Keep It Simple Stupid

1412915100000 » Tagged as: KISS Principle


kiss principle



"Keep It Simple Stupid" is attributed to Kelly Johnson, the Lockheed engineer leading the team which built U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes. The KISS Principle became more popular as "Keep it simple, stupid" with an added comma. The story is that Johnson handed a set of tools to the design engineers with the challenge that the jet aircraft they were designing should be reparable by an average mechanic in the battle field using basic tools. The design had to be kept 'simple stupid'.


Next it became a catch phrase among software engineers, to keep the programs simple stupid so it could be maintained by an average developer under pressure in any environment. Yet the KISS Principle need to be used everywhere today, because we are all wasting so much time and space and energy keeping things abstruse and stupid.


We even have a word for it, Pleonasm, "the use of more words than are necessary to convey meaning" The Oxford dictionary gives an example, "see with one's eyes". gives a long list of such redundant expressions, like "ATM machine", "face mask", "free gift", "kneel down".


Sometimes Pleonasms are used deliberately for emphasis like "the most unkindest cut" (Shakespeare, Julius Caesar 3:2) and we would not be able to use KISS in such situations. The Indian poet Vijayanand V. Gaitonde (VishVnand) gives a different interpretation to KISS as 'Keep on Indefinitely Speaking & Speaking' referring to "most leaders and politicians". VishVnand also uses 385 words to say it, but his definition applies not only to politicians but to some audio visual media presenters too.


Sometimes when we read huge tomes, which are called novels, running into several volumes or over one thousand pages, it comes to our mind that they could have used KISS, because, whether they use KISS or not, great novels have been written in much shorter lengths, sometimes even been called novellas, because such works do not qualify to be a "full length novel", which itself sounds like a pleonasm. We also meet the same situation in poetry too. UNESCO has imposed a minimum length for a book, it has to contain more than 49 pages. But for some reason they have not imposed a maximum length, so a book could be 50 pages or 5 billion pages. A book could have only 500 words, which could fit into one page, or if the publisher decided to print one word per page, it could run into 500 pages, and would be acceptable to UNESCO.


I am not aware if UNESCO accepted the 200 page book, 'What Every Man thinks About Apart from Sex' by Sheridan Simove, because all 200 pages are blank. KISS at work! Priced at $ 8.06 on Amazon, in 2011, the year it was published, it had outsold Dan Brown and J. K. Rowling. It also has an ISBN and claims copyright.


If UNESCO really supports man's creativity they should accept that a writer who conveys his thoughts or narrates his story, in a few pages or a few words, or without words, should be admired for his skill. A short and simple book which could be read and understood by many should be admired more than a long and confusing book which could be understood only by a few people, or by none at all. All religious leaders have explained their messages and teachings in the simplest of words, so that even the less educated and illiterate followers could understand. They preached to kings and academics and also farmers and peasants alike.


It was only later, when the agents of the religious leaders took over, that they made the teachings complicated and beyond the understanding of everybody. For the agents wanted to retain the knowledge among themselves. They could be feeling secure by keeping the knowledge obscure. That is probably why every world religion developed into so many different sects and divisions, each group interpreting the teachings in different ways, adding further to the confusion, of the already confused teachings. That is also probably why there are so many conflicts among people resulting from their failure to understand their own religious teachings.


It is time to use the KISS Principle to convey the religious teachings, make them easier and simpler for everyone to understand, not only one's own faith and creed, but those of others too. We should also use the KISS Principle in all school text books, so that children could read and understand them, even without the assistance of a teacher. But to achieve all this we need people who have really understood what they are writing about, and who have really mastered their language.


The KISS Principle could be used to explain how to unravel the Gordian Knot. Instead of trying to make a very lengthy explanation, we could say in a few words how Alexander had either cut it with his sword or pulled the pin which held the yoke. Today we cannot see the writing because of the words.


KISS is also what we find in Hemingway's Iceberg Principle and in his writing, which we also find in most of our Sigiri poems, in Japanese Haiku, and in Flash Fiction. That is why we even have one-word poems. They all confirm that 'Small is always more beautiful', as in everything else in Life and in all the Arts. That is why we used to say "Short and Sweet", instead of long and bitter.


Since everything simple need not be stupid, let us say Short and Sweet, or Short and Simple. Then we would be saving a few trees, which otherwise would be killed to make paper, or save energy for running the servers and internet service providers and reading device chargers, when we read our e-books or listen to audio books.



comments powered by Disqus