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July 20, 2009


Geoff Brown

Nice post Garr
This is an angle looking at the simple, complicated and complex I hadn't thought about before.

Have to you seen Dave Snowden's work on complexity and the Cynefin Framework? It is well worth a look and Shawn Callahan over at Anecdote has done a simple video looking at the Cynefin framework here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mqNcs8mp74


What a wonderful post and thank you for opening my eyes to the beauty of of the wagasa.

I look at complicated as being able to be explain by looking at the parts (ie a watch mechanism is complicated - it can be explained by being taken apart). Complexity on the other hand cannot be explained that way. They have an inherent coherence as a whole which disappears when looking at the part in isolation. Jazz is a great example of that. It is complex but its coherence gives it simplicity.

I like to think of simplicity as being simplification + coherence. Simplification being the removal of the superfluous as you mention in your post and coherence being the ability to create one thing out of many (for example we tend to think of our cars as one object rather than many parts working in harmony what we call punctualisation and depunctualisation in networks).

Thank you again for your continued inspiration.


I visit this site frequently, Garr, and you have transformed my life in many ways both simple and complicated to explain. Ironically.

This post was a lot more spiritual than your average post. Your respect and deep love of Japan, Japanese culture, and the Japanese people is obvious, but posts like this one make it clear how intimate and beautiful that relationship is. Thank you for sharing that with your faithful (and casual!) readers.

Your story about the art of wagasa makes me think about refinement more than anything. The dedication to daily improvement that is required to create such simplicity from something a human being could make so utterly complicated is awe-inspiring. With machines creating so much of the world around us, keeping touch with how the human soul creates through the human hand is so vital. Thank you for taking the time to drive that lesson home.

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