Why Ad infinitum?

In architecture, whether it is building architecture or IT-related architecture, context is everything.

In the late 19th century, there was a famed building architect who made his reputation in the Southwestern United States for his ability to build regal homes of the Victorian style. His reputation spread far and wide to the coast of Maine where a wealthy entrepreneur commissioned him to build one of his trademark homes. The architect started work in late Spring and finished by late Summer and the result was a beautiful Victorian home with a prominent wrap-around deck built of intricately decorated wood: a signature detail of his work. By the summer of the next year, the beautiful open deck underwent complete renovation to make its space protected from the harsh elements of the Northeast winters. What was intended to be a unique benefit to the homeowner rapidly became a liability. How did this happen?

The architect, while talented and able, was flawed in his approach. A proper approach (whether in building architecture or IT-related architecture) is about seeing things in their larger context at all times. In the case of the story, the architect was out of his comfort zone and didn’t consider the harsh environments of the Northeast compared to those of the Southwest. The same can be applied to any situation. Analogous to the technical world of today, I have witnessed architects (and made the same mistakes myself) make the error of not considering the larger contexts in which their system is to exist and the result is costly.

So back to the point – why Ad Infinitum? Because I prefer to consider architecture from the perspective of the Ancient Greeks. Simpler is better. The Ancient Greeks always looked at something as part of something larger and that integration and harmony was more important than separation and individualism. Considering a problem and its complexities against an infinite continuum of contexts tends to make the problem appear simpler. This is the essence of abstraction and it is through this that complexity can become simplicity.

(Am I over simplifying?) ;)