Hackers and Slackers

Bedrooms and Kitchens

Never metaphor I didn't like

Much miscommunication between technical folks and non-technical folks (or different kinds of technical folks) stems from the fact that determining how difficult a task is can be very unintuitive from the outside. Sometimes a thing can be changed by changing a single number, sometimes you have to re-architect half the system in order to make it, and it's not always obvious which is which.

For those of you who find yourself in this position, here's a metaphor that you can use[1] that might make it easier to talk about it:

Some things are adding a bedroom, some things are adding a kitchen.

Making a room into a bedroom is easy - you just have to add a surface to sleep on. Actually, you don't even have to do that - any room you can fall asleep in can function as a bedroom. You can even turn a room into multiple bedrooms relatively easily with a bit of drywall!

Making a room into a kitchen is another matter entirely. It needs gas (or appropriate electricity for an electric stove). You probably need to do things with electricity. It needs water. You need to install fixtures. You need large & heavy appliances, some of which need to be hooked up to external systems. You might have to shut important things off while you're hooking up your new stuff. There's probably other things too!

I think this adds some good vocabulary to talk about this sort of thing. Let's see if people start saying/asking whether a feature is a "kitchen" or a "bedroom"!


  1. With appropriate renumartion, of course. I'll take 2% of your total lifetime earnings for each use. If I find you've violated my intellectual property rights, I won't hesitate to file a DMCA takedown that will retroactively remove any benefit you've derived from using this metaphor (+ punitive damages). ↩︎

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Center of the Universe Website
Super villain in somebody's action hero movie. Experienced a radioactive freak accident at a young age, which rendered him part-snake and strangely adept at Python.
Author image
Center of the Universe

Super villain in somebody's action hero movie. Experienced a radioactive freak accident at a young age, which rendered him part-snake and strangely adept at Python.