Simplicity, complexity and complex easiness

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:49

People hate complex information systems for a good reason. Why on earth anyone should use a really annoying and difficult to grasp library catalogues when you have learned to appreciate the simplicity of the Google interface. I am probably going to miss an interesting conference to be held in Copenhagen in August on Global and Local Knowledge Organization where Melanie Feinberg will be discussing this issue of simplicity and complex easiness according to the compendium of conference abstracts. Instead of masking complexity, she argues for the need of empowering users by engaging them with complexity. I think that this in a very important observation. The contemporary information culture is permeated by an assumption of the primacy of convenience and emancipation, a trait I have called complex easiness (Huvila 2012). The tools we use make extraordinary efforts to provide us with quick answers instead of making us to attempt to figure out answers by ourselves and helping us to understand the premises of these often seemingly simple solutions. We have learned that knowing is (in economic terms) 'cheap' and unnecessary struggles can be avoided. The idea is discussed in more detail in the Information Services and Digital Literacy: In search of the boundaries of knowing (Chandos, 2012) but the crux is that we ought to be saved of exceeding sense of easiness. This does not need to apply everything but an occational experience of complexity and effort would definitely be highly welcome sensation in how we know things in the contemporary society.