Neal Ford  |
  • Author, Thoughtworker, & Meme Wrangler

Meme Agora (my blog)

meme: an idea, behavior, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture

agora: a gathering place

I started my blog on January 4th, 2005, as an outlet for the wide ranging ideas that float around in my head.

Why Such a Funny Name?

When I first launched my blog, it was before it was considered Cool to host your own blog, and it was a giant hassle. Thus, the first iteration was hosted on BlogSpot for ease of maintenance. However, I didn't start with BlogSpot when it originated, so one of the trickiest jobs was to find a name for your blog that wasn't already taken. I tried lots of variations.

I'm quite fond of the meme meme, so I started looking for descriptions that could incorporate that word. I've also been fond of the word agora, for both it's market-place vibe but more as a gathering place. Thus, my first blog was the Meme Agora, hosted at


Over time, the nature of blogging has changed, as social media like Twitter has taken the brunt of announcements and pithy quotes. My blog posts now tend to be more thought-out essay pieces rather than quickly dashed off missives.


September 08, 2015 (Tuesday)

Knowledge Breadth versus Depth

As an architect, value technical breadth so that you have a larger quiver from which to draw arrows. If you are transitioning from developer to architect, realize that you may have to change the way you view knowledge acquisition. more...
September 02, 2015 (Wednesday)

Simple, Repetitive Tasks

Computers are designed to do simple repetitive tasks. As soon as you have humans doing repetitive tasks on behalf of computers, they all get together late at night and laugh at you. more...
July 20, 2015 (Monday)

Ambient Information

Any friction between information and its access represents a cost of that information. Apple Watch drives the cost of the information you want to see to virtually zero. more...
March 30, 2015 (Monday)

Architecture is abstract until operationalized.

Microservice architecture is the first post-DevOps revolution architecture, highlighting the realization that architecture and DevOps must mesh, making operational concerns a first-class citizen in architectural design. more...
October 16, 2013 (Wednesday)

How Bad Presentations Lead Us to Create Presentation Patterns

Applying patterns to presentations was a stretch, another in a long string of potentially specious relationships between things that pop into my head from time to time. Yet, I couldn't give this idea up. Despite myself, I continued to identify patterns (and anti-patterns) in my own talks and others. I thought about writing it down, but at the time, the concept was still restricted to technical presentations, and I realized the audience for such a book would be entertaining to many of my presenter friends, but to not many other people. But then I realized that all professionals must do presentations at one time or another. more...
May 28, 2013 (Tuesday)

Build Your Own Technology Radar

Creating a technology radar for yourself helps you formalize your thinking. . .You should treat your technology portfolio like a financial portfolio (in many ways, they are the same thing). . .Most C-level types get more advice from sales men than people in their own company. . . While this is a wild fantasy, wouldn't it be great if one of the formalities during job interviews became the trading of radars, personal and company, as a way for each to assess the other? more...
January 22, 2013 (Tuesday)

Why Everyone (Eventually) Hates (or Leaves) Maven

Maven is opinionated, rigid, generic, and dogmatic, which is exactly what is needed at the beginning of a project. Before anything exists, it's nice for something to impose a structure, and to make it trivial to add behavior via plug-ins and other pre-built niceties. But over time, the project becomes less generic and more like a real, messy project. Early on, when no one knows enough to have opinions about things like lifecycle, a rigid system is good. Over time, though, project complexity requires developers to spawn opinions, and tools like Maven don't care. more...
May 01, 2011 (Sunday)

Meme Wrangler Origins

A Meme Wrangler -- someone who herds ideas into thoughts, generally through lengthy and complicated discussions (not so much quarrels as "impassioned conversations"). more...
June 09, 2010 (Wednesday)

The iPad - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I'm convinced that the iPad is the first iteration of the next major computing platform. PC's will become work and power user tools, but everyone will use iPad-like things for many tasks. This is the first incarnation - can you imagine what these things will look like in 5 years? more...
December 22, 2009 (Tuesday)

Why Twitter Matters

Twitter is a meme abiogenesis pool, helping form a karass around a wampeter more effectively. more...
November 04, 2009 (Wednesday)

Productivity Pron

Finding a good system that doesn't get in your way yet allows you to organize all the things going on in your life (both personal and professional) is surprisingly difficult, given the number of tools that purport to do just this. more...
August 05, 2009 (Wednesday)

The Suck/Rock Dichotomy

When a community fades, the fanaticism of the remaining members increases proportionally for every member they lose, until you are left with one person whose veins stick out on their forehead when they try to proselytize people to join their tribe, which rocks, and leave that other tribe, which sucks. more...
July 15, 2009 (Wednesday)

Productivity and Location Awareness

Context sensitivity makes it hard to leverage location awareness. more...
June 10, 2009 (Wednesday)

AML (Arbitrary Modeling Language)

UML is too technical for non-technical people, but not technical enough for technical people. more...
May 01, 2009 (Friday)

Confessions of a Reformed Titilator

Ultimately, using sexually provocative material in a technical presentation is just lazy -- when we do it we're not spending the time to come up with really compelling metaphors to represent something, relying instead on the basest of currency. more...
April 22, 2009 (Wednesday)

SOA and the Tar Pit of Irrelevancy

SOA doesn't have to be a huge scary thing. It's just software, and we aren't going to throw our playbook out the window just because it sounds scary. more...
December 01, 2008 (Monday)

Irrational Artifact Attachment

The lowly whiteboard is one of my favorite tools for design work on projects: you can stand in front of it as a group, you can easily play “what-if” games with emergent designs, and you can argue until everyone agrees (or at least until everyone is equally unhappy). Once you’ve got it done, a quick snap with a digital camera and you’ve got a project artifact, ready to post on a wiki or similar until supplantation by actual code. Once you have real code, you are better off allowing the design to continue to emerge from it rather than trying to keep the two in sync. Alternatively, you can use a reverse engineering tool to produce a prettier version of the original diagram from the code.

November 07, 2008 (Friday)

Comments == Code Smell

Both kinds of comments represent different smells, each with different odors depending on the target. more...
January 26, 2007 (Friday)

Why I Hate Christmas Music

I hate catchy tunes because the stick in my head and won't go away. What most people like about pop music is the very thing that makes me dislike it -- the hook. more...
December 05, 2006 (Tuesday)

Polyglot Programming

Applications of the future will take advantage of the polyglot nature of the language world. more...
November 17, 2006 (Friday)

Enforcing Good Behavior

I really like tools that encourage good behavior and punish bad behavior. more...
November 02, 2006 (Thursday)

Entropic Software

The simple way is the Unix way. The entropic, highly complex, fragile, limited way is to build great complex edifices, with lots of opaque moving parts. more...
July 01, 2005 (Friday)

Berg's Chamber Symphony

What makes this music so interesting that you can talk about it for 3 times as long as the piece itself? more...
June 02, 2005 (Thursday)

Notes from Singapore, Part 1 -- Durian!

When talking to the natives in Singapore, I and a friend (Terry) heard about Durian (“Stinky fruit”), which is a local fruit. I always ask about local foods from the natives to see what I can try that I haven’t had before. It is against the law in Singapore to take a durian on public transport. And it is forbidden to take the fruit inside most buildings. However, several locals at the table said they really liked it. My new mission: try some durian. We ate one night at Newton food court, which had fresh durian, so we got one. Tom, who lives in Bali , is a big fan, so he would eat it if we didn’t care for it. Well, they cut it open and Tom insisted that we eat it essentially holding our nose – the flavor and the smell are only loosely related. So I tried it. Frank said it best – it’s like a mixture of vanilla pudding and onion, with a kind of fruit-flesh/fishy texture. I tried it. It was durian-like. OK, I’ve tried it. The problem is that, even though I only had a bite, I kept trying it – the taste would not go away. I ate some other stuff. Still there. Drink water, beer, whatever – durian. After a while you can sort of get rid of the taste until you have the misfortune of burping. Durian. Stronger than ever. It keeps growing. It was well into the next day until I could taste something else. It took Terry even longer. In fact, he developed a semi-permanent association between Tiger beer and durian taste. He may never appreciate Tiger beer again. The other interesting aspect of this fruit: it smells. And it gets stronger and stronger. It was still at our table because Tom (for whom I have new respect mingled with pity) was gradually eating the leftover durian (all the durian except for one bite each from the other victims). Ingo (one of the speakers) kept asking Tom to move it further away, because the smell, while not exactly the same as the taste, is the olfactory equivalent of the taste. After you have smelled it, you smell it everywhere. For the rest of the trip, we could tell anytime we got close to durian. Terry and I would look at each other at the same time: durian. Every open air market you come to sells that stinky stuff. And you always notice it if it’s near. You have been warned.

May 09, 2005 (Monday)

Hedonic Adaptation

This helps explain why people in 2000 were not measurably happier than those in 1900, even though technology has made our lives astoundingly easier. more...
March 25, 2005 (Friday)

Robert Fripp's Aphorisms

In many ways, software development relates to music -- a creative endeavor facilitated by dexterity, tools, and discipline. And, correspondingly, many of the aphorisms apply eerily to software development. more...
February 09, 2005 (Wednesday)

Is TV the New Campfire?

Maybe that explains the ease that some people have sitting and watching TV for hours on end. more...
January 04, 2005 (Tuesday)

Welcome to the Meme Agora

This blog is intended to serve as an outlet for whatever happens to spill out of my head on a semi-daily basis -- a scary thought indeed. more...

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Neal Ford  |
  • Author, Thoughtworker, & Meme Wrangler