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Lucia Cerchie
Lucia Cerchie

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The Line Between Willingness to Learn and Shiny Object Syndrome

I've been thinking a lot recently about shiny object syndrome, "a pop-cultural, psychological concept where people focus on a shiny, new object, in other words whatever is most current, trendy, or the latest concept, regardless of how valuable or helpful it may ultimately be" Wikipedia

Stuff in tech tends to develop exponentially. We feel the FOMO when we see another developer on twitter gushing about their experience with some new tooling on the bleeding edge of programming.

On the other hand, because knowledge's power increases in the capacity that it's shared, it's important for the development of our field that we remain open to both teaching and learning new things.

So what's the difference between chasing after shiny objects and maintaining the growth of knowledge? I maintain that it lies in a pause. This is the pause between becoming aware of a new tool, and implementing it.

In this pause, we can ask questions that can help us decide whether to adopt the new tool. I recommend these:

  1. Why am I interested in this? Is it because it is helpful to me in some way, or because I see a lot of other people using it?

  2. What does the tool do? Will it further the goals of my project? My team?

  3. What's the risk involved in adopting this? If it's a personal project, do I have the time to invest in learning this new tooling? If it's a team project, how well-established is this piece of new tech? If we make it a dependency, what's the risk of it failing? What effect would that have on the project as a whole?

I'm sure there are more good questions to ask, but these are a few I've come up with. Let me know if you have more to add!

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