Simplicity

The state of the world

In my room, the world is beyond my understanding; But when I walk I see that it consists of three or four hills and a cloud.

Capitalism as cancer

It’s been extremely successful; then again, it has to be:

A capitalist economy, by definition, lives by growth; as Bookchin observes: “For capitalism to desist from its mindless expansion would be for it to commit social suicide.” We have, essentially, chosen cancer as the model of our social system.

Ursula K. Le Guin, quoting social ecologist Murray Bookchin

On surfboards and yachts

And being close to the water:

Baldwin: How many sitcoms could you have launched with the imprimatur of your name on it? You could have your own channel. The Jerry channel.

Seinfeld: Yeah. But I didn’t take that bait…because most of it is not creative work. And it’s not reaching an audience. You want to be on the water? How do you want to be on the water? You want to be on a yacht? You want to be on a surfboard? I want to be on a surfboard.

Let me tell you why my TV show in the ’90s was so good…In most TV series, 50% of the time is spent working on the show, 50% of the time is spent on dealing with personality, political, and hierarchical issues of making something. We spent 99% of our time writing, me and Larry.

Sitting quietly

I have often said that the sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his own room. A man wealthy enough for life’s needs would never leave home to go to sea or besiege some fortress if he knew how to stay at home and enjoy it. – Blaise Pascal, Pensees, VIII, 136

Update: apparently sitting alone is so unpleasant that people would rather give themselves electric shocks.

Simplicity and decisions

You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” he said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.” He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s why shopping is so exhausting. “You need to focus your decision-making energy. You need to routinize yourself. You can’t be going through the day distracted by trivia.” – Barack Obama, via Michael Lewis

Kevin Kelly’s faith

Some pretty unique ideas, mixed with very traditional creeds. As might be expected from one of the world’s foremost technology philosophers.

God has given us free will—true free will, not a phantom free will—and he wants us to surprise him. We are here to surprise God…

I seek to find those technologies that assist me in my mission to express love and reflect God in the world, and then disregard the rest. But at the same time, I want to maximize the pool of technologies that people can choose from, so that they can find those tools that maximize their options and minimize the rest…

When we make these virtual worlds in the future—worlds whose virtual beings will have autonomy to commit evil, murder, hurt, and destroy options—it’s not unthinkable that the game creator would go in to try to fix the world from the inside. That’s the story of Jesus’ redemption to me. We have an unbounded God who enters this world in the same way that you would go into virtual reality and bind yourself to a limited being and try to redeem the actions of the other beings since they are your creations.

A wall of sound

A virtual wall of the Buddha Machine boxes, looping ambient music in unplanned combinations: Zendesk – FM3 Buddha Machine Wall.

The design of the boxes themselves is also elegant and simple. On/off, switch loop, change pitch, built-in speaker, runs off a single AA battery. I just ordered three…

“Simple Trumps Complete”

That phrase succinctly describes the most important design lesson I’ve learned this year: that focusing on the simple core of a concept is more important than filling out its features.

“Simple trumps complete” – a 5% feature (used by less than 5% of all users) is a distraction for all the other users, and is better removed, unless its really critical (a small number of users do need to cancel service, for example).

I also love the term “attentrons” for the energy people spend to comprehend elements of a design.

Busy and lazy

When I’m lazy, I get busy–my schedule fills up indiscriminately. When I’m busy, I know I’ve been lazy.

A mentor advised that “you have to continually fight off those predators that are trying to eat time away from your calendar.” A woman in Choosing Simplicity said that she wrote “NO” on the top of every week’s listing in her agenda so that she’d think hard before accepting something to do that day.

One technique recommended by author Jim Collins for simplifying your schedule is to create a “stop doing” list.

One year ago I wrote that to be innovative, it’s sometimes more important what you don’t do than what you do. That extends even to removing things that no longer are working.

You have to make room for good things to happen to you.

Desiring what you have not

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.” – Epicurus