Friday, April 2, 2010

A reduction of complexity

Clay Shirky offers a primer on the collapse of the old model.

Among the rules of thumb she offers for building in that environment is this: “If you want something to be 10 times cheaper, take out 90% of the materials.”

When a going concern tells you they can not do something, what they are really saying is

we don’t know how to do that.


A world where that is the kind of thing that just happens from time to time is a world where complexity is neither an absolute requirement nor an automatic advantage.

When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.