The Herd Of Kittens - References

The "Herd Of Kittens" image has appeared numerous places, some with much more fanfare than others...


By far the most stunning was the EDS Superbowl 2000 Cat Herding Ad. A full thirty seconds of cowboys driving a herd of cats across the plains, grooming them, and talking about them. Oh, and a little bit at the end explaining "In essence, this is what we do." The video apparently involved 60 cats, before the digital effects...

And yes, I did get (amusing) mail congratulating THOK on our SuperBowl Ad...


Aside from the classic Washington Post Magazine quote, the phrase turns up now and again. A more recent, more dramatic splash appeared as a full two-page ad in The Economist, 2002 May 4th, in the middle of the Science and Technology section. Infonet takes the reverse approach: "Without the right solution, you won't get far" with a picture of a bunch of unimpressed cats, lounging around, hitched to a dogsled, from the sled passenger's perspective. The ad itself is also online in their "About Us" section, as as PDF file that might make a good screensaver if copyright weren't an issue.

"Computer programmers tend, by and large, to be quirky and highly individualistic. Trying to organize or manage such awkward characters is normally as thankless as herding cats."

           -John Naughton, "A Brief History of the Future"


There are dozens of Management Seminars (books, tapes, lectures, etc.) with "Herding Cats" in the name; Google leads many of them here, according to the logs. None seem to specifically refer to kittens, as far as I've been able to find...

Dr. Fun, a long-running Internet cartoon, recently did a bit about career aspirations of cat herders.

A coworker at MetaCarta (2002..) noticed that the company name anagrams to "A Cat Tamer".

As of late 2004, google(thok) points first to a page on "THeory Of Knowledge" (arguing that the TH is the initial greek letter) but follows shortly thereafter. I suppose the power of blog-comment-linkage is evident in the observation that the first hit is actually to the bloggery pages, which I use as my signature link.

Herding Cats: A Primer for Programmers Who Lead Programmers (Paperback) was published in 2002; as one of the amazon reviews puts it, "We're cats?!" "Better than being sheep..."

"Managing a volunteer open source project is a lot like herding kittens, except the kittens randomly appear and disappear because they have day jobs." -- Matt Mackall