Wednesday 14th December 2016

On his birthday, Lloyd took time out away from his party to talk about the Tar Pit.

"Tonight’s DAMA topic takes its name for the book by Frederick Brooks Jr., who in 1975 wrote:
Brooks opens his first essay with a comparison between the tar pits of prehistory and large-system programming:
“In the minds’ eye one sees dinosaurs, mammoths, and saber-toothed tigers struggling against the grip of the tar. The fiercer the struggle, the more entangling the tar, and no beast is so strong or so skillful but that he ultimately sinks. Large-system programming has over the past decade been such a tar pit, and many great and powerful beasts have thrashed violently in it. Most have emerged with running systems--few have met goals, schedules, and budgets. Large and small, massive or wiry, team after team has become entangled in the tar. No one thing seems to cause the difficulty--any particular paw can be pulled away. But the accumulation of simultaneous and interacting factors brings slower and slower motion. Everyone seems to have been surprised by the stickiness of the problem, and it is hard to discern the nature of it.”

The cover of the book has an image of great beasts who become trapped in tar.
The more they struggle, the more they become entrapped.
The more they become entrapped, the more they struggle.
Until they died and created fossil fuels that power our cars…."