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When we desire a simpler life, we normally mean we want products and services to have fewer steps, fewer controls, fewer options, less to consider. But we also want all the features and capabilities. These two ideas are often at odds.
Life can be really complicated. We face processes daily that seems to repeat itself. Each step needs the completion of a different task to make it possible. We use tools that require us to memorize knowledge and develop different skills just to use them, like figuring out the controls for a fridge.
A conceptual model is the underlying belief structure about how something works.
For example, on many computers, the process of dragging and dropping files into a folder seems simple because people already understand physical files and folders. But understanding it is only possible because of an effective conceptual model. A computer does not have files and folders and will store data in multiple places.
The complexity of a structure is all in the mind. When we want something to be simpler, we only need a better conceptual model of it.
To do a difficult thing in the simplest way, we need a lot of options. When looking an any set of tools for a task, such as a digital photo editing program, a novice will see complexity. A professional sees a range of different tools, each of which is easy to use. They know how to use each option to make a task easier. Without an array of options, the task will be more complicated.
Complexity is a constant. It cannot be eliminated, only moved somewhere else. When something looks simple to use, it can be very complex inside. When something is simple inside, it can result in a complex surface.
The more complex something is, the more controls it needs, whether visible or invisible to the user.
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In many ways, technology improves and enriches our lives. Yet, there is a sense that we have lost control of our technology in some ways and end up victims of its unintended consequences.
When we introduce a new piece of technology, it is wise to consider if we are interfering with a bigger system. If we do, we should reflect on it's wider consequences.
But, if the factors involved get complex enough, we cannot anticipate them with accuracy. Understanding revenge effects is mostly a reminder of the value of caution and not of specific risks.
Jootsing means “jumping out of the system."
Philosopher Daniel C. Dennett describes the process of understanding a system in order to step outside of it as “jootsing,” using a term coined by Douglas Hofstadter.
The concept of jootsing shows us that constraints and restrictions are essential for creativity.
Most of us say we want to be creative—and we want the people we work with and for to be creative. The concept of jootsing reveals why we often end up preventing that from happening. Creativity is impossible without in some way going against rules that exist for a good reason.
When we look at situations, we prefer to look for what is distinct. Instead, we should pay attention to the similarities.
The four words "this time is differen...
When we focus on the differences, we lose touch with the evidence that the similarities point out. The history of a matter provides context.