beauty

February 12, 2001
Yesterday I read Machine Beauty by David Gelernter. Interesting book. I like his suggestion for a definition of beauty, beauty=power+simplicity, and that a feeling for beauty and elegance transcends culture and is probably a convenient wrapper for a host of analysis we can do intuitively. On the other hand, I disagree with his theories as to why ugly DOS/Windows beat out beautiful Mac. "Is prejudice against beautiful technology a deep-lying part of our national character?" he asks. I think he's oversimplifying. His writing is a bit juvenile at times as well,a bit over the top (saying some computer interface was "causing us to reach for the air-sickness bag".) And he thinks it's the 'technologists' who are responsible for featuritis (the addition of too many features in software) and not marketing.

He also doesn't realize that the quest for elegance, for trying to shoehorn a complex problem into an 'elegant' solution, sometimes results in the worst kind of ugly. (When you're in love with your beautiful hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail.)

Quote of the Moment
"While some look at what is and ask 'why?' and others look at what could be ask 'why not?' I look at my coffee table and ask 'where are my sunglasses?'"
--Paul Mather, subatomic humor (now a bit defunct)

Quote of the Other Moment
"Selling out is the new integrity."