Archive for May, 2009

Last week I accused a developer of being a “cargo cult programmer”. He had no idea what I mean so I had to take him on a quick journey through Wikipedia.

What is a cargo cult?

Back in the day, an isolated, indigenous society’s first contact with the outside world was a shock. The best examples existed in some small pacific islands where the native people could barely comprehend the new technologically advanced culture which had arrived.

They often coveted the more advanced society’s possessions which they called cargo. They had no idea how the settlers had amassed so much ‘cargo’ and came to believe that the new comers had been given this vast array of possessions by spiritual means.

This gave birth to cults which worshiped items of ‘cargo’.  These cults crudely imitated behaviour they observed by the owners of the goods and therefore presumed that the spirits would recognise this and send them ‘cargo’ as well.

Good examples of these cult rituals are setting up rooms like offices and dining rooms as places of worship and constructing things like radios out of straw and then dancing around them.

More info :
Cargo Cult programming

A modern adaption of the term is ‘Cargo Cult Programming’. You can see the intimation. This style of programming is characterised by the ritual inclusion of code the developer doesn’t understand in the pursuit of a solution they also fail to grasp. All in the hope that something will fix the problem.

An excellent example of this is the ritual worship of code produced by other more advanced developers. Without any understanding of it, the cult member cuts and pastes this code into their program hoping that it will magically work.

This term is so apt in many circumstances, I hope you get as much enjoyment out of it as I did. So Enjoy!


My New Shoes

Posted: May 6, 2009 in Business 2.0

Every now and then you see something online that is a game changer. Great way to start a blog aye! But grandstanding metaphors aside I have fallen for a new site which offers a glimpse of the future (of retail at least).

Consider the way sociality has moved over the last 100 years. After living through the great depression our grandparents were happy to have jobs and a roof over their heads. Our parents lived life a little grander and added a TV and Stereo. But you can be sure they kept that stereo for 20 years before you convinced them to throw it out and go blue ray.

Fast forward to 2009. Our friends in Asia have managed to make everything so cheap you can afford the latest flat screen TV and feel like you need to upgrade 2 years later to get a second HDMI port. CD, Mini-Disk, DVD, Blue Ray,IPod. If you’re under 30 you’ve probably have had most of these.

So now we are swamped with cheap product what is the next step? We all drive flash cars have the latest hi-fi gear and trade our phones up each year. We have everything we possibly need but none of it is special or different. It’s the same old stuff everyone else has.

The next step is of course personalisation. We want things that are unique to us and define who we are.

The first good example of this is Its co-founders started Threadless in 2000 with $1000 and a vision of revolutionising the humble t-shirt. Using a model, now known as crowd sourcing, designers (and would be designers) upload their own t-shirt designs and each week the site’s users select the top 10 designs which are produced (and sold for $12).

This fitted perfectly into the need for customisation and its founders were pleasantly surprised when the company started growing 500% a year with no advertising, professional designers, photographers or sales force.

As is the way of the world it took seven years for main stream retail brands to catch up. Today I tried NikeID and it totally blew me away. The site allows you to design your own shoes and clothing. Take a standard design and customise the different elements till you end up with your perfect statement clothing article.

I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of shoes for ages. I wanted something kind of like a golf shoe, 10% hipster, 10% information technology, thin, slick, would go with jeans and stylish. Think I could find one, nope. Within 5 minutes I was addicted, I’ve created my perfect basketball shoe which I can even brand “Air Mac”, a fair of casual shoes and a company t-shirt. This is seriously cool! And everyone I showed around the office was hooked.

Try it…I bet you will never buy a standard pair of shoes again…unless like me you live outside the US.

I’ve read a fair bit on the subject of Mass Customisation & Personalisation and also crowd sourcing. It all makes alot of sense and can be applied in various forms to most businesses. However alot of it is fairly fluffy so it’s good to see a site that just does it.

For another take on the model check out this site for a vending machine that allows you to design your own drink : New vending machine