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Thomas Limoncelli

Stack Overflow
SRE Manager
An anthropologist would describe The Unicorn Project as a way to transform a high-context environment into a low-context environment. In this talk Tom describes how Stack Overflow uses this anthropological concept to make our DevOps environment more effective. Techniques include: smart defaults, “make the right way, the lazy way”, and documentation at the right time and place.

A high-context DevOps culture is one where most knowledge is unspoken, or people depend on history/experience rather than explicit telling. This can be very frustrating for new employees. A low-context DevOps culture is one where the info you need to do your job is available, visible, and accessible. Creating a low-context culture improves new-hire onboarding, enables project hopping, and helps you handle a page you receive at 2am. Because engineers tend to hop projects within a company, we're constantly becoming "the new person".
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