Less is more

14Aug07

I recently added that quote to my Facebook profile. Though I’ve seen it attributed to a 19th century poet named Robert Browning, it is most commonly (and relevantly) attributed to 20th century architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

Over the years, I’ve increasingly become a fan of minimalism — in music, design and my general approach to buying and owning stuff. I’ve found myself wanting to possess less, in part because I’ve moved frequently over the last 18 years, in part because I don’t like clutter, and in part because the things on which I spend time and money are often experiences (travel, dining) or can be converted to bits and thus stored on a hard drive (music, film).

Paul Graham of Y Combinator wrote a nice essay on “stuff” last month. I really like his notion of examining purchases for utility (in the John Stuart Mill sense) and the socioeconomic comparison of excessive ownership with excessive diet.

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