The Cost (and Benefit) of Abstraction

The Cost (and Benefit) of Abstraction – This originated with Seb [via Spike] [via Lilia]. I commented on Spike’s blog that least abstraction “necessary” is a good qualification, because we certainly couldn’t do without it – in fact humans succeed because they are evolved to be good at it. The problem is that abstraction is part of “compression” – packing all those “bits of knowledge” into manageable communicable units on which to base decision rationale. It would be so inefficient any other way.

This is how language evolves – words / jargon / acronyms / metaphors as brief memorable tokens for complex stories. One adage I use all the time with colleagues (at the interface between business analysis and system design) is “Why use one word when a sentence will do ?” – you only abbreviate to a jargon word once all parties exhibit common understanding – but crucially, not before.

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