Trevor Owens (Library of Congress) has written a thoughtful post introducing some themes around simplicity and complexity in digital preservation, in the context of maintenance, repair and an ethics of care. In “Parsimony and Elegance as Objectives for Digital Curation Processes,” Owens positions “unnecessary complexity” as a threat to sustainability while framing minimalism as the common thread of parsimony and elegance.
Further defining these terms, Owens clarifies his idea:
That is, our workflows, processes, and systems are parsimonious to the extent that they use “minimal number of assumptions or steps.” They are elegant to the extent that they are characterized by “minimalism and intuitiveness while preserving exactness and precision.” This isn’t to say that this infrastructure won’t become complex, but to say that it should only be as complex as it absolutely needs to be.
Owens ends by summarizing some of the “axioms” from his recent book, The Theory and Craft of Digital Preservation, that are most relevant to the notion of minimalism.