What is 50 Shades of Binary?

A Software Engineering blog that takes the human equation into account.

Editor’s Note: This series of posts will eventually be turned into a podcast, but the posts need to be published before the podcast episodes can be created,

I remember when I first got the idea for a podcast. I had just finished what was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting with my manager. It was one and a half hours long. My team had just completed a two day working session fixing a production issue for our application and I had played a big part in digging into the root cause of the issue. I wrote a long document that outlined all the issues, as well as a list of recommendations to help prevent the issues from recurring.

When my manager and I started talking about my findings, I realized that he was questioning me on things that I thought were already clear, thus the conversation was tripled in length. By the time we had finished, I felt really good because I had been able to clarify many of my thoughts, not only for my manager, but for myself as well. I had been a part of many conversations like this with him, and with other team members before. I realized that discussions like this one had been helping me during my entire career. I thought about capturing these conversations and turning them into blog posts, but I realized that I would lose the interaction of two people discussing a clearly defined topic, so I decided to try my hand at creating a podcast.

I thought hard about what I wanted to discuss. Even though I spend a lot of my time at work focused on technical issues, I also think about “Root Cause Analysis” which can often be traced back to behavior patterns of the team facing the issues. I found that I was constantly telling people to “think about the fundamentals,” and to “change patterns of behavior.” In other words, I was applying a fair amount of psychology to determining root cause. Of course this is natural since any time you have a team of different people working together, there are a number of emotional and behavioral forces at play. I also knew that I wanted a catchy name for the podcast. Something to help draw in listeners. I thought about a typical joke amongst developers that says “There are 10 types of people in the world. Those that understand binary, and those that don’t.” That’s when the name hit me. I am dealing with topics that are not in themselves binary, but with people who often think with binary mindsets. Thus, “50 Shades of Binary” was born.

Finally, I want to clarify a couple of things. First, I have never read E.L. James’ novels, nor have I watched the movies. I just thought the name was very catchy. Second, I am an engineer by degree and a technical developer, consultant and troubleshooter by trade. I do not have a degree in psychology, nor do I profess to know all of the intricacies involved in performing psychological work. I simply apply a bit of logic to trends I have seen over the span of my 30+ years in the industry and form a theory that I share with others. I leave it up to the readers and/or listeners to form their own conclusions. I also invite comments and challenges to my way of thinking. I will not always agree with them, but I will always listen and think about them.

The Next Steps

Over the next few months, I will be posting topics here and then inviting people to have discussions around the topics. Once I have enough material to provide a regular stream of podcasts, I will publish them, and (hopefully) continue adding more podcasts to the show. Stay tuned for more.

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