Elastic bands

So moving onto Monday the 23rd. Something I’ve been pondering blogging about for ages now is an analogy I came up with for the way Debian is organised. I’m not quite sure of the motivation, but it goes something like this: imagine all of the people in the organsiation arranged in a circle. That circle represents everything the organisation does. Around the outside is an elastic band, holding all the people together — and that’s the organisation itself. When someone wants the organisation to do something new, they try to move to the new area, but have to stretch the elastic band to do so, which might be easy or it might be hard, depending on how rigid the elastic is, or how rigid the organisation is. If it doesn’t stretch much, when you try to extend the organisation to do new things, you’ll find instead that you’re pulling the people on the other side of the circle away from the things they’re interested in; and that they’re doing the same to you. The most obvious solution to that is often to pull harder, or to tell the other people to stop getting in your way — but a better solution is often to find some way to make the elastic more stretchy, ie to make the organisation more flexible, or to make the things it does, and the people in it less tightly coupled.

Anyway, it seems a useful way of looking at conflicts to me: are you actually growing the organisation, or are you just spending all your effort getting other people to move in the direction you want, when they don’t actually care?

You could probably extend the analogy to cover forking too — stretching the band so far it snaps, then tying it back together again. I don’t know if that’s very helpful though… Also, there’s probably more than two degrees of freedom, so a hypersphere is probably technically a better model, but, well…

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