Are we too complex is a post that I originally wrote on the now defunct Alwayson Network regarding the thoughts of Dan Geer on complexity in technology.
Dan’s ideas are interesting because they make sense to the man in the street. For instance the more complex you make something, the more likely it is to go wrong. This makes sense whether it is a sophisticated mechanical device or a piece of software. I looped his thinking into my own because I believe there is a ‘sweet spot’ for technology sophistication and usability. Classic examples of that sweet spot would be Videoplus remote controls, pre-Symbian Nokia phones, Palm Vx and the original iPod. They’re largely intuitive, they do one thing really well and they just work. By comparison, most PC software and operating systems probably don’t.
Geer considers this primarily from an information security point of view. But he also realises that computer experience is an important part of security.
Dan points out that our ability to use computers as individuals is not increasing as the same rate as computing power and storage. For the past seven years I surfed the web. listened to music and churned out documents on behalf of my clients. The only difference is now that I use a more powerful Unix based workstation laptop (my Apple iBook) to do the same thing. What’s the point? I am not more efficient or effective.