Build resilient systems at scale
October 12–14, 2015 • New York, NY

Choose boring technology

Dan McKinley (Stripe)
11:20am–12:00pm Wednesday, 10/14/2015
Location: Beekman Parlor
Average rating: ****.
(4.40, 30 ratings)
Slides:   external link

Prerequisite Knowledge

This is a high-level talk about how to make technology choices, which should be considered relevant to anyone working for a software company. Some allusions to basic set theory and graph theory are present, but the talk is accessible to those without a math or computer science background.


How do you choose the technology to run your business? The prevailing advice du jour is something like: “use the best tool for the job.” This is obviously right, but it is also devoid of meaning in an unfortunate way that lets people define the words “best” and “job” as myopically as they like.

This talk aims to give shape to these nebulous terms. Your job is to keep your company in business. The best tools tend to be the ones that solve the widest array of problems while requiring the least amount of operational overhead. If innovation happens when preparation meets opportunity, I submit that opportunity rarely appears in the form of an unforeseen data loss bug.

Of course, adding technology is sometimes necessary. It’s true that shiny new technologies can be useful, and it’s true that a mix of technology is healthy. But the world is beset by polyglot programmers and microservice proponents. A framework for thinking about these issues systematically is necessary. That process must consider the organization as a whole, and it must reintroduce constraints that have gone to seed in the era of cloud infrastructure.

Choose boring technology. If you can get past this, you can be exciting in ways you can’t imagine.

This talk will be an adaption of this blog post.

Photo of Dan McKinley

Dan McKinley


After starting his career in finance, Dan McKinley freaked out and moved to Brooklyn. He stumbled into a fledgling in 2007, and spent his first years there trying to stop overwhelming traffic from reducing the site to its constituent elements. In the long summer that followed he worked on activity feeds, search, recommendations, experimentation, and analytics. Dan currently works for Stripe from Los Angeles, California.

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