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Is simplicity overrated?

Don Norman and Joel Spolsky think simplicity is overrated, which has led to a flood of responses. I highly recommend spending a few minutes exploring all of this, most of the posts are short and well worth reading. In summary:

I think what Joel is saying is that you need features, but they need to appear simple to the end users.



Superlions of Botswana, an amazing story of evolutionary adaption. In the same vein, an article on the evolution of a lactose-tolerance gene in East Africa.


James Surowiecki from The New Yorker comments on how Nintendo may be winning the console wars by taking third place. Also of interest, an article about the design of the Wii and an interview with the designers. I never, ever, play video games… and yet I have a strange urge to buy one of these.

The Perfect Movie Formula

Gladwell on the formula for making perfect movies. Speaking of movie formulas, the Netflix Prize offers a million dollars to the team that substantially improves their movie recommendations. The data of course reveals lots of fun facts, such as these lists of loved, hated and contentious movies.

Scott Adams hacks his brain

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, managed to hack his brain to circumvent a rare illness called Spasmodic Dysphonia. A wonderful story that reminds us that we can solve a lot more of our own problems than we sometimes think. And he’s done this before.

The Expert Mind

Following up on my Myth of the Prodigy link, here is an interesting article on the Expert Mind.

The Myth of the Prodigy

Malcolm Gladwell on The Myth of the Prodigy. I heard Gladwell give this talk at Google a few months back. Interestingly, the impression I had gotten was that the kids from Hunter College were doing better than just okay — that they were not famous, but all very happy. Perhaps the smartest kids are those who learn how to be satisfied with a balance.

Good post by 37Signals on finding inspiration.

Dieter Rams

Great article about Dieter Rams, the designer behind many of Braun’s most iconic products.

Most of the objects in the house – the furniture, the electrical goods, the shelving and even the door handles – were designed by Rams.

More on Rams

Ambient signifiers

Great article on ambient signifiers, or how subtle cues can unconsciously improve user experience. The Tokyo subway, for example, has a distinct tone for each stop, which user progressively grow attuned to.