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Episode.11 Season 2

The Mother of all errors.

Published: June 8, 2023
Stylized image featuring Amy Tobey

When we peel back the layers of the stack, there’s one human characteristic we’re sure to find: errors. Mistakes, mishaps, and miscalculations are fundamental to being human, and as such, error is built into every piece of infrastructure and code we create. Of course, learning from our errors is critical in our effort to create functional, reliable tech. But could our mistakes be as important to technological development as our ideas? And what happens when we try to change our attitude towards errors…or remove them entirely?

In this fascinating episode of Traceroute, we start back in 1968, when “The Mother of All Demos“ was supposed to change the face of personal computing…before the errors started. We’re then joined by Andrew Clay Shafer, a DevOps pioneer who has seen the evolution of “errors” to “incidents” through practices like Scrum, Agile, and Chaos Engineering. We also speak with Courtney Nash, a Cognitive Neuroscientist and Researcher whose Verica Open Incident Directory (VOID) has changed the way we look at incident reporting.

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Show notes

To see all the incidents we discuss on this episode, check out the Verica Open Incident Database (VOID). It’s entirely free, and you can even post your own incident there.

To learn more about Douglas Engelbart and his historic Mother of All Demos, we suggest The Douglas Engelbart Institute. You can even watch the entire presentation of The Mother of All Demos.

Courtney Nash has her own podcast, appropriately titled “The VOID.” You can listen to it on Spotify.

A pixellated image of a Nasa Space Shuttle blasting into space

Episode 11, Season 2 Original artwork