Technology makes life simple. As simple as a car that drives itself. A retail store with no check-out. A voice assistant that understands your intent. As simple as a phone that unlocks when you look at it. A web shop that already knows what you’d like to buy. A social media app that filters tons of news for you. As simple as a tweet that can rule the world.
As in the best Yin & Yang tradition, all that simplicity and comfort comes with a price.
First of all, the most seamless, simplified experiences require a lot of complexity to be dealt with. It typically involves Artificial intelligence, process automation, smart things, collaboration tooling and mixed reality. There will be an amalgamation of new and existing systems, data flows, communication channels and infrastructure.
Secondly, simplicity makes shallow. We may tend to take for granted what is behind a newsflash, a video clip, a recommendation or an automated decision. With the dazzling complexity of our technology-infused lives, the comfort of something else taking care of it all is tempting. Even if it means we no longer have a clue about the mechanisms or insights that are behind it. Even if our attention span seems to shrink by the day (oh hi again, goldfish).
However, simplicity hits a concrete wall when we lose trust – for example when we suspect news is fake, an algorithm is biased, sensors are malfunctioning, or we simply feel we are being followed and monitored for the wrong purposes.
It’s a tall order for IT and Enterprise architects to balance the paramount, crazy complexity of changing technology and systems with the need to create calm oases of simplicity on top of it. And even if they manage to do so, they need to explain their architectures in a way that creates trust and just enough insight for all involved to embrace and adopt it.
We already know for years that huge, multi-layered schematic diagrams are not fit for this purpose – other than as a secret language among architects themselves. And no, even storytelling is not an efficient enough alternative anymore, because – you know – attention span.
We should resort to what currently turns out to be the most powerful communication tool available: the 140-character tweet. If you can’t tweet it, it won’t cut it. Within our company, we have been experimenting for some time now with a training workshop format which we call ‘Tweet My Architecture’: bringing back the essence of an Enterprise or IT architecture to tweet level and then taking no more than 30 seconds on a soapbox to explain the rationale behind it.
If nothing else, it is a humbling and refreshing learning experience to be at this tweet level. But it can be so much more than that, as we are delicately balancing simplicity, complexity and trust.
So, hashtag tweetmyarchitecture it is. We’d love to see a little wave of shared tweet architectures out there. When it comes down to it, what would your #tweetmyarchitecture statement look like?