Re-thinking “Mistakes were made”: free and open source software and teaching

I’m working on my keynote for FrOSCon right now.

They asked for me to revisit the “Mistakes were Made” talk. My introduction will probably be a lot the same. A core idea is a theory that the ratio of failure to success remains mostly constant over time. So, in order to succeed a lot, we need to be trying and failing a lot more.

But this talk, I am planning to go into what concerns me the most about open source software: succession.
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“This story seems too negative. Can you fix that?”

I keep watching this video about cancer research. The speaker is Keith Baggerly, a statistician who (with a team) analyzed data from a series of scientific papers for reproducibility.

Specifically, they were looking at findings from research that determines whether or not a cell line is resistant to a drug – like a cancer fighting drug.
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Headed to PgConf.EU

I’m headed to Amsterdam for PgConf.EU and very excited for my very first European postgres Conference.

I’m giving two talks – Managing Terabytes, and Mistakes Were Made. Both are cautionary tales about the things that one can do terribly wrong with database management, and system operations management. My goal with these talks is to start a conversation about what we can learn from failure.

I encourage everyone to share their stories about what fails. Not only are they great “campfire stories” for entertainment, but they help us all learn faster, and they teach us what ultimately works when everything is failing.

In the same vein, UpdatePDX is putting on another “tales of failure” set of short talks the following week back in Portland. I’ll be leading the charge with a short story of my own, followed by at least two other tales of failure.

Seeking: Database Disaster Stories

I’m going to give another “Mistakes Were Made” talk at PgConf.EU next month.

I have many disaster stories of my own, but am always looking for more! Stories of data-destruction and tales of unexpected failure are welcome.

You can leave them in the comments, or email me.

The talk focuses on the ways in which systems fail, and the typical kinds of failure we find in web operations. Types of failure I focus on are:

* Failure to Document
* Failure to Test
* Failure to Verify
* Failure to Imagine
* Failure to Implement

Stories that fall outside those categories are especially welcome.

I look forward to your tales of woe!

Looking for worthy “mistakes were made” stories

I’m giving a couple talks at OSCON this year! One of them is titled “Mistakes were made“, and I need a few good stories.

I’m focused on web operations, but really, any stories where there was a plan, and it went horribly wrong, would be great. And, I’d love to know whether whatever went wrong ultimately got fixed, hacked around or was just left as-is.