Session type:


Presented by:

Willem van den Ende


Rob Westgeest


Session time:

13 Sep 14:00 16:30

Session duration:

120 minutes

About the session

Stigmergy is a mechanism of indirect coordination where actors modify their local environment. They leave traces for others to follow. Join Willem and Rob to explore how the traces ants leave applies to our practice of software development.

Stigmergy sees ‘agents’ coordinate actions indirectly and decentralised through traces left in the environment. It comes from biology, referring to how e.g. ants leave traces in their environment to sources of food. The trace left by an individual action stimulates the performance of a next action by the same or different agent

‘Good stigmergy’ leaves traces of practice, domain understanding and design that work well for developers to follow. We have also observed things that could be called ‘bad stigmergy’, where developers leave traces in code pointing in the wrong direction and influencing future developers to do the same, like sprinkling code with null checks or hardcoding things well beyond a Proof of Concept.

Note: this session runs for 120 minutes + 30 minutes for afternoon break.

Participant takeaways:

  • Discover ways in which you and others create and use stigmergy in your work.
  • What does ‘good’ stigmergy look like?
  • What is a ‘bad’ stigmergy for you?
  • Find new vocabulary to describe which things are ‘in effect’ at your place of work.

This session: 

  • Includes interaction / group work
  • Has a session number cap: 30 participants

Problem solving, innovation, people, systems thinking. 

About the speaker(s)