Stop Being Proud of Complexity


This concept applies to so many disciplines.

  • Architecture

  • Programming

  • Information Security

  • Writing

Writing is a common one, and the primary offenders are academics.

If you have a Ph.D, and you’re submitting a paper, you are not encouraged to speak transparently. You don’t just add complexity for flair. No, you add opacity to create the illusion of genius.

It’s revolting.

I’m mostly convinced, and this article supports me regarding architects, that opacity in communication is inversely correlated with the quality of the content.

It’s my experience that those with the most to say are also best at saying it succinctly. In other words, beware of those who wield page-long paragraphs full of big words and maze-like sentences.

They’re likely not losing you because you’re not smart enough to keep up; they’re losing you because what they’re saying is mediocre at best, and they don’t want people to find out.

Unsupervised Learning — Security, Tech, and AI in 10 minutes…

Get a weekly breakdown of what's happening in security and tech—and why it matters.

Related to this is the issue of text size. I’ve noticed a strong correlation between opaque writing and extremely small text. I think using tiny text in your public writing is the equivalent of courting by condescension.

You can pursue me, but I’m going to make it hard for you.

I think both are likely to over-promise and under-deliver.

Communicating clearly about your ideas or your approach to problem solving will make it more accessible. Some will confuse the ability to understand your idea with it having low quality, but that’s the thinking of someone with a low opinion of themselves.

Whether you’re describing a project, an accomplishment, an idea, or whatever, be crisp and clear in your communication, even when you’re tempted to wave the hands. If people don’t like one of your ideas because it sounds too obvious or too easy on account of you explaining it transparently, you might just be doing the right thing.

Never be tempted to gain followers to your idea by making it harder to understand. It’s a hack of the worst kind.

Related posts: