What Connections Can Teach Us about Postmortems

Wednesday, October 30, 2019 - 11:45 am12:30 pm

Chastity Blackwell, Truss


Too often postmortems go into what is often "write-only memory"—put away in an archive to satisfy some requirement but rarely used to actually drive improvement. They can be so dense that it's hard for anyone to derive real insight from them, or so surface level that they don't convey any of the nuances that actually surround most incidents. How can we create a postmortem document that is both an interesting story and something that provides some hint of the complexity underlying an incident?

In 1978, James Burke made Connections—a TV series that attempted to describe history in a new way, one that avoided the conventional "straight-line" view of history, great people, and golden ages, instead focusing on the surprising relationships between people and events. This talk will describe how you can use Burke's techniques to make your postmortems compelling reading that also teaches valuable lessons.

Chastity Blackwell, Truss

Chastity Blackwell took her first job as a system administrator in 1999 just to pay the bills until she could get a writing job. After spending more than a decade with the University of Illinois' central IT organization, she moved out to the Bay Area where she's worked for companies big and small. In her heart, she longs to return to somewhere with real weather.

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@conference {240808,
author = {Chastity Blackwell},
title = {What Connections Can Teach Us about Postmortems},
year = {2019},
address = {Portland, OR},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = oct

Presentation Video