Reinventing the wheel

You shouldn't reinvent the wheel. Reinventing the wheel is the best way to understand the wheel.

Example 1

I worked as a freelance web designer and developer. One of my clients was a director of photography. He wanted an online portfolio. My proposal was to build a static website without using any CMS (“Content Management System”: a computer application that allows the creation and modification of digital content, like WordPress).

I argued that my solution would cost less, take less time to develop, and require cheaper hosting.

On the flip side, updating the portfolio would require basic HTML and server management understanding. I offered to include a few HTML and file transfer courses in my proposal. I'd show how to add ready-made snippets of HTML into a document and upload it to a server, so my client could add new media content himself. My client was playful and smart. He agreed.

That project never shipped.

Example 2

I often want to tell something about an experience or an idea I had. But most of the time, it never gets out there. I start by writing a note, and I get lost thinking about presenting it nicely, packaging it into a separate web page, and making it relevant and thorough enough to stand on its own.

These are impossible and counterproductive targets for what is essentially thinking out loud notes. As a result, most notes I write end up forgotten on my iPad.

Then I got an idea: create a presentation template, make the process of adding new notes as automatable as possible, and dedicate a page to all the notes. In one word: blog.


It is very tempting to tinker and try to come up with new solutions for every problem. But sometimes the best way to go is to use a proven solution.

Nevertheless, I enjoy traveling the path and reinventing the wheel. It illuminates the history of things and how they came to be.

Other examples