Complex

Today, someone out on twitter mentioned how power users insist on the complex, while the ordinary users stick with the simple. No. It’s more complicated than that. And, these days there is on excuse for the complex.

Lately, I’ve been watching machine learning videos and going to geek meetups. One guy was talking about how machine learning is getting easier as if that was a good thing. And, he is a geek. Easier, simpler happens. And, as it does, the technology can’t generate the income it used to generate. Once the average user can do machine learning without geeks, what will the geeks do to earn a living? Well, not machine learning.

The technology adoption lifecycle is organized by the pragmatism of the managers buying the stuff and the complications and simplicities of the technology. The technology starts out complicated and gets simpler until it vanishes into the stack. It births a category when it’s discontinuous, aka a completely new world, and it kills the category once it has gotten as simple as it can be. The simpler it gets, the less money can be made, so soon enough everybody can do it, and nobody can make any money doing it. We add complications so we can make more money. Actually, we don’t. Things don’t work that way.

So I drew a technology adoption lifecycle (TALC) vertically. I’ve modified the place of the technical enthusiasts in the (TALC). They are a layer below the aggregating mean. They span the entire lifecycle. I left Moore’s technical enthusiasts at the front end of the vertical. And, I’ve extended the technical enthusiasts all the way out to the efforts prior to bibliographic maturity.

Complicated

I used the word “Complicated” rather than complex. Complicated is vertically at the top of the figure. Simpler is at the bottom. The left edge of the technical enthusiast slice of the normal is the leading edge of the domain where the complicated, the complex is encountered. The complex can be thought of like constraints. Once you simplify the complex there is more complexity to simplify. The vertical lines represent consecutive simplifications. Where there are many vertical lines, the complications are those of the people working on the carrier aspects of the complexity. I drew a horizontal line to separate the early and late phases. I did this to ghost the complexity grid. There is more than enough going on in the distribution itself. the vertical lines below that horizontal line are the complexity lines related to the TALC phases on the right side of the TALC, to the right of the mean, to the right of the peak. Or in this figure, instead of the usual left and right, think above and below.

In the diagram, I put “Simpler” above (to the right of) “Complicated.” This is then labeled “Simpler 1.” We are still in the lab. We are still inventing. This simplification represents the first task sublimation insisted on by the TALC. This task sublimation happens as we enter into the late mainstreet, consumer phase. Technical enthusiasts don’t need simpler. But, to move something out of the IT horizontal into broader use, it has to get simpler.

Simpler is like graph paper. “Simpler 1” is distant from the baseline and aligned with the TALC phases, although the diagram separates them for clarity, hopefully.

The device phase, aka the phase for the laggard population, absolutely requires technology that is far simpler than what we had when we moved the underlying technology into the consumer phase, late mainstreet. Devices are actually more complicated because the form factor changes and an additional carrier layer gets added to everything.  The orange rectangle on the left of the device phase is the telco geeks and their issues. The carried content gets rewritten for simpler UI standards. The tasks done on a device shouldn’t be the same as those done on a laptop or a desktop. The device phase presents us with many form factors. Each of those form factors can do things better than other form factors. But, again, the tasks done on each would be limited.

In Argentine tango, when you have a large space in which to dance, you can dance in the large. But, when the crowd shows up or the venue gets tiny, we tighten up the embrace and cut the large moves. Our form factor shrinks, so our dance changes.

How would basketball feel if it was played on a football field?

The cloud phase, aka the phase for the phobic population, requires technology that is totally hidden from them. They won’t administer, install, upgrade, or bother in the least. The carrier has to disappear. So again the UI/UX standards change.

The phase specificity of the TALC should tell us that each phase has its own UI standards. With every phase, the doing has to get simpler. The complexities are pushed off to the technical enthusiasts who have the job of making it all seem invisible to the phobics, or simple to the laggards, or somewhat simpler to consumers.

Task sublimations, simplifications, are essential to taking all the money off the table. If we get too simple too fast, we are leaving money on the table. When we skip the early phases of the TALC and jump into the consumer phase, we are leaving money on the table.

But, being continuous innovations, we don’t bother with creating value chains, and careers. They get the technical enthusiasts jobs for a few months. They get some cash. The VCs get their exit. It has to be simple enough for consumers. More simplifications to come. But, the flash in the pan will vanish. Continous innovations don’t put money on the table. That money is on the floor. Bend your knees when picking it up.

Technical enthusiasts should not cheer when the technology gets simplified. Maybe they need it to get simpler, so they can use it. But, it is going to continue to get simpler. And, real science in the pre-bibliographic maturity stage will be complex or complicated. It won’t get more complicated. It will get simpler. Simper happens.

That doesn’t mean that everything has to be in the same simplicity slice. It just means that the simplicity must match the population in the phase we sell into.

One complication that doesn’t show up in the diagram is that the TALC is about carrier except in bowling alley. In the bowling alley, the carried content is what the customer is buying. But, that carried content is a technology of its own, so the carrier TALC, and the carried TALC meet in the bowling ally. Each of those technologies gets simpler at their own rates. These intersections show up in late mainstreet when you want to capture more of the business from the vertical populations. This is a real option. But, it will take quite an effort to hold on to the domain knowledgeable people.

The diagram covers much more ground. Today, we just called out the complicated and the simple.

Enjoy!

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