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  • Donald E. Hester

Simplexity - Book Review

Simplexity is an interesting book that covers a number of knowledge areas unrelated to a career in IT. Later in the book, however, it talks about simple and complex user interfaces. People want the power to have many options in a user interface however it quickly becomes overwhelming for users and they can settle for less features to have a more manageable interface. This is what Apple has done with the iPhone. It has a simple interface but lack the options you get with other phones like the android. There seems to be a sweet spot between a complex or simple interface that is where software developers what to aim for broadest market adoption of their software. Kluger talks about a complexity arc where by the sweet spot in the instance is on the top of the arc.

Simplexity Book Cover

I think good software design has a simple interface for most used functions and then has an advanced menu with all the more detailed options. That is because I want the advanced options. I like the level of control I can have, even if it is "hidden" a bit in the interface.

At any rate, the book covers other interesting areas of complexity and how some rules of complexity apply to more than one discipline. It was a fascinating read.

Some of the examples he discusses in the book are:

  • Financial markets

  • Emergency response evacuations

  • Traffic flow

  • Society

  • Government

  • Politics and military organizations

  • Customers and clients

  • Biological organisms

  • Epidemics virology

  • User Interfaces

Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple)

by Jeffrey Kluger

From Amazon

Why are the instruction manuals for cell phones incomprehensible?

Why is a truck driver's job as hard as a CEO's?

How can 10 percent of every medical dollar cure 90 percent of the world's disease?

Why do bad teams win so many games?

Complexity, as any scientist will tell you, is a slippery idea. Things that seem complicated can be astoundingly simple; things that seem simple can be dizzyingly complex. A houseplant may be more intricate than a manufacturing plant. A colony of garden ants may be more complicated than a community of people. A sentence may be richer than a book, a couplet more complicated than a song.

These and other paradoxes are driving a whole new science--simplexity--that is redefining how we look at the world and using that new view to improve our lives in fields as diverse as economics, biology, cosmology, chemistry, psychology, politics, child development, the arts, and more. Seen through the lens of this surprising new science, the world becomes a delicate place filled with predictable patterns--patterns we often fail to see as we're time and again fooled by our instincts, by our fear, by the size of things, and even by their beauty.

In Simplexity, Time senior writer Jeffrey Kluger shows how a drinking straw can save thousands of lives; how a million cars can be on the streets but just a few hundred of them can lead to gridlock; how investors behave like atoms; how arithmetic governs abstract art and physics drives jazz; why swatting a TV indeed makes it work better. As simplexity moves from the research lab into popular consciousness it will challenge our models for modern living. Jeffrey Kluger adeptly translates newly evolving theory into a delightful theory of everything that will have you rethinking the rules of business, family, art--your world.

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