A New York Times article discusses some designers’ call to simplify technology. These people claim:
There is too much needless complexity in the world, he argues. Technology, which was supposed to make our lives easier, has taken a wrong turn. In 20 years we’ve gone from the simplicity of MacPaint to Photoshop. While the first fostered a creative explosion, the second gave birth to an industry of how-to books and classes. And such complexity is commonplace, Dr. Maeda says. Despite the lip service paid to “ease of use,” “plug and play,” and “one-click shopping,” simplicity is an endangered quality in the digital world, he adds, and it is time to break free from technology’s intimidating complexity.
And of course they mention Microsoft Windows. I see their point, but they offer a tired argument. Can you do all the things with MacPaint that you can do with Photoshop? Of course not. PhotoShop (or Word, Windows, etc.) may have a zillion features, but these are programs with lots of users with very different needs. Sure, any individual user may only use a small subset of a program’s features, but there’s a group that needs every feature that’s been included. Contrary to what these folks imply, we aren’t just making things more complex for its own sake.
This morning I took my camera in the car on my way to work, hoping to snap photos of waving man. Considering I see him at most maybe once a month, the chances were slim. But lo and behold, I did pass him this morning. But I had to turn around and come past him again in order to get photos. He didn’t seem to realize it was the same car that had passed the other way a minute before, and if he noticed me snapping photos as I passed somewhat slowly, it didn’t stop him from waving.
Amazingly, I managed to get a couple of decent photos and not crash my car.
Since I titled a recent post “Office Snacks of Mass Destruction,” I thought I’d investigate the use of the term “X of mass destruction.” A Google search for the phrase “of mass destruction” excluding the words “weapons” and “weapon” returns 41K+ results. Guess it’s an official cliché now. Glad to see I’m such a cutting edge trendsetter.
Some highlights of the search results:
Tonight I used three types of toxic insecticides: aerosol spray that shoots the Jet Of Death© 20 feet to kill the wasps that have built nests around the eaves of our house and some stuff that mixes with water from the garden hose to kill bugs that have attacked some shrubs in our yard. In the course of putting up the extension ladder in order to reach the wasps, I discovered–the painful way–a new fire ant bed and used the third chemical to wage the next battle in that unending war.
For the second time this week, someone has burned popcorn in the microwave at work. To my knowledge no corporate drone in America has ever succeeded in popping microwave popcorn at work without, at best, sickening their coworkers with the smell, and at worst causing the building to be evacuated. At least the fire alarm makes a nice break.
One of the shortcuts on my drive to work is on a street that runs next to a residential area. This street doesn’t get a lot of traffic and I often see the residents of the neighborhood out walking and jogging along the street. But there’s one man who always brings a smile to my face when I occasionally see him.
I call him, without much creativity, ‘waving man.’ As he takes his morning walk through the neighborhood, he waves heartily at every passing car, and if you wave back he waves more vigorously and bows. Based on the bowing I saw the other day when I followed a couple of other cars down the street, it looks like other drivers are as familiar with him as I am. He’s always a refreshing site on my otherwise boring commute.
One of the issues on the local ballot this coming weekend is a proposal to create a new county hospital district [PDF link]. This morning, the local TV news played a short report about a group that opposes the district. The group’s sole argument against it, at least according to the very short report, is that they oppose having to pay more taxes. I have no patience for this argument as it has little or no intellectual basis. Give me an argument that you think the current system works well enough, that you oppose paying for public health care, anything besides simply the fact that you don’t want a new tax.