It’s not what you say it’s what you don’t say

Continuing my thoughts on sticking to the bare minimum…

I was reading a blog posting of a list of 50 great albums from 1971 and my first thought wasn’t about all the fine albums listed, but what was missing and why… No ‘Maggot Brain’, no ‘Surf’s Up’ nothing from the Germans such as ‘Faust’ or ‘Tago Mago’.. I could go on, but the point is what was chosen and what wasn’t chosen is the revealing thing.

The new (and superb) Coen brothers movie, No Country for Old Men, has an ending that has caused many people to comment, it doesn’t tie up a lot of the plot, instead it switches back to the Sherrif pontificating on how the world has changed. It was the first time I’d seen a whole audience watch the credits, as we were all hoping to find an explanation about where the money came from, or maybe even what was the deal with that haircut.. But the film wants to make a point about how things have changed, for maybe half an hour after the film was over I was kinda dissapointed, and now I think it was a genius piece of framing.

For content websites, it’s long been suggested that they need fewer words,  and the best way to improve a site is to leave out stuff. Not to get people thinking about why you have left something out, but to stop them having to think about much at all and get straight access to what is important.

Even applications should do this, the twitter interface is brilliant and the constraint is deliberate, but many applications, particularly in a corporate environment are hopelessly overloaded with features… I think its on Deep Purple’s Made in Japan album where you can here Ian Gillan say to the sound engineer ‘Can we have everything louder than everything else please?’ the joke being that such a policy isn’t going to make anything stand out… (I wish they’d thought of this before deciding a 10 minute drum solo was a good idea).

Leaving something out is the best way to say the important things.

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One Response to It’s not what you say it’s what you don’t say

  1. shaidorsai says:

    Hmm. Just made me think that while
    “A wasted youth is better by far
    than a wise and productive old age”
    may not be true, at least you have something to look back on.

    Maybe we should say
    “God damn it application designers,
    You know we love you, but you’ve got a hell of a lot to learn about good web apps” with apologies to Jim Steinman…
    Yes, I spent too much time in biker/rock bars.

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