Complexity


#1

I am reading “Simplexity,” the 2008 book by J. Kluger. He writes:
"Electronic devices … have gone mad. It is not just your TV or your camera or your twenty-seven-button cell phone with its twenty-one different screen menus and its 124-page instruction manual. … The act of buying nearly any electronic product has gone from the straightforward plug-and-play experience it used to be to a laborious, joy-killing experience in unpacking, reading, puzzling out, configuring, testing, cursing, reconfiguring, stopping altogether to call the customer support line, then calling again an hour or two later, until you finally get whatever it is you’ve bought operating in some tentative configuration that more or less does all the things you want it to do–at least until some error message causes the whole precarious assembly to crash and you have to start it all over again. … "

After elaborating on this topic (for several pages), the author concludes that “there’s necessarily complex and then there’s absurdly complex.”

What he does not analyze, at least in the chapter I am reading, is the effect all this may have on the minds of our push-button youngsters. Push-button experience is very different from building radios, repairing grandfather clocks, tractors, cars, etc. Will the overall effect be positive or negative? What do you think?


#2

I believe the overall effect will most certainly be negative. The push-button mentality stifles genuine hands-on creativity and craftsmanship. It promotes a lazier (and less fulfilling in the long term) virtual substitute. Not saying I haven’t fallen afoul of this myself to some degree (although I’m not physically able to do a lot), but kids growing up in this mindset are significantly harmed by it in my opinion.


#3

Hard to say…one could argue that for the new world it will be positive, allowing for more technical minded adults able to cope better in a technical minded world.
Still I personally believe it’s become negative, I mean compare a cell phone with 4G, mp3, all the apps, etc with a radio you build yourself. The cell phone is obviously doing more than the radio and it’s far easier to obtain (just go to the store) but there’s no…attachment to it, no sense of pride in having built it, the cell phone is just a thing that’s going to lose any special interest inside of a month and it’s going to be obsolete inside of a year. The radio may do less but you’re keeping that baby around for years because you put effort into making that, always a certain satisfaction in seeing your own 2 hands create something like that. And if that radio is ever obsolete it’s only because you built another, better one to replace it.