Invited article in IEEE Software – Technical Debt: Challenges and Perspectives

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Cognitive Systems Engineering, Complex Systems, Uncategorized

Earlier this year, I was asked to contribute to an article in IEEE Software, entitled “Technical Debt: Challenges and Perspectives.” I can’t post the entire article here, but I can post the accepted text of my part of the article here. Misusing the Metaphor John Allspaw All technical disciplines (not just software development) require different […]

Multiple Perspectives On Technical Problems and Solutions

Posted 19 CommentsPosted in Architecture, Complex Systems, Culture, Etsy

Over the years, a number of people have asked about the details surrounding Etsy’s architecture review process. In this post, I’d like to focus on the architecture review working group’s role in facilitating dialogue about technology decision-making. Part of this is really just about working groups in general (pros, cons, formats, etc.) and another part […]

Reflections on the 6th Resilience Engineering Symposium

Posted 6 CommentsPosted in Cognitive Systems Engineering, Complex Systems, Resilience, Systems Safety, Talks

I just spent the last week in Lisbon, Portugal at the Resilience Engineering Symposium. Zoran Perkov and I were invited to speak on the topic of software operations and resilience in the financial trading and Internet services worlds, to an audience of practitioners and researchers from all around the globe, in a myriad of industries. […]

Some Principles of Human-Centered Computing

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Cognitive Systems Engineering, Complex Systems

From Perspectives On Cognitive Task Analysis: Historical Origins and Modern Communities of Practice (emphasis mine) The Aretha Franklin Principle Do not devalue the human to justify the machine. Do not criticize the machine to rationalize the human. Advocate the human–machine system to amplify both. The Sacagawea Principle Human-centered computational tools need to support active organization of […]

The Infinite Hows (or, the Dangers Of The Five Whys)

Posted 18 CommentsPosted in Cognitive Systems Engineering, Complex Systems, Culture, Human Factors, Resilience, Systems Safety

(this is also posted on O’Reilly’s Radar blog. Much thanks to Daniel Schauenberg, Morgan Evans, and Steven Shorrock for feedback on this) Before I begin this post, let me say that this is intended to be a critique of the Five Whys method, not a criticism of the people who are in favor of using […]

Counterfactual Thinking, Rules, and The Knight Capital Accident

Posted 14 CommentsPosted in Complex Systems, Human Factors, Systems Safety

In between reading copious amounts of indignation surrounding whatever is suboptimal about healthcare.gov, you may or may not have noticed the SEC statement regarding the Knight Capital accident that took place in 2012. This Release No. 70694 is a document that contains many details about the accident, and you can read what looks like on the surface […]

Learning from Failure at Etsy

Posted 18 CommentsPosted in Cognitive Systems Engineering, Complex Systems, Culture, Etsy, Human Factors, Systems Safety

(This was originally posted on Code As Craft, Etsy’s engineering blog. I’m re-posting it here because it still resonates strongly as I prepare to teach a ‘postmortem facilitator’s course internally at Etsy.) Last week, Owen Thomas wrote a flattering article over at Business Insider on how we handle errors and mistakes at Etsy. I thought […]