Since few years, we see on the web lists of things : The 10 best thing or the five better stuff. As every body, I’ve clicked at least once (often more) on one of those lists which have only one goal : Increase the visibility of a web site. To increase my visibility on the web, here , the top 5 reasons to not read lists.
1 – Our natural doubt
It’s purely physiological. We are perpetual undecided. We always seek the best solution. And when we got it, we must know if it is the good one. It’s a vicious circle. One of the sign of that perpetual seek is the television. When we are watching TV, it’s impossible for us to not change the channel. Even when it’s our favourite program ! Yes, even when you’re watching Star trek or Game of Throne !
The guilty is our frontal lobe. It is here that serve ou indecision. It’s a natural mechanism, coming from our evolution who push us to seek better.
Our brain, on the other hand, hates change. For him it’s unbearable. Watching lists is the best way to reassure yourself. Took between two fires, one of the perpetual change, and the other of the perpetual conservatism, we choose the reassure ourselves through the lists.
We have in put lists in the same category than framework benchmarks. Yes a framework is slower than calling native API and frameworks only exists to save money and time (french). No need to bench, no need lists.
2 – Technology intelligence
One the characteristic of our Civilisation is the technology intelligence. We must find new technologies. We, programmers, we have to choose the best technology, which will give us 5 or 10 years of work.
The veteran computer programmers have changed 5 or 10 times of technologies from the beginning with so many different paradigms. The actual fashion is to functional languages, but this fashion appears 5 or 10 years from here. Those who had choose this technology are currently the best paid programmers.
The lists bias our judgement because they only reflect the current technologies not those who will come. Don’t forget, the lists are here to increase traffic not to inform you. If you want to know what are the guts of a technology, try it. Just to see.
3 – Our procrastination obsession
We always want to do tomorrow what we can do today. So, lists are the best way to do nothing under the cover of technology intelligence. Reading that WordPress is the best blog engine in the World, the Earth of the Universe is wrong, even if I use it, because there isn’t perfect software. I know it and you know it.
So the top stuff and the top things is a lazy and intellectually poor way to do nothing. You know it now.
4 -Fast to read
The lists only reflect the opinion of … nobody in fact. We find again and again the same lists. There’s must be someone who wrote them first, but often, it’s the same thing written differently with sometimes surprises… in the order. Just try to googling « framework HTML5 mobile« , the same with Bing and with DuckDuckGo. On the top 10 results, there’s at least 4 lists who will talking to you about abandoned frameworks or renamed frameworks. There will still jQueryMobile, SenchaTouch and jqMobile, etc. I recently write a hybrid app with Ratchet2. I didn’t find it into lists but in searching a little (a lot) on the web.
5 – Lists promote sheepism
Seeing again and again the same things, we finish to say « I’ll try it ». And then you adopt it because there is life, the work reality. You know a technology, your boss ask you if you know it, and you say yes.
The fact is that your boss read list too. And let’s go ! Everybody do the same thing at the same time. Even if it’s not a good idea. Frankly, jQuery is great at the only condition you know what you are doing. I will always prefer Prototype.js which is less greedy in memory (yes, I wrote a website who eat 1Gb of memory with… jQuery). Think to jQueryMobile…
At the end, we always use the same technologies at the same time not because they are good, but because they represent the intellectual minimum. The micro-framework such as Flask (Python), Silex (PHP), Sinatra (Ruby) or event mine Banana (PHP) don’t appear in lists because they are not « MainStream » for the developers. For my micro-framework, it’s quite normal. It’s just a try and I didn’t do a huge marketing on it.
Keep in mind that the lists are here to increase traffic to reassure you in the choice you made. They only represent the opinion of « Those who know ». It’s not the opinion of the experts. Explore new horizon rather than write pseudo-intellectual code with PHP, use a pure-functional language such as Haskell or LISP. Build your own frameworks, test new one, and think by your self.
You’ll never waste your time. And if you are lucky, the technology you love will be one day in a list and then… Jackpot! You’ll write books, do some conferences and even, you’ll write lists.
I hope you notice the irony to write a list against the lists.