Birds Aren’t Real: The Lies of Tech Twitter
Social media can give developers a false sense of the tech landscape, especially if they are newer and don’t have as much real-world experience. understanding why requires understand what drives tech content.
The new drives social media
Social content is propelled by novelty. Publishing content about new and experimental technology generates interest and has less competition. What you read on Twitter and tech sites like DEV is going to more often be about newer technologies.
This sample of top headlines from the past week is aggressively new and shiny:
- 7 unique APIs for your project
- CSS Cyberpunk 2077 Buttons – Taking your CSS to Night City (based on a recent popular video game)
- 7 React Projects You Should Build in 2021
- FlexBox Cheat Sheets in 2021
If you want to get more ❤️s and 🦄s on your post, be sure to tell people what year it’s for.
Boring fuels business
In contrast, when working on a project you want reliable, not new. Technology choices in a business context often prioritize de-risking a project, and new is risky. Deep forest software is boring by design, so there is little to write about. And if people did, it would get as many likes and shares.
There used to be a saying “No one gets fired for buying IBM.” In 2021, people don’t get firing for building on Rails.
The reports of Rails’ death are greatly exaggerated
“I thought Rails was dead?” Is a question I’ve seen more than once in dev slack channels. Rails used to be the darling of silicon valley. Today, it’s a mature software solution for building web apps. It’s boring. Rails traded in his hoodie and jeans for a sensible button-down and chinos. He prefers to stay at home and spend time with his kids, Stimulus and Hey.
You can replace Rails with jQuery or WordPress, same conversation. When devs were building the new Whitehouse.gov, they picked WordPress. Why? Battle-tested frameworks get the job done. Don’t let Twitter, DEV, and Hacker News convince you otherwise.
Don’t make Twitter-Based Decisions
Life imitates Twitter.
Social media rhetoric influences real-world decision making. Developers may see popular frameworks and assume they must be a choice. If they not, then why are they so popular? Or, developers may feel inclined to advocate for new technologies for mercenary reasons. “If I work on the new technology, I can write and speak about it, which could lead to new opportunities.”
Appealing to the masses is no way to make technology choices. Appeal to your context and your users instead.