Add Simplicity

One of our mottos at Pupil*Asset is "Add Simplicity" - based on Colin Chapman's famous "Add Lightness" - but for Software rather than racing cars. Often we will expend far more energy than is strictly necessary to meet some functional criteria, but will do so if that produces something simpler for the teacher to use.

A simplified system is not necessary a less complex system - quite the contrary in fact. The complexity of the modern world is only possible because of simplicity! A car is a remarkably complex device, and early models required their owners to crank the engine to life and check many levels & levers before moving away. It is only through simplifying the "interface" of a car that everyday people like you and me can jump in and drive the far more complex machines of today.

Thus simplicity allows innovation to happen; and a major driving force of innovation is to introduce simplicity.

Another example are computers. Early computers (many times less powerful than the phone in your pocket) required substantial training to understand the codes required to make them function - and skilled operators were needed to interpret the often binary output.

Dennis Ritchie & Ken Thompson - creators of UNIX - working on a PDP-11, typing commands into a teletype (essentially a Typewriter with electrical pick-ups). Note the lack of a screen - output was printed back at the user. (Right) an iPad (running Pupil*Asset), which uses a more advanced version of that same UNIX system, but with a far simpler interface.

Compare that to the iPad - something a 2 year old or an 85 year old grandfather can use basically - and yet its complexity level is far in excess of a PDP-11, allowing you to communicate with almost anyone in the world; access to almost all of human knowledge; play films, music, games.

Without simplification these innovations could not happen. Without mice & graphical operating systems simplifying the interface - without the WWW and modern web-browsers taming the codes of TCP/IP - without decades of work abstracting the microchips & wiring into the background - computers would still be impossible for most to use. The same goes for cars, phones, and for us school management information systems. They might need to be complex, but that sure doesn't mean they shouldn't be simple to use.