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Old 08-28-2007, 07:35 AM   #1
George
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Default Keep It Complicated???

If new is better, and change is progress, then complicated is _____???

Bare with me a minute.

Do you remember the movie, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold ? Is the plot award winning? The plot certainly is highly complicated, but does that by itself make it good? Just how does the plot’s constant complications make the movie some form of art? Yet, ever since this movie came out, overly complex became a standard of what is good in plot. However, in reality I have to believe that complexity by itself in plot reduces the story to mere trash. Sorry.

And, if the movie doesn’t have an overly complex plot, it seems it has to have something very complex anymore – our concept of creativity has changed, but I don’t think it’s progress at all.

I watched TV for five minutes the other day. One channel had a very young woman singing. The melody was so complex, I don’t know how it could be called a melody. But that seems to be the standard now. And the lyrics were complicated as well, and abstract – not “I love you more than the ocean is deep.”

Two other young women were dancing behind the singer, and the moves were complex enough to be considered at times a form of epilepsy. Is that art??

The Beatles were very popular at first, I think, due to simple melodies and lyrics. But then came Sgt. Pepper, and things began to get complex. So it went with music, that it continued becoming highly complex, and that is what the young people want. (But then being a successful singer was never a simple process).

The next channel was Spanish, women modeling bathing suits. The suits were cut the same as always these last decades, but the prints were very complex, as was the jewelry elaborately eclectic.

The next channel was football, and sophisticated screens quickly flashed a multitude of statistics, while highlighting on the field helped follow downs and measurements. Complex and sophisticated to keep the game simple to follow.

When I did my master’s thesis, I took a highly complicated problem that existed for centuries and set out a simple solution. I could see the resentment from the professors. I was supposed to take something that seemed simple, and set out why it was complicated. But what could they do (?) – they knew I was right, and so, they merely said an oral defense would not be necessary, and they changed the classroom instruction to conform. It made me think I didn’t want any more formal education.

People want complex!!! Complicated is good, and their association with it makes them valuable. But can they really explain to me what happened in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, or how the complications make a difference to theme?

Web sites are getting more and more complex. It can help create the psychology for a unique environment and experience. But do I have to become complex, for the sake of being complex, or lose the competitive edge?? The new generation wants complex. Can I be complex and keep it simple?? I think the answer is, I need to strike a balance. But how should I do that?? What would Sgt. Pepper say?? Did he really know what he started??



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Old 08-28-2007, 08:32 AM   #2
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I tend to take a “less is more” approach to many things, but am not sure I can agree that that everything is growing more complex. “Marriage of Figaro” predates The Spy Who Came in From the Cold by a few centuries, but “Marriage” has, arguably, as complex a plot. When it comes to Le Carre, the complexity was part of the package. I would have been disappointed if I understood what was going on only halfway through the book, but was usually satisfied at the end.

Music has its trends, popular music especially. Beethoven’s late quartets are pretty complicated, if you ask me. “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was tricky, no doubt — but that was experimental. I did not notice many imitators of that particular pattern.

And fashion is definitely cyclical. I had a dress I loved in 1968. The fabric had chartreuse and purple arranged in a sort of Japanese pattern meant to look like waves. It was gaudy, and had a tricky shape, and boy, did I love it. My wardrobe since then has gone through many changes, most of them toward simplicity.

But in a recent fashion magazine I saw some young designers’ ’60s looks and they were complicated. But next year we may be told that grey is the new black and everything will be funereally plain. That is just fashion.

For complexity, look at some Renaissance metalwork or old engravings.

It will be all right, George.

   
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:11 AM   #3
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It will be all right, George.
Thank you.

But did complexity of general design in the past get the focus and attention it does now?? Did it have the influence and impact on popular culture that it does now?? And was past design complexity made for the sake of complexity as a virtue??

If it's just a trend, it has been going on for some time, and I hope I don't get too old before what I consider the best forms of design come back.

Well then, would you say that nobility is still a part of modern design or has a good chance to come back?? (Of course, this discussion is to a large extent culturally relative).

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Old 08-28-2007, 10:24 AM   #4
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george: Bare with me a minute.
Why George!!! You sly thing...'-}}

I think your fingers meant to type "bear"...'-}}


>> People want complex!!! Complicated is good, and their association with it makes them valuable.

When it comes to consumer goods, I think people are being told that complex is good--if it's more complicated, it must be worth all that extra money I paid for it--when the reality is that most people don't use all those extra bells and whistles...

But...when I look at things like net and email and things like my CapTel phone which are technologically complex and without which, given my hearing loss, I'd live a much more restricted and frustrating life, I'm glad they are there...

When it comes to websites, I prefer a clean simple site that allows me to gather the info I need easily and quickly.

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Old 08-28-2007, 12:33 PM   #5
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But did complexity of general design in the past get the focus and attention it does now?? Did it have the influence and impact on popular culture that it does now?? And was past design complexity made for the sake of complexity as a virtue??
You got me. I wasn’t there! But showing off craft and technique seems to be built into the human animal, so probably so.

Why did baroque metalsmiths make such exquisitely ornate pieces in repoussée? To show that they could, to attract more generous patrons. Is life so different today?

Problem today is that adding complexity is cheap, no particular skill or taste required. Just buy the right circuit board …

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If it's just a trend, it has been going on for some time, and I hope I don't get too old before what I consider the best forms of design come back.
Unfortunately, good design is not honored today; that is a great loss. Around here people are buying veritable castles (based on size and pretension), and their architecture looks like one from column a (the palladian window), one from column b (a vaulted arch), and so on, all made with cheap materials with a deluxe finish.

   
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Old 08-28-2007, 03:59 PM   #6
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Terrie and Kathleen,

I should have been more careful with that bear. Sometimes eclectic jewelry makes me nervous.

I’m actually talking about designing a website that relates to (that is includes, or does not leave out) young people, the new generation. It seems they’re taking over everything. I noticed around the turn of the century (not the one with the antique oak furniture), that they come from a completely different culture, even the ones from my old neighborhood. They know who John Wayne is, but they think Michael Jackson is cool.

Should I want to communicate with them. I feel an obligation to let them know that on some issues a number of relevant facts have not been brought to their attention. It will really make a difference on how they will live their lives.

Some design is naturally complex. Some complexity has to happen now, because it is possible. What is complex in the present often serves a very useful purpose. But there's also this attitude that seems to be prevalent, that complexity has value in itself and creates relevance.

I think I have to adapt to that attitude. I cannot count on immediately bringing people to the realization of the correctness of my viewpoints. (Not long ago, I tried explaining to a political science major at the state college in a coffee shop some constitutional positions, but she became extremely angry in letting me know, there was no way Abraham Lincoln intended such meaning when he wrote the document. I couldn’t disagree).

I have always tried to keep things simple, even to make the complex easy. But if I keep doing that, am I cool, or am I leaving their culture?? Maybe, I have to maintain at least some complexity to keep a connection, to create the right feel and environment, to not look too different as a first impression.

In that case, while keeping things simple, maybe I should make certain I retain some of what is naturally complex with a good purpose. I did give up on pointing out the beauty of 19th century architecture while driving the new generation through old neighborhoods.

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Old 08-28-2007, 06:57 PM   #7
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You have an interesting point. I think it may be more a generational issue than not. The teens and 20-somethings seem able to multi-task better than those of us with a few more years on this planet, which may make complex visuals more interesting to them.

As a society, the US at least, does not value complexity. Just look at our impatience with complicated solutions to societal problems. Many essays have been written on that subject. I'll not begin to repeat them.
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Old 08-29-2007, 12:38 AM   #8
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Complicated is good, and their association with it makes them valuable.
That indeed is what people are told. Everything has to have all the features. My car; my mobile-phone; my camera; my washing machine; my video-recorder. . .

But they tell me that the biggest sales of mobile phones is of the simplest in the shop, so you don't need a 14-year-old boy to explain how it works. Thats the one for me.

   
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:09 AM   #9
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As a society, the US at least, does not value complexity. Just look at our impatience with complicated solutions to societal problems. Many essays have been written on that subject. I'll not begin to repeat them.
Communication on social issues is different. In that respect, Americans get suspicious fast of anything not stated in simple terms. I posted in the forum on this before (or it may have been INETPUB). I cited a study of 200 18th century political pamphlets, and it noted their lack of literary character, especially as compared to ones from Britain. I don't think (a guess) the British would respect a political pamphlet without literary character, but Americans only want the pamphlet to get to the point, or it means someone is hiding something. But style of communication on making a point or sale is a difference reference for design.

When I noted I wanted to point out some facts, that part I keep very simple, as the issues, indeed, have been over complicated in an extremely deceptive manner.

But you are right, as a society rather than a generation, Americans traditionally want things simple.

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Old 08-29-2007, 06:20 AM   #10
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But they tell me that the biggest sales of mobile phones is of the simplest in the shop, so you don't need a 14-year-old boy to explain how it works. Thats the one for me.
Yeah, I'll remember that one. But have you ever tried asking someone very young for computer help. After the superficial terms that most older adults don't know...uh...no it doesn't work.

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