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what the voices in my head tell me to write

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Luddite or common sense 

I spent last night looking at web based project management and collaboration software for Rae. She is hopefully starting an OU course in the new year and we were discussing what I could come up with to help out.

I got all web 2.0 obsessed and started talking about things like Basecamp, wikis and the like. Of course I completely forgot that Rae is no where near as techie as me and doesn't really understand more than one word in five when I try to explain it to her.

When I did my own OU studies I wrote my notes in Word. Then I could use the search stuff to find snippets of info quickly and make cross references with links from one word document to the next. Which is more or less the same as creating a wiki for your notes I guess. Rae loves to make to do lists which are a big part of Basecamp.

We debated the pros and cons of a few systems and talked about how Rae could use them. Then we came to the realization that Rae might just as well use a good quality notebook and pen for what she needs to do. A calendar hanging on the wall can plan when your assessments are due and your revision schedule.

You might say "fine for one person studying alone this is ok but more complex systems are needed to work with larger projects". Medieval castles were built with what would now be called laughable organization. Little more than a few basic plans and lots of shouting no doubt.

Are we making things too complicated? we seem to add layer upon layer of complexity to do anything. This is especially true in the IT field. Sometimes just to get a bit of text in a browser we jump through about 20 hoops. There is a lot to be said for simplicity. I know each of those 20 hoops make one little problem individually easier. But when you have all 20 at once it becomes a morass. The same could be said for any "modern" technology. People in Africa find it hard to travel for work or seeing the doctor. They don't need the western solution of a car or even a bus. They need a bike.

Simplicity should be its own virtue.

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