A fan once called John Mayer "the Master of Duh," which he took as a huge compliment, replying "Damn right I'm The Master of Duh!"
Duh is simplicity-in-retrospect.
It’s the revealed order within chaos.
Here are some familiar examples from art, music, and product design:
iPod — Upon their release, iPods had basically the same features as every other MP3 player, but the iPod established preternaturally simple relationships between those features, making them feel sleek and effortless.
The song “Back in Black” by AC/DC — A guitar enables thousands of possible chords, arrayed in millions of possible combinations. Back in Black’s main theme is 3 chords that every newbie learns in his first week, yet which nobody assembled in this particular way until 1979. Back in Black reveals the order within chaos by choosing from among millions of chords a very simple set that makes you feel something.
Shl0ms — Shl0ms is the artist who sold “the world’s smallest NFT” — a PNG file containing zero bytes of information — for thousands of dollars. His art is the pranksterism of showing what you could have done yourself, but didn’t — revealing the duh. “Imagine harder,” his work seems to say.
Jack Butcher — Jack Butcher built his career by compressing philosophical and business insights into visual art. Compression = Duh. Appropriately, one of my favorite examples is his GIF rendition of “Less Is More.” (Ideamarket owns the NFT of this piece)
Duh and the art of argument
“Finding duh” is critical in high-leverage argument, and it isn’t merely about getting more people to agree with you. It’s about futility reduction: making sure you can’t miss.
A high-duh argument is one in which your efforts are guaranteed to pay off, no matter what else people may say about the topic. If you’re going to throw your whole emotional and intellectual weight against something, it might as well be something that really moves the needle.
Tim Ferriss advises busy people to “look for the one decision you can make that will eliminate 500 other decisions.” If you always wear a black t-shirt and jeans, you won’t have to spend precious judgment-power choosing between 100 different outfit combinations each day.
The argument version is, “What 1 argument can you make that eliminates 500 other arguments?”
Finding duh is about finding load-bearing absurdities. Not the little, niggling, arguable absurdities — but the giant, open-and-shut cases that hide in plain sight.
Ideamarket creates a new asset class for valuing information, so wehave the opportunity to shape the practice of fundamental value analysis for information.
High-duh arguments, and the people who make them, are one thing I search for on Ideamarket. Compression and the obsolescence of complexity seem to be common elements in high-duh content.
What other frameworks might be useful for analyzing information-ROI?