Complexity is Good – Part Deux

In which I use different terms for the same argument.

Some readers will have had the chance to buy a house.  When they go shopping for an existing one, or look at houses being built, choices are limited.  You are stuck with the lot, the foundation and the supporting walls.  I had a friend who was shopping and was complaining about the color of the walls.  When I mentioned that they could paint the walls, it was like a new dawn.  In the new developments, you basically get a choice of 5 house types and then your choice of tile.

For those lucky enough not to have gone shopping, nearly everyone has gone through a suburb or development where row after row of houses looks the same.  It’s like a bad movie.

Compare that to 25 years ago where builders would work with architects and planners to custom build a house.  Go to most neighbourhoods built in the 80s or before, and the houses are generally different than each other.  You can certainly still do that today but it’s hard.  You need to find land, an architect, a lawyer, a general contractor and run through enough permits to choke a horse. It’s hard but at the end, you have a house that’s your own.

That’s the argument behind complexity.  Given people the illusion of choice is not really a choice, not when beneath that choice there were dozens of choices taken already.  Imagine being able to make those foundational choices.  Being able to make mistakes and then learning from them.  If there’s no real chance at failure, then there’s no real progress.

2 thoughts on “Complexity is Good – Part Deux

  1. “Go to most neighbourhoods built in the 80s or before, and the houses are generally different than each other.”

    If any tract of housing from the 30s through the 80s looks differentiated today, it is because somebody bought a house and made the changes themselves. All you’re seeing is what happens after the fact, not what the houses looked like on day one. At best you could go to the developer and have some upgrades done to the interior… upgrades available from a very short and specific list unless you wanted to pay a lot… because the developer wants to keep costs low which means using one of maybe three or four variations on one basic plan.


    • Maybe it’s different in Canada? Row houses/canned houses only really started here in the 80s.

      And I’m talking Edward Scissorhands type of copy/paste (which I think is the scariest part of that movie FWIW.)

      Costs are certainly the driver, even in games. Takes money to hire someone with the skill/knowledge to balance diversity. Or maybe dedication, I dunno.


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