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Competition Above Usefulness

Tuesday — January 5th, 2016

This week is CES. Whoever is behind @internetofshit has their work cut out for them.

Data 3

I think a good takeaway from the annual cavalcade of laughable USB dongles is to avoid making a CES project. CES projects are silly, pointless, and trying overly hard to be something they clearly are not. Beyond the illusions of grandeur, CES projects put competition above usefulness.

I do plenty of CES-worthy work every day on my own. I’ve spent more time messing with caching and stylesheets on this site than actual posts. This work is more for imaginary competition than it would ever be useful for.

Competition isn’t evil and isn’t terrible all around but it’s the wrong focus for 80% of use-cases. Competition is a really good way to get really good at very specific metrics that only the competitors care about. It puts a pressure to do silly things that make your work better in ways that help no one. Processor manufacturers have been at this for years.

Sometimes competition can produce useful results. More often, focusing on being useful makes you very competitive. After seeing the onslaught of mediocre-looking Bluetooth dinguses, I have to ask myself: “Am I doing this to be competitive or useful? Am I making a CES project?”