Over a decade ago, the world was collectively freaked out by the Y2K bug.1 The idea was that when innumerable software-driven clocks flipped at midnight from 1999 to 2000, the digital shit was going to hit the fan. I blame the origin of the worldwide freak-out on the nerds.
Y2K collectively freaked out the nerds, because every single software engineer has been bitten by reports of edge cases that we previously believed to be impossible. We’ve been shocked how often a demo has become a product and remained in production for years. We know that it is an inherent property of complex systems that they will contain both our best work and our worst guesses.
I call this state of mind the Nerd Burden. It’s a curse put upon nerds who know how a system works, and, more importantly, what it took to build. Understanding the Nerd Burden is a good way to get into the nerd mind and start to figure out how to manage nerds.