So, now I come to the part where I make my plea: no new tools, please. If you are interested in improving how people work, you should devise methods for work, manners of behavior, and methods of decision making. Document your ideology and apply it with existing tools, so nearly anyone can follow along. Why don’t you use our best tool? Language. Increasingly, I feel documentation beats an app if you’re trying to shepherd an idea along. This approach seems to have worked pretty well for David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Josh Clark’s Couch to 5K. Of course there are innumerable apps supporting each method, but the ideas are bigger than an app, so you don’t need to download anything. Buy a notebook or put on your running shoes. Commit to the plan. They are not leaky buckets.
Consider making a program for people, not a program for a computer. I don’t want a new app to help me do work; I want different ways to think about work so I can get more done. It’s a nuanced difference, but I think it is an important one.
Frank Chimero, “No New Tools”
I came across this article by Frank Chimero on a day in which I spent my working hours migrating digital notes into another software tool. And what’s more, many of the notes are about new tools, for the computer as well as the mission field. The article quickly became a favorite. No new tools, please. We have what we need to do good work.
So we see the same essential point being made over and over again, since the middle of the nineteenth century at least. Ruskin, Illich, and Franklin all see that there are technologies that liberate human creativity, that enable human power, and, by contrast, technologies that enslave us, that force our very being into conformity with their codes and structures.
Alan Jacobs, “John Ruskin: Fit the Third and Last” (May 27, 2018)
In Jacobs’s final Text Patterns post.
Time and practice really do help.
Except with the websites. They separate themselves from the others, because I don’t feel much better at making them after 20 years. My knowledge and skills develop a bit, then things change, and half of what I know becomes dead weight. This hardly happens with any of the other work I do. …
If knowledge about the web deteriorates quickly, it’s worthwhile to develop a solid personal philosophy toward change and learning. …
“Go slow and fix things.” …
The web also needs diligent people so that the idea of what the web is and what it does remains legible to everyone.
Frank Chimero, “Everything Easy Is Hard Again”
‘When I look back over the last 25 years, in some ways what seems most precious is not what we have made but how we have made it and what we have learned as a consequence of that,’ he says. ‘I always think that there are two products at the end of a programme; there is the physical product or the service, the thing that you have managed to make, and then there is all that you have learned. The power of what you have learned enables you to do the next thing and it enables you to do the next thing better.
—Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, in an interview with Nick Compton
Nick Compton, “In the Loop: Jony Ive on Apple’s new HQ and the disappearing iPhone,” Wallpaper* (Dec 2017)