How Tarpit Chronicles got its name
On a visit to New York
City a couple of years ago, Marshall Sullivan was having drinks
with a long time friend named Raymond. Like Marshall, Raymond also
had significant experience designing and building large scale software
systems for a variety of clients, many in the financial services
industry (it's NY, remember?). As these conversations go, especially
when libation is involved, they began discussing the nature of software
development as it was practiced today - specifically, that everyone
wants things yesterday, no one wants to take time for design, no
one even wants to develop requirements to have half a clue at understanding
what they're building. Furthermore, they want it done in unreasonably
short time periods becuase of "competitive pressure".
These time periods don't allow enough time for coding, much less
hiring the team, detailing some (not extensive, mind you, just SOME)
requirements, doing any sort of design or whatever. Nor do they
allow for QA and system test on the back end. All that takes too
long. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera... Several nearby groups got
up and left. One poor soul nearby fell asleep in his beer. It was
a riveting conversation, to say the least.
After about an hour of
kicking this back and forth, Marshall said that he felt like a dinosaur
- a beast that was doomed to extinction because its time in the
evolutionary cycle had passed - not in a bad way, as the name usually
implies (something big, lumbering and dumb) but just in the sense
that what was rewarded nowdays was not the traits of designing quality
software systems, but just hacking them out, tossing them over the
wall and hoping you could sell the company (in the case of a startup)
before anyone noticed.
As they stood up to say
"Goodbye" at the end of the conversation, Raymond added
- "Well, it's time to go. I hear the tarpits calling..."
Over the years, it has
become even more of a joke, as the two continue to see the steady
decline of the software industry.
The Tarpits Are Calling!!
Now, before anyone jumps
up and down and says "Wait a minute!! The dinosaurs lived hundreds
of millions of years ago. The tarpits were only a few tens of thousands
of years ago and they never trapped any dinosaurs, only mammoths
and sabre-tooth tigers." Ya gotta trust me on this one - we
already know! One of Marshall's undergraduate degrees is in Geology,
so this fact has indeed not been lost on him.
But, it's a cool name.
And what the heck... it's called literary license... (and it seems
a lot less henous than selling people buggy software because you
didn't want to design it) You want totally correct geological information?
Go see the USGS web
site! Otherwise, get over it and enjoy the other things we have
to say here.
Taking a Sit
Making Decisions with Less Data
Temporal nature of success
what you're building
of the name