Chasing the new new in Tech

Everywhere, I see young developers looking to work on the newest technologies and paradigms. This is rarely more evident than in the Cloud, Web and Mobile domains, where the rate of change is extreme and frameworks and tools that were leaders three or four years ago have often fallen by the wayside. They chase the new new, and they do so with the zeal of evangelists.

As an old(er) developer, I find the rate of change dizzying and impossible to stay on top of alongside all the other constraints that a busy work and family life brings. Sometimes, it feels disheartening; an acceptance of an inevitable slow but certain decline.

At other times, I wonder at the cost and certitude of this approach. We built incredible things twenty years ago, and the tools we used then are still just as useful now in many places. An app isn’t successful because of its technology alone, nor a game by it’s engine or graphical prowess. Many of the current advancements are more single steps up than paradigm leaps, and others are the culmination of numerous tiny improvements on well-known and understood architectures. Others that are really different or transformational, often lack the maturity that allows them to be widely deployed in an enterprise, where support and security costs often trump and performance and productivity gains.

Personally, I’ve come to appreciate Gunpei Yokai’s philosophy of “Lateral Thinking of Withered Technology”. The lack of surprises, the depth of understanding, and the comfort of long expertise all help outweigh any negatives coming from performance or currency. I’m taking this view in the tools I use for building games or my hobby projects, especially when they bring with themselves a simplicity of tooling and approach. I can focus more on the problem and how to solve it within the constraints of the platform, rather than dealing with both the problem at hand and the platform itself.

In Industry, I see Banks doing exactly this. They’re ever conservative on technology choices, and often lag behind current advancements and versions until those are proven elsewhere and have become the standard. It might not make them very interesting to work in, but as a manager now, I can understand and appreciate that caution.

Image Courtesy Tomasz Frankowski on Unsplash