MIT simplicity expert (and designer and computer scientist) John Maeda, author of The Laws of Simplicity (out now), has some simplify-your-life advice that isn’t about buying more stuff (see phonebook-sized Real Simple if you want to go that route).
Maeda presents ten laws (they’re outlined in full at lawsofsimplicity.com) — one of which, “Reduce,” uses the acronym SHE: Shrink (to human scale, whether engineering a remote control or tailoring an e-mail to human attention spans); Hide non-essential functions and information (the Swiss Army Knife principle that works equally well with, say, PowerPoint presentations); and Embody quality (e.g., with a thoughtful marketing campaign that adds an aura to your product or enterprise) to compensate for what’s been lost by shrinking and hiding.
The book fascinates with real-world examples, like how Apple briefly screwed up its iPod with additional buttons, and how the iPod satisfies market demands for both what Maeda calls “nude electronics” (smooth, innocent-looking) and aichaku (Japanese for “attachments to artifacts”). The nude, simple thing is made personal with a game of “dress-up” (cases, accessories).
Maeda’s slim book is profusely illustrated, and it’s simply eye-opening.
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