Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

Book Review: Living with Complexity

Gerd Waloszek of SAP User Experience  has written a very nice, intelligent review of Living with Complexity. He neatly summarizes the major theme thusly:

Norman's book is entitled Living with Complexity for good reason: The author does not advocate substituting complexity with simplicity. (As we will see below, this would not also make sense to Norman, because he does regard simplicity and complexity as opposites of each other: The first is, according to him, a state of the mind, whereas the other is a state of the world.) Much like Shedroff, Norman points out that complexity is an essential ingredient of the world and, thus of our lives. Norman writes that technology reflects this complexity, which by itself is neither good nor bad: it is confusion that is bad: We will see order and reason in complexity (and in complex technology) when we understand the underlying principles. When complexity is random and arbitrary, we are confused and have reason to be annoyed.

In his review of the chapters, Waloszek notices what he calls a "magic" jump in the middle of the book, where the chapters suddenly move to a new theme, then after four chapters, do a second magic jump back to the original theme.

Ah,  Waloszek is clearly an intelligent observer. Yup, my books are often far-ranging and i don't always do a good job of making everything flow smoothly. Attempting to fit everything into a single overarching theme is daunting. 

Read the full review. It is long and thoughtful.