eval/apply is real magic

At once, the essence of cognition, a system of thinking, and an engine to compute anything. Lisp1. Simultaneously a philosophy, a strategy framework, and a gun in a knife fight. OODA2. Holistically a state of being, a path to excellence, and a catalyst of growth for self and kind. Flow3. Fundamentally a …

Oh, hello! Pardon my rambling. I didn’t see you arrive. Have a dekko, please. And if it strikes your fancy, write to me at weblog (at) evalapply (dot) org.


  1. LISP as Maxwell’s Equations of Software: GNU Mes manual ↩︎

  2. John Boyd’s concept of OODA: Wikipedia ↩︎

  3. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow. (XKCD’s riff applies and appeals more to me :) Maybe if I spin it back and forth really fast I can do some kind of pulse-width modulation. XKCD: Focus Knob ↩︎

Technical Debt is really Software Debt. And it’s a AAA-rated CDO.

I’ve long struggled with the Technical Debt metaphor. It was immediately useful when I first heard it. I still think it is useful, albeit as a starting point. The more I worked with software, the more infuriatingly incomplete it started to feel.

Some years ago I found myself in a rabbit hole, researching the 2008 financial crisis. It reminded me of other insane stories like Knight Capital, and further back, about how Enron imploded (because Enron India’s meltdown was shocking, and destructive. And because a dear friend, in his past life, was on the team at Lehman Bros. that structured financing for Enron India. So come 2008, when Lehman imploded, I got to hear about the hard-chargin' super-leveraged risk-takin' days from someone who was there in the early part of the so-called Dick Fuld era. It was all very fascinating, but I digress…).

Down in the rabbit hole, a slow realization began.

One source of my unease is that I think discussions of Technical Debt don’t sufficiently examine the nature of the Risk of the underlying challenge. The other is that the concept skews and pigeonholes the Responsibility part of the underlying challenge. Here’s what I’m thinking.

Note: In this post, I have software organisations in mind, viz. ones that exist mainly because of the software they make and ship (whether priced or gratis).

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Scale, Value, Systems

Creating things is a delicate endeavour, fraught with peril. People struggle forward through crazy marketplace and environmental complexities just to get from one day to the other.

Yet I can’t shake off the feeling that we make it harder for ourselves than it should be. I’ve been trying to work out why. There’s a lot to unpack. This post is a start at thinking about it in public. My thinking is coloured by working in the tech startup scene for these last few years, and rooted in a small mistake my parents made bringing me up.

I’m going to amble along a wavy line of thought through Story, Metaphor, Model, and Example. Please join the noodling-over and ambling-off into tangents.

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In the beginning, was the domain name

How this blog came to be is a minor miracle. Long story short, I conned myself into believing nobody will find and read it. But you’re here, aren’t you? And you’re reading this. Aren’t You?


Well, here’s how you got here.

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