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John Allspaw

Chief Technology Officer at Etsy at Etsy


"Thick" Data and Analysis: Engineering with a capital E
Thursday 16:10 - 16:55

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The current zeitgeist in software development and operations looks to explore and adapt theory and practice from fields such as sociology, cognitive science, and philosophy. This is a good thing, but it's not enough. Our field needs to level-up in our understanding of qualitative analysis methods and approaches, or we risk 'cargo-culting' that theory and practice in an \"often cited, never read\" way.

If we want software development and operations to be truly considered a discipline of Engineering, we must make just as much effort in qualitative analysis as we do quantitative analysis.

This talk will discuss how critical this topic is to engineering, and ways to make progress on it.


John Allspaw is Etsy’s chief technology officer (CTO), leading the Product Engineering, Infrastructure, and Operations teams. Previously, he was the SVP of Infrastructure and Operations at Etsy. For over 17 years, he has worked in system operations in the biotech, government, and online media industries.

John began his career running vehicle crash simulations for the U.S. government. In 1997, he made the leap to the web, building the technical infrastructures at Salon, InfoWorld, Friendster and Flickr. John is the author of The Art of Capacity Planning and Web Operations: Keeping the Data on Time, both published by O’Reilly Media. He holds a BS from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an MSC from Lund University.