The aesthetics of complex simplicity

Last week I bought two excellent books, The Art of the Snowflake: A Photographic Album by Kenneth Libbrecht and Whisky Classified: choosing single malts by flavour by David Wishart.

I soon realized that it wasn't a coincidence I chose these seemingly different books: Both describe a complex and aesthetically pleasing result from simple ingredients and a sensitive, even chaotic process.

Still, in both cases the chaos is wonderfully under control: Each snowflake is unique, but its arms are almost identical. Each distillery produces a unique whisky, but its production is amazinly uniform.

If controlled chaos and simplicity of fundamentals are not aesthetically pleasing to a programmer, then what is.

Originally published on 2008-02-13 at under category Art of programming