Monday, February 09, 2009

Half

I wrote an article recently that I thought was pretty good. Perfect, in fact. Then I was told that it would need to be reduced by 400 words to fit the company's publication. It was 906 words. Cutting 400 worlds would eliminate half.

I went through every section, paragraph and sentence and figured out how to reduce their respective lengths by half without losing anything important or meaningful. Of course, it was better for the reduction. Clear, concise, to the point. It was exorcized of any passive language. The elimination of adverbs shortened and made it easier to read.

I feared that such a reduction would destroy the piece. Instead it made it better. This lesson reminded me of a previous post on Simplification. Taking my own advice was a healthy exercise.

Using "half" as a complexity reduction target simply feels right. It's aggressive and challenging. When you come out the other side and realize that it's possible, you wonder why it wasn't obvious in the first place.

I recall some advice on travel: when packing for a trip, pack what you think you need, then take half the clothes and twice the money. So true for the scope of software projects as well.

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