Complexification – Resolution 1


Like most computer geeks, I love to play with new electronic gadgets. And for many years I felt that way about most software, not wanting to wait for a new product release, but trying to always get into the beta versions to see what new features were added. But lately most of the thrill of new software has worn off. Why I ask?

I’ve been giving that a lot of thought recently and I came to the conclusion that when the new software features take more effort to learn how to use them for the amount of effort I might save, then why complicate my life and my brain with more software application trivia. Software companies come out with new releases of products every so often for one of only a few reasons:

  • They need to match or one-up the features of a competing product.
  • They need to fix bugs introduced in the last version of the product.
  • They need to increase their sales revenue.

Ok, I’m all for fixing bugs. I’m even all for adding new features when those features will make my life easier. But how many of the changes in the latest release of the software package of your choice really make your life easier?

We stopped by a Wendy’s the other day and the line at the counter was at least a dozen people long. The single cashier working the counter seemed to spend more time trying to enter the order information into the touch-screen terminal than in gathering the order for the customer. In fact, for one person in front of us trying to pay with a bank card, the cashier seemed absolutely puzzled and seemed to have tried the same process at least a dozen times before calling over the manager. During this time, four more people got into line and two left, tired of waiting. The manager finally came over and proceeded to try the same process as the cashier. It must have been the same process because he got the same results. Finally after 3 more people got into line and 2 more left, the manager finally completed the transaction. Touch-screen terminals were suppose to make things easier, right? When customers are leaving in disgust at the wait, I venture to say that we have reached a point in which the complexity of the process is no longer a benefit. I remember my first fast-food experience back in the 60’s. Somehow they managed with primitive equipment to take my order and get my food in a fraction of the time it takes today.

So what does this mean today on the day before Christmas? Nothing more than to just remind all of you that sometimes the simple things are the best. Complexity without making our lives better is an unecessary burden. Perhaps this Christmas we can all make the vow to appreciate the little things in life, reduce the complexity that we have to deal with or force others to deal with, and take time to enrich our lives with our friends and family rather than becoming a slave to increased technology just for the sake of technology.

Thus my first resolution for the new year is to try to reduce complexification in my life and those whose lives I touch by ensuring that the benefits of any new technology I use or ask others to use outweighs the overhead and stress caused by it.

Merry Christmas All and remember that the Spirit of the Season is not what you drink.

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