I frequently find it complicated to discern what the simplest thing is. This is a hard problem, e.g. when designing software, experiments, or research questions. It is a notable weakness of mine, and why I am comfortable asserting I would never have invented Deep Learning, which is all about applying an asinine solution to a problem in a stupid way, which turns out to be just good enough to get billions of dollars funding to do it better. That is the right kind of simplicity.
How about I collect some notes about the fraught question of deciding as early as possible, what the minimum viable product is? Which cruft is structural? And which is yak shaving?
I and just about every designer of Common Lisp and CLOS has had extreme exposure to the MIT/Stanford style of design. The essence of this style can be captured by the phrase “the right thing.” … I will call the use of this philosophy of design the “MIT approach.” Common Lisp (with CLOS) and Scheme represent the MIT approach to design and implementation.
The worse-is-better philosophy is only slightly different: … the design must be simple, both in implementation and interface. It is more important for the implementation to be simple than the interface. Simplicity is the most important consideration in a design.…
Early Unix and C are examples of the use of this school of design, and I will call the use of this design strategy the “New Jersey approach.” I have intentionally caricatured the worse-is-better philosophy to convince you that it is obviously a bad philosophy and that the New Jersey approach is a bad approach.
However, I believe that worse-is-better, even in its strawman form, has better survival characteristics than the-right-thing, and that the New Jersey approach when used for software is a better approach than the MIT approach.
More generally this connects to a question I face of what way of doing things is in fact simple. What is hubristic Not Invented Here-type high modernism and what is the clarity of starting over? This perhaps connects to metis and friends via Chesterton’s fence.