Great tools choose to be bad at some things

· 1 minute read

Tools convert something you can do into something you want to do. A pencil converts hand movements (what you can do) into markings on paper (what you want to do) with the purpose of conveying an idea.

New tools cause revolutions when they make costly things cheap. But making something cheap usually means making something else more expensive.

The design space is in axes of difficulty that can be flipped. It’s okay to make one thing harder if you can make something else much easier. Design is compromise.

Ask yourself, what can you afford to make more costly?

3D modeling tools make it easy to rotate objects, play with different perspectives and textures — all of which would be expensive to do with 2D drawings. The cost is that you need to create that 3D model and expend resources to render the final output.

Synthography makes it easy to render entire scenes and ideate across styles. The cost is that the output is flattened into a single layer and you have limited control over individual elements of the scene.

Resist criticizing tools for what they are bad at. Resist designing tools that are well-rounded. Instead, choose to be bad at something.