Curiosity as a Service — Literally

Kent Beck
Kent Beck
Jul 3 · 3 min read
The downside of curiosity

service: contribution to the welfare of others

“Why are you adding 9 reviewers to this PR?”


When my theoretical understanding doesn’t match my observations I question my theory. What would have to be true for those 2 hours not to have been wasted, but instead to have been a valuable way for us to spend our time?

  • Direct payoff
  • Compounding
  • Scale

Too Much?

But hey Kent if everybody spends all of their time making everybody faster and nobody does any work, then no work gets done, right? Perhaps, or maybe we get so infinitely fast that a random quanta of real work builds the entire product in a nanosecond. Could happen. Not likely.

  • 15% of time goes to related work without expecting a payoff (refactoring, automation, alternate approaches)
  • 5% of time goes to being a curious geek without any need to connect to payoff

Language Warning

As I wrote this I found it hard to avoid judgmental and apologetic language. I kept wanting to say “indulge your curiosity”, like curiosity was some exotic flavor of ice cream that you ought to be ashamed of wanting. Beating myself up for indulging, in the sense of doing something for myself without thought of the cost to others, is a burden I’ve carried far too long. One of the beauties of geeking is that you can enjoy what you do while serving others. Watch your language as you talk about and think about what makes you a geek.