The fallacy of the shiny new toy

I like making new things, coming up with cool approaches to problems, “inventing the future” as Alan Kay would put it. It’s a heady experience to realize you have found a different and possibly better way to do something.

But that wonderful emotion can be a trap. A new thing that you have created is your baby, and we love our babies beyond all reason. The sheer exuberance of fresh discovery can cloud the mind. We believe the world needs our creation — partly because it may be true, but partly because we want to believe.

As difficult as it is for me, I’ve started putting more effort into trying to turn around my point of view, to see it from all sides. Instead of only asking “How can I make the world understand why it needs my beautiful creation”, I’m also trying to ask “What does the world need?” Sometimes it turns out not to be my shiny new toy after all.

And maybe that’s ok.

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