Conway’s Law – Once Again

When I first heard of Conway’s law, I though it was a geek joke.  After years of seeing it play out again and again, I’m realizing that it actually communicates a deep truth about how the world works.

Conway’s law (in my words):
Any organization that creates something is doomed/destined to create something that is a mirror image of its own organizational structure.

I’m doing some consulting work for a small organization that is spread out over two continents.  Two continents, about 10 computers, and probably no official full time employees.  The fellow who runs it does so out of love, and he hires people to handle issues as they come up.  There have to be at least 4 or 5 technical folks with their hands on these machines.  Maybe more.  Truth is – I don’t know how many there are, because I’ve never met them.  I don’t even know most of their names.  One fellow I can catch on skype, but I don’t have his phone number.

And the systems of this organization look exactly the same way – a scattering of programs and computers that are cobbled together by a mess of scripts that either don’t interface with each other, or do so in a totally unique and unpredictable way.  When something breaks, it’s an archeology exercise to figure out how it was built and what went wrong.

The organization wants to fix the problem by finding ‘a better computer person’ to add to the group.  Meanwhile, the rest of the bunch still have their fingers in their part of the mix.  If they really wanted to get things shaped up, they’d either hire a serious full time person to take on the whole picture, or at least insist that all the people involved have a regular conference call.  Without that, Conway’s law is going to keep us all poking away at a scattered bunch of misaligned things that don’t come together into anything cohesive.   

Consuming Media

Over the past few years, I’ve been getting more and more regular in my meditation practices.  One of the main benefits of meditation, for me, is an increased calm awareness of what is going on in my head during the time when I’m not meditating.  I can sit back and watch, learn to identify patterns, uncover deeper motivations, avoid traps, and the like.

From this viewpoint, I’ve noticed an interesting effect.  The latest movies I’ve seen and the latest video clips play through my head on a kind of re-run, sometimes for days, usually with no added insight or enjoyment.  My mind rescreens them, for whatever reason.   It seems like they are more sticky if the emotion of the first watching was stronger.  As if the emotion has waves that play out over the course of days.

The media I consume – consumes me.

More motivation to watch what I eat.

Wave Hello to Web 3.0

My spider sense tells me that we’re looking at Web 3.0 on this one – the next big step up – and what could very well be a serious crimp in Facebook’s style. It’s a communication and collaboration platform. It’s open. It’s got an API. It’s open to community development. It’s got Google momentum and mass exposure to make it happen.

It’s email, it’s live chat, it’s a wiki, it drags and drops files from the desktop, it embeds itself everywhere. Garden walls comes down. And it’s open – it’s just the beginning. Think whiteboard, think document collaboration, think task tracking, think project management, think collective web browsing. Zing!

You can see a demo and dig deeper at the Google Wave Site. Mashable gives you a distillation.

My wheels are just starting to turn on this one…sensing big potential…bubble, bubble.