Ars Electronica on simplicity
Under the guidance of John Maeda (of the MIT Media Lab), the festival symposium considers what simplicity (and complexity) means in politics, life, art, and technology, pondering questions like: How are we to cope with the increasing degree of complexity in the reality we inhabit? How can we tap and utilize the potential of global communication and realtime-access to information and ideas, to people and markets in an efficient as well as responsible way? How can we develop flexible, adaptable systems, devices and programs that are responsive to our strengths and intuitive capabilities, to support our activities in complex contexts? Which options and features could we possibly do without? And which would we be only too glad to dispense with?
In an introductory interview on the subject, Maeda says “Simplicity begins, of course, with usability. The wish for user-friendly devices and programs is fervent and widespread.We will realize how justified it is when we inspect the plethora of shabbily designed user interfaces that hit the retail shelves in ever-shorter marketing cycles. So even as the writers of advertising-copy are busy ballyhooing the latest results of their company’s purported fixation on user experience and user-centered design, the reality that we, the ones who have actually purchased these applications, are familiar with is, sadly, a different one. How very often we wish that industrial designers would pay more frequent courtesy calls on media artists and soak up a bit of the ambient inspiration during their visits!”