Past Meetup

John Allspaw on Common Ground and Coordination in Joint Activity

This Meetup is past

97 people went

Two Sigma

101 Ave. of the Americas, 23rd Fl. J · New York

How to find us

Cross Streets: Watt and Grand. Note: Please make sure you’re signed-up for the meetup, including your first and last name. Without this info you won’t be allowed into the building by security.

Location image of event venue


We're very happy to have John Allspaw (, CTO of Etsy ( and author, presenting on Common Ground and Coordination in Joint Activity ( by Klein, Feltovich, and Woods.


The paper I'm going to discuss is the result of what happens when people with backgrounds in mathematics, psychology, and artificial intelligence (Feltovich and Bradshaw) get together to ask questions about how teams operate alongside the originators of modern decision-making and cognitive systems engineering research (Klein and Woods).

The concepts outlined in the paper have provided frames and directions in designing tools and environments where successful work requires multiple actors (whether they are people or software agents!) to succeed. This seminal paper takes a deep dive into not just people and teamwork, but what comprises the sometimes invisible activity of coordination, collaboration, cooperation, and the contracts and expectations entities have with each other along the way.

The paper has had far-reaching influence in multiple domains: military intelligence, space transportation and aviation, and more recently: software engineering and operations on the web. Let me walk you through where this paper came from, what makes this paper critical to the future of software, and a hint about what I'm sure it means about the future.


John Allspaw (@allspaw ( is Etsy’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO), leading the Product Engineering, Infrastructure and Operations teams. Previously, he was SVP of Infrastructure and Operations at Etsy. For over 17 years, he has worked in system operations in the biotech, government and online media industries.

He began his career running vehicle crash simulations for the U.S. government. In 1997, he made the leap to the web, building the technical infrastructures at Salon, InfoWorld, Friendster and Flickr.

John is the author of The Art of Capacity Planning ( and Web Operations: Keeping the Data On Time (, both published by O’Reilly Media. He holds a BS from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and an MSC from Lund University.


TwoSigma ( - Platinum Sponsor of the New York chapter



Doors open at 7 pm; the presentation will begin at 7:30 pm; and, yes, there will be refreshments of all kinds and pizza.

A little different than previous PWLs, you'll have to check-in with security with your Name/ID. Definitely sign-up if you’re going to attend–unfortunately people whose names aren’t entered into the security system in advance won’t be allowed in.

After John presents the paper, we will open up the floor to discussion and questions.

We hope that you'll read the paper before the meetup, but don't stress if you can't. If you have any questions, thoughts, or related information, please visit #pwlnyc ( on slack (, our GitHub repository (, where you can also find the paper (, or add to the discussion on this event's thread.

Additionally, if you have any papers you want to add to the repository above (papers that you love!), please send us a pull request ( Also, if you have any ideas/questions about this meetup or the Papers-We-Love org, just open up an issue.