I was listening to an old recording of Steve Jobs’ speech about computers being the bicycles for our minds. In the speech, he observes how humans are one of the least efficient creatures with regard to their locomotion. But given the right tools, in this case, a bicycle, humans suddenly jump to the top of the efficiency list and beat every other animal in existence. And like, without a bike, we can’t get anywhere, without a computer, our thinking can’t get anywhere! We need tools to get where we want to go.
We use so many different tools in our daily life that they are easy to miss. We wake up, we shut our alarm clock (a tool for time management), we brush our teeth with a toothbrush (a tool for dental hygiene), we drink a blended smoothie (a tool for food processing), and we go to our job with a vehicle (a tool for mobility), we do our jobs interacting with a computer (a tool for thought processing and calculations)… And the list goes on. Every aspect of our daily routines is filled with useful tools that make our lives that much easier.
Here the word ‘tool’ should be interpreted as widely as possible; to mean hammers, saws, computers, mobile apps, Adobe Photoshop, algorithms, standards, and others that help us to achieve more in a shorter amount of time. A tool is simply an object that enables or speeds up our process. It can be simple tools, like a toothpick for cleaning our teeth, or a massively complicated machine, like an x-ray machine for medical use, but they both help us do things that would be impossible to do without them.
The same thing applies to software development and software testing. First, we did automation with shell scripts. Then we got the first automation frameworks that made our work much more efficient, organized and systematic. Now, we are starting to have AI and machine intelligence integrated into our automation tools, like machine learning-based image and text recognition – things that would not be feasible for us to do with limited time and resources.
We are tool builders. We don’t actually get that much “better” in our work every year. But our tools do. The tools are constantly progressing. That’s why it is so important to follow how the new tools and technologies are evolving. Because when a new, better tool is introduced, those using these new tools will improve their work so much more than anyone using outdated tools.
And software might be the greatest tool of them all. The ability to program computers to perform these miraculous tasks for us, do the thinking that we don’t want to do or cannot do. Today it is easier than ever to use pre-existing powerful libraries, APIs and tools to perform amazing tasks, such as geolocating, face swapping, image labeling, intense cloud calculations, and microservices, and much, much more.
So, in essence, it’s not about this particular thing that we build. This particular thing might be the greatest thing that ever existed, but it might have taken years of man-hours, money, and resources to build. Really it’s about building tools that make building particular things like that easier and faster.
So, don’t be just a builder, be a tool builder.
The more and the better tools we have, the more we can achieve. We can be more efficient and complete tasks in shorter amounts of time. And we will have more time for the things that really matter, like our families and loved ones.
PS. If you’re interested in electronic music and samples, I did a song remix of the aforementioned Jobs’ speech with a modern music tracker tool FL Studio.
Steve Jobs, “Computers are like a bicycle for our minds” Michael Lawrence Films, Available:
About Tuukka Virtanen
Test automation consultant with technical experience in test automation and quality assurance. TMap Next certified Test Engineer with knowledge in test planning and execution and test design techniques. Master of Science in Information Management. Indie game development as a side project. Creative and visual thinker. The latest assignment included web and mobile game test automation with Appium and Robot Framework in an Agile customer project and regression test automation for websites.
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