Saturday, June 07, 2008

A Distinctive Trend in the World of Technology

Technology products are (at last) becoming more natural and intuitive

"The price of reliability is the pursuit of utmost simplicity. It is a price which the very rich find hard to pay" -- C.A.R. Hoare*

Sure enough, simplicity is really difficult to achieve in building technology products. Yet, there is ample reason to believe that there's a big move towards simplicity in the technology world. So, writing on this blog in January 2007, I had labeled simplicity as the defining technology trend of 2007.

The thought recently crossed my mind that I should evaluate how correct (or wrong) this prediction was. Some research I've done over the past couple of weeks to investigate whether there indeed was a move towards simplicity during the past year appears here. It is plain that not only did simplicity emerge as a distinctive technology trend in the past year, but that trend continues well into 2008. In fact, I make bold to say that simplicity and ease of use are set to be dominant themes in the technology world for the next few years.

That perhaps sounds heartening to Bjarne Stroustrup, the legendary inventor of the C++ language, who is known to have said, "There's an old story about the person who wished his computer were as easy to use as his telephone. That wish has come true, since I no longer know how to use my telephone".

The march towards simplicity has gathered steam. We can look forward to a steady stream of tech products that Dr. Stroustrup will find easier to use. Not to mention you and me. And the millions of novice technology users that the rapidly flattening world brings in each year.

* in "The Emperor's Old Clothes", Turing Award lecture (1980).