Entries in mariachi (1)



I found three terrific articles on simplicity this weekend. I like the idea of simplicity and elegance generally, but it's particularly worth paying attention to as we plan Bamboo.

EVERYBODY knows there's a lot of value in the union of POS, Reservation, OMO, Loyalty, and other restaurant data pools. NOBODY believes we can make a solution simple and elegant enough to capture the value of the data.

SO -- Steve Jobs time:

"When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don't really understand the complexity of the problem. Then you get into the problem, and you see that it's really complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That's sort of the middle, and that's where most people stop ... But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, the underlying principle of the problem -- and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works. That's what we wanted to do with Bamboo."

Steve Jobs [quoted in "Subject to Change":, p. 10]

The first article is The curse of plenty: what El Mariachi tells us about writing software. El Mariachi is a 1992 film that Robert Rodriguez spent all of $7,000 filming. He had nothing, but nothing was a blessing, not a curse. Rodriguez had to be creative to get a film shot for $7K. A similar tale is told in Stephen Spielberg's 1975 archtypal summer epic Jaws. What had Spielberg done before Jaws? "Duel" - a nice made-for-TV movie with Dennis Weaver, but otherwise... NOTHING. He had almost no money - if he'd had more $$$, we have seen more fake-shark in a much worse movie.

The second article in this theme comes from Wired: The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine. The basic idea here is that we're in the midst of a revolution of just-good-enough technologies:

  • mp3,
  • skype,
  • the military "predator" aircraft,
  • and medical mini-clinics

are just 4 examples of technologies that should have been too simplistic to be widely adopted, but were adopted anyway. I might make the case that Open Table is another example -- a primitive reservation system tied to a lot of other crap - where people put up with the primitiveness and the crap to get to the essence: online reservations.

The final variation on this theme is pure software from Stefan Tilkov's blog: The Web in the Enterprise.

The basic argument here is that most enterprise software sucks (Coming from Oracle, I'd refute this if I could ... I can't). Web software is, by contrast, oversimplified and primitive, but IS elemental and (in it's best cases) DOES NOT SUCK. Tilkov notes:

Your users probably don’t care much about the things you think they do. They basically want to find information, enter some data, hit a button, enter some more data, and be done with it. They don’t care about being able to use the right mouse button, don’t care for dragging and dropping things, and entirely happy with a pretty basic design.

The elegance here is the characteristic of leading web apps to restrict themselves to just what a user wants to do. That leads us back to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who stated:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to remove.