Dave Rupert: “Technical debt as a lack of understanding”
I’ve used the term “technical debt” for years, without really diving into the history of the term. Dave Rupert’s post links to a short video from Ward Cunningham, who originally coined the phrase while working on financial software. “Reorganizing to reflect the current understanding” is a great way to talk about the necessary work to update code after its shortcomings have been revealed.
I appreciated how Cunningham starts his video at the level of language and metaphor; I find metaphors helpful but also like to point out their limits, especially when they’re transported from one context to another.
This Twitter thread by Chappell Ellison touches on similar knowledge management concerns, within the context of design deliveries:
In an agency environment where turnover is typically high, it’s really, really hard to create and maintain delivery standards. It’s assumed designers will just take care of it. But you really need specialists who know how to clean up and prep files until they’re client-ready.
I do believe my office creates output with a higher standard than most. Perhaps in agency world, that may not be saying a lot, but I see the stewards trying their hardest to organize our outputs, and I deeply appreciate them. Delivery! Requires! Stewards!
Stewardship is a good word, because it implies long-term, regular care and responsibility for something. Sometimes that stewardship requires cleaning up and reorganizing a system so it can continue to grow.
(via Susan J. Robertson)