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Simple, Simpler,… Complex?

How making things simpler can result in complex things.

I recently attended the biggest Java conference in the Netherlands, J-Fall. Next to meeting so many colleagues and friends from the industry, there were many inspiring keynote talks to attend. Two of them in particular sparked a thought in me and led me to write this blog post.

It is always a huge pleasure to attend one of Venkat Subramaniam’s talks, let alone two of them. At J-Fall 2022 he kicked off the conference with his keynote ‘The Art of Simplicity ‘, directly followed by his conference talk on ‘Design Patterns in the Light of Lambda Expressions’. If you were there, you know just how inspirational he is. However, if you were not, you can watch other versions of the talks here:

The Art of Simplicity by Venkat Subramaniam
Design Patterns in the Light of Lambda Expressions by Venkat Subramaniam

In his talk ‘The Art of Simplicity’, Venkat conveys the idea that humans tend to make things too complicated, and with good reason. As he puts it, imagine yourself in a situation where you have written a nice piece of code and somebody comes along and says: ‘Oh yeah, that looks simple!’. Most people would probably feel kind of let down. Whereas, if that same person comes along and says: ‘Wow, let me have a look, I am trying to understand what this code does!’ we feel good. Actually, we built something so complex, everybody except us, will have a hard time understanding it. And we feel exceptional because of it.

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