Startup Cyanide (Part 2)

The Catharsis of Simplification

April Littrell
6 min readAug 25, 2017

If everyone is busy innovating, the next big thing must be the antithesis of innovation. Once the world has reached its carrying capacity of this-x-that technology, the companies that succeed will need to do so with reduction and simplification in mind. The solution to clutter is not another gadget or productivity tool. It’s the good old-fashioned kitchen recycle bin. Less (features, buttons, add-ons) is more.

The word “minimalism” has surged within the English corpus of the past 50 years. Marie Kondo has sold more than 7 million copies of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Representations of the hegemonic American home in advertising and entertainment media picture practically unlived-in living spaces compared to decades past. We are squirming away from the tentacles of capitalism as certain politicians — the Bern — rekindle new generational ideologies. To fully tear off our blinders, however, a degree of deliberation is necessary.

In practice, we love to slim down. Letters, filing cabinets, calculators, cameras, and gaming consoles have been jam-packed into palm-sized aluminum chassis. Our outfits have steadily transformed from layered ruffles and heavy linens to nickel-thin fleece and nylon socks. We not only require less to work and play, but also aspire to carry less on our persons. There is something beautiful about having great respect for one’s personal effects and owning only that which offers some measure of value in life.

The proliferation of digital media access and subsequent collection of big data has rendered targeted marketing campaigns salaciously successful. As a result, what is added to personal inventory feels deceptively subtractive. Purchase an electric oil diffuser and exchange wick-ed wax for viscous vials. Trade wires for signals and film for frames per second. Are 2,400 vacation photos as precious as 24? This is not an argument for the existence or validity of media panics; rather, it’s an affirmation of the virtues of value over excess.

Nothing carries any inkling of meaning intrinsically. It is we who assign meaning and who have assigned it since days of old. From Plato to Chomsky, we’ve been taking a crack at the the subject for quite some time! Though seemingly counter-evolutionary, a common…