Simplexity

SimplexitySimplexity:
Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple)
By Jeffrey Klugger
2009
Read by Holter Graham

This was a fascinating book, although it wasn’t quite what I had expected. The subtitle is a bit of a misnomer as the book doesn’t really address why things become complex or how they can be made simple. Instead, it shows that many simple things actually are quite complex and many apparently complex things actually are quite simple. So I suppose it does tell you how, if only by showing you how to shift your perspective.

The book is essentially composed of a series of case studies. The studies range from the evacuation of the Twin Towers on 9/11 to regular New York traffic patterns, from stock market fluctuations to cholera outbreaks to Jackson Pollok paintings. All of these are used as examples of the simplicity-complexity continuum, in which both extreme regimentation and extreme chaos are conceptually simple, while in between these two extremes is the place where some extremely complex patterns form.

As is, perhaps, appropriate for a book on this topic, I’m not quite sure what else to say about it. It would be easy to recount some of the interesting details, of which there were many, but the premise itself was quite simple: some things are simple, other things are complex, but it is not always obvious which is which.

Kluger presents a different way to examining the world, and I enjoyed it a great deal.