Beautiful Systems: Simplicity
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“Simplicity as a system?”
“It’s a deconstruction and systematization of the simplification process. A practical blueprint.
The system visually looks like this:
All the components of the system are mental models.”
“Can you give a few details on how it works?”
“Let’s say you have a set of data-points you want to simplify. How can you do it optimally?
One way is through filtering. That’s essentially asking two questions:
What 20% of the inputs are responsible for 80% of the outputs?
What’s the most important / impactful thing? (from within the 20%)”
“What if there’s more than one most important / impactful thing?”
“Think of it as your focus-point. Isolating them individually allows you to explore each of them in depth.
Another way to simplify them is through elimination of data-points.
What can you eliminate?“
“Would you eliminate the 80%?”
“Depends on what you’re after. In some cases, yes, that’s the optimal approach. But in other cases, you just want to refine the data set. You can metaphorically think of it as editing, or pruning. You’re cutting away some branches to allow the rest to grow.
Another elimination approach is paraphrasing, eliminating data-points by rephrasing the language.
What can you express with fewer words?
The final way to simplify them is through integration. Joining data-points together to form a new emergent whole.”