Kotan ( 枯淡) is a Japanese word. The literal meaning of this word is ‘elegant simplicity’. You’ve got to admire a culture that actually has their own word for this kind of concept. Thanks to a friend of mine who can read more detailed Japanese dictionaries (as opposed to Japanese-English dictionaries, whose definitions are often very terse), I got the following additional information about this word:
In paintings, calligraphy, writings, etc., the absence of worldliness (edit: also translated as vulgarity – KSH), and the presence of easily accessible (i.e. not hidden by layers of complexity or depth) refinement. Also, such an appearance/manner. For example, 枯淡な画風 – a simple but refined painting style.
When I saw this word I was really struck by the fact that the word itself is an elegant, simple and compact set of characters that represents a truly amazing concept.
When you apply the concept of Kotan (枯淡) to coding, things really start to click. When we all start out coding we typically just hammer through stuff to make sure that it works. Later in life, we hammer through stuff but with more refinement that comes from experience. Even later in our careers, we’ve finally “gotten it”. We realize that more lines of code isn’t better. We realize that obtuse tricks and ceremony for the sake of ceremony aren’t good – they’re actually bad and they negatively impact our software development.
This blog is for those who “get it” or those who want to “get it” – for those who spend hours and hours taking a working product and trimming lines of code and removing cruft, barnacles, scar tissue and all manners of bad smell. This blog is for those who will stay up until the wee hours of the morning refacting a working product so that the code positively oozes elegant simplicity – Kotan.
This blog is for those who appreciate the presence of Kotan in code, regardless of language, platform, device, or purpose. I will be posting code samples, tutorials, reviews, and anything else in my efforts to strive toward simple, elegant code – be it for Ruby, ASP.NET, C#, WPF, Silverlight, iPhone, WP7, Android, or whatever else comes along and I hope that, through reading this blog, you will become as inspired as I have become and that you will become a fanatic in your thirst for Kotan in your life and your code.