Anti-Entropy Mechanisms and Your Spare Tire.

First, let’s define entropy.

Most of the time in tech, the third definition applies:

 “…(in information theory) a logarithmic measure of the rate of transfer of information in a particular message or language.”


In the database world, though, the second definition also applies: 

“Lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.”


Particularly in the space of data consistency across replicas.  Any database management system worth its salt will employ anti-entropy mechanisms to catch data inconsistency across replicas early. Why?  Because updating one or two rows or columns is way less costly than having to start over from scratch.

So these anti-entropy mechanisms run regularly to determine if replicas are out of sync, then works to get them consistent.  

This is also an important concept when it comes to the area of behavior change.  Humans, like databases, tend to drift slowly into disorder (old, less desirable habits) unless we employ anti-entropy mechanisms in our daily life to check our own consistency.  Whenever I tell a group about my weight-loss, I inevitably hear, “That’s great, but now you have to keep it off.”  While that could be discouraging, it’s a realistic call out for making sure I have anti-entropy mechanisms in my life.

What does that look like and how does it relate to your belt no longer fitting?  It looks like still stepping on the scale and tracking your weight trends long after you hit your goal weight.  It looks like having an accountability partner that you check in with nightly on your goal to get out and walk every day.  It can even mean continuing to track your food intake or measure your waist monthly.  It can mean still putting check marks on the calendar for every day you go without cigarettes or spending 30 mins studying a new topic in your career long after you’ve achieved your career goals.

Personally, I do many of those: track my food, weigh daily, measure weekly, and check in with an accountability partner daily.

The benefits are nearly identical between data and your personal behavior change.  It’s easier to fix drift earlier.  If you wait too long to notice drive you might be starting over completely.

Consider yourself the replica that is in an inconsistent state, and the goal version of you is what you need to stay in sync with.  Anti-entropy mechanisms are the checks and balances of your world that maintain success once you have it.