It's now fashionable to call yourself a "minimalist", but is that merely about not having things? I remember going to school everyday carrying nothing at all, no bag, no books, no pen, nothing -- I was a slacker. 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? Yes, I didn't need the material possession of a pen, but I had to depend on others 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.
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.