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Laws of Simplicity

by John Maeda The MIT Press
Pub Date:
06/2006
ISBN:
9780262134729
Format:
Hbk 128 pages
Price:
AU$54.99 NZ$56.51
Product Status: Available in Approx 14 days
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Honorable Mention in Communication and Cultural Studies - 09/02/07

Finally, we are learning that simplicity equals sanity. We're rebelling against technology that's too complicated, against DVD players with too many menus, and software accompanied by 75-megabyte 'read me' manuals. The iPod's clean gadgetry has made simplicity hip. But sometimes we find ourselves caught up in the simplicity paradox: we want something that's simple and easy to use--but also does all the complex things we might ever want it to do. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers guidelines, ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design--for needing less and actually getting more. Maeda--a professor in MIT's Media Lab and a world-renowned graphic designer--explores the question of how we can redefine the notion of 'improved' so that it doesn't always mean something more, something added on. Maeda's first law of simplicity is 'Reduce.' It's not necessarily beneficial to add technology features just because we can. And the features that we do have must be organized (Law 2) in a sensible hierarchy so users aren't distracted by features and functions they don't need. But simplicity is not less just for the sake of less. Skip ahead to Law 9: 'Failure: Accept the fact that some things can never be made simple.' Maeda's concise guide to simplicity in the digital age shows us how this idea can be a cornerstone of organizations and their products--how it can drive both business and technology. We can learn to simplify without sacrificing comfort and meaning, and we can achieve the balance described in Law 10. This law, which Maeda calls 'The One,' tells us: 'Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.' Graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist John Maeda is the founder of the SIMPLICITY Consortium at the MIT Media Lab, where he is E. Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Media Arts and Sciences. His work has been exhibited in Tokyo, New York, London, and Paris and is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Smithsonian Institution National Design Award in the United States, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize in Germany, and the Mainichi Design Prize in Japan. Publishers Weekly Online Review Annex --- 'Maeda's upbeat explanations usefully break down the power of less-fewer features, fewer buttons and fewer distractions-while providing practical strategies for harnessing that power. . . . Emphasizing the delicate balance-work involved in simplifying the complex, Maeda admits the process isn't easy, and that his ten laws don't necessarily provide all the answers-in numerous places, he directs readers to the web site where his theories continue to develop. Despite that, this slim book feels complete in itself; not only will it stimulate ideas, it will keep readers thumbing back'

Technology and life seem to be getting more complicated, yet two great success stories, Google and the iPod, both provide the antidote of simplicity. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda uses humble prose to provide an accessible guide, business and life, observing the principle: 'Simplicity equals sanity.'

'David Smith, The Observer
Graphic designer, visual artist, and computer scientist John Maeda is President of the Rhode Island School of Design and founder of the SIMPLICITY Consortium at the MIT Media Lab. His work has been exhibited in Tokyo, New York, London, and Paris and is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He is the recipient of many awards, including the Smithsonian Institution National Design Award in the United States, the Raymond Loewy Foundation Prize in Germany, and the Mainichi Design Prize in Japan.