Oliver Wendell Holmes is quoted as saying, “For the simplicity that lies on this side of complexity, I would not give a fig, but for the simplicity that lies on the other side of complexity, I would give my life.”
Whether we are exploring the soul or building a new piece of software, humans inevitably move from lower to higher levels of complexity at first. One of the principles used by historians to date the relative age of different versions of the same text is that longer versions are more recent than shorter versions. Later contributors are more likely to add to an older version of a text than to shorten it.
The pattern of increasing complexity continues as long as the utility of whatever is being made more complex also increases. At some point, the direct relationship between utility and complexity inverts and the creation, whether it’s an idea or a widget, becomes too complicated, unwieldy and less useful.
The next challenge is to simplify in order to maintain or increase utility again. This new simplicity contains within it the learning gained from earlier complexity, but now it is distilled and purified.
The difference between the soul and software is that the soul never becomes obsolete. Simplicity that transcends complexity is timeless.
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