Cassidoo, meme-maker and software developer, on her corner of the internet

Cassidy Williams is a Chicago-based software developer building the AI-powered talk-out-loud app Brainstory at Contenda.

Here at Mozilla, we are the first to admit the internet isn’t perfect, but we know the internet is pretty darn magical. The internet opens up doors and opportunities, allows for human connection, and lets everyone find where they belong — their corners of the internet. We all have an internet story worth sharing. In My Corner Of The Internet, we talk with people about the online spaces they can’t get enough of, the sites and forums that shaped them, and what reclaiming the internet really looks like.

This month we chat with Cassidy Williams, known as Cassidoo on X and TikTok and is the CTO of the AI company Contenda. We talk about the forums that shaped her career, building community online and off, and her favorite subreddit for niche drama.

What is your favorite corner of the internet? 

I have a Discord group through my Patreon [and] Twitch that I originally made for resume reviews and interview prep, but it’s turned into my absolute favorite spot to just chat with friends on the daily! I think in the pandemic it was a really good “third place” for myself and a bunch of other folks and we’ve become really good friends talking about tech but also just helping each other out and learning together!

What is an internet deep dive that you can’t wait to jump back into?

There’s a subreddit called r/HobbyDrama where folks share detailed stories about hobby communities and the drama that happens within them, and I absolutely love it. It’s usually really specific hobbies and communities that I rarely knew existed, sharing dramatic stories of people being jerks, or some twist of fate changing things, or something along those lines. So many times I’ve ended up going deep into learning about a hobby purely because I have a bunch of specific information now that makes it more entertaining!

What is the one tab you always regret closing?

The MDN docs, I feel like for all the years I’ve been a developer, I always find myself checking on specific syntax, there!

What can you not stop talking about on the internet right now?

Walkability and mixed-use housing. I have been going *very* deep on that lately because I think countries outside of the U.S. are pretty good at building community outside of individual homes by not being too car-centric and by having it be the norm to walk everywhere, have easy access to public transit, and live in a place that has everything really close by. I sincerely think that it would improve nearly everything about our country in general if we focused on that more, and… I will not shut up about it, ha!

What was the first online community you engaged with?

Waaaay back in the early-to-mid 2000s, I was really active on some forums and message boards that taught me a ton about web design and tech in general. I don’t even remember how I initially discovered them, and most of them aren’t on the internet anymore, but those early forums of folks sharing knowledge totally changed the trajectory of my future career!

Also… Neopets, heh.

If you could create your own corner of the internet, what would it look like?

Outside of the Discord group I mentioned, I might have more of a content-sharing hub. I think we’re in a point on the internet where folks are very scattered, not all on Twitter, not all on Facebook, not all on Instagram, etc, and I would love to have a hub or feed of folks sharing with each other. RSS does fill that gap, a bit, so maybe a combo of chat + RSS? It sounds very old school!

What articles and/or videos are you waiting to read/watch right now?

The Manifesto for a Humane Web, and Maya Rudolph’s SNL episode!

In a recent blog post you compared living in Chicago to the internet of the past, where you made random but lasting friendships. What parts of the internet now make you optimistic about its future?

I do think that Discord servers right now are the closest things I’ve seen to tight-knit communities like that. Also, I *love* the series People & Blogs, where I’ve learned a ton about cool topics and writers I didn’t know before, and also the software and content from the folks at Good Enough!

Cassidy Williams is a Chicago-based software developer building the AI-powered talk-out-loud app Brainstory at Contenda. She’s also a startup advisor and investor, developer experience expert, and meme-maker on the internet. She enjoys building mechanical keyboards, playing music and teaching in her free time. You can subscribe to her newsletter about the world of web development and play her word game, Jumblie.

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