Friday, May 20, 2005

What a relief

I read an article in 43 Folders about productivity that made me feel better with myself. It talks about the excessive obsession that some people present over a new technology when it appears, more because is new and looks "cool" than because it addresses a problem that couldn't be solved before with another existing technology in an effective way. emacs vs. vi, ruby vs. perl. And it's an idea I've had present but have never been able to calm down and express it clearly.

So a new world appears in front of me: Getting Things Done. Just make a google search and you will see what I mean (if you already don't know). And it has a whole bunch of zealots posting on their blogs for the sake of it. Some of them very interesting, of course. And not only literature, but also ideas like the GTD wiki or the Hipster PDA.

And how about backpackit, the new trendy web based PIM? Talking about productivity take a look at the impressive video of ruby on rails on how to set a web application in seconds; some free blog services are already running on rails.

The world spins really fast indeed, all these things all over there since half, one, two years ago without me noticing them. How couldn't I!? I remember two years ago being asked to implement a knowledge based system so I thought about a database with a web interface. Well, eventually the computer it run on crashed badly one year later and when we were facing the reconstruction of the new system somebody proposed to make a wiki. A wiki!? I know wikipedia, but I'd certainly never installed a wiki mylself. At the end we had one up and runing two weeks later, and we still use it. But is not extensible. But hey! "a google search"(TM) and you will discover plenty of things over there to give functionality to your application. Bad thing being that neither PHP, nor J2EE, nor ASP.NET nor any of the other web heroes will integrate seamlessly with our humble python based wiki (moinmoin, by the way).

So as Merlin, the author of the beforementioned 43 folders, says on his blog we sometimes give more stress on how to improve the productivity than on actually put our hands into it. In his wiki this is referred as productivity pr0n, name I particularly enjoyed (as I did with his "geek friendly" remark about the GTD book).

I think it is easy to distinguish between that obsession for the technology because of the technology itself from the will to solve a problem by using the technology. But even so discussing with narrow-minded "micro$oft sucks, man!" just get me on my nerves. Maybe I cannot prevent it from happening, today I read from an interview to Rita Levi-Montalcini that the brain is, as 50,000 years ago, actually controlled by its emotional component --particulary the aggressive one-- and not by its cognitive component. She added nevertheless that nowadays we fortunately have computers to compensate this lack of evolutive potential.

Today's learned lesson: to look for the truth out there when I feel frustrated about something.

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