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I think every cohort of software engineers learns this in their own way. I wrote this three years ago.

Chasing the Shiny and New in Software


“I worry that some programmers (and their employers) have this attitude, namely a focus on transitioning stacks to the newest. They pick companies primarily based on the framework, aiming for the latest instead of the best tool for the job. They spend their time playing with new libraries and frameworks, instead of improving their core technical skills. Let's call them stack chasers - those pushing for new technologies (or their own favorite technologies) in a startup's stack, with limited advantages for key outputs (software capabilities that users value, development team productivity).”

I find three key underlying factors:

1. Using marketing (including Hacker News posts), to make tech choices

2. Not having the historical context to realize how ephemeral so many current tools are

3. Software training programs stress DSLs and frameworks because they help you get jobs the fastest (same with job posts)

For practical advice, I always loved Dan McKinley’s concept of a fixed budget of innovation tokens:

Choose Boring Technology http://mcfunley.com/choose-boring-technology

Dilemma: I want to make (use of) technology a lot more boring, but in order to do that I need some fairly sophisticated and counter-intuitive technology under-the-hood.


Whether it’s rational or not to chase the newest frameworks doesn’t matter. It’s what keeps you employable.

To paraphrase Warren Buffett - “the job market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent.”

4. Being the SME gives you influence over the direction of the project (whether you deserve it or not).

Some of the wizbang people are clearly benefitting from keeping everybody else off balance. You see this most strongly in places where the people wrote their own framework instead of using an existing one. Great way to keep out new ideas, because everyone you hire is an idiot for a year instead of just a couple of months.

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