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An Invisible Metric

05/02/2021

Almost a decade ago, I started developing weird games and animations in Flash. I got interested in the ubiquitous online Flash games we had at the time, and I started reimplementing whatever I was curious about.

Recently, I found some of my old Flash games in some dusty corner of my backups. Why was making those Flash games so much more fun than the programming I have been doing recently? One reason was that Flash was super cool. But surely there must be other cool things these days as well?

One plausible reason could be: once you understand how something works on a higher level, the "magic" dissappears. For example: if you've always been interested in how code compiles, and then you build a toy compiler, that "magic" dissappears. Sure, you still have a lot to learn beyond building a toy compiler, but then the question is: do you actually want to learn the boring details?

I now think that the "boring" stuff is extremely important. An ideal situation would be if you could do what you're interested in 100% of the time. But we don't live in an ideal world. The back-and-forth between boring and interesting stuff (in a healthy ratio) is important.

The most important thing is that there should be progress. So long as you keep moving forward, you will reach your destination; but if you stop moving, you will never reach it.

- Eliezer Yudkowsky

While I like to focus more on the journey than the destination, I have realized that expecting the journey to be interesting 100% of the time doesn't work. Doing "boring" stuff is better than doing nothing at all. If you stop doing boring stuff, you miss out on opportunities that lead to interesting experiences later on.