. Companies like Medium and ProductHunt use Algolia to deliver a super fast search-as-you-type experience. Popular developer tools like React, Scala and 100+ more use Algolia to make their documentation instantly searchable, all for free as part of Algolia’s community program. The search box on this blog is powered by an Algolia-based project too.

I’m based in Paris but will also be in San Francisco and on the road, hopefully connecting to a Wi-Fi network near you. Drop me a line at my shiny new email address if you’d like to chat about integrations, open source projects, co-hosting events and all things search and API-related.

Hello Community! 🎉

I want to say a very special hello to Algolia developers, customers and supporters. It’s a privilege to be working with you. Let’s 🛠 stuff together.

Algolia Community Logo check out Algolia’s rad community site

I look forward to getting to know you and learning about your ideas, projects and goals. What do you want to do and what can I do to help? Is there anything standing in your way? Don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know, I’m here to 👂.

How to change the og:image tag on the wordpress.com free plan

The wordpress.com free plan doesn’t give you control over which image becomes the og:image Open Graph meta tag on the pages and posts you’ve created. The tag is important because it’s used to show a preview image for your page when it’s shared on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If the image is wrong it will confuse the people who want to share your page.

To see what the default preview image is for any Wordpress page or post you’ve created you can paste its URL into the Facebook debugging tool.

If the image isn’t the one you want, there’s a workaround to change it but stay on the free plan. Disclaimer: this workaround is based on trail and error from editing the Victorian Persistence blog’s team page and could change at any time.

Photo of Estelle Murail I am not a Victorian scholar, but Estelle is!

The solution is to re-upload the image you want to be the og:image but make sure that its file name is alphabetically and numerically before any other images on the page. This is because the og:image selection works something like this: if you have two images IMG_1911.png and IMG_1916.png, the IMG_1911.png image will be chosen as the og:image because lexicographically IMG_1911.png is before IMG_1916.png.

If you want IMG_1916.png to become the og:image instead, re-upload it as IMG_1910.png, or with any file name that’s lexicographically before IMG_1911.png. Then make sure to update the reference in the page/post to point to the new file. Publish your changes and then check the results with the Facebook debug tool.

This worked for me after trying many other strategies including changing image sizes, captions, order, CSS, etc. and I hope it will work for you. Let me know in the comments.

Search Presidential Speeches with Oval Quotes

Oval Quotes is a mashup I made using data from The Miller Center and search from Algolia. It’s highly compact and lots of fun to play with.

Oval Quotes Screenshot

The app lets you search over 500 historical speeches by US presidents. You can search by full-text keywords, like gettysburg civil war, and you can filter results to one or more presidents. The results are delivered as quote-sized chunks that you can copy, paste and share.

Gettysburg Address on Oval Quotes

Because the search is powered by Algolia, Oval Quotes has a lot of nice features that didn’t require me building them. Typo correction, highlighting search terms in results and faceting (filtering) are all handled automatically by the Algolia API and the instantsearch.js open source library. Check out this screencast to learn more about how Oval Quotes was built. The source code is up on Github.

Ready to try it out? Do know you how many presidents have mentioned shoes?

Evolving Work—Paris

» read on, or go directly to the slides

Recently I was asked to give a talk about startups to the prépa classes of St. Jean de Passy in Paris, France. These are top French students on the business school track. They’re super sharp and it was a privilege to spend time with them.

Giving the presentation startup dress code ftw

I chose to talk about how startup teams are structured and why thoughtful organization design is becoming a big competitive advantage. I wanted the students to think about questions like: How can companies grow large without succumbing to bureaucracy? and What makes work fun?

The book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux deals with these sorts of questions and has become a big inspiration to me and my startup colleagues. Early chapters look at different ways that humans have organized throughout history. Later chapters make a compelling case for what lies ahead, including case studies of several modern-day Teal companies.

Teal company characteristics a slide about Teal characteristics

This presentation is my attempt to share some of the book’s wisdom with St. Jean’s students. Here’s a link to the full slides.

Technical Note: The presentation was created using the excellent open source reveal.js HTML presentation framework. It works on desktop and mobile and supports direct linking to individual slides. The source code is on Github.

Not Goodbye. Until.

Last week marked the end of my journey with Keen IO. What an incredible two and a half years it’s been! I want to thank the founders, employees, investors, and community for the opportunity to be a part of something very special. It was a privilege working with each and every one of you. I’m so excited for the future of this company and the wonderful people behind it.

Keen is an experience I’ll always treasure, and was highly formative. Every reservoir of talent, heart, and grit I have was tapped and tested. But each time replenished—topped off higher than before—by the thrill of success, or the outpouring of support when success was still another peak away.

When I joined Keen in January of 2013 we hadn’t made a buck yet. The majority of events we collected were from an eastern European game developer who refused to pay us. This month, May 2015, Keen will accept billions of API calls from thousands of developers, a large number of whom pay for our service. My how we’ve grown.

I architected the core of the distributed system that stores and queries these terabytes of data. It remains one of the most flexible yet powerful big data systems in the world. The day it went into production—after thousands of commits, a half dozen design iterations, weeks of fussing over every last detail—was the high point of my technical career. I want to recognize the patience and support that came from Dan, Kyle, Ryan, Michelle, Micah and others during that time. Your collective belief in me was the wind in the sails. All I had to do was steer.

Today, Keen’s technology is in very capable hands. Teams of brilliant individuals are adding power and reliability to the product every day. Keen’s developer community and open source efforts remain well represented by some of the biggest hearts in the business. The teams doing this work are organized like the technology they develop, with an emphasis on autonomy, wholeness, and peer-to-peer communication. Every team at the company works this way. It’s one of the reasons I’m betting big on Keen in the years decades to come.

I’m sad I won’t be seeing these smiling faces every day, but I’m very excited about some of the new smiling faces I hope to meet. I’m embarking on a self-guided study of spontaneous creativity and human interconnection. My discoveries—if I’m fortunate enough to have them—will be shared through art, writing, and conversation. I’ll keep you in the loop here and on Medium.

To the Keen family and the wonderful people I’ve met in my (tri-continental!) Keen travels: I will miss you, but I’ll also be right here just doing my thing. Stay in touch and don’t hesitate to reach out. There are no goodbyes, only until next times…


Photo booth how did we fit six people in here?