Thursday, March 21, 2019

Complexity and Fidelity, What it's Going to Take Just to Keep Going

Is it fair to say that everyone loves simple? Or maybe prefers it? We prefer to choose to be puzzled rather than puzzled by what we must choose. Simple means fewer variables, complex more, and old Occam was right about keeping out matters that have no place in the equations of understanding or choice. Well, except by choice.

One of the things we've learned is that complexity is required to do difficult things. It isn't only matters complex that make this computer operate or function in cyber world. It is also that there are certain persons who appreciate complexity, who like the processes, who love the wonder of the details. For most of us the complex is merely confusing: what we don't understand may be dismissed or denigrated because we aren't familiar with the languages required to do the job.

But as much as we may _want_ things complex to _be_ simple, it may be as much the case that we want complex matters to _appear_ simple, particularly for those of us less skilled in the particular expertise and skills we would need. Apple design has prided itself on just such a vision: make the _use_, ,the interface so easy that nearly anyone can learn. But, lest we forget, the insides are mightily complex, a lesson we are reminded of especially when things don't work the way we want them to.

Cell phones employ quantum theory, without which they are mere fantasy. But using the computer, cell phone, or your more more reliable today than 1975 automobile requires only a bare minimum proficiency in interface, not quantum physics, neither electrical nor mechanical engineering. What we didn't have then, we can't fix now. Sure any decent could fix your AMC Hornet but nowadays nothing happens without a computer hook up that is prerequisite to the work.

Complexity efficaciously hidden from us is often what we need and crave. Virtuosity is making difficult things look easy but it is also the ability of virtuoso to turn genius into beauty. By beauty I mean to invoke a sense of elegance, gracefulness, and felicity rather than that which is merely pleasing. But if things ain't pleasing, we're usually low on attention span and short of patience. More importantly, given the pressures of modern life, when things take up time our frustrations and stress require more complexity, like what it takes to book a vacation.

Having more choice is, by definition, admitting to more complexity. After all, fewer is simpler, more is complex. So we are selective and particular about the _kinds_ of complexity we like and what it takes to master _enough_ of "the argument" to experience beauty.

Complexity is dangerous too because ignorance---not the willful kind but the sort that involves difficult expertise--- and choices make people more vulnerable. When we require more experts, we must commit to greater trust. This being an "informed consumer" is no small beans, whether those involve counting what's left in your pockets or your faith in humanity. When individuals invoke chaos, we seek a false simplicity when what we need is faith in those who empower us to manage a complex world.

Now we've arrived at the crux of the matter. The greater our relationship and dependency on complexity, the more necessary and vulnerable we become, the more our trust and commitment is put on the line. Our emotional, often physical peril longs for whatever protection and attenuations we can achieve. We ache, we have algos ("pain" in Greek) for a homecoming (nostros) and literally "nostalgia" kicks in: we not only want things we can understand and do, we want to _trust_ that things will be okay. Whether they once were may be another illusion with which we contend but life isn't going to get simpler anytime soon---or so you should hope.

What is required is that we gain a greater feeling of confidence, become closer to the heart, with those on whom we depend and from whom we require complexity. It is this deeper fidelity we seek first and last: the rest is just stuff. Winning minds is still, above all things, winning hearts.