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Gelernter's lyrical rant on the critical role of beauty and aesthetics in computer technology comes just in time. Computer engineers and designers, who create software that is bloated with seldom-used features and that intrusively draws our attention to it rather than the task at hand, could greatly benefit from the pursuit of what Gelernter calls "deep beauty," the marriage of power and simplicity.
Gelernter suggests that the dichotomy between art/beauty and science/technology has led to inadequate academic training of computer-science students. He points out that the greatest minds in science and industry have always pursued beauty. "Machine beauty is the driving force behind technology and science," he says, and yet "beauty bothers us." Somehow it's perceived to be softer and less rigorous to train computer scientists in art, music, architecture, and design. However, Gelernter sees these disciplines as closely aligned with the mathematics and science that are the foundation of technology. Because of this lack of aesthetic education, much user interface has been poorly designed.
Gelernter's persuasive arguments are far-reaching as he casts a shrewd eye on everything from postmodernism to architecture to the nature of beauty itself. This short, often witty book is written by someone who has paid a price for his opinion--Gelernter was a target of the Unabomber and was critically injured in a mail-bomb attack in 1993. [via]