The obvious solution to complexity is simplicity

A new blank page was waiting to receive my input as computer user.

User.

Another typical word, eh, used in today’s computing age.

As if computers and its applications work like drugs. Well, maybe they are.

  • We use “personal” computers to get our daily job at work done.
  • We use mobiles for social media that many replaced for “social” life.
  • We use devices, because many of us believe we can’t live without it.

Obviously, as principal consultant in the tech industry I embrace the conviction we do indeed need computers in our modern lives. Only as long as computers and its background processes stay exactly there: in the background. I vividly remember this quote from Bill Buxton, Principal Scientist at Microsoft Research, when I had the honour to hear Bill speech in late 2013 during a Lead Enterprise Architect Program (LEAP) talk:

If you know there’s a computer involved, it’s a failure of design

So perhaps we do behave like users on drugs made from a cocktail of bits and bytes blended in silicon shakers that we call computers. But that surely doesn’t mean we are users like failed addicts to poorly designed apps. The big problem with modern apps for social media and games: they’re created to be addictive by design, which severely sacrifices the user human productivity.

I’ve tried to think of a better word than user. After all:

  • Somebody using a vehicle is called either the driver or passenger; not car user.
  • Anyone using products or services is usually called the (end) customer; not final user.
  • And if you use (as in employ) a professional, you’re the respected client; not some user.

So far, the only alternative word I came up with during my latest customer engagement: fuser. I coined it for super users since they play a vital role to fuse fellows with new system(s) like freshly molten pillars of the bridge between mainland and its remote ‘Island of Techies’.

Bill continued his talk with the biggest problem of all:

Complexity.

As a device gets easier to operate, combined with other devices and systems it goes over the threshold of human capacity for grasping the big picture. We have to prevent this problem with complexity. According to Bill Buxton, only two rules apply:

  1. Every new product/service provides great experience and excellent value, it works and flows;
  2. But each must also reduce the complexity and increase the value of all of the others. Together.

He illustrated the in-car experience with mobile phones as beautiful example of how totally different devices already work and should work together: seamlessly, also when changing environments.

In Bill’s talk and article The Long Nose of Innovation he stated it takes, on average, 20 years from idea to full adoption. In addition, he stipulates how innovation is about knowing and mining the history of the original or combination of ideas:

  1. Find it
  2. Refine it
  3. Turn it into gold

Making the obvious, obvious; before it’s obvious. That’s what active creativity is about. So allow me to state the obvious:

It’s the ecosystem, stupid.

Not just the Microsoft-ecosystem, but the entire system. An holistic approach. No walled gardens. That’s why you see Microsoft developing cross-platform software for subsystems like Apple (both iOS as MacOS), Linux and Android more and more now.

If you’d ask me which creative people found and refined the next wave of computing:

Nex Computer, the makers of NexDock, their first product ready to launch on Indiegogo.

Obvious name too, right?

Hopefully the NexDock team turns its plastic into gold like alchemists of the 21st century, since I have no stake whatsoever but would love to become a happy (f)user as one of their early adopters.

What's your thought on this topic?