New and Shiny — Not Always a Good Thing

I love technology. There's no point denying that unmistakable truth. There was a time, not too long ago, that I constantly craved the latest and greatest, be it hardware or software. All too often I would jump on the newest trend, almost always at the expense of my existing workflows and productivity. This tendency however, has slowly started to fade, giving way to something entirely different.

TL;DR: No scripts or enticing workflows, just some mindless muttering and an obvious conclusion. Still, you may enjoy the read.

I could tell you I'm through testing new software or services or experimenting with alternative workflows — but I'd be lying. The era in which we find ourselves is rife with novel, ingenious and exciting apps and services making that temptation almost too great to resist. At the same time, it's the era in which we live that has made me change my ways.

In the past few months we've seen several examples of what seems to have become the norm. Developers will start a project, build a solid user base and then, for whatever reason, simply kill it off. The reasons1 are almost always valid and the decision a sound one, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck, especially when it was a paid service, in which case it's harder to accept.

Making My Case

If it please the judge, I present you with exhibit A – Everpix. Many words were written and spoken about Photography workflows. How iPhoto wasn't the ideal tool and having your photos in Dropbox was the way to go. Almost all those workflows had a common denominator — Everpix. That however didn't stop them from shutting down after hemorrhaging money. While I did see the allure of having my photos accessible on all my devices, I was a little weary of their subscription model and held off a little while — and it would seem as though I made the right call.

I now give you exhibit B – Doo, another service/app that crossed my radar and piqued my interest. The idea2 behind Doo was the right one and although initial releases of the Apps were buggy and not feature rich, they quickly remedied this in subsequent releases. I can't quite explain why the service didn't stick in my daily workflow, but once again that was a good thing since they're shutting down too.

For exhibit C I present you with Editorially. If you're unfamiliar with it, Editorially was a collaborative text editor on the web. For anybody that does writing that needs to be reviewed by their peers, it was a great service. Unfortunately, and despite having a solid user base, they too are closing shop. Luckily though there's still Draft, another excellent service and one that seems to have a healthier revenue model for a solid future.

This of course isn't always a bad thing. A prime example is my final exhibit – Google Reader. While it's demise was highly disruptive for anybody that relied heavily on RSS, it also opened the doors to a barrage of alternative, and frankly better services.

Lessons Learnt

If there's anything I've learnt from these few examples is that new and shiny isn't necessarily better. Rather than charge boldly where no user has gone before, I should tread carefully and slowly.

Now when a new service or app rears it's head, I'm reminded of a couple articles I've read. One by my friend Matthew Guay, where he defends that a Another App Won’t Solve Your Problems. This resonates very loudly with me, given my recent task management shenanigans. I also try and answer the question What problem does this solve?. If I can't come up with a satisfactory answer, then I'll stick with what I've got. Finally, Daniel Jalkut argues that stability is not stagnation. I've come to agree with him3.

It would seem that the best and safest bet would be to stick with what is tried and tested. Sure, explore new worlds, setup alternative workflows and when they're stable, migrate mission critical data. Hopefully that'll be reasonably more sound than blindly following the trends.

To that end, I've started simplifying my workflows and app choices, keeping only the essential for what I need to get stuff done. After all, that's what they're there.

As much as I love Due4, I can get by just fine with Reminders, especially given how easy Fantastical5 makes it to input reminders using natural language. For tasks, you're all sick and tired of hearing about this, but I've gone back to basics, making things work how I want and need as opposed to bending to their ways. Slowly but surely, workflows are becoming more efficient all the while apps are being culled.

T'is amazing what you can achieve with simplicity!


  1. Inadequate planing, poor adoption rates or just down right bad luck. 

  2. Aggregating all my documents in the various cloud storage solutions around a tag based management system. 

  3. Although that wasn't always the case

  4. iOS | Mac 

  5. iOS | Mac