Use Boring Technology

February 22, 2023

I stumbled upon this article a while back, Choose Boring Technology. And I’ve been indirectly thinking about it ever since.

The words “use boring technology” just stuck with me. Every now and then I would think back to this article. Vaguely remembering the contents, but just that phrase. A phrase that isn’t present in the original article. An idea that’s been molded and developed in the back of my head overtime. Whenever I would come across new technology and implement it some way, I tend to come back to this idea. An idea that seemed to say “I told you so,” everytime I hit a roadblock with new cutting-edge technology.

Over time I’ve noticed a correlation between the ideas of “use boring technology” and “keep it simple stupid.” With the emergence and adoption of new technologies complexity is magnified and results in exhausive maintenance.

I’m not here to say that the way that the way you use technology is bad. I personally believe that the way you choose to use technology and what you find works is best for you. Too often I see people trying to push others away from using a specific application or technology in favor for another. “Why use x when you can use y?” It’s understandable if they are simply trying to help them find something better. But if a user is more happy and comfortable using something like Apple Notes instead of Notion, why should you try to force them? Some people perfer the minimalism and lack of features that a software provides. While others perfer the flexilibility and feature rich software and may explore those options. Sometimes people are just comfortable with that technology and they are perfectly satisfied with what they can do with it.

One day I noticed one of my teachers organizing all their work in physical folders with papers all layed out on a table. I was intrigued. Everything nowdays is online, and most people have migrated to that workflow. Seeing a fully physical workflow was a refresher to me. As online workflows are very much the same, and offer emulated replicas of the physical counterparts. She made a comment about how she looked really messy and that she’s aware that she can do this all on the computer. I replied saying that it’s totally okay if that works best for you. Why take the time migrating the workflow to the computer if you are perfectly content with the current physical workflow? Sure someone may come across and say…

Just scan and OCR all your documents that way you can index them digitally and search through them quickly.

But sometimes it isn’t worth the extra effort. Even if on paper, it looks like a better option. If the current workflow works just fine right now, why would I need to go through the extra effort to fix it?

It reminds me when I had an issue with a Samsung TV and motion smoothing. Motion smoothing interpolates the motion and gives movies smoother movement. As a result of this technology several artifacts on the picture are made, and the pacing of the movement is often lost. With this knowledge I explicitly disabled all motion smoothing settings on the TV. I was very happy with the result as the TV wasn’t post processing the image anymore. But I later found that playing any 4k file, I would run into the issue of the TV continuing to motion smooth, despite the settings that explicitly disable it. I planned on watching Puss in Boots: The Last Wish as a family. That film contains several animated elements that are at low framerates which would be ruined through motion smoothing. I had the 4k file loaded and I spent a large amount of my time researching this 4k motion smoothing issue. After wasting even more time trying to get the TV to boot into service mode, I decided I needed to find another solution. I then proceeded to download a 1080p version of the movie–don’t worry we bought and own the movie–to ensure that motion smoothing isn’t applied. And it was as simple as that; the movie looked great and motion smoothing wasn’t present.

So why? Why did I waste my time? I was so fixated on playing back a 4K file and having this motion smoothing setting disabled, I wasted so much of my time. And the same phrase came to me, “use boring technology.” Instead of trying to go in the complex service mode settings of the TV, I could’ve played a 1080p version of the movie. But that’s boring, and that’s the point. So often I am fixated on small technical details in the underlying technology that don’t matter. I build these emotional reactions to these technical details, that if I didn’t know were there I would miss. It’s time to change. I need to stop caring so much for the more technically superior solution and just use the easiest route. More often than not the easiest route is the best, and not initially following that route leads to regret.

There’s a million other ways this phrase applies to everything I do. I cannot express into words the many ways I have seen this in my life. But I can express it’s importance and significance. I hope that the future me or you finds this helpful. Continue to “use boring technology.”