An Obsession with Tools
Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Disclaimer: This is a quasi-philosophical article with motivational undertones. Pass no further if that doesn’t interest you, but thanks for coming this far. Gorgeous pictures incoming though
When I was younger and still wandering aimlessly around, without understanding the purpose of life, tools were the furthest thing from my mind. Why merge those two, you say ? We’ll get into that. When I created AMALGAM, the spark to ignite my for love tools lit up, the fire it created that day is still burning now. We’ll first start by defining a tool and painting that definition with a broad brush. It doesn’t need to be physical; software too are tools. The aim of a tool is simply to make the impossible possible, the difficult easy, the time-consuming tasks time efficient. Yes, time. At a fundamental level tools saves you time and is there anything in life more precious than time ? I mean, I’ll stretch a limb into the philosophical realm in discussing this but the concept of time is truly something magnificent. We’re born with a ‘fixed duration’ on this world and everything we do, we pay in time. Think about it, you work, earn and progress in life and hope to save enough to live your last days in peace reminiscing the good olden days.
The moment we open our eyes and let the first cry, the countdown begins to the only certainty in life, death. The amazing aspect of time is that it is always flowing, whether you decide to act or choose not to. I like to use the analogy of games when drawing a comparison to life, an RPG game. For those who don’t know, Role Playing Games are ‘lifelike experiences’, you make choices throughout the game which eventually choose your ending, good or bad. Reap the fruits of your labor or face the consequences of your sins. Life has certain similarities but it’s not like an RPG. In a game you get a pause, save game for going back if you mess something up or simply quit if you’re tired. If life is a game, it’s a hard one, no matter who you are. Some would argue that is what makes it so beautiful but I would partly agree. It’s not exactly fair that we’re not given the same time frame and same starting point. (Take it up to Him, not me) Yes, we have geniuses and disabled people too but we’re focusing on the everyday person, the average joe, you and me.
Imagine that in the past (300-500 years ago), it would be nearly impossible to change your station in life within a few decades, I’m talking about rags to riches stories. Yes, we had them in the past but the instances were fewer than now, a lot fewer. And one of the reasons for that is because of the accessibility of tools. A few decades ago, the computer programming platform was restricted to a narrow clique. Now, you know how it is, just google ‘tech motivational videos’ and you should see my point. In my case, it started with 3D design, whose ancestors were molding and scaled drawings. From there, there was 3D printing, I am in Mauritius while someone in China prints my designed part at 1/15 of the price and sending me enough feedback to make iterative improvement.
Then Photoshop and recently Betty, the engraving machine. The landscape becomes more competitive as everyone is placed on the same operating level. We can all agree that healthy competition is a great driving force for progress and innovation. I mean, if we only needed the bare essentials for life, we would still be in a cave as hunter-gatherers, humanity’s first profession. Needing only fire to cook our food but nothing beyond that. So when I’m writing these words right before mid-night under an LED tube, I cannot help but think what the future holds for us. Being an optimist with a dash realism, I know we’re not getting flying cars but it’s getting a lot better than now. There’s still ways to go in war-torn and third world countries and the least we can do is be hopeful but it’s getting better.
*Dials above: The Modern Tribal. Designed, tested and assembled in Mauritius. However, I wish to tackle the other side of the coin, a darker side. Quoting Dmitry Fadeyev in his article titled “Obsession With Tools”:
"Obsession with tools is an insidious form of procrastination. This form of resistance masquerades itself as the opposite, as a form of improvement and development. Surely, if you’re spending time and money researching and getting the best tools for the job, the stuff you produce will improve? Won’t you have an edge over your competition–those who didn’t take the time to optimize their workflow by getting better, faster or more powerful gear?
Maybe. Probably not.
There is no argument that providing everything else stays constant, better tools will produce better results–after all, that’s what “better” tools do. Whether the tool is a piece of software, a new mobile phone or a screwdriver, the better version would probably do a better job at its task.
The problem is this: better tools come at a price. Whether that price is time spent researching all the options or money spent buying them, there will be a price to pay. This presents a great opportunity for Resistance to jump on board and take control. If you’re spending all your time “optimizing” whatever it is you’re doing, you end up not doing anything at all.
It’s absolutely great if you can find a way to do things faster or better. If you find a tool that solves your problems in a more efficient way, use it. It would be a mistake not to. The problem is when you get so obsessed with having the latest and greatest that the gains become less than time spent looking around and managing all these great tools. Don’t fall prey to Resistance and get sucked into premature optimizations, wasting time on gear–time that should be spent producing things.” “People use equipment as a crutch. They don’t want to put in the hours on the driving range so they spend a ton in the pro shop. They’re looking for a shortcut. But you just don’t need the best gear in the world to be good. And you definitely don’t need it to get started. -Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson, Rework” (highly recommend this book if you’re looking to start a business) Hope the above provided a different look. Thanks for reading so far, we’ll be adding a different twist to our articles just so we do not fall into the monotony of only watches. It’s a journey so we might as well enjoy the rainbows and sky from time to time. Always forward, ARH out.