2012-07-01 13:43:14 by jdixon
Part of what I see myself doing (by writing blog posts, creating software like Tasseo, etc) is to try and help others learn better ways of communicating our operational knowledge through visualization tools and methodologies. While I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from my Graphite articles, what I haven't seen as much is a two-way sharing of the harvested data made possible through these experiences.
I think there are a couple possible reasons for this: first, we work with "propietary" data that our employers might not want divulged; second, we assume our data is immaterial and not worth sharing. For the former, I think this is a very similar argument that many of us had with employers during the push to open source software. There is much to be gained by sharing our raw data (perhaps without all of the proprietary metadata and labels that make it relevant to our business) and seeing those examples improved upon and returned by our peers.
With regards to the latter, we should never assume that our data is worthless outside our own dark corner of the internet. If your work is valuable to you, your examples will almost certainly hold value to someone else out there. Conversely, unique data or visualizations might be conversationally stimulating, but because they are exclusive, they hold little relevance and will therefore be less influential to one's own operations or across a wide spectrum of users. There is beauty in commonality.
In essence, this is very much what Disaster Porn is all about. Although many of us in the Internet operations and engineering fields work on diverse products and services, we share common threads among our software practices and processes. Learning from each others' failures is much more educational than reading instructional doctrine. And what better way to visualize systemic failures and recoveries than a chart or dashboard?
Rougly three-and-a-half years ago, John Allspaw uploaded an image that recounted photos uploaded by Flickr users over the week of Thanksgiving 2008. This became the inaugural entry for the WebOps Visualizations group, dedicated to the "sharing visualizations of web operations metrics". I would encourage you to browse through this photostream and begin uploading graphs of your own. Currently there are many more members (438) than there are photos (185). I would love to see this proportion flipped on its head. Let's make it happen.
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