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The Art of Explanation: Making your Ideas, Products, and Services Easier to Understand by Lee LeFever

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Chapter 10

Simplification

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We've discussed how we all suffer from the curse of knowledge to some degree, in one area or another. One of the most profound products of the curse is the inability to simplify. Although valuable, the knowledge we bring to the table inhibits our ability to predict what will appear simple for others, which then makes our explanations overly complex.

To illustrate this point, consider the concept in computer software called virtualization. Most computer users are not familiar with the term and have no need to know it. The people who do understand virtualization are often those who work in the computer industry or who take a keen interest in computers; let's call them geeks. This sets up a classic situation in explanation.

We have the geeks at the “Z” end of the scale and the average computer user at the “A” end.

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Because this book is about moving people from “A” to “Z,” we will zoom in a bit more and consider the role of simplification in this situation.

From the geek perspective, virtualization is a big, complex subject. To understand it, you'd need to be able to grasp several different ideas about software and operating systems. It seems impossible to explain these concepts to a novice computer user because there are so many details and ideas that are prerequisites ...

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