Book Reviews
Review of ‘Simple’
How To Simplify Things
 
Deborah Adler’s grandmother fell ill one day because it transpired that she had accidentally taken her husband’s prescription medicine instead of her own. She recovered. Adler wondered: How does such a mix-up happen? She took a peek into her grandparents’ medicine cabinet and found the answer: rows of identical small brown prescription drug vials, each one bearing a medicine label that was practically unreadable, even for Adler. 
 
Adler researched and learned that there’s an epidemic of people mistakenly taking the wrong medications—more than half of Americans have done so at one time or another. But, in spite of this, no one had thought of doing anything about those hard-to-read labels, on prescription bottles, that had been used for decades. 
 
Adler, who happened to have studied design, created her own test versions of different kinds of prescription drug bottles and labels. She sought to arrange the information in a logical order, giving prominence to the things people need to know most, at the precise moment they’re reaching for their medicine. Having read about cognitive schemes (a psychological term that refers to the ways people take in and organise information), she knew it was important to try to anticipate what people might want to know first, second and third. So, she decided the label should zero in on those three important facts: who the medicine is for; the name of the drug and dosage; and how to take it.
 
Adler divided the drug label into two parts separated by a thick black line in the middle. The critical information went into the top section, while everything else was relegated to the bottom. Next, she decided to rethink the shape of the bottles. On conventional rounded vials, it can be hard to read the wrap-around labels; you have to turn the bottle as you read. Adler thought: why can’t a medicine bottle be flat? She ended up using a flat tube that stood upright on its cap, with plenty of room for a large flat label that could be read at one glance.
 
Adler also felt that it was important to distinguish between medicine bottles of different family members who might be sharing the same cabinet. She thought about how she and her husband kept their toothbrushes separate by using different colours. Why can’t medicine bottles also be colour-coded? 
 
Adler created colour rings for each family member. The last change involved the warnings on drug labels—often, a source of confusion. Working with designer Milton Glaser, she replaced old instructions with new, more intuitive icons. (For example, a warning to pregnant women featured a silhouette of a pregnant woman’s body)
 
Adler’s efforts to create simpler, clearer drug packaging served as the basis of her master’s thesis; but soon, it became something more. After she presented a sample of her redesigned objects to representatives of the Target retail chain, Target bought the idea and rushed a new line of prescription drug bottles to market, in 2005. Adler’s ‘ClearRx’ prescription system has been used by Target pharmacies ever since. What Adler did was to inject clarity. Clarity is one of three things that authors Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn suggest we need to do, to make things simple. The other two are: empathise (with the user) and distil (the essence of what you want to achieve). 
 
Complexity is wreaking havoc in our lives. A US study shows that half of the gadgets returned to stores are in good working order, because customers can’t figure out how to operate them. Of course, complexity is sometimes wilfully created and perpetuated. 
 
Banks, credit card companies, insurers, telecom companies, etc, find complexity very rewarding. It helps them make money from the fine print that nobody can read or understand. Complexity creeps up on systems too. The United States tax code has “nearly tripled in volume during the last decade” to 3.8 million words; even tax officials cannot file their own returns. It’s worse in India. We urgently need simplicity, i.e., user-friendliness—no fine print, no clutter, transparency, ease-of-use, etc. 
 
Simple explains the complexity menace in detail and provides many real-life examples of simplicity that have led to great success—from the minimalist design of Apple products, to clutter-free home page of Google, to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to replace pages and pages of listings in the New York City directory with one phone number, 311, to cover a wide range of complaints and questions. An excellent read.

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COMMENTS

Sunil Rebello

1 year ago

KISS the acronym for Keep it Simple Stupid is very apt phrase for every thing we do today.
more and more we are innovating our systems and lives.
the way that our fathers and fore fathers lived is completely different from our lives.
it may be for good - as today we live longer and a more fruitful life.
some may have another opinion.
today with computers and the info age life is getting faster and faster and also giving us much more time to relax and put our feet up.
BUT DO WE TAKE IT?
do we run after more and more money.
DO WE DO WHAT MAKES US AND OTHERS HAPPY?

Nifty, Sensex trending up – Thursday closing report
As long as Nifty stays above 8,145, the market may head higher
 
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that Nifty, Sensex are looking weak and that a close above 8,150 can recharge the bulls. The Indian equity markets made gains after three consecutive sessions of losses which came in the wake of disappointing quarterly results and negative sentiments emanating from the Chinese markets. 
 
 
With positive cues from the Asian markets the indices in the Indian stock markets moved into an upward trend, which could carry into tomorrow’s trading as well.
 
For foreign investors one positive factor is that the rupee is likely to remain steady for the rest of the fiscal helped by strong macroeconomic fundamentals, which will lead to higher capital inflows and a comfortable balance of payment situation, says an India Ratings and Research report. 
 
"The key reasons for the expecting stability in the rupee are better macroeconomic fundamentals of the economy among the emerging economies, a comfortable balance of payment situation, the postponement of policy normalisation by the US Fed to December 2015 or maybe to 2016 and a healthy capital inflow," India Ratings and Research said in the report. The rating agency expects the rupee to trade in the range of 64.50-66.25 for the remainder of 2015-16. The rupee today opened at 64.74 as against the previous close of 65.03. 
 
Market analysts pointed out that lowered chances of a US rate hike, buoyant global markets and rising rupee value propelled the Indian stock markets higher on Thursday.
 
In Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei closed the day's trade up 1.15% while Hong Kong's Hang Sang rose 2.00% and China's Shanghai Composite index increased by 2.32%.
 
Both the domestic institutional investors (DIIs) and foreign institutional investors (FIIs) were net buyers in the day's trade. According to data with stock exchanges, the DIIs bought stocks worth Rs291.73 crore and the foreign institutional investors (FIIs) picked up stocks worth Rs102.21 crore in the day's trade.
 
Sector-wise, only S&P BSE information technology (IT) index closed in the red. It slipped by 14.95 points.
 
The S&P BSE automobile index augmented by 417.16 points, capital goods index gained by 191.74 points, banking index surged by 178.34 points, oil and gas index rose by 136.88 points and metal index was higher by 105.33 points.
 
Major Sensex gainers during Thursday's trade were: Tata Motors, up 8.06% at Rs.380.70; BHEL, up 3.02% at Rs.211.70; Maruti Suzuki, up 3.01% at Rs.4,379.85; Tata Steel, up 2.94% at Rs.255.30; and Hero MotoCorp, up 2.46% at Rs.2,567.45.
 
The major Sensex losers were: Mahindra and Mahindra, down 0.86% at Rs.1,274.95; Wipro, down 0.86% at Rs.577.65; Hindalco Industries, down 0.85% at Rs.87.95; Hindustan Unilever, down 0.84%  at Rs.790.70; and Cipla, down 0.83% at Rs.672.60.
 
The top gainers and top losers of the major indices are given in the table below:
 
 
The closing values of major Asian indices are given in the table below:
 
The European indices were up by 1-1.5%.

User

NCPRI, RTI activists to boycott CIC’s Annual Convention
NCPRI says the National RTI convention organised by the CIC on 16th and 17th of October 2015 has become an exclusive affair, which is being restricted by the central government under frivolous ‘security’ concerns
 
The National Campaign for People's Right to Information (NCPRI) and several activists has decided to boycott the annual convention organised by the Central Information Commission (CIC). The NCPRI also said, the CIC has invited only a few selected RTI activists to the Convention to be held on 16th and 17th of October 2015.
 
Here is press statement released by NCPRI… 
 
Press Release and Resolution Adopted at the National Public Hearing organised on 15 October. 2015
The Central Information Commission is holding its annual convention on the 16th and 17th of October 2015. This year marks a decade of the Right to Information law in India. However, at this significant juncture, civil society participation has been severely restricted and only seven people from the RTI movement have been invited to attend the convention. The Right to Information law came from the experiences of ordinary people, and it was a grassroots struggle that led to the articulation of the demand for information. Sustained public action by large numbers of the rural poor and the involvement of civil society led to the framing of this fundamental law. The contribution of civil society has been publically acknowledged, including by several Information Commissioners.  
In an unprecedented move, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) undertook background checks and verification of RTI activists across the country. Many were sent an email that they were not being invited to the convention due to “security reasons”. Every year since 2006, the Prime Minister of the day has addressed the convention and there have never been these kinds of restrictive measures. In every single convention (barring last year when no convention was held) activists and RTI users from across the country have had the chance to participate and engage with government to further strengthen the RTI Act. We do not understand why this year these intelligence and security checks were felt to be necessary and were further used as justifications to restrict civil society participation.  
Reportedly, the CIC wanted to invite activists and users from around the country but was prevented from doing so by the government. If the reports are correct, this interference of the government severely hampers the independence and freedom of the CIC to engage with people at large. To protest against the arbitrary and undemocratic measures attempting to restrict people’s participation and to shut down an important forum of engagement between people, the commissions, and the government, we the undersigned have decided to boycott the Prime Minister’s address at the convention. Some of us who have been invited to speak at technical sessions will participate in these as we appreciate the CIC’s initiative to engage with civil society and people’s movements to improve transparency and accountability in the government.  
Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri, Venkatesh Nayak, Shekhar Singh, Lokesh Batra 
At the national level public hearing organized by the National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) in Delhi on 15 October, 2015 to celebrate ten years of the RTI law and discuss the challenges and future direction, the following was resolved unanimously by the hundreds of people attending the public hearing: 
“The NCPRI is deeply distressed to learn that the National RTI convention to be organised by the Central Information Commission on the 16th and 17th of October 2015 has become an exclusive affair which is being restricted by the central government under frivolous “security” concerns.
 
We strongly believe that the RTI convention should set an example of openness and participation. Even for this convention, the NCPRI was asked to participate, to provide names of activists from different states and contribute to an exhibition. We were being encouraged to include as many people and experiences as possible. However, we have come to learn that as the Prime Minister has decided to attend, the number of participants have been severely restricted. Some people who were invited have been informed that they will not be allowed into the inaugural session. Even the names recommended by the State Information Commissions have been rejected reportedly because of so-called “security concerns”. Our contribution to the exhibition has not been taken.
With the clear understanding that this process runs counter to transparency, accountability and participation, and threatens the independence and mandate of the CIC. We have resolved that the members of the NCPRI who have received invitations (and have not as yet been uninvited) will not attend the inaugural session. The NCPRI will use the RTI to probe the sequence of events and will fight to establish the independence and pro-people democratic mandate of the CIC. The RTI is a people’s law and we will use RTI to save RTI.
We want to make it clear that we do this to establish engagement with a democratically elected government and hope that the central government will reach out to engage with the millions of RTI users who are playing an unpaid and vital role of establishing transparency and accountability and strengthening India’s democratic character.”

User

COMMENTS

M K TYAGI

1 year ago

Despite diary no 165750(165450) dated 06-10-2015 2ND APPEAL as old as CIC/MA/A/2006/00159 has not been heard after reconstruction of file based on CIC certified copies of the file. Simlarly review has not been completed despite diary no 119035 dated 24-03-2015 in decision no 1338/IC/(A)/2007 dated 22-10-2007.
CIC which is a constitutional body should not become disfunctional.

B Pugazhendhi

1 year ago

If in deed 'security concerns' are the real reason, how come these very same leaders mingle with thousands of unknown people while undertaking election tours, rallies and public meetings? Transparency caged in bullet proof enclosure?!

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