Randall Munroe

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe

XKCD is one of my all-time favorite web comics.  It's smart, quirky, and uses simple illustrations to explain big ideas.  The book, Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words, elaborates on an initial idea to explain the Saturn V rocket using only the most common 1000 words in the English language.  Randall explains things in the style of Up Goer Five, using only drawings and a vocabulary of the 1,000 (or "ten hundred") most common words. Explore computer buildings (datacenters), the flat rocks we live on (tectonic plates), the things you use to steer a plane (airliner cockpit controls), and the little bags of water you're made of (cells).

Quoting Naval Ravikant, "It is the mark of a charlatan to explain simple ideas in complex words.  It is the mark of genius to explain complex ideas in simple words."  

This book is pure genius. Author Randall Munroe provides a helpful reminder to all of us who can get caught up in the specialized language of our respective industries to slow down and explain what we do in the most simple terms.  When we are able to break down a word to its most fundamental truth, then we won't get caught in the trap of spreading buzzwords like a virus yet failing to expand our knowledge. For example, Tropical Gringo's digital innovation definition. Don't be like this guy.