Saturday, October 20, 2007

Less is More applies to More than Less

As Shakespeare famously put it: "Brevity is the soul of wit". In the world of literature, verbosity is often frowned upon and expressing your meaning clearly with the minimum number of words is generally a good thing.

Perhaps surprisingly, the same holds in programming. Most accomplished programmers code in a style that is efficient and clean with the maximum accomplished in the minimum lines of code. Duplication or adding unnecessary lines of code is generally considered bad form.

And it also holds in electronic gadgets, where less is definitely more. Just look at the race between manufacturers for slimming down TVs, cameras, music players, laptops, and whatever else they can get their hands on.

In fashion too, a measured understatement is often (though not always) equated with elegance.

There appears to something inherently aesthetic - or even noble - about the less is more principle which cuts across many fields.

What's the pull ? Does it matter how long a writing is if the meaning is expressed ? who cares if a camera or a media player weighs an ounce more or is a few millimeters thinner ?

It's not utility that drives this aesthetic - perhaps it's efficiency ? Getting maximum return from minimum effort seems to be inherently pleasing to human psyche.

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