Sunday, May 23, 2010

Curious about Complexity: How Does It Harm or Help You? Or Just Puzzle You? How Do You Deal With It?

Definition of Complexity: The state of being complex; intricacy; entanglement. That which is complex; intricacy; complication.

I love to work. I love to have complexity.” - Mary McDonnell, American actress

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it.” - Alan Perlis, American scientist

Because I spend many hours on the computer, I repeat many of the same techniques often. I find it is easy to become a bit smug as I whip through the technology tasks I assign myself. That is until I experience a week like this past one. Yes, you guessed it. It was filled with complexity.

I was preparing a high tech presentation for a computer user’s group, using a program that is unfamiliar. I gave the presentation on Thursday night, and it went well. Then a member of their group gave a presentation that I found was filled with so much complexity for me, I can’t begin to give you a slim idea of what it was all about.

And, that wasn’t enough. Since then, I have been grappling with updating a local website – already complex – using a new, updated program that used to be familiar and fun to use. Now it is the epitome of complexity and mystery.

The positives of all of this complexity are that I am learning new techniques, along with giving myself many big “pats on the back” when I successfully jump another hurdle. It has also made me love Yoga even more for helping to keep me calm throughout.

I didn’t find a huge number of complexity quotations, but I love the ones I did. Here are some of them:
  • Reduce the complexity of life by eliminating the needless wants of life, and the labors of life reduce themselves.” - Edwin Way Teale, American naturalist, photographer and writer
  • The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.” - Douglas Horton, American clergyman
  • It doesn't matter how much you want. What really matters is how much you want it. The extent and complexity of the problem does not matter was much as does the willingness to solve it.” - Ralph Marston, American athlete
  • Dealing with complexity is an inefficient and unnecessary waste of time, attention and mental energy. There is never any justification for things being complex when they could be simple.” - Edward de Bono, English psychologist
  • I don't really have preferred roles except those with some complexity.” - Richard Roxburgh, Australian actor
  • “I have been interested in phenomena involving complexity, diversity and evolution since I was a young boy.” - Murray Gell-Mann, American physicist
  • The purpose of narrative is to present us with complexity and ambiguity.” - Scott Turow, American novelist

And just a couple more to think about:

And so from that, I've always been fascinated with the idea that complexity can come out of such simplicity.” Will Wright, American scientist

Everything from airplanes to kitchen blenders and even chopsticks comes with an instruction manual. Children, despite all their complexity, do not.” - Lawrence Kutner, American child psychologist

So, how do you deal with complexity? Let me hear about it.