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Into the Unknown Unknowns: Observability with Charity Majors
Episode 614th October 2021 • Collaborative Craft • 8th Light
00:00:00 00:39:58

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The speed of development and change in software engineering enables exponential growth and innovation. It can also give rise to ever-increasing complexity and the creation of critical, yet fragile, systems. Recently the idea of achieving observability has gained attention as an alternative approach to legacy tooling within complex distributed systems, where it’s simply not possible to monitor for every possible failure.

Charity Majors is the cofounder and CTO of On this week’s episode, Charity discusses observability not only as a practical tool for creating performant and reliable production services but also as part of a fundamental shift in the practice of software development as a whole.

  • (05:53) - Being an operations engineer
  • (08:43) - Specialization, not separation
  • (10:58) - Startups starting operations
  • (14:24) - The most important thing an engineer can do
  • (16:06) - Open telemetry
  • (17:55) - The beginning of observability tooling
  • (23:15) - Friction of midstream changes
  • (25:43) - The value of metrics
  • (29:17) - Coexisting with current solutions
  • (33:21) - Draining workplace hierarchies

Check out Charity’s The Engineer Manager Pendulum

Charity is the cofounder and CTO of, and author of O'Reilly books on observability and database reliability engineering. You can find Charity at,, and on twitter @mipsytipsy

Thomas Countz is a Senior Software Crafter at 8th Light where he works with a variety of ambitious teams on a variety of ambitious projects. A true curious nerd at heart, Thomas digs into everything from robotics and cider making to bouldering and Shakespeare’s comedies. To hear even more about Thomas, you can follow him on Twitter at @thomascountz and visit his blog at

Jerome Goodrich is an adoring husband, new dog dad, and all-around curious explorer. Through his work as a Principal Software Crafter at 8th Light, Jerome leads amazing software teams to design and develop thoughtful solutions to complex problems. He loves pairing strenuous hikes with deep conversations and is always trying to see things clearly and with an open heart. Jerome lives much of his life off of the internet, but he occasionally writes on his website:

8th Light partners with businesses and community groups to craft software that unlocks human potential and makes the world a better place. We’re passionate about designing for people, inspiring through education, and empowering the future. With teams spread across the globe—including Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, and Madison—we’re always eager to hear about ambitious new projects. Learn more about our team and reach out at

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Podcast episode production by Dante32.