Foundation-Paralysis Effect 🎨

Systems are limited limited by their foundations. Initial system have some users that are invested in, use, live of certain functions of the system. The larger system gets, change to the functions disrupts some of the users. That's why the larger and the older the system gets the harder it is to change its foundations.

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Best systems creators figure out a really hard task of tweaking the system functions so they are the most optimal for the current situation.

Examples

  • QWERTY vs. DVORAK: QWERTY is the layout for the keyboard invented to be the slowest to type. Typewriters got stuck because people typed too quickly. It became the computer's default and it is now a standard in all of the keyboards. DVORAK is a layout that is the most efficient but is used by a small number of people.
  • Law: American Constitution, that has more than 200 years, has only 19 amendments.
  • Very often artists at the beginning of their careers and develop some style, ways of communicating, tricks for self expression and stick to it for the rest of their lifes. Wilhelm Sasnal said that first he was searching wide and later in the career he will probably go deep within the style and approach he developed at the begining.
  • Software: Compare the complexity of old vs newer software. Photoshop vs. Sketch. Evernote vs. Bear. Microsoft Excel vs. Airtable. Complexity makes the software less usable. Complexity makes it more difficult to use for advanced users and harder to introduce for the new users. However, old software features drag behind.
  • HTML and CSS. HTML was the initial language to create websites. CSS was invented to expand its capabilities. Further down the road, developers added JavaScript and libraries of predefined HTML/CSS components such as Bootstrap, Tailwinds, Tachyons. HTML is a poorly designed system and it's patched by one system after another. Certainly, a new, better system could be designed from scratch to include all of that functionality. However, it is really hard to switch to it because previous system is already working and a lot of actors are relying on it.