Why Systems Work So Well

In the book “Thinking in Systems”, Donella Meadows dedicates an entire chapter to explaining why functioning systems seem to work so well. In it, she recognizes three characteristics: resilience, self-organization, and hierarchy. Resilience We can use the standard definition from the Oxford English dictionary to describe resilience: re·sil·ience /rəˈzilyəns/ noun the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. “the often remarkable resilience of so many British institutions” the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity....

May 11, 2022 · 3 min · Kevin Sookocheff
Marching ants

What complex systems can teach us about building software

As a software system scales it becomes sufficiently large that the number of working parts, coupled with the number of working programmers making changes on it, makes the behaviour of the system extremely difficult to reason about. This complexity is exacerbated by the transition of many organizations towards a microservice architecture, as exemplified by the so-called “death star” architecture, where each point in the circumference of the circle represents a microservice and the lines between services represent their interactions....

March 9, 2022 · 13 min · Kevin Sookocheff

Above-the-line and below-the-line

Engineering, for much of the twentieth century, was mainly about artifacts and inventions. Now, it’s increasingly about complex systems. As the airplane taxis to the gate, you access the Internet and check email with your PDA, linking the communication and transportation systems. At home, you recharge your plug-in hybrid vehicle, linking transportation to the electricity grid. At work, you develop code, commit it to a repository, run test cases, deploy to production, and monitor the result....

April 22, 2020 · 7 min · Kevin Sookocheff