Tool Hostage Taking

Day 245 Week 36 Q3 Sunday, September 3, 2023

Have you ever been taken hostage by a new tool? Are you addicted to trying new tools all of the time? Does tool exploration sometimes feel like you are making progress on your projects? Have you hidden behind telling yourself I just need to learn this new technique or this new tool?

I am guilty of all of these and more. The rate of change of available tools to do what we want is staggering. There are new tools seemingly every day. In fact, I haven’t been a toolmaker in my previous life, and I find myself incredibly attracted to these new tools. I’d like to understand why they exist, how they came to be, and their business model besides trying to determine how they can help me accomplish my goals.

And then there is the in-between ground, which is neither strictly a tool maker nor a tool user but someone who is able to fiddle with the tools by making many adjustments and changes so that they become customized to your workflow of the moment. While all of this is fascinating and potentially useful to my creative process, I often find myself being taken hostage by the tools. Now I realize I have taken myself hostage, not the tools themselves, but the net result is the same. I find myself playing with tools, imagining options, and re-designing the various feature sets instead of working on my creative process.

It is also appealing because sometimes this is truly part of your creative process, as it permits you to express yourself in a superior manner. The problem is that you can spend all of your time imagining the ways that your expression can be improved and not do any expressing whatsoever. Even if you manage to break free from being theoretical into becoming empirical, you can still be held hostage to experiments forever. And unless you were a magazine reviewer, podcaster, or someone who is attempting to report to the rest of the world with these tools can do, this makes no sense whatsoever.

Except for the fact that it is truly pleasurable and developmental, it may even turn out to be useful. And you may not be able to tell in advance. This makes it similar to trying to lose weight but enjoying the taste of food so much. We know we have already eaten our fill, but we continue to eat more anyway because it is so good. Using the advanced tools can be just like that. Because just as we need to eat to survive, we also need to use contemporary tools to be competitive.

In fact, you may have noticed that many chefs have ample waistlines. In the same way, many toolmakers are advanced tool users, which puts them in the equally precarious position of eating more than their fill.

It is an occupational hazard in both cases. Try not to let yourself be taken hostage by your tools.