Strong opinions, weakly held

There is value in adapting to the world

When I was younger, I was obsessed with the following maxim from George Bernard Shaw’s Maxims for Revolutionists:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.

That quote sprung to mind when I read this post by Sam Stephenson where he explains why he doesn’t invest too much effort in his dot files. Here’s the key bit:

What I discovered is that in many cases, my ability to adapt to a foreign environment without frustration is more important than the benefits of configuring a local environment to suit my whims. And that being able to quickly recreate my environment from scratch is an asset.

I fall more into Stephenson’s camp than I do into Shaw’s at this point, at least when it comes to my own tools. As software developers, we are trying to build things that adapt the world to ourselves, but with experience, I find it more and more important not to bind myself too tightly to any particular tool or process.


  1. Like preferring vim to emacs – for many years you could count on vi being on any random server, no such guarantee for emacs

  2. You have to give up on great tools that are simply unusable in their native state. I guess some of these tools were deliberately designed that way…

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