It's now fashionable to be a self-proclaimed minimalist; and for as long as I can remember I've fancied myself as one. Back in high-school I went to school carrying nothing at all, no bag, no books, no pen, nothing. If I needed a pen, say for a pop quiz, I had to borrow one quickly. In other words, I depended on my classmates to provide the pen. Is this really minimalism? I'd argue no -- yes, I don't need the material possession of a pen, but I need the conceptual possession that is the dependency on other people to provide the pen.
In Silicon Valley, where your company feeds you, washes your clothes, and supply your social life, are you a minimalist for not having a kitchen, a washer, or friends outside of work? Defined this way, a baby is the ultimate minimalist, after all it has zero possessions and relies on the mother for everything. (By "you", I mean the proverbial you (meaning me)).
I think self-sufficiency needs to be taken into account when evaluating minimalism -- even if it's at the cost of having more material possessions. For instance, buying a hair clipper and spending a bit of time learning how to cut my own hair is definitely more minimal than relying on a barber that I have to schedule with, pay to, and go to (that can get sick, go on vacation, or move away).
A similar thing happens in software all the time -- is it more minimal:
- to use a service than it is implement your own?
- to take on a software package dependency than it is to write your own library?
- to have users always augment your app with some other app for a missing feature than it is to add it?
A Fake Minimalist will go with the former for every case.
In his "Spec-ulation" talk, Rich Hickey brought this point home by defining software growth as (my emphasis):
- Accretion: to provide more functionality.
- Relaxation: to require less (dependencies, inputs, etc).
- Fixation: to fix bugs.