This is part of a Tech Jargon Defined series focused on de-mystifying common tech jargon terms.
When you're new to tech, you might hear a lot of terms flying around that don't seem to have to do with software at all. What's 'bikeshedding', 'yak shaving', or 'dogfooding'? This series aims to help explain what some of this jargon really means. In this post, we'll look at 'bikeshedding'.
'bikeshedding' means focusing on the minor details in a discussion rather than the issue at hand.
People arguing over what color to paint a bike shed when they haven't built a house are bikeshedding.
In web development, it might look something like an argument about how many categories to organize a blog under, when the CMS and overall architecture hasn't been chosen yet.
This is an example of verbing, or denominalization, which is a common phenomenon in tech jargon. As the name suggests, it's taking a noun and making it into a verb. Other examples of verbing not restricted to tech include 'texting' and 'cupping'.
The word has its origins in Parkinson's 1957 law of triviality, in which he gives an example of a team given the task of designing a nuclear power plant. The team spends most of its time arguing over what color to paint the staff bike shed rather than arguing over serious matters.
The word then gained traction in the software development community and has been with us ever since.