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Simple Technology

Yesterday Ken Perlin wrote about whiteboards on his blog and asks what makes the whiteboard "such a perfect vehicle for collaboration". I think a significant part of it is the lack of complex technology.

When you go to use a whiteboard, there is usually some problem you are trying to solve or complex idea you are trying to share. That is not a time you want to be given a new problem to deal with.

The only thing that can really go wrong with a whiteboard is the pen running out and in that case, you simply pick up another one. There is no latency. There is no freezing and having to wait or an updates required. It is very simple and very reliable.

There is a similar situation in process safety. Even when a system has a fully automated control system and a fully independent, high reliability shutdown system, we still install safety valves. The safety system may make use of the best and most reliable technology, but we will still install a simple valve held closed by a spring.

The less parts of a system to go wrong the better. Can you build a whiteboard replacement with less parts?

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