Random Thought: Simplicity is Vested Interest

A quick random thought today: Simplicity is vested interest.

If you find an organization, a system, a piece of software that is too daunting to use—you find yourself lost in it—you probably can't understand why there are people enjoying using it, sometimes even saying it's "easy".

My theory: You have to be a beginner at the beginning of the organization, system or piece of software in question. You have to grow with it. Most systems (here I mean system as a generalized entity in the most broad sense) are actually designed with simplicity in mind, perhaps with the exception if it's designed by committee. Life is hard, world is complex, and I now take a more benign view of humanity: That we'll want to simplify.

But as the title of a book by Sempé says it, rien n'est pas simple (nothing is simple). Not that the system is wicked and designed to confuse you in the beginning. The thing is, as the system grows, it becomes complex.

So say if you started using Microsoft Word in the mid 1980s and you are a blackbelt user, what's the problem? You understand the history and the changes of the software. Or say if you started paying your first tax when the world was much simpler—without all the complicated tax credits, deductible financial instruments, retirement plans and so on—you probably can deal with the incremental changes and burdens every year.

Sadly, it's often hard for us newbies to tackle the established establishment.

Simplicity, then, is a vested interest. You have to start at the right place in the right time to enjoy the initial simplicity of a system.

Unless, of course, you start anew with your own system or entity. Creative destruction, or mobility, and a general atmosphere (let's say a meta-system) that accommodates or even encourages people leaving the crushing establishment to found their own—to harvest their own vested interest when the entity matures to rot, is the best thing that a society can do and should do.