Perfection By Deletion

Perfection By Deletion
Photo by Ujesh Krishnan / Unsplash

Imagine the perfect life.

Imagine the perfect society.

Imagine Utopia.

All problems that we currently know are solved.

All boundaries that we know are gone.

The path to Utopia is clear - destruction enables perfection.

Every creation is an attack on the status quo.

We create drugs to remove pain. We grow food to satisfy hunger.

We build rockets to remove limitations in transportation. We invented the internet to reduce delays in communication.

We delete pictures to remove memories.

Our inventions delete problems and remove boundaries.

What holds us back from creating the perfect society?

Intellectual Traps

Insecurities are the glue that binds us to the status quo. Each individual has their own optimum. Once I am done fighting the status quo and redefined in my own tiny little bubble called life, I will create a moat that makes it difficult for others to challenge the status quo.

One tactic of defence that Paul Graham perfectly described in his tweet. Over-engineering and over-written. Confuse everyone with complexity and make them fear the attempt of trying. That's why innovation comes in waves. There is always a period of comfort and rest before the next wave of innovation piles up.

To overcome the status quo and get one step closer to perfection, we need to overcome our insecurities and maybe take one or five steps back.

Have a look at this example of the tsunamis of innovation during the last few centuries.

If you don't optimize for your own good and consider the best for society, you probably could agree that it's best for the sum of individuals to keep innovating at the fastest rate possible. So instead of fighting the status quo by over-engineering and over-optimizing, we should leave our egos aside and focus on the next big wave of innovation. Delete the effort on the old to free up time and resources for the better.

The following is a mental model that I may help with creating more perfect things.


In the process of creating the perfect good or service, you can use some basic frameworks to identify the potential for deletion.

  1. See with fresh eyes - why are we doing this? What is the purpose of it? What is the value of it?
  2. Reason from first principles rather than by analogy.

The first one is beneficial for understanding the status quo and inspiring yourself and others to deconstruct a complex problem. Once you are in the mode of thinking, it's helpful to start with the fundamental truths and build a solution for a problem that leaves all the unnecessary behind. If it doesn't have a purpose or add any value. It's probably a good idea to delete it.

And if you struggle with memorizing this, maybe the following quote by Elon Musk will help you.

”One of the biggest traps for smart engineers is optimizing something that shouldn’t exist.”

And now replace "smart engineers" with "people". Et voilà, perfection by deletion.