Academic journal article Visible Language

The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

Academic journal article Visible Language

The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

Article excerpt

JOHN MAEDA THE LAWS OF SIMPLICITY DESIGN, TECHNOLOGY, BUSINESS, LIFE Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006 ISBN 0-262-13472-1 108 pages, hardbound, $20.00

Everyone has technology tales - some devastating and some miraculous - it is a common thread through our lives. John Maeda, a member of MIT's Media Lab writes this small book as a technologist, user and father. I review this book as a long-time user from the punch cards and computer lab mystics of the early 70's, to the purchase of a used Apple Il in the late 70's, to the digital revolution of the mid- to late-80s and its energetic and pervasive continuation.

As the digital world becomes more ubiquitous - interpreting our actions and preferences - it provides unsolicited information, forming the unavoidable platform for our work, memories and even sense of identity. We endure micro-anxieties in relation to technology when we anticipate that something can go wrong and then when it does, the time we take from other activities (whether pleasurable or essential) to seek repair or resolution of the breakdown. Our digital dependency spawns micro-anxieties and life seems simultaneously more efficient yet more complex. This goes beyond feature creep in technological devices or planned obsolescence as marketing or economic ploys respectively, as it is about our life in relation to the digital objects we use.

Maeda is thinking about a remedy that is the title and substance of the book, The Laws of Simplicity. He admits that he hurried to get the book out as it is more than timely and he admits that not all the 'laws' are reliable or well worked out. …

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