It’s not easy to make something easy.

I just Dugg Paul Glazowski’s “Web 2.0: How Hard Could It Be?” over at

“It ’s not easy to make something easy. … The focus of the story … is to uncover the true tale of start-to-finish process. That taking something from an idea conjured during time spent in gridlock traffic … to something you can hold in your hand … is a process that is almost always longer than one might expect.”

The comment I posted there was about the underlying dynamics

“It’s not easy to make something easy” and making things simple is really complicated. (GEOS, the GUI for C=64, was hackable at assembly level with GEOProgrammer … those were great days!)
I’ve been using the phrase “cognitive ergonomics” more often recently. (It was in current usage back in the mid-80s, around the time SGML was coming out.) The tools and techniques we’re rolling out give us the sort of capabilities that stress our imaginations!
What I’m seeing is something like “When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail” … pages are being lumbered with elaborate AJAX functionality but the user experience isn’t being complimented with effective functionality … the interfaces are entertaining, so it’s fun to play with them, but come time to do heavy lifting and things get bogged down. That, for me, is the acid test: enhancing work flow.

(Somebody wanna give me a hand AJAXifying TRAC and/or subversion? Can’t ya just see it? all gridded up and popping with interactivity?)”

The article that got Paul moving on this is from the NewYorkTimes’ Janet Rae-Dupree, “Eureka! It Really Takes Years of Hard Work“, documenting Jim Marggraff work to bring a few products to completion. It reads, reads in part:

“We’ve all heard the tales of the apple falling on Newton’s head and Archimedes leaping naked from his bath shrieking “Eureka!” Many of us have even heard that eBay was created by a guy who realized that he could help his fiancée sell Pez dispensers online.
The fact that all three of these epiphany stories are pure fiction stops us short.”

“Epiphany has little to do with either creativity or innovation. Instead, innovation is a slow process of accretion, building small insight upon interesting fact upon tried-and-true process. Just as an oyster wraps layer upon layer of nacre atop an offending piece of sand, ultimately yielding a pearl, innovation percolates within hard work over time.”

I can date my “Eureka moment” precisely … Dalhousie’s Killam Library, February 2003, 3rd floor, corner table, John Willinsky’s OpenAccess text “If Only We Knew; Increasing the public value of social science research” open and sitting /there/ with Jürgen Habermas’ “Discourse Ethics” also open, sitting just /there/; the penny dropped and my re-conceptualization of dialectical concept-mapping came clear … it was that easy!
Yaa, sure, it really was just that easy … and I had started on that project in late May 1975. Do the arithmetic. *grin*


See also:

  • on Willinsky -“”Accessing medical information”; Dr. John Willinsky makes the case for open access to research publications.“, “An Interview with Open Medicine’s Publisher – John Willinsky“, a review of Willinsky’s “The access principle: the case for open access to research and scholarship”; “The Access Principle The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship” (2005) at MIT Press.
  • on Jürgen Habermas – “Moral Conciousness and Communicative Action (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)” by Habermas, Christian Lenhardt, and Shierry Weber Nicholsen (2001), and “
    Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics
    “, both at Amazon
  • my Amazon wish-list *nudge-nudge / wink-wink*”