Who am I?

I’m an Agilist, a former software engineer, a gamer, an improviser, a podcaster emeritus, and a wine lover. Learn more.

Currently Consuming
  • The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
    by Eric Ries
  • The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    The Talent Code: Greatness Isn't Born. It's Grown. Here's How.
    by Daniel Coyle
  • Alexander Hamilton
    Alexander Hamilton
    by Ron Chernow

Entries in things i've read (31)


Error and Emotion

“Our capacity to tolerate error depends on our capacity to tolerate emotion.”
—Irna Gadd

I came across this quote in Kathryn Schulz’s excellent Being Wrong, a study of what it is like to discover we no longer believe things that we used to be believe. (“I used to believe that meeting was at 8 AM. I now believe it was at 6 AM. I also believe I wasn’t there.”) There’s at least three ideas directly from that book that I want to write about, but this one is somewhat tangential and also the most troublesome.

At first glance, I thought, “That makes sense. It’s hard to tolerate unpleasant emotions.” But as I thought about it, I realized that it’s not just the unpleasant ones that I’ve seen myself and others shy away from: it’s the intense ones.

When was the last time you let yourself be estatically happy? Feel unalloyed joy?


Link Roundup for 25 October 2012

This time on the roundup: stories and storytelling.

So what’s your story?


Link Roundup for 28 September 2012

Despite seeing references to it for a while, I’ve only recently started reading Grantland, the sports and pop culture website helmed by ESPN’s Bill Simmons. Here are some of my favorite articles from the last few months.


Link Roundup for 24 September 2012

Over the first half of this year, several articles (and responses) about the practice of brainstorming caught my eye. Given that one my interests right now is discovering how to enable groups to do their best thinking, I was intrigued. Here’s the chain, collected in one place.

What’s your take on all this?


Engaging, Clear, and Concise

Kent Beck’s Test-Driven Development by Example is the next best thing to pair-programming with a master of his craft.

I’ve never met Kent, but I have to imagine the book is written how he speaks — because no one would write it that way if they didn’t. I’ve never encountered a more conversational book, replete with digressions, arguments with himself, tangents, and bad jokes. This doesn’t distract from the content, but instead creates authenticity. The first two sections of the book are extended examples, and written in that voice they built the sense in my head that Kent was less an author and more a person. That meant that when he switched from the descriptive to the prescriptive in part three, I took his rules as things he had learned from his experience, rather than as wisdom delivered from the mountaintop.

Speaking of part three, the question-answer form that he uses in laying out his patterns for TDD is one of the most effective ways of communicating these kinds of ideas I’ve seen. An example:

One Step Test
Which test should you pick next from the Test List? One that will teach you something and that you are confident you can implement.

This is followed by two or three paragraphs explaining the rationale for the guideline. I found this problem-solution-explanation format solves an issue that faces so many authors: How to design a text so that it can serve both as a tutorial and as a reference.

To do both of these things in a book so short is a masterstroke.