Things I like

  • Ask a Sane Person: Jia Tolentino on Practicing the Discipline of Hope

    “I think the American obsession with symbolic freedom has to be traded for a desire for actual freedom: the freedom to get sick without knowing it could bankrupt you, the freedom for your peers to live life without fearing they’ll be killed by police. The dream of collective well-being has to outweigh, day-to-day, the dream of individual success. ”

    There's a lot to quote in this piece and it was a toss up for me between this one about freedom and one further on when she talks about hope. But the entire thing is worth your time, there is so much in this interview that had me pausing and rereading the words.

  • Insane after coronavirus?

    “‘Florida and Ohio, man,’ the barista at the local café said to my husband, when he asked about the tourist trade. ‘People here at least acknowledge that it’s real. But people from Florida and Ohio don’t even seem to think it’s happening.’ Having lived in both places, I believe him: I have long had a theory that the surrealism that has overtaken the political landscape in America can be traced back to the poisoned ground of Ohio Facebook.”

    I have no words to describe this piece, but read it, it's worth it.

  • Wallace Stegner and the Conflicted Soul of the West

    “Stegner’s settings range from academia and the literary world to mining camps and boomtowns, but his most consistent subject is marriage, represented in a mode more epic than romantic. Monogamy, with its crags and chasms, is the most salient and imposing feature in his imaginative landscape, the human undertaking around which all the others are organized. Marriages in his books are not always harmonious — spouses quarrel, separate and sometimes stray — but they always endure.”

    Stegner is one of my favorite writers and I really enjoyed this piece by A.O. Scott looking at his work as a whole. He is by no means perfect, but I'm always drawn into his books because of the focus on relationships and as the above quote says, marriage. I find marriage a fascinating thing, how it works so differently for everyone and how it changes over time. Stegner writes about all of that in ways that never fail to make me think or see it in some new way.

  • Jon Stewart Is Back to Weigh In

    “My perspective is, I’m trying to talk about what I believe is wrong systemically that gives us corrupted outcomes because the system is incentivized to do that. It is incentivized for conflict as well as for corruption in a more classic sense, which is money from larger sources pouring into a place not to help but to gain control.”

    There's a lot in this interview and I could've grabbed several different quotes. I don't always agree, but wow, Stewart is bringing a perspective that I find really helpful right now. Looking at the systems and how those systems in so many ways are problematic. Until we change them, I don't know how anything will truly get better.

  • History Will Judge the Complicit

    “The price of collaboration in America has already turned out to be extraordinarily high. And yet, the movement down the slippery slope continues, just as it did in so many occupied countries in the past. First Trump’s enablers accepted lies about the inauguration; now they accept terrible tragedy and the loss of American leadership in the world. Worse could follow. Come November, will they tolerate—even abet—an assault on the electoral system: open efforts to prevent postal voting, to shut polling stations, to scare people away from voting? Will they countenance violence, as the president’s social-media fans incite demonstrators to launch physical attacks on state and city officials?”

    This piece goes in depth with history and our current situation and it is so worth the time. Applebaum's writing over the past several years has continuously been good, but this piece goes so much further into how much what's going on in the US right now is akin to that which has happened before in other countries. I deeply wish it weren't so.

  • The design systems between us.

    “Put another way: what kind of decisions does your technical stack make about who’s allowed to contribute to the front-end? And how expensive will it be to alter those decisions, and introduce a different way of working? For many organizations, the technical barriers to cross-functional collaboration can be unacceptably high. And what’s more, the cost of that complexity is rarely acknowledged.”

    I think about this a lot. I recently worked on a project where the designer had our code base up and running locally and felt comfortable and preferred to do a lot of the smaller customizations of the design himself. It was amazing, we both worked to our strengths, but it's also a rarity. Our code base is difficult to run locally and not something many non engineers want to dive into (even I dislike it, to be honest). But it changed the entire tenor of the project to be able to collaborate in that way.

  • The Sickness in Our Food Supply

    “For even when our food system is functioning “normally,” reliably supplying the supermarket shelves and drive-thrus with cheap and abundant calories, it is killing us—slowly in normal times, swiftly in times like these. The food system we have is not the result of the free market. (There hasn’t been a free market in food since at least the Great Depression.) No, our food system is the product of agricultural and antitrust policies—political choices—that, as has suddenly become plain, stand in urgent need of reform.”

    Ever since the pandemic started I've been reading about supply chains, about how the things I buy get to me, about the way in which these systems feel invisible, yet they so obviously broke down quickly in the face of the lock down measures that were taken and people worrying about having enough of everything they normally eat, use, buy. Pollan speaks to how these systems are so broken. The one system that's kept going during this entire time has been my CSA, delivering me quality food every Friday, like clockwork.

  • Fuck the Bread. The Bread Is Over.

    “In fairy tales, form is your function and function is your form. If you don’t spin the straw into gold or inherit the kingdom or devour all the oxen or find the flour or get the professorship, you drop out of the fairy tale, and fall over its edge into an endless, blank forest where there is no other function for you, no alternative career. The future for the sons who don’t inherit the kingdom is vanishment. What happens when your skills are no longer needed for the sake of the fairy tale? A great gust comes and carries you away.”

    An amazing piece on academia, fairy tales, motherhood, and life in quarantine.

  • What Kind of Country Do We Want?

    “All this comes down to the need to recover and sharpen a functioning sense of justice based on a reverent appreciation of humankind, all together and one by one. The authenticity of our understanding must be demonstrated in our attempting to act justly even at steep cost to ourselves. We can do this as individuals and as a nation. Someday we will walk out onto a crowded street and hear that joyful noise we must hope to do nothing to darken or still, having learned so recently that humankind is fragile, and wonderful.”

    A piece that I'll need to read several times to let sink in, to think about how we're reacting to this moment and how we can learn from it.

  • I Don't Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore

    “This is where pandemic-induced reductions in spending, decadelong resentment over income inequality, the resurgent progressive and labor movements, sustained millennial/Gen X burnout and precarity, and burgeoning Gen Z idealism collide. What if we decided that things didn’t have to be the way they were before all of this happened? Part of that shift would involve taxing the rich and disarticulating healthcare from employment; it would involve forming and protecting unions and focusing on reimplementing regulatory systems, decentralizing production, and restoring the supply chain. And it could also mean disabusing ourselves of the idea that buying things is a solution to our problems.”

    Petersen talked about this in an email newsletter and it got me thinking. I've been very careful about where I spend my money for a years, not just if I'm buying now. I know, Amazon doesn't miss me or notice that I'm not spending there, but how I spend my money is one of the only ways to send signals in this society of ours. And during the pandemic, I've hardly bought a thing and I waited for my local shops to open up before getting some things I needed, like new running shoes.

  • If you are having trouble reading…


    I liked this list, I've been seeing a lot of folks saying that they're having trouble focusing during this weird time and I think this is a helpful list. The one thing I'd add to it is this: stay off line and away from the news for a day or two and see if that helps. Things are frenetic right now and the pace of news has made it harder for me to focus, so I've been staying away from it more.

  • My Restaurant Was My Life for 20 Years. Does the World Need It Anymore?

    “The work itself — cooking delicious, interesting food and cleaning up after cooking it — still feels as fresh and honest and immensely satisfying as ever. Our beloved regulars and the people who work so hard at Prune are all still my favorite people on earth. But maybe it’s the bloat, the fetishistic foodies, the new demographic of my city who have never been forced to work in retail or service sectors. Maybe it’s the auxiliary industries that feed off the restaurants themselves — the bloggers and agents and the “influencers,” the brand managers, the personal assistants hired just to keep you fresh on “Insta,” the Food & Wine festivals, the multitude of panels we chefs are now routinely invited to join, to offer our charming yet thoroughly unresearched opinions on.”

    This is an amazing essay, about so much more than one restaurant, but about what our culture around restaurants has become, about how they can survive in this world. I've read it so many times, because it's beautifully written and so much of what's said needs to be said over and over again.

  • Day 40 quarantena

    “How should we collectively record and affirm the extraordinary conditions, language, emotions, and experiences before they evaporate? And how could my own practice learn from commoning-in-crisis, and adapt to become a better model of communal care?”

    I heard a version of this talk last June at Eyeo, but this new version goes farther and deeper and it so worth your time. As I've said elsewhere, I've started thinking about how I'm dealing with all of this and how I'm recording it for myself, what will I share, and how I will share it.

  • Surviving This Pandemic Isn’t Enough

    “Why is it, one might ask, that services such as hospitals and news organizations are closing when the public seems to need and want them most? The answer isn’t that we have bad nurses or bad reporters, or that people have turned away from medical authorities and the press has grown too liberal to gather a mass audience. The answer is that our economy had come to rest, over the years, on the cheap, endless consumption of things whose true costs were carefully hidden from us, a sleight of hand we called financialization.”

    Lots of good stuff in this essay, but I'm glad to see folks thinking and talking about hope and how we can find bits and pieces of it. And the added bonus of seeing some explanations for the way in which we fund the things that matter, in ways we pay for even when we don't see it, helps me explain some of what I've been feeling as an employee at a media company these days.

  • One Foot in Front of the Other: How a Daily Walk Helps Us Cope

    “Oh, let me tell you what I see! Every day I journey to my cove, a small beach nestled into the edge of the lake. I close my eyes and listen to the waves. Their steady rhythm reminds me that some aspects of my life are untouched by the virus.”

    Beautiful words and pictures on the walks we take during this time. Walking and running are keeping me sane and I loved hearing about other experiences with it.

  • 'The impossible has already happened': what coronavirus can teach us about hope

    “Although staying put is hard, maybe we will be reluctant to resume our rushing about, and something of the stillness now upon us will stay with us. We may rethink the wisdom of having much of our most vital stuff – medicine, medical equipment – made on other continents. We may also rethink the precarious just-in-time supply chains. I have often thought that the wave of privatisation that has characterised our neoliberal age began with the privatisation of the human heart, the withdrawal from a sense of a shared fate and social bonds. It is to be hoped that this shared experience of catastrophe will reverse the process. A new awareness of how each of us belongs to the whole and depends on it may strengthen the case for meaningful climate action, as we learn that sudden and profound change is possible after all.”

    I've spent a lot of time during this whole thing thinking about supply chains, how we buy things, why we buy things, and what I really need. It's been good in some ways, good to figure that out, and now I'm starting to think about how I want life to be whenever things move back into the public realm again, the time when I can go out more freely and do some of the things I used to do.

  • We Are Living in a Failed State

    “The virus should have united Americans against a common threat. With different leadership, it might have. Instead, even as it spread from blue to red areas, attitudes broke down along familiar partisan lines. The virus also should have been a great leveler. You don’t have to be in the military or in debt to be a target—you just have to be human. But from the start, its effects have been skewed by the inequality that we’ve tolerated for so long.”

    This is by no means an uplifting piece to read, but what I enjoyed about it and am thinking about a lot is the way in which Packer takes our current situation and puts it in context of what's gone on so far this century in the US. On the one hand it makes me sad to read these things, but on the other hand I'm also trying to work out how we got here and how we go forward.

  • David Hockney shares exclusive art from Normandy, as 'a respite from the news'

    “He sent some of his work in progress to friends, which led to him releasing one image of daffodils for publication, which he titled: Do Remember They Can’t Cancel the Spring. He is now sharing nine more, all painted in the last few days.”

    Hockney is one of my favorite artists for many reasons, but one of them is how he keeps going, keeps trying new things, and keeps releasing new art. And if you want to see a good documentary on him, I just watched one on Kanopy that was fantastic.

  • Springtime for Introverts

    “Now, though, the virus has done what a revolution never could: The social order has been upended, and extroverts find themselves living in the introverts’ world. How the outgoing, the world-beaters, the Good Time Charlies and Charlenes will react is anybody’s guest, but take it from one who knows: Introversion isn’t so terrible, even with the alternately sad and horrifying news that makes introversion a societal necessity, even a matter of life and death.”

    This piece made me chuckle, but I also felt a sense of kinship with the writer. As an introvert that works from home even before all this, that spends a lot of time on my own with books and in the garden, it's a bit strange to not feel the low level hum of societal pressure to be doing more, going out more, and finally they way I live is the norm.

  • The Social Media Shame Machine Is In Overdrive Right Now

    “That doesn’t mean ignoring the class- and race-based stratifications that make this virus affect people differently. It doesn’t mean pretending the virus does not discriminate or suggesting that everyone’s struggle is even close to equal. But it does mean we can remember that the most effective way to diffuse collective action — and the sweeping, systemic changes it can spark — has always been to turn those who are suffering against one another.”

    I attempted to write about this same thing last weekend, but of course Petersen does it much better. But I'm finding that a lot of folks are making a lot of assumptions these days and the reality is that in different places in the country the situation is different. I feel lucky to live in an area that is doing OK and that I can get away from people and be in nature some each week. We're all doing our best and I'm trying hard to remember that when I see so much shaming and judgement online.

  • How to Be Lonely

    “Most of us are perennially short of time, and now we’re left hanging in it. This is an opportunity for a different kind of connection. During a long spell of loneliness, I found that art was among the richest consolations, and that voyaging into other people’s worlds by way of novels, paintings and films had a magical capacity for making me feel connected, seen, met.”

    I really like Laing's writing and this piece resonates with me so much. I'm trying, now that we're a ways into all of this, to take time to do things that take me out of what's going on and into another world. I watched a documentary on one of my favorite artists last night, David Hockney, and I'm reading the final Cromwell book by Mantel. Trying my hardest to escape it all when and how I can.

  • Broadcasting House 2

    “I guess IndieWeb is still for devoted hobbyists rather than, you know, just people.”

    So much this. Ellis perfectly describes the many times I've tried to do more and participate more in the Indie Web movement. Each and every time I've failed because I don't have the technical skills to port content all around the web. And if I, who have some technical skill find this difficult, the average person isn't going to even attempt it. We often talk about owning your data, but in reality it isn't as easy as people like to think.

  • Systems, Mistakes, and the Sea

    “The ugly truth is that design systems work is not easy. And what works for one company does not work for another. In most cases, copying the big tech company of the week will not make a design system better at all. And so instead we have to acknowledge how difficult our work is collectively and then we have to do something that seems impossible today—we must publicly admit to our mistakes. To learn from our community we must be honest with one another and talk bluntly about how we’ve screwed things up.”

    Robin continues to write interesting pieces about design systems and this one is no exception. This work is hard, and it brings up so much about how our organizations work and how various teams interact, and how we don't always work well together. And I appreciate Robin's writing because he's working on a system full time, so much of the writing on these is done by consultants, so I appreciate the few who're working to maintain and continue on with the same system over time.

  • Pixels vs. Relative Units in CSS

    “Remember, users really do change their settings under the hood, and we should be maintaining users’ control over their own browsing experience. If you use relative CSS units for your typography styles, you can maintain the fidelity of your layouts without negatively impacting the needs of your users.”

    A good reminder that relative units still matter, quite a bit. And as a user who's starting to up the base font size as I age, I'm noticing these things.

  • The hoof and the horse.

    “In my experience, the challenge of design systems work is helping teams think in more cross-functional, interdisciplinary ways. They need an awareness on how changing a single slice will affect the hyperobject—or more specifically, how it will affect the other teams and people who work within the system.”

    A follow on from Robin's piece and a good reminder that the work is about people more than the technology and all the other things we usually focus on.

  • The design systems we swim in.

    “Emphasis mine, because I’m not sure I know of a design system that operates in a holistic way. Does the system you work with allow you to control the process of your work, to make situational decisions? Or is it simply a set of rules you have to follow?”

    There was a rash of blogging recently about systems and working within them and how you work within them and are they really just like a factory and we just follow the line to get the components created? I found Ethan's piece the most interesting, to be honest, because I find bringing up Franklin's thoughts on technology an interesting new twist on thinking about them. To be sure, systems are not perfect, and I think we have a long way to go to figure out how to do them well, but I find the thinking about all this worthwhile and interesting.

  • Welcome to the Bullshit Economy

    “The Iowa disaster is a sign that our economic structures are breaking down, that private enterprise has become a shell game, where who you know matters more than what you can do. The bullshit economy has bled over into politics, with the perfect president but also the perfect amount of grifting and consultant corruption and unbridled tech optimism. This has long been part of politics—anything with that much money sloshing around will invite a little corruption—but the combination of political grift, the ardor for public-private partnerships, and the triumph of ambition over talent has created a fetid stew.”

    The best thing I've read about how much we're living in a strange age that I fear will only get stranger before it gets better.

  • Agile as Trauma

    “It helps to know that people were “uncovering better ways of developing software” long before the Agile Manifesto was written, because it puts it into context. It enables us to understand the constitutional limitations and consider how to grow beyond them.”

    I read this piece a few weeks ago and I've been thinking about it quite a bit ever since. I work in a team that does agile with sprints, stand ups, and all the rest. But I'm starting to question if it really works, do we get more done? Does it make us more productive and encourage communication. I'll be honest and say that I'm not really sure about that. And it makes me think about some posts I've read recently about how software making is becoming more like working in a factory. This I can relate to in many ways.

  • My Pleasure

    “I just just believe that an economy in which people own the means of production and the stuff they produce would be one that’d be a good bit better than the one we have now. What if that $5 billion worth of worth just went back to the workers at Chick-Fil-A because they own the company? Why don’t they deserve instead of some guys whose dad started the company?”

    I know, I know, I just linked to Thornton a while ago, but gah, he's writing some really amazing things. As a person who was heavily involved in the evangelical church who walked away for many of the reasons he talks about in this piece, I'm intrigued. Finding someone who is in the church but not what you see in the media can be hard and I'm immensely glad that there is someone like Thornton saying the things he's saying.

  • Getting to work.

    “I don’t think it’s a coincidence they’re choosing this point in history to act so boldly, so aggressively. These companies are keenly aware of the current NLRB’s pro-business tilt, and are probably confident that it would rule in their favor.”

    A sobering round up of the year in tech and activism from Ethan, but worth reading to see all that has gone on. There is hope here, I believe in hope, hope is an active thing, not a wishful thing and I'm grateful for all the folks working so hard to help make our industry better.

  • Please for the love of Blarg, Start a Blog

    “Start a damn blog. People might give you shit for what you say on it on twitter, but you can ignore them. Only pay attention to folks that take the time to write a blog. ‘In medium’ responses. Blogs already have nearly 2 decades of grammar and expectations of what a blog is and can be. In addition to commentary and essays, you can just write about a book you read or TV show you watched. They are far more personal in many ways than an instagram feed dedicated to your amazing lunch could ever be. I post photos of food I’ve eaten here all the time.”

    I love seeing how many people are blogging again and using RSS and talking about these things. I may not write as much as I'd like to on this site of mine, but I do keep track of a lot of other things that are important to me. Maybe 2020 will be when I write a bit more as well.

  • How Don Hertzfeldt Survives as an Indie Animator

    “You’re just not going to survive very long in America being an idealistic fluffy artist if you’re not also watching your back. I think one of the most valuable things I learned very early on was simply how to say “no.” That probably sounds a little obvious but it’s not in everyone’s nature, especially when you’re young and there’s some sort of vague opportunity in front of you. Your human instinct is to always want to be agreeable and to be liked, and to say “yes” to whatever’s being offered. When you’re young, you feel grateful and lucky that anyone is even paying attention to you at all. But what a powerful thing to be able to say “no.” It’s one of the first steps toward realizing your worth.”

    There are a lot of really lovely things in the interview and I absolutely adore his drawing style.

  • Design Tokens and Component Based Design

    “I find the beauty of being able to make use of the global, themed, and component level design decisions by compiling them into various formats (that essentially become CSS) and that gives us more power in authoring components.”

    I don't often link to things related to my work, but I'm really intrigued by design tokens and how to do a system for a large scale platform that needs to serve multiple brands and have them all looking and feeling like their own thing. I wonder why that is?

  • A Non-Business Case for Supporting Old Browsers

    “Putting the blame on the users, saying «they can complete the transaction on another device», is a lazy mindset. And one that will hurt your bottom line. They will not complete the task on another device. They will leave for good.”

    A super well done article about why you should support all browsers and how it's not nearly as hard as you think it is.

  • Making Design Tokens Work Across Platforms with Amazon Style Dictionary

    “The benefit of using tokens that way, beyond developers having an easier time using it, is that if brand changes again or there’s requirement to theme the system, you can simply replace the brand.json with a different file and all the components will be regenerated.”

    I'm watching a system being created at work and the hard part is the tokens and how to get them to work with all the various moving pieces. This is an interesting read on that very thing.

  • Start a newsletter

    “With design systems work there is always more to be done and barely any time to sit back and see all the improvements that your team has made. So the other nice thing about the newsletter is that once the announcements are out there in public it all starts to feel a bit more complete. It’s wonderful to see folks noticing the work that ships and that is piece by piece making their lives easier and more efficient in the long run.”

    I really love this idea, not just for being able to communicate out to a broader team about what your design system team is doing, but for the record it gives you of the accomplishments. I find that taking time to write about or even talk about all the things you've done is helpful to gain perspective and see all that you've accomplished on a project.

  • Stab a Book, the Book Won't Die

    “All of this attention eating is relatively new. It is, as I said above, largely reliant on the smartphones in our pockets. The rise of attention monsters and this scale of attention consumption and lopsided contracts is one of many unintended consequences of the last ten years of internet growth and pocket supercomputers.”

    I always enjoy Mod's writing about reading and books and this piece is no different. And every time I read his work I think about how I'm spending my time. I'm reading more and more these days and one of the main reasons is that I'm putting away devices more and more.

  • No, Absolutely Not

    “I think the difference between a junior and senior front-end developer isn’t in their understanding or familiarity with a particular tech stack, toolchain, or whether they can write flawless code. Instead, it all comes down to this: how they push back against bad ideas.”

    I've been thinking a lot lately about what makes a senior developer senior and I think Robin hit the nail on the head here. Well done Robin!

  • Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore

    “When so many people have long or unreliable work hours, or worse, long and unreliable work hours, the effects ripple far and wide. Families pay the steepest price. Erratic hours can push parents—usually mothers—out of the labor force. A body of research suggests that children whose parents work odd or long hours are more likely to evince behavioral or cognitive problems, or be obese. Even parents who can afford nannies or extended day care are hard-pressed to provide thoughtful attention to their kids when work keeps them at their desks well past the dinner hour.”

    I've been reading a lot lately about how our systems make our lives hard, how work is creeping in, how the demand to always profit more and more means that workers get the short end of the stick. This article points to some of those things, some of the ways in which higher profits are held above treating workers decently.

  • My Friend Mister Rogers

    “It isn’t that he is revered but not followed so much as he is revered because he is not followed—because remembering him as a nice man is easier than thinking of him as a demanding one. He spoke most clearly through his example, but our culture consoles itself with the simple fact that he once existed. There is no use asking further questions of him, only of ourselves. We know what Mister Rogers would do, but even now we don’t know what to do with the lessons of Mister Rogers.”

    There's a lot in this piece and I'm still chewing over many of the things I read, especially the parts about civility, there are so many ways to use it to silence people, but I think Junod is using it in a different way. Either way, an interesting take on Mr. Rogers legacy and the new film that's coming out.

  • Christians and the Workplace

    “So churches that devote time and energy to “economic opportunity” or tutoring or mentoring children as the way to alleviate poverty are going to get undermined by capitalism. I know a lot of good, well-intentioned people that have devoted themselves to helping children in poverty through tutoring, mentoring, and teaching. Here’s the really sick thing about capitalism: it makes a mockery of our best intentions. in the long run, capital wins. What’s worse is it makes you feel bad for not doing enough, not tutoring enough, not giving enough, not working enough. ”

    A super fascinating piece talking about what churches can do to really help people who need it. If you've spent any time at all in a church setting so much of how Thornton describes what the church does will ring true but the twist is how much he is turning that on its head. A lot to think about here that isn't just about the church, it's about how we as a society can truly help people. Hat tip to Anne Helen Peterson for the link.

  • The Company That Branded Your Millennial Life Is Pivoting To Burnout

    “After all, our current iteration of capitalism can’t fix the problems that our current iteration of capitalism has wrought. If we’ve learned anything from all the millennial-oriented books on how to unfuck your life, the meditation apps, the organizational apps, and the profusion of $3,000 exercise bikes, it’s that a thing can’t fix what ails both millennials and society as a whole. Maybe Pattern’s pivot to anti-burnout philosophy is just its way of being, once again, perfectly (and profitably) attuned to millennials’ desires.”

    I've been following Anne Helen Peterson's work on burnout fairly closely and this article is really interesting. Can a company, with the best of intentions, help folks who are caught in the merry go round? I'm not sure that it can, but it's an interesting look and thought provoking article.

  • 5-Hour Workdays? 4-Day Workweeks? Yes, Please

    “To believe, in other words, that our current approach to knowledge work — which is brand-new on any reasonable scale of business history — is the best way to create valuable information using the human mind is both arrogant and ahistoric. It’s the equivalent of striding into an early-20th-century automobile factory, where each car still required a half day’s worth of labor to produce, and boldly proclaiming, “I think we’ve figured this one out!””

    What I love about this piece is that it's finally saying something I think about a lot. Knowledge work is not the same as other types of work and yet we still treat it very much the same. We think in terms of time spent rather than work produced or completed. And I've found, to be honest, that time is the absolute worst way for me to measure my work.

  • The World-Wide Work.

    “Here’s the way of it: over the last few years, our industry has engaged in various ethical and moral lapses in the pursuit of scale. And with that scale, comes a precariousness amongst its workers—amongst warehouse workers and contractors, but also for you and me.”

    It was hard to pull out just one quote from this amazing talk that Ethan gave and now has written up. It's well worth your time to read the entire thing and to sit with it for a while. He goes on to talk about hope and the talk ends up in a place where I truly do feel hope, but there is a lot of work to be done friends. Are you ready?

  • A Strategy Guide To CSS Custom Properties

    “With custom properties, we don’t need to compile a different stylesheet; we only need to update the value of properties according to the user’s preferences. Since they are inherited values, if we do this on the root element they can be used anywhere in our application.”

    I don't often link to articles that are directly related to what I do all day, writing CSS and HTML, but this article blew my mind this week. And I realize it's older, I'm late to this game, as usual. At work there is a new project going on and a team of folks are working through how to do some very tough things, and this came up. I can't wait to see where they end up (I'm watching from the side as I'm on a different team) and it's nice to be excited about a work thing, it's been quite a while for me.

  • A Like Can’t Go Anywhere, But a Compliment Can Go a Long Way

    “A like can’t go anywhere, but a compliment can go a long way. Passive positivity isn’t enough; active positivity is needed to counterbalance whatever sort of collective conversations and attention we point at social media. Otherwise, we are left with the skewed, inaccurate, and dangerous nature of what’s been built: an environment where most positivity is small, vague, and immobile, and negativity is large, precise, and spreadable.”

    A good reminder about how social media distorts and skews our behavior, often into meaningless actions.

  • Leave the Phone at Home

    “Rather than a prediction, I’d like to offer a plausible wish: that more people opt to leave their phones behind and use smaller, more integrated devices that exist inside the everyday rather than eclipsing it. Small screens, like the watch’s, are incompatible (or at least hostile) homes for social media in its current form.”

    This is the first piece I've read that made an argument for the watch that resonated with me.

  • Cokie and Steven Roberts: A Half-Century of Changing Together

    “The key in marriage is to try to change together. Couples don’t have to change at the same time, it’s more a question of getting there if you want to have that connection and commitment. There are different paces, and you have to realize that, and accommodate each other.”

    I read a lot about Cokie Roberts when she died, but I particularly enjoyed this piece, especially as we approach our fifteen year wedding anniversary.

  • Evangelical Has Lost Its Meaning

    “By now, God-and-Country Believers are so accustomed to voting Republican—and to being disdained or mocked by Democrats—that few of them can remember doing anything else. And God-and-Country Believers are what most Americans, whether religious or not, now think that evangelicals are.”

    I really enjoy Alan Jacobs writing, I get his newsletter, and having been inside the evangelical world for much of my late teens and twenties, I resonate so much with how he talks about how its become meaningless and, unfortunately, a political word more than anything else.

  • The Scourge of Worker Wellness Programs

    “To address the sort of everyday issues that can lead to bad health, workers might look to the West Virginia teacher strikes for motivation. Nicole McCormick is a teacher in Mercer County, West Virginia, and the president of her local union. She says that once her colleagues saw that their health activities were being tracked, they were strongly motivated to join together and, eventually, strike, saying, “We’re not trained dogs that you can click a dog clicker at and give us a treat and we’ll roll over and do what you want.” When it comes to health and safety, unions speak often of focusing on the hazard, not the worker: eliminate the hazard (say, by providing ergonomic office equipment) and the potential harm (repetitive stress injury) goes away. Through organizing, workers can force their employers to make changes at work that will help them stay healthy.”

    I've long been wary of the wellness programs workplaces offer, mostly because I think they're an invasion of privacy, the information they're seeking should be between you and your doctor. In addition, the metrics are fuzzy and aren't truly how you measure if a person is healthy. But as the article said, as long as we tie healthcare to employers and it's all about cost, of course they're going to try and pass off costs on to employees.

  • There’s Too Much Damn Content, and Slick UX Design Is Making it Worse

    “But what if, to combat this anxiety, designers were in the business of revealing seams? Tired of his industry’s race toward seamless design, computer scientist and theorist Matthew Chalmers proposed the idea of seamful design. In his paper titled “Seamful Design and Ubicomp Infrastructure,” Matthew Chalmers defines seamful design: “Some features that we designers usually categorize as infrastructure problems may, to users, be useful interactional features. Examples include the edges and gaps.. .Seamfulness is about taking account of these reminders of the finite and physical nature of digital media.” ”

    I love the idea of seams, of finding the edges, and of using that in design to help with the continual sense of being overwhelmed by all the things.

  • This Land Is the Only Land There Is

    “How are you even supposed to talk about that? More than 30 years after climate change first became a political issue, it feels like we are still figuring it out. This report gets us closer. It makes clear that climate change isn’t only about coal-fired power plants, or gas-guzzling cars; and it’s definitely not about littering or—God help us—recycling. It’s about the profound chemical and physical specificity of human life. You and I are not free-floating minds that move around the world through text messages, apologetic emails, and bank deposits. We are carbon-based creatures so pathetic that we need a lot of silent plants to make carbon for us.”

    The best article, by far, that I've read about the report by the IPCC about climate change, it's well worth your time and thinking about it, because I think very quickly some of this shit is gonna get even realer and we are far from ready for that.

  • The best place to be is somewhere else?

    “So, to come full circle, the best place to be is actually where you are right now, not somewhere else. If you’re fully present in the situation (Tim Ferriss suggests taking three breaths), then ask yourself some hard questions about what success looks like for you, and perhaps whether what you say, what you think, and what you do are in harmony.”

    Following up on reading How to Do Nothing I've been continuing my journey of thinking about how I use tech, how I spend time, and what I value. This is a quick read with some interesting thoughts and I love that it talks about Kathy Sierra and how capitalism is affecting all of this.

  • The Kingdom of Lyz Lenz’s God Land Is Within You

    “Right, and it’s not about theology. And that’s the other thing that I think people don’t understand. You can really see this in the conversation about what’s happening on the border. People keep saying, well, if you’re really Christian you should believe in giving to the orphan and the refugee. Freedom for all. But it’s about the term that people have been using a lot, “Christian nationalism.” It’s less about the actual words in the Bible, because Jesus never was like, “Yo, y’all should really have a lot of guns right now.””

    Most folks who know me now don't know that I've studied theology and that I spent a lot of my early adulthood hanging out with Christians, so I come to interviews like this and books like this with a bit of a different perspective and background. But what I find fascinating about this (and I'll be adding this book to my list) is how many people don't realize how much variety there is within Christian traditions. The problem is that the media only portrays what is one small sliver of that community; Lenz, in this interview, offers a glimpse into the fact that there is so much more.

  • Adam Minter: In the flow of things

    “From that point, I slowly began to understand that people in consumption-based societies assemble their identities via stuff, and become very emotional when those identities – and that stuff- is discarded in ways that don’t match their values. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that consumers actually care more about how their stuff is discarded, than how it is manufactured.”

    Really interesting interview with an author who looks at how we discard and get rid of things and I've put his new book on my list. Stuff is such a powder keg of a topic with people, and as someone who's dealing with aging parents and how they feel about their things, it's fascinating to think of how our consumption and how much we care about what happens to things is linked.

  • Can Everyone Be Excellent?

    “Thus, rather than cheering when many people manage to do something well, we’re likely to dismiss that result as meaningless and maybe even mutter darkly about “falling standards” or “being content with mediocrity.” Success seems to matter only if it is attained by a few, and one way to ensure that outcome is to evaluate people (or schools, or companies, or countries) relative to each other. That way, even if everyone has done quite well, or improved over time, half will always fall below the median — and look like failures.”

    A thought provoking essay about how we frame things when everyone does well, constantly push for competition, and how we'd rather rank things than strive for everyone to do well.

  • Going Home with Wendell Berry

    “If we come to these places where we say, “This is hard,” that means that we have got to get back to the details of the work. That’s it. You don’t have to stop in despair. What you finally know is that when you start compartmentalizing, you’re wrong. The study of agriculture, for example, is not different from the study of ecology. How it all coheres finally is a mystery, and it’s easy to reduce that. People assume that I’m just thinking about my writing while I’m farming. Which of course reduces the farming to kind of a rote thing that doesn’t take any intelligence.”

    Wendell Berry is one of my favorite writers, I love his novels, and own many of them and have read most of them. And I enjoyed this rambling interview with him about life and how we live and how he writes and thinks.

  • Americans Shouldn’t Have to Drive, but the Law Insists on It

    “Instead of merely accommodating some people’s desire to drive, our laws essentially force driving on all of us—by subsidizing it, by punishing people who don’t do it, by building a physical landscape that requires it, and by insulating reckless drivers from the consequences of their actions. To page through the law books today is to stumble again and again upon evidence of automobile supremacy. The range and depth of legal supports for driving is bewildering. But these laws, which are everywhere we look, are also opportunities.”

    For our last two years in Portland, we didn't have a car and I really enjoyed not owning a vehicle and not having to drive very often. In our small town we lucked out by finding a part of town where we can still walk into the main business districts. But we do have a car again, and I drive more than I would like to, because most of the US is set up to make it impossible not to drive.

  • Letter of Recommendation: Washing Dishes

    “Washing dishes by hand, I give myself the chance to remember that this is wrong — that most of life is ordinary; that ordinary isn’t the enemy but instead something nourishing and unavoidable, the bedrock upon which the rest of experience ebbs and flows.”

    I spend a lot of time doing dishes, cooking, the ordinary of life that needs to get done day in and day out. And I often like it, there is a finality to getting the task done and having either a meal to eat or a clean kitchen that I can see and appreciate it. Much different than what I do for work where it's not as physical or as easy to call it done.

  • Naval Ravikant, Email, and the Future of Work

    “I increasingly believe that one of the hidden impacts of the hyperactive hive mind is that it inflates external transaction costs. This happens because the hive mind has a way of muddying up internal work into countless informal requests and unstructured conversations, archived haphazardly into ad hoc collections of old messages. ”

    I currently work on a team that is very heavy on slack usage, along with documents to sort things out with more formality, and very low on email usage (I get almost no email most days from workmates, just automated notifications). And I'll admit I've had a hard time adjusting, because slack demands you attention all the time. Our culture is one that understands the need to turn that off, to go heads down, to do deep work, but I still struggle with it. And this post had intriguing ideas in it that I'm still thinking about in relation to how we do work.

  • trying

    “I want to be one of those people who is trying, too. Trying to share things I like in unexpected ways.”

    I really like this sentiment and I too want to try things and I want to share the things I like. I've been thinking a lot about how I share and how I want to share and it's helpful reading the blogs and newsletters of folks who are thinking about the same thing.

  • The Careful Work

    “I want a kind of work where I can calmly advance a single issue at a time, where every solution is better than an improvement of 1%. And maybe I’d like a kind of work that makes me smile when it’s complete, too.”

    I'm with Robin here, I don't want to make a big splash or do work that will affect thousands or even millions of people. I want to do good work, to work with good people, to make sure my work is accessible to everyone.

  • T Bone’s SXSW Keynote Address

    “But today, just three years later, we are, in fact, at the beginning of a profound change in how we view tech monopolies. Since that time, the German led European Union has fined Google 7.7 billion dollars- American- the largest anti-trust fines in history- for abusing its search monopoly, the British parliament has picked up the torch, and there is increasing evidence that American politicians and regulators are open to new regulation of these tech monopolies. Within the next six months the FCC will probably fine Facebook billions of dollars for the Cambridge Analytica breach. This is in part because the mounting evidence of the destructive role that both Facebook and Google played in the American election of 2016 proved to be one of the primary causes of Individual One’s so called victory. ”

    A fascinating mix of history of monopolies, history of tech and the internet, and history of artists' rights to their creations. Plus there are some great turns of phrase in this and descriptions of various people and things.

  • Revisiting the rendering tier

    “A complex system of styling that ultimately is only safe if you add to it cannot sustain this. It leads to poor performance on our readers devices, which ultimately devalues both their reading experience and the journalism, and is unpleasant to develop.”

    Really good piece on the problems of systems as they develop over the years and how to possibly mitigate the problems. I'm in the midst of thinking through how to create a complex design system and definitely in a situation where the confidence in being able to delete code isn't there, so we're adding to it instead. I'm not sure I'd go the route this team is going, but I really enjoyed all the options that were laid out. Hat tip to Ethan for the link.

  • It's Time To Break Up Facebook

    “The cost of breaking up Facebook would be next to zero for the government, and lots of people stand to gain economically. A ban on short-term acquisitions would ensure that competitors, and the investors who take a bet on them, would have the space to flourish. Digital advertisers would suddenly have multiple companies vying for their dollars.”

    There are parts of this piece that aren't great, but it lays out the historic precedent for getting rid of monopolies and talks about the way forward.

  • 15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook

    “As Facebook knows well, every choice involves a trade-off, and every trade-off involves a cost. The decision to prioritize encryption and interoperability meant, in some ways, a decision to deprioritize safety and civility. According to people involved in the decision, Chris Cox, long Zuckerberg’s most trusted lieutenant, disagreed with the direction. The company was finally figuring out how to combat hate speech and false news; it was breaking bread with the media after years of hostility. Now Facebook was setting itself up to both solve and create all kinds of new problems. ”

    I've been reading all the Facebook articles because I'm fascinated how a company can continue on with so many mistakes. In many respects I get why they keep making them, the top leadership doesn't get it, ultimately, and so they keep making foolish choices. But I still love reading these pieces to get a glimpse inside the company.

  • Oliver Sacks: The Healing Power of Gardens

    “ I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.”

    A beautiful piece about nature and gardens and illness and healing. One of the benefits of where we moved to is how easy it is for me to be in a green space, I only need to walk about 5 minutes from my home.

  • better words

    “Webster is with me (or I with him), but no one else. Despite all of his artful delineations for the words we have, we still lack some that can describe the most notable moments of our consciousness: when we are a loving witness to the world. Our box for those experiences stays unlabelled, identifiable and real, but as inexplicable as everything that it holds. The secret stays a secret.”

    A thought provoking piece on words and how we use them today and have used them in the past.

  • 'Attention is the Beginning of Devotion'

    “While society has grown a little wiser to how the technologies can be exploited by foreign governments and boiler rooms spewing misinformation, the costs of allowing our attention to be commandeered remain drastically understated. It was not Mary Oliver’s intent to critique this new world—and it’s hard to imagine she even owned a flip phone—but her poetry captures its spiritual costs.”

    I love Mary Oliver and I love this piece about reading her work and thinking about it as it relates to how we use technology.

  • 50

    “And yes, all that stuff I mentioned before still applies — I’m getting older and I’ll be getting older faster as I go along. Some things I’ve idly wondered about will always have to be idle wonders. And who I am now is likely to be who I’ll be moving forward. Beyond that, life is almost never a best case scenario. In the next decade life will throw me curveballs and potholes, because that’s what life does. You never do know what’s next, until it happens. I could be consumed by the proverbial bear tomorrow.”

    I really enjoyed this piece about getting older, especially as he says just after the quote above, he never expected most of what happened to him previously in life to happen, so why should he expect to know what will happen next now. This is my life. Most of the way I've gone was not a long term goal and I'm terrible at long term goals, to be honest. But that's OK, because somehow it's all seemed to work out.

  • Free to be....You and Me (Childfree)

    “We’d felt a connection to a pair of siblings—a hyperactive six-year-old and a non-talkative four-year-old—named Star and Devlon. But we didn’t reach out for them. And when I knew I was ovulating, we didn’t have sex. And my husband never pushed me. Because it turns out, “If it happens, it happens” is Southern Lady Code for we don’t want kids.”

    I really relate to this piece a lot. If you asked me in my twenties if I was going to have kids I would've said yes. But then it never happened and I'm very much OK with that. I married someone and we lived life and we liked our life the way it was and the way it is. It's nice to see more people talking about being childfree, to be honest.

  • Robert A. Caro on the means and ends of power.

    “During all these years I did come to understand stuff about power that I wanted people to know. You read in every textbook that cliché: Power corrupts. In my opinion, I’ve learned that power does not always corrupt. Power can cleanse. When you’re climbing to get power, you have to use whatever methods are necessary, and you have to conceal your aims. Because if people knew your aims, it might make them not want to give you power. Prime example: the southern senators who raised Lyndon Johnson up in the Senate. They did that because he had made them believe that he felt the same way they did about black people and segregation. But then when you get power, you can do what you want. So power reveals. Do I want people to know that? Yes.”

    Caro has a new book out about how he's worked over the years and so there are a barrage of interviews with him. He is a fascinating person and I love reading the interviews and will be reading the book as well. The New Yorker has a longer piece by him that is just as good, I highly recommend it.

  • What It’s Like to Grow Up With More Money Than You’ll Ever Spend

    “I remember this wonderful Korean lady came over for a meeting at my house, and the next day she called me and she said, “You didn’t offer me a glass of water.” And that never crossed my mind, but I have to be conscious of the fact that people who come into my home are coming into a place that feels daunting and intimidating, and I need to go to the extra mile to make them feel welcome. And I didn’t know about that until someone just came out and said it to me. Just like I watched my father increasingly surround himself with yes men, I started to deliberately surround myself with no ladies. And so they would, a lot of the time, really jerk my chain, and that was important.”

    I found this interview fascinating, especially since the truly crazy wealth happened after her childhood. But I also found that the way she recognized what is truly soul destroying about wealth and made changes to her own life to ensure that she's around people and isn't isolating herself.

  • Trainers.

    “As I read stories like Brenda’s, and about new developments in using (I can’t believe I’m typing this) prison labor to produce training data, this is the thing I keep coming back to: our industry’s excelled at creating new classes of work, and then deciding those workers are effectively invisible. And then we often decide that work, those workers, matter less than the automated solutions they’ve helped create–and perhaps, in time, we decide they’re ideal candidates for automation themselves.”

    Ethan's writing and thinking about how we as an industry are treating people, both those who work in the industry and those who use and consume our work, is some of the best being done right now. And I'm so grateful he writing and thinking about this, sharing it, because we need to hear it.

  • My Father's Stack of Books

    “Some people love books reverently–my great-aunt, for instance, a librarian and a passionate reader who declined to open any volume beyond a hundred-degree angle, so tenderly did she treat their spines. My father, by contrast, loved books ravenously. His always had a devoured look to them: scribbled on, folded over, cracked down the middle, liberally stained with coffee, Scotch, pistachio dust, and bits of the brightly colored shells of peanut M&M’s.”

    This is a really beautiful piece about books and family.

  • Everybody Loves Samin

    “But if home cooking is having a renaissance, it’s not the kind that promises 30-minute meals or sings the praises of semi-homemade. Instead it feels like a return to an even earlier era, the one where Julia Child first showed Americans how to make beef bourguignon. Today our favorite cooks are again challenging us to tackle classics—sourdough, a whole roast chicken, or the perfect vinaigrette—in a totally down-to-earth, far-from-perfect way. “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken” could’ve been a quote from Nosrat if Child hadn’t supposedly said it first.”

    I love Nosrat and her cookbook and I really enjoyed this profile of her. I can’t wait for her new cookbook to come out!

  • Commencement Speech

    “Sometimes you start out at the bottom. Sometimes you’ll trip and fall down. Sometimes you stay there for a good long time. Sometimes all the lousy luck in the world only ever seems to wash up at your door. I’m telling you from experience that sometimes you’re going to feel like giving up on your chosen path. Maybe you’re even worried that you don’t actually have a chosen path yet. There’s going to be a day when you say to yourself, the hell with it, I’m going to leave a note blaming my teachers for everything and I’m going to go and sell all my organs to medical science while I’m still alive.


    No one writes encouraging things better than Warren Ellis and I'm loving his new site, the posts are varied and wonderful.

  • The WebAIM Million

    There is a lot that can be said about this survey, but I urge you to read it and think about it and, more importantly, meditate on it. I’ll be linking to a few folks who’ve been writing about it and writing about it well, I’m still ruminating on what it all means and what I want to do next. BUT we are leaving people behind and shutting them out and that makes me so very sad.

  • The web we broke.

    “I say we quite deliberately. This is on us: on you, and on me. And, look, I realize it may sting to read that. Hell, my work is constantly done under deadline, the way I work seems to change every year month, and it can feel hard to find the time to learn more about accessibility. And maybe you feel the same way. But the fact remains that we’ve created a web that’s actively excluding people, and at a vast, terrible scale. We need to meditate on that.”

    Ever since I read the survey and then read this piece I've been thinking about what I can do, what more can I do? How do we get more folks to think about one thing they can do to try and help fix what we've broken? I'm still thinking, but I'm so glad for folks like Ethan who are thinking about this too.

  • A single-payer advocate answers the big question: How do we pay for it?

    “In general, I don’t think people like going to the doctor. It’s more of an informational question than it is: If you make it free, people are going to overutilize it. It’s not like chocolate cake or something.”

    I read a lot about the health care proposals that are out there because I'm keenly interested in the US doing something to change it's system to work better for everyone rather than being a profit making machine for insurers, hospitals, and others. This interview is by far one of the most interesting things I've read in a long time. Super interesting ideas on how to pay for universal coverage and also interesting ideas that combat the need for cost sharing and over utilization.

  • Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain

    “In one of our conversations, I asked Catherine if she worried that I would relapse. She said it was possible, given the addictive properties of phones and the likelihood that they’ll only keep getting more essential. But she said that as long as I remained aware of my relationship with my phone, and continued to notice when and how I used it, I’d have gotten something valuable.”

    The woman he worked with to curb his phone usage goes on to say that "life is about what you pay attention to" and I love that sentiment. There is a lot of writing these days about one should or shouldn't be using her device, and to balance this Kara Swisher tweeted about using hers to read (with her stats to prove it). I don't think this can be prescriptive at all, but I like being pushed to think about how I'm using my device and if that's how I want to be using it.

  • I Dance Because I Can

    “Unlike the access ramps that enable wheelchair users to avoid stairs, this ramp is beautiful. It is visually inviting; pushing up its surfaces is a pleasure-filled challenge. When we roll down with our hands off our wheels, we and our chairs turn automatically, spinning either out of control into the ground or if we and they are perfectly balanced, turning almost endlessly.”

    A really beautiful piece that is about how much more we can do to make things enjoyable and usable rather than just accessible. Gonna be thinking about how I can do that in my own work on the web.

  • Getting help from your worst enemy

    “Despite my hatred of business speak there is one awful business term that is the most useful phrase I have ever discovered. It is my most treasured possession.”

    This piece made me laugh out loud because I too hate business speak, but there are certain phrases I find helpful, including the one highlighted in his piece. I feel extremely fortunate to work for a company where I don't need to use these terms very often because people get it.

  • The hardest thing about design systems

    “I’m not saying this to dunk on the field – I love my career whole heartedly – but design systems requires a love of all those unsexy things. And I want to ensure that folks aren’t turned away by all the dudes with nice hair that talk about their goddamn drop shadows.”

    If you aren't reading Robin's site, you really should be. His writing and ranting about design systems is always spot on, including this piece.

  • Taming the Demon

    “Getting over it is a spiritual discipline that is in short supply in secular life. It’s what makes the paradoxical but deeply humane approach to work at the monastery possible. The Benedictines who live in the canyon keep strict watch over their time and attention. Doing so keeps their desires in order. But it also keeps labor within limits. They get over work so they can get on with something much more important to them.”

    This is a really interesting read about the place work has in our lives. I continue to think about the centrality we (at least in the US) place on work and career and how you earn your living. It's how we spend the vast majority of our waking hours. And I'm not sure it's always the best way to spend all our time.

  • Oh God, It's Raining Newsletters

    “I’ve found this cycle has fomented another emotion beyond distrust, one I’ve felt most acutely in 2018: Disdain? (Feels too loaded.) Disappointment? (Too moralistic.) Wariness? (Yes!) Yes — wariness over the way social networks and the publishing platforms they provide shift and shimmy beneath our feet, how the algorithms now show posts of X quality first, or then Y quality first, or how, for example, Instagram seems to randomly show you the first image of a multi-image sequence or, no wait, the second.8”

    I enjoyed the way Mod talks about newsletters and what's going on in that world. Right now I'm overwhelmed by the sheer number of interesting newsletters out there and I want to get the all, support them all, but my time and my pocketbook can't handle it. I'm being selective and it's hard. But I love that I can read them when I want and they come directly to me.

  • HTML, CSS and our vanishing industry entry points

    “I might be the “old guard” but if you think I’m incapable of learning React, or another framework, and am defending my way of working because of this, please get over yourself. However, 22 year old me would have looked at those things and run away. If we make it so that you have to understand programming to even start, then we take something open and enabling, and place it back in the hands of those who are already privileged. I have plenty of fight left in me to stand up against that.”

    This is such a good post by Rachel. I taught myself CSS when my HTML instructor at the community college I attended wouldn't teach us. I used books, view source, and online articles to learn and it was the start of a whole new career for me. What I've been amazed at recently is how hard it is to do that now. And how you are pushed into the land of JavaScript so quickly when you start.

  • Openness and Longevity

    “That’s not to say that this is the best approach, but it’s a good reminder that the web works by default without all of our additional layers. When we add those additional layers, things break. Or, if we neglect good markup and CSS to begin with, we start out with something that’s already broken and then spend time trying to make it work again.”

    On the heels of Rachel's article, Garett makes some wonderful points about how we build things and what the result is. He too talks about how HTML and CSS are entry points, there isn't anything to install, a text file and a browser and you can begin learning.

  • On solitude, and being who you are

    “…[U]nder this definition, you can find solitude in a busy train car or a coffee shop, or wherever. I am slightly nervous about this re-definition (it seems to me that being truly alone has a ton of value), but I am also attracted to this idea that you don’t necessarily have to be alone to be with your thoughts, you just have to be free from input.”

    I like the idea of solitude as being free from thoughts, of being free from input, of being able to be alone in your mind. It relates to what Anne Helen Peterson talked about in her newsletter last week. I'm thinking I need to read Newport's book as I've been reading so much about it from others lately.

  • Measuring the Impact of a Design System

    “My gut feeling was that there was clearly a reduced amount of work in the team for the UI engineers (I am one of them), and that this was caused by the fact that we were not continuously writing new CSS at every new feature, but we were able to re-use and simply combine (“like Lego”) the existing UI components provided by Cosmos. And that this was also caused by the fact that also the mockups provided by the designers were more consistent, and followed a set of pre-defined patterns, so building UIs for us had become increasingly simple and straightforward.”

    Really interesting look at a way to measure the reduced work load that comes when you have a well functioning design system in place. This wasn't the easiest thing to chart, but the results are stunning and amazing.

  • Why I Have Zero Regrets About My Childless Life

    “And yet even today I rarely volunteer how utterly happy I am with the decision I made more than 20 years ago. Because I never had a child, I don’t really know how to miss the experience of having one. But I do recognize all the things that have come my way as the result of not having kids–and, by extension, being a woman on my own after my marriage broke up: not having children certainly made it less difficult to end the marriage when it became clear that my husband and I had to do so. In some ways, the baby I never had is a part of me. She has given me freedom.”

    I'm a childless adult and if you'd talked to me when I was 25 I probably would've said that I'd have kids some day. But that isn't what's happened and it's been a very conscious choice. And I'm grateful to know people who are making that choice, I don't feel alone at all. But I found this piece interesting, someone celebrating what that has brought to her life now that she's older. I fully realize that aging will be different for me than it is for people with kids, but I've let go of fear of that difference and am enjoying what it brings to my life as I age.

  • A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come

    “Americans, with our powerful founding story, our unusual reverence for our Constitution, our relative geographic isolation, and our two centuries of economic success, have long been convinced that liberal democracy, once achieved, cannot be altered. American history is told as a tale of progress, always forward and upward, with the Civil War as a kind of blip in the middle, an obstacle that was overcome. In Greece, history feels not linear but circular. There is liberal democracy and then there is oligarchy. Then there is liberal democracy again. Then there is foreign subversion, then there is an attempted Communist coup, then there is civil war, and then there is dictatorship. And so on, since the time of the Athenian republic.”

    I've found Anne Appelbaum's writing in this time of craziness in the world to be really helpful in how to think about it all. In this article she talks about the ebb and flow of how governments have functioned in Europe and how different the history has been in the past 200 or so years than what American has experienced. Well worth the read.

  • The Hope in Dystopia

    “Dystopia is one of those parts of speculative fiction that function as early-warning systems for bad sociocultural weather, a function I’ve talked about at length elsewhere. Dystopia is also about the fight for a better world. Every well-written dystopia is, unlike most other forms of drama, already always about hope.”

    Ellis succinctly sums up why I read so much dystopian fiction, it's about hope.

  • What Driving Can Teach Us About Living

    “It is often regretted that children can no longer play or move freely outside because of the dangers of traffic; inevitably, many of the people who voice these regrets are also the drivers of cars, as those same restricted children will come to be in their time. What is being mourned, it seems, is not so much the decline of an old world of freedom as the existence of comforts and conveniences the individual feels powerless to resist, and which in any case he or she could not truthfully say they wished would be abolished. There is a feeling, nonetheless, of loss, and it may be that the increasing luxury of the world inside the car is a kind of consolation for the degradation of the world outside it.”

    I hate driving, to be honest, but I really enjoyed this piece.

  • How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation

    “When we talk about millennial student debt, we’re not just talking about the payments that keep millennials from participating in American “institutions” like home ownership or purchasing diamonds. It’s also about the psychological toll of realizing that something you’d been told, and came to believe yourself, would be “worth it” — worth the loans, worth the labor, worth all that self-optimization — isn’t.”

    I have so many thoughts on this piece, more than I can put into a comment here, so I should probably write a blog post and maybe I will. But this piece hits the nail on the head in one way that really struck home with me: all the things we're told to do to be successful won't be what makes us successful in the end. Full disclosure: I'm a Gen Xer, not a millennial, but as she talks about the optimization of childhood and more and more debt for education I was right there with her when she said it wasn't worth it. I've seen it in my own life and I've seen it so many people who I know.

  • A New Mailing List, Goodbye Instagram?, Future Book Hello Again

    “Part of the impulse to launch Ridgeline is that I want to step away from Instagram. Many reasons why. The biggest is the “fool me once … shame on me. Fool me, like, you know, fifteen times …” feeling I have with much of social media. Facebook has collapsed as a viable marketing / distribution platform for me. Twitter is fine, but the audience trends heavily to certain demographics. And as lovely as Instagram has been, with the loss of its cofounders in 2018, I feel like we are entering the Death By Monetization/Optimization™ spiral that Facebook is so very good at.”

    I know, Mod again, but his newsletters are really great, I recommend them if you aren't already subscribed to Roden. But he's also talking in this one about social media and I can completely relate. I'm trying to figure out what to do in 2019 about social media and talking about things I care about and I keep coming back to this site. I'm hoping to post more photos here, along with all the usual links, book reviews, and occasional longer form articles and shorter notes.

  • The 'Future Book' is Here, But It's Not What We Expected

    “It’s also worth noting that Thompson’s position is protected: No outsider can take away his subscribers or prevent him from communicating with them. Email is a boring, simple, old technology. The first email was sent in 1971 by Ray Tomlinson. Unlike followers or social media subscribers, email has yet to be usurped by algorithms (for the most part; Gmail does a little bit of sorting now). It’s a predictable marketing channel.”

    Craig Mod writes a good history of books, electronic books and magazines, and where we are now. His part about email as a book and publishing format is really interesting because the uptick in email newsletters is growing and I myself subscribe to quite a few. I enjoy the slowness of it—I choose when to read it—and how it shows up in my inbox just for me. There is no algorithm telling me what I should see, I'm making the choice to get this. It's an alternative to RSS that works well. For a bit of push back on Mod's essay, I recommend the piece Tim Carmody wrote on

  • JavaScript and Civil Rights

    “Accessibility isn’t just a “nice to have”; it can affect everyone’s livelihood, including people with a range of disabilities (vision loss, inability to use a mouse or a trackpad, cognitive impairments, and more). Knowingly or unknowingly putting barriers in place that disproportionately affect access for people with disabilities–or any other protected characteristic–is discrimination, and it’s definitely something to worry about.”

    This piece by Marcy is amazing and I'm so glad she wrote it. We do this work because everyone has the right to access the information we're putting out on the web.

  • Design Systems is Easy

    “I’m not sure what it is about the job of ‘design systems’ but it seems like it’s an excuse to be an asshole and to pretend as if you’ve never made a mistake before. Mina’s vulnerable talk makes me hopeful that this current trend can be broken.”

    I haven't watched the talk that Robin links to (it's on my list though), but I love the way he points out how people write about design systems as being easy. I think a lot of this comes from many of the stronger voices being folks who are consultants, they aren't living with the system for the long term and hence may not be around to see the mistakes. But I also think many writing about them act as if their way of doing things is the only way, which usually isn't the case.

  • The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting

    “Fixing climate change will include lots of technocratic tweaks, lots of bills about dirt. They will be hard to defend against later repeal. So it would be nice if lawmakers could wed them to a new benefit, a superpower that people will fight for years after passage. Hence the job guarantee—a universal promise of employment meant to win over Americans in general and create more union jobs in particular.”

    I love the way in which Meyer discusses this and the reality of how to get people on board with doing something about the climate. It's not easy and it may mean change and sacrifice, but with jobs and help, I think we can do something to curb the effects.

  • Front-end development is not a problem to be solved

    “I reckon HTML and CSS deserve better than to be processed, compiled, and spat out into the browser, whether that’s through some build process, app export, or gigantic framework library of stuff that we half understand. HTML and CSS are two languages that deserve our care and attention to detail. Writing them is a skill.”

    Thank you Robin. As someone who's spent a career caring about HTML and CSS, I couldn't agree more with this piece. It's amazing to me how many developers push this off as easy or not important, but doing it well makes a huge difference for accessibility, performance, and easier development as you iterate on things. It's worth taking the time and caring about both of them.

  • Why Doctors Hate Their Computers

    “Medicine is a complex adaptive system: it is made up of many interconnected, multilayered parts, and it is meant to evolve with time and changing conditions. Software is not. It is complex, but it does not adapt. That is the heart of the problem for its users, us humans.”

    There is so much in this article, if you make software I highly recommend you read it. But I was struck by two things. First, how many people the software he talks about was trying to serve and how their interests were so varied, how could you make one piece of software to serve them all? Second, how an innovative group in an office for neurosurgery did the work themselves, they talked to each other and made changes to make the software fit their work flow, and that's amazing. I wonder if the software maker does user testing and if they watched that group of folks making changes for themselves and learned anything.

  • Introducing Resonance

    “After these foundations were implemented, it was much easier for us to consistently implement polished design details in our interfaces. The foundations are part of our shared vocabulary, and continue to be a language that designers and engineers can both speak to.”

    So much good stuff in here and I love that the Vox team is sharing the work they've been doing. This reminded me a lot of the way that Alla Kholmatova talks about creating systems that work for the team and the product with hard work rather than trying to replicate what another company has done. This isn't easy, but when you do the hard work the system will be so much more useful and therefore maintainable to the entire team.

  • What do you want to do when you grow up, kid?

    “It’s an indescribable feeling, the rush and jolt of publishing I mean. (This is about to get sappy so bear with me). It’s a feeling of boundless enthusiasm for how words can be packaged and transported, and it’s this feeling that we can share ideas in this vast human society that we’re building together, a place where borders are just structures we’ve placed in between ourselves, and that words have momentum; a link to a website can lead to a book in your hand, to a friend at a party, to a conference in another town, to a long lasting love in a distant land.”

    I'm with Robin here, I still love pushing out code and writing on the web, no matter where it is. I've been quiet lately, but that is going to change soon as I'm writing again and loving it.

  • Watching Them Turn Off the Rothkos

    “We’re not absolutists about it. Authenticity is a relative term. Most people don’t undergo mild epistemological queasiness while they’re looking at a conventionally restored Rothko. We look at restored art in museums all the time, and we rarely worry that it’s insufficiently authentic. In the case of the Harvard Rothkos, though, the fact that the faded painting and the faked painting are in front of us at the same time somehow makes for a discordant aesthetic experience. It’s as though, at four o’clock every day, Andy Warhol’s Brillo Boxes turned into the ordinary Brillo cartons of which they were designed to be simulacra. You would no longer be sure what you were looking at.”

    I'm a massive Rothko lover, his work was very influential while I was working on my BFA in drawing and painting and I could sit for hours in front of his paintings. But this piece was also intriguing for the ideas of authenticity and what makes art art. I'm still thinking about a lot of this still.

  • The Good Path

    “Those folks tend to avoid straw man/hypothetical arguments, provide more thoughtful and weighted opinions, share work and projects they’ve built, don’t pick fights, and don’t feel the need to chime in on every bit of drama. There’s a high signal-vs-noise. Realizing this spun me off on a bit of self-discovery thinking about the parts of development that I enjoy and I’ve been peeking at new technologies that I think might suit my ethos.”

    I'm with Dave, I want to write about the things I'm excited about and today I opened up Byword and started an outline for one such thing. There is a lot of room for criticism, but I'm tired of all of that and would rather talk about the good things going on.

  • Everything You Wear Is Athleisure

    “The theme of the past century of Western fashion is this: We take clothes designed for activity, and we adapt them for inactivity. And that’s true beyond the world of sports. For decades, Levi Strauss jeans were worn mostly by men working in factories and farms; today, denim is for loungers. Wristwatches were pioneered in World War I to keep soldiers punctual; today, we embrace them as peacetime jewelry.”

    The history in this piece is fascinating. If you like it, you should listen to 99 Percent Invisible which did a series on clothes.

  • Design Systems at Gusto: Part II

    “What’s required to build a good design system is a new set of habits. When someone asks a question like “how does component X work?” they might not know that documentation exists. So, yes, sharing your docs regularly is important but being the public face of your system is just as important as the docs. Evangelizing the design system with every opportunity you get and making sure that all this doesn’t feel like a burden — that’s vital for the effectiveness of a system to scale in the long run.”

    Robin's writing about design systems and what they're learning at Gusto so great in showing not only what's working for them but also what things you may want to think about when working with your team on a system.

  • Workplace topology

    “Some issues can be solved with better tools or better processes. In most of our workplaces, we tend to reach for tools and processes by default, because they feel easier to implement. But as often as not, it’s not a technology problem. It’s a people problem. And the solution actually involves communication skills, or effective dialogue.”

    This is a really great article about all the problems that come when trying to work with people and make things and make sure all the possibilities are covered and thought about. So often in our teams we overlap, we need to work together, or we won't be able to get the work done. Yet, so often, our organization isn't set up to be able to deal with that, it's a lot of what I do in my work, trying to get people to work across the silos. I lvoe the way it's talked about in this piece.

  • UX in the Age of Abusability

    “And right now there are glaring gaps in our methods, our experience, and our team dynamics that let through unethical products. I heard about usability while I was still in college, in the early 90s, before the web was mainstream. It’s been around for a while. And we’ve spent so much time and energy on ensuring things are usable. We should perhaps turn our attention to make sure our products are not abusable.

    Really glad to see someone talking about this and to see some ideas for how to do it as well. (Via Lisa Marie Martin's fantastic newsletter.)

  • Luke Pearson Eat vegetables, read lots and keep asking difficult questions

    “I feel like I taught myself to draw by looking at comics and cartoons when I was younger and looking at art on the internet when I was a bit older. Just getting slowly better over the years with practice.”

    This is a really delightful interview with the creater of the Hilda comics which I just posted about over in my reading section. Mark sent me this link and I'm so glad, it was a ray of sunshine that I needed, plus I love seeing the in progress illustrations.

  • Growing Up in the Library

    “The writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ once said that, in Africa, when an old person dies, it is like a library has been burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize that it was perfect. Our minds and our souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories catalogued and stored inside, a private library of a life lived. It is something that no one else can entirely share; it burns down and disappears when we die. But if you can take something from your internal collection and share it—with one person or with the larger world, on the page or in a story told—it takes on a life of its own.”

    If you've been reading my site for any period of time, you know that I love libraries and I'm an avid library user. I love this piece so much and I can't wait to read her book.

  • The Ultimate Sitcom

    “Goodness is a notoriously difficult topic — a tangled knot at which religions and philosophers have been picking for all of human history. A 22-minute network comedy seems like exactly the wrong tool for the job. It’s like trying to hammer a nail with a banana peel. And yet that was the tool that Michael Schur had. So he was going to try.”

    I've only watched season one of “The Good Place”, but I loved it and will soon be sitting down to watch season two. This article made me love it more, that there is so much thought behind the ideas and I'm now excited to see where it goes.

  • Notes from a crosswalk.

    “The light changed, and I ran on. I stepped in a puddle, and I ran on. I shook my head to clear out visions of the news, nearly tripping as I did, but I ran on. I took circuitous, rambling routes, exploring hills I’d never climbed, running down side streets I’d never seen. I ran on.”

    Beautiful writing.

  • No, I Will Not Debate You

    “Focusing the conversation on the ethics of disseminating speech rather than the actual content of that speech is hugely useful for the far right for three reasons. Firstly, it allows them to paint themselves as the wronged party — the martyrs and victims. Secondly, it stops people from talking about the actual wronged parties, the real lives at risk. And thirdly, of course, it’s an enormous diversion tactic, a shout of “Fire!” in the crowded theatre of politics. But Liberals don’t want to feel like bad people, so this impossible choice — betray the letter of your principles, or betray the spirit — leaves everyone feeling filthy.”

    Lots to ponder and think about in here about how we interact with people spouting ideas that are awful. I had a hard time picking what to pull out, because as I read it just kept getting better. (Via Rob's fantastic links newsletter.)

  • Designing design systems

    “Developing a design system takes collaboration between the makers of the design systems and the different users of the system. It’s a continual process that doesn’t have to require a huge investment in new departments or massive restructuring.”

    I think a lot about this part of design, the system that can scale. And again and again I keep coming back to the fact that each company and team are unique and the system that they use and maintain should be also. That runs contrary to a lot of the way we want to solve these problems, but a tool isn't going to replace the hard work of a team figuring it out for themselves.

  • One Small Step for the Web...

    “Together, Solid and inrupt will provide new experiences benefitting every web user - and that are impossible on the web today. Where individuals, developers and businesses create and find innovative, life- and business-enriching, applications and services. Where we all find trusted services for storing, securing and managing personal data. ”

    This look interesting, I'll be keeping an eye on it to see where it goes.

  • A Rant after a Day

    “This Steve Jobs-esque fantasy to be at the very heart of things and to rule the world is the stuff of kings and backwater monarchies. And wanting to be an Uber or a Facebook or a whatever feels like anti-government sentiment to me. And I hate that recent events have led us all to point at those government institutions and sneer at them. Government might be broken, yes. But it’s fixable. We just need to reimagine what government is for. That’s the hard part.”

    I love a good rant and Robin doesn't disappoint with this one. The collective we seems to want to put our hope in tech companies (whose goal is to make money and grow, not do the best for society) rather than government. I know several folks working in the civic tech world and I would love to work on project in that world as well, government can do great things if we give it the same attention and time that we do to building the next great tech company.

  • In Praise of Mediocrity

    “Lost here is the gentle pursuit of a modest competence, the doing of something just because you enjoy it, not because you are good at it. Hobbies, let me remind you, are supposed to be something different from work. But alien values like “the pursuit of excellence” have crept into and corrupted what was once the realm of leisure, leaving little room for the true amateur. ”

    This piece is so great. I've been talking to people lately and many have said they don't have hobbies. Part of this is because we don't see things as hobbies that I think actually are (film buff is a hobby, reading is a hobby) but also because the sharing world of social media is intimidating. How can I draw if it doesn't look like that professional illustrator's work I love? I run, I do it for my health, I'm trying to get better at it, but I have absolutely no desire to run a marathon or even run in a 5K race. It's a hobby, I do it, I'm not great at it.

  • ‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity

    “I don’t presume to say what capital-T Truth is. But I do know my truth, and it’s this: Everyone I know, including me, has lived through devastating times at least twice, through seemingly unsurvivable loss. And yet we have come through because of the love of our closest people, the weird healing properties of time, random benevolence, and, of course, our dogs.”

    Hope is hard to find these days, never more so than this week in the US, but I'm trying my hardest and I'm reading this piece over and over again to remind myself that it still exists. I see people fighting and they give me hope.

  • My favorite design tool.

    “In other words, this question forces me to step outside my default assumptions and biases about how I think the web works. It’s a way for me stop, pause, and reflect on what other folks’ needs might be, and to think about how best to design for those needs. So, yeah: this little question’s proven to be a really useful design tool. I can’t do my job without it.”

    Me too, this is a question I try and ask myself over and over again as I build things for the web. No one is perfect, but trying to jolt myself out of my assumptions and habits hopefully makes me better at my job.

  • Everything you know about obesity is wrong

    “Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path.”

    This article is difficult to read, it's heartbreaking at times, and it honestly makes me ashamed to live in this society. Our health care system is broken in so many ways and how we treat obesity is a glaring example of this.

  • I survived the Warsaw ghetto. Here are the lessons I’d like to pass on

    “Third, do not underestimate the destructive power of lies. When the war broke out in 1939, my family fled east and settled for a couple of years in Soviet-occupied Lwów (now Lviv in western Ukraine). The city was full of refugees, and rumours were swirling about mass deportations to gulags in Siberia and Kazakhstan. To calm the situation, a Soviet official gave a speech declaring that the rumours were false – nowadays they would be called “fake news” – and that anyone spreading them would be arrested. Two days later, the deportations to the gulags began, with thousands sent to their deaths.”

    A quick read that's so timely right now and worth the reminder. The past will only be useful if we remember it and learn from it.

  • An Avalanche of Speech Can Bury Democracy

    “It’s not speech per se that allows democracies to function, but the ability to agree—eventually, at least some of the time—on what is true, what is important and what serves the public good. This doesn’t mean everyone must agree on every fact, or that our priorities are necessarily uniform. But democracy can’t operate completely unmoored from a common ground, and certainly not in a sea of distractions.”

    I've thought about this a lot since I first read it. As a reader who loves to write, are we being inundated with too many things? How, amongst all this noise, do we find a common place to agree?

  • To Restore Civil Society, Start With the Library

    “Libraries are the kinds of places where people with different backgrounds, passions and interests can take part in a living democratic culture. They are the kinds of places where the public, private and philanthropic sectors can work together to reach for something higher than the bottom line.”

    I love the library and I've written about it on this site. Library's have so much to offer and if you enter one you're seeing the local community there, with all the good and bad that are part of it. I'm a huge library user and lately have been there once a week as we make our way through a TV series on DVD, and I love that I live in a town with a vibrant branch.

  • The “Developer Experience” Bait-and-Switch

    “The “developer experience” bait-and-switch works by appealing to the listener’s parochial interests as developers or managers, claiming supremacy in one category in order to remove others from the conversation. The swap is executed by implying that by making things better for developers, users will eventually benefit equivalently. The unstated agreement is that developers share all of the same goals with the same intensity as end users and even managers. This is not true.

    This article is great and I nodded my entire way through it. Just as we forget about performance because we're on high speed all the time, we often use tools that may be doing us a disservice because they make our lives easier but may be detrimental to end users. We like to talk about users a lot, but I'm not so sure we put them at the forefront as much as we should.

  • The Cascade and Other Essential Unessentials

    “And to those who find the topic complex or are adamant that this is a “quirk” that doesn’t need to be learned, don’t be so quick to dismiss it. The next time you come across a developer works with CSS as a primary part of their day-to-day work, recognize that they’ve tackled a topic you find difficult. Sit down and pick their brain. They’ll probably be more than happy to help you learn more about a critical front-end skill, and that’s never time wasted.”

    I was away in the woods for the weekend, but apparently I missed some drama on the interwebs. That's OK because I've gotten to benefit from Tim's really excellent post on how we can get past it. My only other comment is: stop shitting on people who focus on other things than you do, they aren't less than, and it takes all the various pieces to make things for the web.

  • Accessibility is not a feature.

    “It’s important for me to remember the people using those technologies are infinitely more diverse, more complicated than the software they use to access my work. Each time I watch an accessibility consultant conduct a site audit, I’m amazed by how a well-built site can completely break a human’s expectation for how the page should be laid out. That’s why I’ve found it’s been really, really helpful to me to break the word “accessibility” down into two related sub-components: that is, there’s a distinction between making a site navigable by assistive technology, and making it usable to the people visiting it with that technology.”

    Ethan's dead on here and it's one of the things I've been thinking about as well, if we bolt on accessibility features to the frameworks, is that enough? I believe we should be looking at that and it's a start, but that isn't the end of the work we need to do.

  • A very simple rule

    “I have a very simple rule that serves me well: Don’t think too much about your life after dinnertime. Thinking too much at the end of the day is a recipe for despair. Everything looks better in the light of the morning. Cliché, maybe, but it works.”

    I'm with Kleon on this one. I also try to put away devices and stay off the internet after dinner, to let my mind wander with books, watching a show, or crocheting while listening to a podcast. I'm having a rough time keeping steady work coming in, so the evening hours are hard and I'm doing all I can to distract myself from thinking about that.

  • Weft.

    “The frameworks we build, the visual languages we formalize—they’re artifacts that ultimately live in a broader organizational context. (And in a context that’s even broader than that.) A successful design project understands that context before settling on a solution.”

    Ethan's been hitting it out of the park lately with his writing and I can't wait to pick up the book he references and dig in. As I think more and more about systems and architecture when it comes to CSS, I'm more and more convinced that thinking holistically first will help the pieces fall into place later.

  • Stop building for San Francisco

    “First of all, you need to understand who your audience is, as people. If they’re genuinely wealthy people in a first world city, then you do you. But for people in rural areas, or countries with less of a solid internet infrastructure, failing to take these restrictions into account will limit your potential to grow. If you’re not building something that is accessible to your audience, you’re not building a solution for them at all. That means faster loading times, smaller file sizes, and HTML that at least falls back to displaying clearly on older devices and browsers, including low-cost Android phones.”

    Fantastic reminder to think about who you're building for, what their internet access is like, and how we can build to ensure they can still get content.

  • Creating the “Perfect” CSS System

    “Maybe you’ve been working in disorganized systems for years and already dreamed up everything you would do differently while silently judging the use of id selectors and one off page styling files. Maybe it is your first project using Sass and compiling CSS. Either way, take a step back and ask yourself why you are choosing a tool, naming convention or structure before diving into the work. There are a lot of opinions about CSS best practices out there and it can get overwhelming. Breaking it into smaller pieces will make the research process easier.”

    Really great article outlining how to think about creating a system without telling you there is only one way to do it. By far my biggest irritation with most articles on systems is that they act as if their way is the only way.

  • Beyond Digital Ethics

    “By contrast, I’ve long supported a focus on culture over corporations. Instead of quixotically convincing some of the most valuable business enterprises in the history of the world to behave against their interests, we should convince individuals to adopt a much more skeptical and minimalist approach to the digital junk these companies peddle.”

    I've followed Newport's blog for quite a while and found this a compelling way to think about digital ethics. While I would love it if the large tech companies did the right thing, capitalism doesn't push them to do that. While I agree individuals have control and can and should reject much of this, it isn't always easy.

  • I Used The Web For A Day With Just A Keyboard

    “By far the most common keyboard accessibility issue I’ve faced today is a lack of focus styling for tabbable elements. Suppressing native focus styles without defining any custom focus styles makes it extremely difficult, even impossible, to figure out where you are on the page.”

    Really great summary of an experience of using only your keyboard to surf the web. It's important to think about as you build and maybe even try this yourself to understand the frustrations and difficulties many people encounter every day.

  • Beyond style guides: lessons from scaling design at TELUS

    “Design systems are the natural progression from style guides. They generally include a catalogue of designs, accompanied by codified components, documentation on standards, usage, and best practices.”

    This is a great article talking about how to get a design system built, accepted, and maintained. I also loved how the author saw the system as a natural progression of the way things were done before with style guides. Many of these things aren't all that new, but for some reason people like to talk about them as if they are, instead of the progression and building on past tools.

  • Nutrition Cards for Accessible Components

    Dave’s got a new site to help you make accessible components and it’s GREAT! Keep this bookmarked for use as you work, I know I will be.

  • Mismatch

    An entire website full of articles and resources on inclusive design. Nice to see a place with a lot of great links all in one place.

  • Industry Fatigue

    “There are of course things worth your time and deep consideration, and there are distractions. Profound new thinking and movements within our industry - the kind that fundamentally shifts the way we work in a positive new direction are worth your time and attention. Other things are distractions. I put new industry gossip, frameworks, software and tools firmly in the distractions category. This is the sort of content that exists in the padding between big movements. It’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t break new ground and it doesn’t make or break your ability to do your job.”

    I really like the way this is broken down into the idea of distractions and things worth your time. Usually I wait a while and if a thing keeps getting talked about (like for a year or more) than it may be worth my time and I'll probably take the time to read more.

  • Friday Furnace

    “RSS isn’t dead. Social media works great for link notifications, not so much for complete thoughts or even not-fully-baked considerations. The fields are on fire and being sprayed with liquid shit. Dig your own garden, build your own structures, make your own space.”

    I really enjoy Warren Ellis' writing, and this is no exception. I agree with this so much and it's why in the past week I've started to take over owning my content as much as I can, including the short thoughts that make their way to Twitter.

  • Bits.

    “Regardless of what you or I might believe about the merits of online advertising, or the ethics of surveillance capitalism, that code keeps the lights on. A beacon might have to be included because of an advertising partner’s contract. A script might load in content because it’s syndicating sponsored content from a third-party source. And we might lecture a working web developer about the ethics of shipping a web page with tracking scripts, those scripts very likely help pay their salary.”

    Ethan brings up an extremely relevant point when it comes to all the talk about performance these days. Yes, a performant web is important, but that is often at odds with how the revenue of a site is generated. When sales is telling you they have several million dollars on the line and you only need to add one more tracker, what do you do?

  • You don’t have to live in public

    “I still find value in being on Twitter (just yesterday I learned about a new-to-me artist from a follower) but it is increasingly hard to justify much time spent there and on other social media sites, like Instagram. (I have not deleted my Facebook account, but I rarely sign in there.) That’s why I continue to write here every day and keep up my weekly newsletter, both of which produce better thinking and better work from me and give me a stronger, more deeper connection to my audience.”

    I too subscribe to Warren Ellis' newsletter and love it and I love the way Kleon expands on the ideas that Ellis talks about a lot about how to live your life and how much to share. I'm struggling right now because I need to find new projects, but I also am careful with what I share online, so it's a balancing act and I'm not quite sure I'm getting it right yet.

  • Insecure

    “Part of this is convincing myself that I have something worthwhile to say again. That sharing something cool or posting the odd thought doesn’t mean I’m arrogant and think the world needs to hear me. I’m just craving connection over shared experiences.”

    I relate so much to this post of Laura's and the struggle with how and what to share. I've time and time again come back to this site, but in some ways it isn't perfect either. I'm working right now on a Microblog to be able to share easier and more quickly, maybe that will help me out.

  • 'Find Your Passion' Is Awful Advice

    ““If passions are things found fully formed, and your job is to look around the world for your passion—it’s a crazy thought,” Walton told me. “It doesn’t reflect the way I or my students experience school, where you go to a class and have a lecture or a conversation, and you think, That’s interesting. It’s through a process of investment and development that you develop an abiding passion in a field.””

    What I really liked about this article is the role that researching and a wide array of experiences plays into how you can find and develop a passion for something. As an example: I have a degree in art, but I didn't draw everyday growing up as a child, I never felt like I was good at it. Then in a high school art class I took on a whim, the teacher told me I had real potential. When my first idea of studying international relations turned out to be the wrong thing for me, I fell back on that comment, took some courses, and found something I love. And if you never give things a chance or you want them to be easy, you'll never do that.

  • A 4-Day Workweek? A Test Run Shows a Surprising Result

    “He said the results of Perpetual Guardian’s trial showed that when hiring staff, supervisors should negotiate tasks to be performed, rather than basing contracts on hours new employees spent in the office.”

    A lot in this article falls into the "No Shit, Sherlock" category for me. BUT it's so great to see a company doing a study on this with their employees and going public with the results. I firmly believe that for knowledge work we need to stop treating it like factory work, this isn't about time spent, this about getting things done.

  • What is the CSS ‘ch’ Unit?

    “What I’ve found through random experimentation is that in proportional typefaces, 1ch is usually wider than the average character width, usually by around 20-30%. But there are at least a few typefaces where the zero symbol is skinny with respect to the other letterforms; in such a case, 1ch is narrower than the average character width. ”

    I learned about the ch unit a few years ago and found it super interesting. Eric's work is really helpful for how to think about it and use it depending on the typeface with which you use it.

  • The Righteous Mind

    “Amidst all the political outrage, turmoil, and hyperbole of 2017 I found myself wanting to truly understand the difference between Liberals and Conservatives and why they get together like oil and water. I needed a framework for understanding the differences so that I could explore and feel confident in my own political viewpoints.”

    I love reading book reviews and Dave's doing interesting thoughts on books he's read, this book got added to my reading list and I can't wait to read it myself after reading what Dave had to say.

  • The Ends of the World

    “We talked for a couple of hours and at one point he dryly said that “eventually humans will be living in a sustainable way.” Implying of course that we get to do that the easy way (we change our economic policies to prevent an apocalypse in the future) or the hard way (we don’t do anything and our species potentially goes extinct or so many of us are destroyed that the rest get to live happy lives without us).”

    Robin's been writing about books he's read and then how they take his thoughts in other directions, and I love these posts. I aspire to write more like this about the books I've read. I've slowed up my review pace so that I can see what the books bring about after I'm done and how they pop up in my thoughts in the days and weeks after I've finished them.

  • More Recycling Won't Solve Plastic Pollution

    “In fact, the greatest success of Keep America Beautiful has been to shift the onus of environmental responsibility onto the public while simultaneously becoming a trusted name in the environmental movement. This psychological misdirect has built public support for a legal framework that punishes individual litterers with hefty fines or jail time, while imposing almost no responsibility on plastic manufacturers for the numerous environmental, economic and health hazards imposed by their products.”

    Just the yesterday I was reading an article in the Washington Post about ideas for reducing use of plastic and tin foil in the kitchen. This is a thing I think about a lot, ways to reduce our waste and make sure we're bringing less into the house, but also recycling what we can. And this article points out something I've thought about and gotten frustrated with a lot. It's hard to not accumulate waste because so much of our packaging and how we sell things is in plastic. I try hard, but it is way harder than it should be and I'm glad to see an article that points that out.

  • Just work.

    “In other words: when I started working for myself, it felt easier to distinguish the companies I’d work with from the companies I wouldn’t. Now, there’s no longer a clear boundary between a given software company and, say, one of the American government’s more inhumane agencies. And as a small business owner, I’m not sure what to do with that. How do I screen a potential client for something I’d consider unethical—or worse, immoral?”

    As I look for new projects and think about the types of clients I want to work with, I think about this a lot. How do I make sure I'm working with people I feel comfortable with and that aren't doing evil? Is it possible? I'm not sure, but I'm thankful for Ethan's post and for putting into words things I've been thinking about recently as well.

  • Accessibility for Teams

    This is a great resource that is divided up into the roles that different people play on a team. I love that. And I love that this is a government link, that our government is sharing these types of resources so that we can all make the web better.

  • Understanding semantics

    “When we write HTML we give content structure. We define things like paragraphs, lists, tables and headings. Writing semantic code means choosing the most appropriate element to define the required structure. This helps interoperability.”

    I'm currently writing about accessibility and I really love this short and well written article on HTML and how using it properly is so important.

  • Don't Eat Before Reading This

    “Another much maligned food these days is butter. In the world of chefs, however, butter is in everything. Even non-French restaurants—the Northern Italian; the new American, the ones where the chef brags about how he’s “getting away from butter and cream”—throw butter around like crazy. In almost every restaurant worth patronizing, sauces are enriched with mellowing, emulsifying butter. Pastas are tightened with it. Meat and fish are seared with a mixture of butter and oil. Shallots and chicken are caramelized with butter. It’s the first and last thing in almost every pan: the final hit is called “monter au beurre.” In a good restaurant, what this all adds up to is that you could be putting away almost a stick of butter with every meal.”

    I never read or watched any of Bourdain's work, but I'm catching up now and he's funny and a damn good writer.

  • Cards

    “Some of the ideas and techniques explored here may not be applicable to your particular card designs; others will. I’m not here to tell you how exactly you should design a ‘card’ because I don’t know your requirements. But I hope I’ve given you some ideas about how to solve problems you might encounter, and how to enhance the interface in ways that are sensitive to a broad range of users.”

    What I like most about the way Pickering writes about inclusive design is all the options he gives you and he doesn't assume what will be right for you, he's merely showing you a bunch of different ways to do something and do it accessibly.

  • My three steps.

    “I’ve been thinking about this because many of the Grid resources I’ve seen have focused on the third step. Not all of them, mind you—far from it. But much of what I’ve seen recently focuses on the third step, aimed at folks who’ve mastered the fundamentals, and looking to do considerably more. And just to be clear, that’s marvelous! It’s downright exciting to think about what these technologies could do for us, and how they’ll change the way that we work. But when we’re producing these tutorials, or writing those talks, maybe it’s worth including a few pointers for those who aren’t quite as far along in the process.”

    I love that Ethan wrote this piece. I'm in agreement with both the steps (I'm still very much on #2) and on the fact that so many who understand grid well are sharing a lot of step 3. I'll also admit, I see a lot of demos of amazing grid designs, which is step 3, but I don't see as much of that in the wild in actual production sites. But I certainly may be missing something as I can't keep up with everything all the time.

  • Can You Say...Hero?

    “After a while, Margy just rolled her eyes and gave up, because it’s always like this with Mister Rogers, because the thing that people don’t understand about him is that he’s greedy for this—greedy for the grace that people offer him. What is grace? He doesn’t even know. He can’t define it. This is a man who loves the simplifying force of definitions, and yet all he knows of grace is how he gets it; all he knows is that he gets it from God, through man. And so in Penn Station, where he was surrounded by men and women and children, he had this power, like a comic-book superhero who absorbs the energy of others until he bursts out of his shirt.”

    There's a lot of talk right now about Fred Rogers because of the new documentary that was just released. I've been reading many things I missed and this profile is absolutely amazing. I also recommend this article on his way of talking to children. And it's hard right now, with all the horror going on, to be without voices like his.

  • Be Better: Unity

    “I’ve seen this unity happen in organizations willing to prioritize design systems. These projects give our teams a standard from which to design and build—they give us a common language to speak. They allow us to solve the small problems while creating building blocks to solve the big ones. They let us deliver faster and serve our users more effectively. But more importantly, they marry a designer’s passion for the experience and visuals with a developer’s passion for the process and performance. Design systems are unifiers, giving a voice to every expertise required to do this work. They build trust among those roles—instead of pitting us against one another.”

    As much as many focus on how systems can increase efficiency, I also think Ben's hit on a really excellent point, the systems bring teams together. And it spans the various disciplines as everyone needs to be involved to make the system successful.

  • Getting Started With CSS Layout

    “This guide is for you if you are fairly new to CSS and wondering what the best way to approach layout is, but also if you are an experienced developer from elsewhere in the stack who wants to make sure your understanding of layout today is up to date. I have not tried to fully document each layout method here, as that would have created a book and not an article. Instead, I am giving an overview of what is available to you, with plenty of links to find out more.”

    I love these types of overviews and I refer to them a lot in my work. And the section on grid is especially good for the size of this article. I've been thinking a lot about how to do new and different layouts with grid and reading through this helped me to see how it's possible. I also love that Rachel warns about accessibility problems with moving content around on the screen too much.

  • Yay computers

    “My advice after learning from so many helpful people this weekend is this: if you’re thinking of writing something that explains a weird thing you struggled with on the Internet, do it! Don’t worry about the views and likes and Internet hugs. If you’ve struggled with figuring out this thing then be sure to jot it down, even if it’s unedited and it uses too many commas and you don’t like the tone of it.”

    Robin is dead on here, write what you're learning and doing, put it out there for other people to learn from, you never know when your perspective and way of writing could help someone else learn something new.

  • We are all trapped in the “Feed”

    “Unfortunately, the reality of capitalism and turned that dream into a big giant popularity contest, shaped by crude tools – likes, hearts, retweets, and re-shares. We have created systems that boost noise and weaken signals. Every time I tune into news and all I see is noise rising to the top. Whether it is YouTube or Instagram — all you see are memes that are candy-colored candy, mean to keep us hooked.”

    Not surprising, but it's so true that the feed is trying hard to control us and what we see and think. One of the reasons I still love and use RSS a lot is because it's not controlled by any algorithms, I made a choice to follow a column, website, etc and it shows up when they publish new content in reverse chronological order.

  • Good Writing and Analytics Don’t Mix

    “Either way, to become good writers we have to think about structure, composition, kindness, sentences, clauses, arguments dressed with punctuation. But instead of trusting the data from surveillance state web advertising companies we must ignore them all and return first and foremost to trusting our keyboards. ”

    Several years ago I removed analytics from this site and I did it so that my attitude would change. I now push things out and I let it go. I may hear from people on Twitter or some other way, but I'm almost always surprised when I do and I have no idea how many people even stop by and look at various pages.

  • Learning for learning’s sake

    “Second, I am so tired of hearing “hobbyist” and “amateur” thrown around as pejorative terms. It’s such a lame, macho move. God forbid we ever do anything for pleasure or love.”

    This whole thing is amazing and Kleon hits the nail on the head. In the past few years I've taken up a couple of regular hobbies. I love them, they're relaxing, they're worth my time, and I'm learning new things as I do them. And I subscribe to following my passion, but completely realize that it may not always be what pays my bills. My hobbies feed that and, to be honest, I have no idea where they'll take me in the end.

  • How to Take Criticism

    “Taking criticism is often described metaphorically as standing in front of a firing squad. Being a helpless target. But it’s not. It’s an empowering practice. It requires just as much work as giving criticism.”

    A wonderful essay on how to take criticism, so many wonderful insights, worth your time.

  • How Baby Boomers Broke America

    “It seems like a grim story. Except that the story isn’t over. During the past two years, as I have discovered the people and forces behind the 50-year U.S. tailspin, I have also discovered that in every arena the meritocrats commandeered there are now equally talented, equally driven achievers who have grown so disgusted by what they see that they are pushing back.”

    A bit of a difficult read, but it ends with hope and I found the history interesting and helpful in understanding where we are in the US today.

  • Kumiho.

    “I think we’re well past the point where our industry gets a pass for launching products without thinking about their second-order effects. But additionally: if we assume that this technology’s a given, what kind of policies and protections do we need to help the folks affected by it?”

    I agree with Ethan here, I have so many questions after seeing Duplex and many of them should be answered before it's out in the world and the negative consequences have started to be felt by people. Tech is full of smart people, I wish more of them would use their brains to think proactively rather than always being reactive.

  • Design Systems

    “I think we lose sight of the real value of a design system when we focus too much on the components. The components are the trees.”

    Jeremy nails this on the head. When I think about systems I think of them more as documentation, that beyond the code, colors, and more is the way in which you should be using all of it. What's the purpose and how is it used?

  • Design Systems Survey

    There is a lot of really interesting information about design systems and how teams and organizations are creating them, maintaining them, and thinking about them in this survey. And it’s no surprise that having executives who champion the system as well as all the various disciplines involved in creating and maintaining it makes it much more successful.

  • Write it down

    “Whenever someone asks me to do something that I think seems ill-conceived in some way, I ask them to write it down. That’s it. Because writing is high effort. Making sentences is the easy bit, it’s the thinking I want them to do. By considering their request it slows them down. Maybe 30% of the time or something, they come back and say ‘oh, that thing I asked you to do, I’ve had a think and it’s fine, we don’t need to do it’.”

    This is such good advice. I find writing is the way I think, so even jotting things down in a notebook helps me to clarify what I'm thinking. And in a team environment, clarity is so helpful, it will cut down on the amount of time spent spinning to figure out what the other person means.

  • What About "The Breakfast Club"

    “It’s hard for me to understand how John was able to write with so much sensitivity, and also have such a glaring blind spot.”

    I found this piece really thought provoking, mainly because the John Hughes films were a major part of my teenage years. I can still recite entire scenes from memory with no additional prompting, especially from "Sixteen Candles." And I, like Ringwald, think about those films now with almost two minds, one is my teenage self relating too and glad for that, the other is my adult self somewhat appalled that I watched those films as many times as I did.

  • Spinning jenny.

    “Because frankly, I can’t stop thinking about how much automation has changed our industry already. And I know the rate of automation is only going to accelerate from here.”

    Ethan's been doing a lot of writing about our industry and how we are moving forward and I really love this post. Too often we think what we're doing is new and different, but is it really? Can we look at the mistakes made in the past and learn from them? And as he says, "what happens next?"

  • The Fast and Slow of Design

    “The people in a system are seldom acknowledged as a component of a system. Instead, they are people who act on a system. I think this is a mistake. People take work. In most organisations, the people of a system represent continuity and sometimes the only thing stopping it from being rebuilt and redesigned from external HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) influence. How I’d define people would be any real person interacting with the system; the team building it, stakeholders, open source community etc.”

    The idea of layers in a system and organizing them by how fast and often they change is intriguing and very clever. This piece by Boulton is really great with a lot to think about in it.

  • Design Systems at Gusto

    “Great visual design or even the UX of a style guide isn’t anywhere near as important as the documentation being in a single location that everyone can easily find. And if our work saved an engineer or designer five minutes asking someone else on Slack about how to use component X then The Guide is a success, if only a small one.”

    There is so, so, so much great stuff in this post by Robin. The way in which how you make your style guide or the exact way you use it doesn't matter as much as the way it enables communication, needs to work for your team, and, in the quote above, how it can be ugly and messy and still be incredibly useful.

  • Offscreen Magazine Interview

    “This is not about being austere for the sake of austerity, but it circles back to the question: Am I’m giving time and focus to activities that I feel help cultivate a deeper respect for the short time we may have? Making sure my fixed cost of living is as low as possible immolates the issue of doing certain jobs just to pay for a particular lifestyle. Living in a country with good health care means that you don’t have to worry about bearing the expense of treatment if tragedy strikes. These details add up. They collude to create space for thinking about and exploring the world, a space which feels non-negotiable in the quest to be present and reflective.”

    I've long enjoyed Craig Mod's work and writing, but this interview really struck home with me. Especially the above quote, it's much the way I think about life and work. The less income I need, the more freedom I have. But they way he treats technology and using the internet also intrigues me, just shutting it out for most of the day.

  • Convenience isn’t digital

    “For me, our response to an increasingly digital world has to be more about connection than just convenience. What if HelloFresh connected me to my local shops and farmers market rather than just supplying me with ingredients to cook fresh food? In my opinion, this would support their underlying mission better than their current business model. But, arguably, it would also be less profitable, so these are hard business choices. To deliver human value, internet-era organisations need to learn to build more on existing social connections, rather than always looking to remove them. This is then convenience that recognises the importance of connection.”

    Really interesting and good points in this piece. I've resisted delivery of groceries and many other things that I can walk to get in my neighborhood for many reasons, but primarily because it gets me out of the house and among people, something I need since I work from home. But connections are harder and harder to come by in our siloed digital worlds and I wonder if maybe we need to rethink that going forward.

  • Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous

    “Here’s what I finally figured out, 25 years in: What Silicon Valley loves most isn’t the products, or the platforms underneath them, but markets. “Figure out the business model later” was the call of the early commercial internet. The way you monetize vast swaths of humanity is by creating products that people use a lot—perhaps a search engine such as Google or a social network like Facebook. You build big transactional web platforms beneath them that provide amazing things, like search results or news feeds ranked by relevance, and then beneath all that you build marketplaces for advertising—a true moneymaking machine. If you happen to create an honest-to-god marketplace, you can get unbelievably rich.”

    As usual Ford looks back to help us understand the current situation and points out that maybe we should think about ethics from the get go rather than after it's too late, much as we're doing right now with fake news and social media and all ramifications we didn't think about in the beginning.

  • V6: Color

    “I find HSL enormously liberating. Historical color wheel concepts map directly to the 360-degree hue system, and HSL’s three foundational attributes let me create and fine-tune color directly in code like never before. Let’s take a look at how I’m using it with Sass.”

    I've been looking at use of color in watercolor painting for the past several weeks, and the way Rob talks about color with HSL maps really well to the way I now think about color. This is a really excellent post on the ins and outs of color and how you can use it and I love the system Rob is using.

  • The Good Room

    “It’s interesting to note that many of these apps are corporeal. Contrary to intuition, the way to better technology is through the body, because we do not leave our body behind when we log on. We may be striving to create a nourishing digital condition for ourselves, but it will always be informed by what’s happening on the ground. The place of technology in our lives begins and ends with the place where we find ourselves.”

    Frank's been doing some amazing thinking about technology and how we use it and this piece is really great. I love libraries, so I was hooked from the start, but I also find the research on what apps make people happy versus those that don't telling. We have control over how we use these things, even if the apps don't want us to think so.

  • Everything Easy is Hard Again

    “Let’s be more like that tortoise: diligent, direct, and purposeful. The web needs pockets of slowness and thoughtfulness as its reach and power continues to increase. What we depend upon must be properly built and intelligently formed. We need to create space for complexity’s important sibling: nuance. Spaces without nuance tend to gravitate towards stupidity. And as an American, I can tell you, there are no limits to the amount of damage that can be inflicted by that dangerous cocktail of fast-moving-stupid.”

    This piece resonated with me a lot, it's something I've been thinking about as well and I've even written about it. I'm not nostalgic for the way the web used to be, but I am, increasingly, concerned about the people we leave out with the complexity we've created. There are a lot of hard things on the web right now, this is a small piece that affects a lot of us every day in our work and, I think, makes our work less efficient and less accessible.

  • "This Is Serious": Facebook Begins Its Downward Spiral

    “There’s another theory floating around as to why Facebook cares so much about the way it’s impacting the world, and it’s one that I happen to agree with. When Zuckerberg looks into his big-data crystal ball, he can see a troublesome trend occurring. A few years ago, for example, there wasn’t a single person I knew who didn’t have Facebook on their smartphone. These days, it’s the opposite. This is largely anecdotal, but almost everyone I know has deleted at least one social app from their devices. And Facebook is almost always the first to go. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other sneaky privacy-piercing applications are being removed by people who simply feel icky about what these platforms are doing to them, and to society.”

    The backlash on social media platforms is beginning and at the same time those same platforms are getting more and more desperate to keep our eyes glued to them. I don't have a Facebook account, but I do use Instagram a bit, and I'm bombarded with it wanting me to do something to make it easier for the app to bug me every time I open it up. These things have the opposite effect on me as I'm now close to leaving the platform altogether.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin’s Best Life Advice

    I love Le Guin’s writing and this is a great compilation of a bunch of various quotes from her books, speeches, and more. Well worth a read through if you’re unfamiliar with her work.

  • Hostage Situation

    “Designers like to talk about how they finally have a seat at the table. It’s an attractive idea, especially since companies have started to build internal design teams rather than outsource to agencies. But sometimes it feels as if designers have been tricked into thinking they have a seat, when in fact they’ve been taken hostage, only to develop Stockholm syndrome.”

    Interesting thoughts from Paul about how we choose who we work for and what that means in the larger sense of ethics and the state of the internet.

  • Against craft

    “But I also worry about how shallow the tech community’s interpretation of craft is; how aesthetic and performative we’ve made it. We buy handmade holsters for our Sharpies. Our conferences offer wood-turning workshops. Our dress code somehow blends hipster fetishisation of a blue-collar past with the minimalism of the urban rich: we yearn to connect with a handmade, physical world (perhaps to compensate for the ephemerality of our materials), but above all we must display our appreciation of quality, and hence our taste. Craft underpins how we dress and even behave. It’s easy to see where this leads: these identity performances become acts of gatekeeping. Those who look the part and fit the groove are given attention, hired, and respected. The rest are filtered out. Craft as class warfare.”

    I love this piece and the way in which Bowles equates our talk of craft with class. Also the Chachra piece he links to is a fave that I return to again and again.

  • A little advice.

    “I don’t just want to see the quality of your final mockup, your finished set of templates: I want to learn how you got there. I want to read what worked, what didn’t, and the decisions you made along the way.”

    So much this. I would also add that writing and communicating are vital skills, sometimes more vital than just being able to design well or code well. And writing about your work, your thoughts, and your ideas is one way to show more of what you'd be like to with on a team.

  • How to Read the Internet

    “So instead of being just another way to get posts from blogs that you were interested in, RSS fostered countless communities and friendships across oceans, across networks. And because of that I now think of RSS as a window into a room with the smartest, kindest people — and sometimes, on the rarest of occasions, they would open up the window and wave back.”

    I am at once happy to see this post and sad to see this post. I love the way in which Robin describes RSS and what it is, but I'm sad that so many people have forgotten or never known about it that he felt it necessary to write it in the first place. I'm seeing a resurgence of blogging (yay!) and many sites that are still in my feed reader are coming back to life. As I like to say: RSS 4 lyfe.

  • The Good War

    This is a super good look at the ways in which nostalgia for World War II was used to then justify and promote the war on terror post 9/11. It led me to think about the late 90s and how it was the first time there wasn’t a uniting “evil” that all Americans agreed is bad and should be fought (think the cold war and the Soviet Union). And the war on terror hasn’t united us, if anything it’s fractured us even more in many ways. And that led me to wonder what could unite people, what can be the common good that we all agree on? Note: I’m not saying that any past era was perfect, but I do wonder about the different underlying unifying themes of past eras.

  • No One Wants Your Used Clothes Anymore

    “But what’s good for Panipat and its customers is bad news for donors and the environment. Even if Panipat were producing shoddy at its peak, it probably couldn’t manage the growing flood of used clothing entering the market in search of a second life. Between 2000 and 2015, global clothing production doubled, while the average number of times that a garment was worn before disposal declined by 36 percent. In China, it declined by 70 percent.”

    We've been going back to using up and wearing out things, climate change is a huge motivator. In the past six month I've had a pair of shorts and a pair of jeans both rip beyond repair because I'm wearing out the things I have. But reading this article brought home that I want to keep doing that. The amount of trash we're creating because we "tire" of things is startling.

  • Inconsistencies and productivity

    “In fact, it takes a lot of time to design robust systems that can scale across every part of a UI/product and doing all that work weirdly enough doesn’t feel like work, instead it’s more akin to unnecessary hassle and stress. But I can’t help think that this is what should differentiate the work of product designers from the work of graphic or print designers—and orgs should really incentivize simple and perhaps even boring additions to a system or a product.”

    I find this idea really intriguing, the different incentives for developers versus designers and how that's reflected in their work.

  • Not Everything Is a Side Hustle

    “Messing around with a stand mixer or a sewing machine is fun for me because it’s not work. Personal pleasure is what makes a hobby a hobby.”

    I really love this piece because it perfectly captures the answer I've given to many who've told me I should sell the things I do for relaxation.

  • In praise of the good old-fashioned hobby

    “Since I wrote that over half a decade ago, things have just gotten worse in America, and as steady jobs keep disappearing and the market continues to gobble up the culture, the “free time” activities which used to soothe us and take our minds off work and add meaning to our lives are now presented to us as potential income streams.”

    A follow-up to the The Cut piece I posted, but Kleon clearly understands that many side projects become hustle due to economic circumstances, but that does change it from what it was intended to be, a hobby lives in the realm of pleasure and not work.

  • Endless Content

    “With my newfound free time, I’m looking forward to reading some books, playing some games, and listening to some podcasts. But this is an endless conquest, there will be more things to click tomorrow. So I’ll stand waist-deep and punch fiercely at the waves crashing on the shore.”

    I'm with Dave, I've been putting things away after work and focusing on hobbies, books, and the TV shows I enjoy rather than the latest post and outrage online.

  • Leftover Thoughts From 2017

    “It’s not the frameworks that are a problem but the architectural model of the applications we use them to make. Maybe frameworks will come up with some revolutionary solution that solves or makes up for the downsides.”

    This is a super varied post, but full of really interesting ideas and thoughts. I don't agree with all of them, but I'm thinking on several and that's what good writing should do.

  • Chrome is turning into the new Internet Explorer 6

    “It’s hard to imagine this Chrome-only situation getting any better, though. Google moved away from WebKit and towards its Blink rendering engine years ago, and there have been lots of optimizations to open source libraries, frameworks, and other parts of the engine that cause bugs in other browsers. You’ll notice this if you try and use Safari, Firefox, or Edge in certain sites where developers have initially targeted Chrome, and its easier for website support staff to simply recommend downloading Chrome than rewrite parts of their code. Developers have also spent years optimizing for Chrome, and working around some of its quirks with Chrome-only fixes or changes.”

    I've seen this article linked in quite a few places and it's well written, going over the history of the dominance of Internet Explorer 6 and how Chrome is now mimicking that. I use three browsers throughout the day and deliberately don't use Chrome as my main development browser to get a different perspective, but I think I'm in the minority of web developers.

  • But I repeat myself.

    “The work sometimes involves tedium, drudgery, and, yes, repetition. But if we expect it from the beginning—if we acknowledge that retracing our steps is part and parcel to the project—then we move from redundancy to iteration.”

    Knowing that you may make mistakes, you may have to start over, you may have to redo work is a valuable mindset; this is how you learn. And just yesterday when I had to rip out several rows of crochet I reminded myself of this piece.

  • White Christianity is in big trouble. And it’s its own biggest threat.

    “When we’ve reached a place where good Christian folk think it’s a matter of major theological principle not to sell pastries to gay people but are willing to give pedophiles a pass, I think it’s safe to say that American Christianity today — white American Christianity in particular — is in a pretty sorry state.”

    I've studied theology and, at times in my life, been heavily involved in the church, so it's with a heavy heart that I've watched how sideways things have become within the Christian world, particularly as it pertains to politics. This piece points out so many of the problems so well and it was nice to see someone speaking up using thoughtful arguments (which are sorely missing in many of our public debates these days). (Also of note: the fights highlighted here aren't the only reason this group is upset, I realize, but there are well thought out things in here.)

  • What Do You Call a World That Can’t Learn From Itself?

    “So just as Americans don’t get how bad their lives really are, comparatively speaking — which is to say how good they could be — so too Europeans don’t fully understand how good their lives are — and how bad, if they continue to follow in America’s footsteps, austerity by austerity, they could be. Both appear to be blind to one another’s mistakes and successes.”

    There are many of us in the US who do look to other countries (especially when it comes to healthcare) on how to do things, unfortunately none of them are in positions of power. And with the passage the the tax bill today, we are moving further away from realizing that if we want to be in a society together, we must pay for things together and care for the least of us.

  • Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear

    “I used to find it odd that these hypothetical AIs were supposed to be smart enough to solve problems that no human could, yet they were incapable of doing something most every adult has done: taking a step back and asking whether their current course of action is really a good idea. Then I realized that we are already surrounded by machines that demonstrate a complete lack of insight, we just call them corporations. Corporations don’t operate autonomously, of course, and the humans in charge of them are presumably capable of insight, but capitalism doesn’t reward them for using it. On the contrary, capitalism actively erodes this capacity in people by demanding that they replace their own judgment of what “good” means with “whatever the market decides.””

    I saw this linked several places and it's getting passed around for good reason. We need to start worrying more about corporations and their insatiable need for growth and profitability. And the comparison to runaway AI was a great way to point out how similar they are.

  • Why Design Systems Fail

    “But if your design system is complicated and over-engineered, they may find it frustrating to use and go back to what they know, even if its not the best solution. If you’re a Sass expert, and base your system on complex mixins and functions, you better hope your user (the developer) is also a Sass expert, or wants to learn. This is often not the case, however. You need to talk to your audience.”

    I really love how this article talks about who the audience of your design system is, because just as any other thing we make, we should make sure we're meeting our users needs. And for design systems that could be developers, designers, product managers, or stakeholders, and they should all be able to work with and use it.

  • Automatically creating an accessible color palette from any color? Sure!

    “It seems the thinking these days is that when we let users pick colors, the user is responsible for any contrast issues.

    I don’t think that’s fair to neither the user picking the color nor the end users. A sentence like “but does the color validate against white?” is meaningless to most people.”

    This is cool, and super interesting how they implemented it. Kudos to that team for allowing for flexibility with colors but keeping things accessible.

  • The User Experience of Design Systems

    “My third concern is that with all this talk about design systems, there’s very little talk about the real problem in digital design, which is processes and tools. Designers love making design manuals, but any design system will completely and utterly fail if it doesn’t help people in the organization produce faster and better products.”

    This is a great write up of a talk and has had me thinking a lot. I'm currently working on a design system and trying to figure out how best to do this. And I think the process is where many systems fail. Taking into account how designers do their work, what developers need to do their jobs, and more. I have a lot of thinking left to do, but I'm grateful that this articulates so many of the problems I see with systems so well.

  • What’s the Purpose of Design Artifacts?

    “It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of believing that artifacts are the design. I’ve seen situations where stakeholders specify upfront the types and quantity of “deliverables” for a design project, with no regard for what they will be used for. Designers willingly comply because they, too, tend to measure their progress based on the wireframes, sketches, prototypes or whatever else they’ve produced. This is a mistake. Artifacts are communication tools.”

    Well said. This also feeds into my thinking about design systems and how designers and developers work in and around them. How are we communicating design, but then also having a process and tools that work for us to do design (and implement it).

  • The artistic recluse

    “The tension for the artist in contemporary life is the same that it has always been: How do you secure a living for yourself while maximizing your art-making time and energy?”

    Kleon is dead on in his rejection of the myth that artists go into recluse to create. As he rightly points out, the biggest reason why this isn't possible, is money. How do you "do what you love" and still have money to live? I rarely see the money question addressed as clearly as Kleon does here.

  • The Burden of Precision

    “We can draw our button as big or as small as we want, and it doesn’t matter—the design becomes the description of the artifact. We can express this in pictorial form, as we do in tools like Photoshop or Sketch (though now forgetting how precise we need to be, we can simply gesture at the intent), or we can write it in plain text, JSON, or some other text format. The precision is introduced by the engineer, where it rightfully belongs. After all, our designs are completely useless until they are built—what exists in the users’ hands is the final design, and nothing less.”

    I found a lot of the ideas in this piece super intriguing, probably because I'm in the midst of helping create a design system and going back and forth between Sketch files, which rely solely on pixels, and the system, where we aren't using pixels for things such as spacing, type, etc. It's been interesting to talk with the folks who live their lives in the pixel world and see how we meet when the system doesn't speak that exact language.

  • Our Love Affair with Digital is Over

    “Analog, although more cumbersome and costly than its digital equivalents, provides a richness of experience that is unparalleled with anything delivered through a screen. People are buying books because a book engages nearly all of their senses, from the smell of the paper and glue to the sight of the cover design and weight of the pages read, the sound of those sheets turning, and even the subtle taste of the ink on your fingertips. A book can be bought and sold, given and received, and displayed on a shelf for anyone to see. It can start conversations and cultivate romances.”

    Essays about a return to non digital forms of media come out with regularity these days, and I read them all to see what they say, this point above sums up well why I sketch on paper again and still make lists on scrap paper as well.

  • Notes on Daily Blogging

    “Maybe most surprising, is that my posts have gotten, in my opinion, much deeper and more interesting. I used to scramble on Thursdays, trying to come up with a good blog post so I could post it at the top of Friday’s newsletter. Often I would cop out, write something quick and pat, and move on. Once I started daily blogging, not only did I have more to link to, it’s actually better stuff — some weeks I have a tough time deciding which post gets top billing in my list of 10.”

    I've been sketching daily for the past year and I switch up my medium or my approach or prompts, but I've noticed that doing it every day, even if for just five minutes, gets me thinking differently. Maybe I'll try blogging or posting a note every day for thirty days to see what happens.

  • Against Productivity

    “There is more than one kind of thought. There are thoughts you cannot complete within a month, or a fiscal quarter, just as there are thoughts that can occupy less than a vacation period, a weekend, or a smoke break. Like the spectrum of photonic behavior, thoughts come in a nearly infinite range of lengths and frequencies, and always move at the exact pace of human life, wherever they are in the universe. Some thoughts are long, they can take years to think, or a lifetime. Some thoughts take many lifetimes, and we hand them off to the next generation like the batons in a relay race. Some of these are the best of thoughts, even if they can be the least productive. Lifetimes along, they shift the whole world, like a secret lever built and placed by the loving imaginations of thousands of unproductive stargazers.”

    So many good things in this essay on being bored, being lazy, and letting your mind wander. As Mandy pointed out, it is a lot like Mary Ruefle's ideas on wasting time, something we fight hard against, but inefficiency isn't evil, and it isn't time wasted; it's time lived.

  • Where the Small Town American Dream Lives On

    “Roesner was not an Orange City native. When he was a kid, his father’s climb up the corporate ladder involved moving the family every couple of years; they moved to Orange City from Minnesota when Roesner was in eleventh grade, and later his parents left again. But Roesner married a Dutch woman from Orange City, and stayed. When he got an M.B.A. and started out on the executive track himself, he decided that he didn’t want to do what his father would have done—he didn’t want to go to Beaverton to work for Nike, or to Minneapolis for a job at Target, then move on somewhere else. “I said to myself, ‘What is all this about?’ ” he says. “ ‘Is it just about me and where I can take my career, or is there something bigger?’ Here, you feel like you’re connected—that you belong someplace.””

    This is a lovely article about a community that isn't dying, but rather open to change and growth. It's great to read something about hope, about people caring for one another and living with one another even if they don't always agree.

  • Building Flexible Design Systems

    On the heels of reading Design Systems this was a fantastic talk to watch, an in depth look at using the principles Kholmatova talks about to find your own system that works for your team. Perez-Cruz walks through what didn’t work and what did and how they were able to make a unified system for several very different brands. Definitely worth watching if you are thinking about how to do a design system in your organization.

  • The Medium

    “I share the disillusionment. This version of The Medium is not The Medium I want or fell in love with. This is a love story about humans connecting across continents. I want to be hopeful even at the risk of being naïve.”

    So many things in this essay rang true with me. And I'm with Dave, in many of the ways he talks about ethics and tooling. In my effort to keep my love for the web, I've taken to putting more and more into this site and less and less elsewhere. It's what I control.

  • Declining Complexity in CSS

    “So if you’ve written CSS in the past, CSS today is not significantly harder to understand, and probably a bit easier. There’s just a lot more of it. You might not be able to remember every single property and value, but that’s okay. Neither can I. I don’t think many (or any) of us can hold every last tiny piece of a serious programming language in our heads, either. We know the core things, and the patterns we learned, and some cool techniques, and there are the things we always have to look up because we don’t often use them.”

    I can't wait to dig into the new version of CSS The Definitive Guide. CSS is more capable and lot of fun to work with as its capabilities have expanded.

  • Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin

    “What you are referring to is the sense that one is a citizen first and happen to be a professional in one area or another, but you don’t stop being a citizen because you are a highway engineer or a professor of metallurgy, but you also don’t leave all your scientific knowledge when you are a resident in the district that is suddenly heavily influence by pollution from another plant; or, globally, from fallout or chemical pollution.”

    This is a great interview, thanks for the link Ethan!

  • Seven into seven.

    “I don’t pretend that these are easy questions to answer. But if we need technology that’s not simply fast or pretty, but just, it’s worth putting AMP under a critical lens. (As well as, yes, Facebook Instant Articles, and Apple News, and, and, and.) If we fail to do that, we can’t be sure how well it measures up to our needs, much less the needs of the web as an open medium. And we definitely won’t know how well it serves entities other than Google.”

    Ethan, making a lot of sense about how we should think about AMP and all the things we make. It's time for the tech industry to take responsibility for how they are changing the internet and web in profound ways.

  • Twitter's Harassment Problem Is Baked Into Its Design

    “While nothing is stopping people from finding out more information before responding, the clearest affordance Twitter has is for these “drive-by” responses (I’ve been mansplained to by many people who I presume haven’t even looked at my bio to see the “engineering professor” there before trying to school me on my research field—per Telemachus, “of me most of all”). This amplification and context collapse, coupled with the ease of replying and of creating bots, makes targeted harassment trivially easy, particularly in an environment where users can both mostly live in their own ideological bubble by following people who share their views, however abhorrent, and who can easily forget that there is a real person behind the 140 characters of text.”

    Another great piece from Debbie Chachra, one of my favorite thinkers and writers lately. How we build products matter and we aren't thinking about that nearly enough these days.

  • 'Our minds can be hijacked': the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia

    ““One reason I think it is particularly important for us to talk about this now is that we may be the last generation that can remember life before,” Rosenstein says. It may or may not be relevant that Rosenstein, Pearlman and most of the tech insiders questioning today’s attention economy are in their 30s, members of the last generation that can remember a world in which telephones were plugged into walls.”

    I found this article fascinating and relatable in many ways. I'm a bit older than most of the people profiled, but I too am backing way away from tech. And when I talk about it with work colleagues most are surprised. But the above quote struck me, as less and less people remember living in a less connected world what will the affect be on our society, on individuals, etc?

  • How to take a nap

    “When the Coen brothers were asked about their creative process, Joel Coen said, “We do a lot of napping.””

    A good reminder, taking breaks can activate our process, and make us more efficient at our work.

  • Ten Years on Twitter

    “Twitter is supposed to be all about what’s happening right now, and its model gives users good reason to think of their tweets as ephemeral and disposable. I won’t say I’m entirely immune to that sentiment, but regular readers of this site will be unsurprised to learn that I’m more interested in Twitter as an archive, as a collection of bite-sized dispatches from events in our lives that run the gamut from mundane to sublime, which can be recombined in various ways to tell a uniquely affecting story…”

    This is lovely.

  • Rebuilding

    “Another major goal was to ensure that low-vision, screenreader and keyboard-only users could navigate the site with ease. While starting from a clean codebase, we were able to make many impactful improvements to color contrast, semantic HTML and keyboard accessibility with little additional effort. Additionally, we were able to work in some new features for a more accessible experience.”

    Good on Slack for realizing that a rebuild was in order to make their marketing site better for everyone to use. I also find it interesting, they developed a framework and use that terminology. Right now there are so many different people using different words for what they build and it's fascinating (what's a framework vs a style guide vs a pattern library vs a design system?).

  • Notifications

    “In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal, but I would appreciate some respect for my deliberate choice. It gets pretty wearying over the long haul. To use a completely inappropriate analogy, it’s like a recovering alcoholic constantly having to rebuff “friends” asking if they’re absolutely sure they don’t want a drink.”

    I'm with Jeremy, I have no notifications on for any of my devices, and I hate being asked to allow them to be on. The way in which I constantly have to guard against apps and sites trying to steal my attention gets tiring.

  • Why Do We Keep Having The Same Argument About Guns?

    “Of course, some politicians could swallow their future personal defeat in the name of a greater law — that’s what dozens of Democrats did in order to get Obamacare through the House, knowing full well how their vote would be framed when they faced reelection. But that supposition returns us to the fundamental difference at the heart of the two positions and, by extension, two Americas: One believes in the ability of the government to create safety, even if it entails sacrifices, small and large, on the part of the individual. The other believes those sacrifices, and the incremental increases in safety they cannot even guarantee to provide, are simply not worth the compromise of their liberty.”

    This is the best article I've read talking about the issue of guns in the US. As someone who lives in a state that is deeply split between the urban areas and the eastern part of the state that is much more related to the mountain west, I love reading Anne Helen Peterson, because her writing is capturing the way the Mountain West of the US sees things, which is so different from much of the rest of the US. Related: we have to find ways to talk to each other to solve these problems.

  • Paul Lloyd at Patterns Day 2017

    I’m always way behind on the videos I save to watch, much harder to find some good solid time to watch them, but this talk by Paul Lloyd from this year’s Patterns Day is worth your time if you are interested in systems of design, thinking about not just the components, but also what the components do as a group. I also like the bit about consistency, coherence, complexity, and conformance. Paul’s onto many things in this talk. And, of course, Paul talks a lot about how our design systems influence our process, who does it serve, and how is it being used? Is it encouraging you to think about ethics, about how we design and how does it affect those that use it?

  • Is Health Care a Right?

    “As he saw it, government existed to provide basic services like trash pickup, a sewer system, roadways, police and fire protection, schools, and health care. Do people have a right to trash pickup? It seemed odd to say so, and largely irrelevant. The key point was that these necessities can be provided only through collective effort and shared costs. When people get very different deals on these things, the pact breaks down. And that’s what has happened with American health care.”

    This is a really great read about where many different people are coming from on how we should handle health care in this country. Gawande's style of investigating and writing about this issue is so refreshing as well. He listens without judgement and then tries to piece together how to bridge the divide and find a workable solution. It's well worth your time to read it if you've been following the legislative battle over health care this past year.

  • Accessibility at trivago

    “One of our company values is “power of proof”, and while it is fairly easy to measure the number of visitors to our site who use outdated browsers which enables us to make informed decisions on their support, it is virtually impossible to measure visitors who are using tools such as screen readers or who want to use the keyboard as a main method of navigation.”

    This a great read on the challenges of adding accessibility after the fact and the two steps forward, one step back that may happen as you do. I applaud the team at trivago for working towards being more accessible.

  • Is there any value in people who cannot write JavaScript?

    “When every new website on the internet has perfect, semantic, accessible HTML and exceptionally executed, accessible CSS that works on every device and browser, then you can tell me that these languages are not valuable on their own. Until then we need to stop devaluing CSS and HTML.”

    I talk about this a lot, mostly because I don't write JavaScript and I don't really enjoy it but I love CSS and HTML. It saddens me that so little emphasis is put on them and that they are thought of as "easy" and not of value. And the above quote sums up well why we aren't, as an industry, putting out the best products we can. It's because we undervalue certain people's skills, passions, and work.

  • Gregory Berns Knows What Your Dog Is Thinking (It’s Sweet)

    “Among the findings: Your dog may really love you for you — not for your food.”

    I love dogs and found this research really interesting, plus the photos are great.

  • How Silicon Valley is erasing your individuality

    “It’s hard not to marvel at these companies and their inventions, which often make life infinitely easier. But we’ve spent too long marveling. The time has arrived to consider the consequences of these monopolies, to reassert our role in determining the human path. Once we cross certain thresholds — once we remake institutions such as media and publishing, once we abandon privacy — there’s no turning back, no restoring our lost individuality.”

    This is a strong warning about how we use tech and what that tech is doing to us. I'm starting to get more and more suspicious of new tech and thinking long and hard before I start using most things. But the fact that tech is starting to take away our time for contemplation is increasingly of concern for me, along with our privacy, and how these companies are handling it.

  • Books as Work

    “We can’t afford to see books as art if we want to make a contribution, whatever size that might be, to the world of bookmaking. Rather, we must see books as work instead.”

    This is a good reminder that elevating things to statuses that they may not deserve can make our lives harder. I find this with the work of artists that I enjoy as well, while that is technically a work of art, it is not meant to make me feel that my work doesn't matter even if it never makes it into a museum, just as my writing is mine and good enough even if it's never published.

  • You Are the Product

    “What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads.”

    This is a long read, but well worth your time. I saw it linked in three different places before I finally read it and all those who praised are correct. I'm not a Facebook user and just yesterday had a conversation with friends about how I've come to realize that is my choice and because of it I miss things. I need to see people either in real life or email with them to know what's going on in their lives and to be honest, I'm OK with that. Reading this piece made me even more glad that I'm not on it.

  • Panic City

    “Could a tech company actually build cities for “all humans” that would not end up an oppressive authoritarian dystopia? If the history of urban planning is any indication, the answer is no. Any attempt that tech companies make at city planning would likely involve trying to map its complexities with some elaborate formulas. But as architect and theorist Christopher Alexander argues, when humans try to reproduce the level of complexity that emerges when a neighborhood evolves organically over time, the “richness of the living city” is replaced with a “conceptual simplicity” — a process of “compartmentalization” and “dissociation of internal elements” that over time leads to a complete breakdown of its inhabitants.”

    I didn't realize this was an article about Facebook when I saved it off, so yes, I read two articles about Facebook in one sitting yesterday. BUT this is a great article about cities and how we live in them, think about them, and the evolving way in which tech is trying to muscle its way in. I'm not interested in living in a city planned by Facebook, and this article made me want to read Jane Jacobs, which I've had on my list for a while.

  • Does accessibility slow down development?

    “When accessibility is a project requirement, the best option our managers have is to invest in their team education and increase their expertise. If you integrate accessibility into the development process, it becomes a coding routine. Development time won’t increase so much if developers in your team already know what to do.”

    There are a lot of good thoughts here about how to make accessibility part of the development process. But I especially like the emphasis on eduction. You don't expect a developer to learn a new JavaScript framework without taking some time to learn it, so why can't we take the time to learn accessibility so we build it in from the very beginning.

  • Why Star Wars should've stopped at just one film

    “It implies that the principal achievement of A New Hope was to enable all the films and spin-offs which followed, as if it were a cathedral’s foundation stone. And that could be precisely the wrong way to see it. As enjoyable as the sequels and prequels are – some of them, at any rate – they can obscure our view of the original. To some extent, they spoil it. The Star Wars franchise may be the most successful in cinema history, but it might have been better if it had begun and ended with a single film in 1977.”

    I really liked this article. I recently watched Rogue One and was completely disappointed. So much of the movie was bits and pieces of movies that were already made. It was boring for that reason and it made me lose all faith in the series. This article articulates quite well why.

  • Randoms 6sep17

    “next time you read one of those “geniuses wear the same uniform every day” things, ask yourself if you are in fact Albert Einstein? No? Then wear what you fucking like. Failing to take pleasure in your life will kill you quicker than deciding what to wear.”

    I just love Warren Ellis and I love this bit so much I had to save it for myself.

  • How to structure headings for web accessibility

    “Headings are much more than a big bold title, they provide a solid structure to the webpage. Think of headings as an outline of your webpage.”

    Some good reminders on why headings and structure are so important in your HTML.

  • Total Eclipse

    “The world which lay under darkness and stillness following the closing of the lid was not the world we know. The event was over. Its devastation lay around about us. The clamoring mind and heart stilled, almost indifferent, certainly disembodied, frail, and exhausted. The hills were hushed, obliterated. Up in the sky, like a crater from some distant cataclysm, was a hollow ring.”

    We're in the midst of eclipse fever, living just north of totality. And I'll be up very early to see it on Monday, taking a train to Salem and hoping the weather forecast stays good and witnessing totality. Dillard's essay is amazing, but I'm excited to experience it for myself.

  • Never pay for wi-fi

    “But, as in-flight wi-fi speeds and entertainment options keep getting better and better, the temptation to be distracted on planes becomes greater and greater. Just like on the ground, it now takes an act of will to be bored enough on a plane to actually enter that good headspace where you can make something. For now, I stick to my rules: turn off the seat-back TV and never pay for wi-fi.”

    I'm with Kleon on this one, I love being disconnected when traveling via plane and using it as a time to catch up on reading or listening to podcasts. I'm intrigued by the idea of using it as a time for art and may do that on my next flight.

  • The Unacceptable Persistence of the Digital Divide

    “Of course, computers and broadband by themselves don’t magically lead to college degrees and better jobs. After all, much of what people do with Internet access once they get it is hardly productive. But some of them may not be getting the training they need to make effective use of software and online services. And there are many correlations between broadband access and income levels or success in finding employment. ”

    This is why all of us who work on the web should be advocating for internet to be a necessary utility, just as electricity is. And it's why performance and how we build sites is so important.

  • There is no such thing as western civilisation

    “Culture – like religion and nation and race – provides a source of identity for contemporary human beings. And, like all three, it can become a form of confinement, conceptual mistakes underwriting moral ones. Yet all of them can also give contours to our freedom. Social identities connect the small scale where we live our lives alongside our kith and kin with larger movements, causes, and concerns. They can make a wider world intelligible, alive, and urgent. They can expand our horizons to communities larger than the ones we personally inhabit. But our lives must make sense, too, at the largest of all scales. We live in an era in which our actions, in the realm of ideology as in the realm of technology, increasingly have global effects. When it comes to the compass of our concern and compassion, humanity as a whole is not too broad a horizon.”

    A super fascinating read for me. I've not spent a lot of time thinking about western civilization much, but I found the history and the tying of it all together really interesting. I'm not sure I agree with all of it, it's a lot and I'm still thinking. But it's got me interested in reading more. (via Mandy's Tiny Letter)

  • How to do nothing

    “But here I come back to Deleuze’s “right to say nothing,” and although we can definitely say that this right is variously accessible or even inaccessible for some, I believe that it is indeed a right. For example, the push for an 8-hour workday in 1886 called for “8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours of what we will.” I’m struck by the quality of things that associated with the category “What we Will”: rest, thought, flowers, sunshine.”

    This piece resonates really strongly with me. And I particularly like that she highlights the privilege involved in doing nothing. I live a very unscheduled life, many weekends I have no plans and no idea what I'm going to do, going with the flow. And right now, with unemployment, I'm like that most days for almost the entire day. I've been reading, thinking, journalling, and in many ways, getting ready for whatever will come next. Also this piece reminds me of one of my favorite books by Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey.

  • CSS

    “I think that’s what’s happened with some programmers coming to CSS for the first time. They’ve heard it’s simple, so they assume it’s easy. But then when they try to use it, it doesn’t work. It must be the fault of the language, because they know that they are smart, and this is supposed to be easy. So they blame the language. They say it’s broken. And so they try to “fix” it by making it conform to a more programmatic way of thinking.”

    I really love the way that Keith distinguishes between simple and easy in this short post. And it points to my frustrations lately with how CSS is viewed in this industry. It may be simple, but it is not easy. And it is not a programming language, so let it be what it is, approach it with the desire to learn, and you'll have more success.

  • Designed lines.

    “But when I talk about building fast websites, I’ll frequently hear that low-broadband users aren’t “the primary audience,” or that “we’re not concerned with people in developing markets.” I was once asked about serving up a lightweight, data-friendly version of a product to visitors from countries with limited bandwidth; the full design could be served to everyone else. Either way, segmenting our audiences into “the ones we’re really designing for” is a kind of digital redlining. We can—and should—do much, much better than that.”

    Spot on, necessary reading for many in our industry.

  • A Heart that Watches and Receives

    “My first piece of advice is, please please please don’t give up on the truth. It may be under assault but it’s still alive and kicking, and it will never go out of style. Truth may not be a thing that we can always absolutely, objectively prove, but it is a thing we can aspire to. A thing we must aspire to. In our journalism, in our government, in our courts, in our businesses, in our personal lives, and in our very souls. I’ve built my life and livelihood on chasing the truth, in trying to get the facts right. I haven’t always succeeded. Sometimes I’ve failed completely. But it’s always seemed an eminently worthy cause.”

    I enjoyed this commencement address, some good advice in here and the defense of truth was a timely reminder.

  • Not My Teaching But My Study

    “Those odd moments when you find in history the perfect description of the things you do today.”

    I read this today and then saw a tweet from Eyeo and both are so perfect. A lot of what I do is me studying and thinking and sometimes those things get shared, which is my form of teaching.

  • Hold thy tongue (and loosen thy pen)

    “To write down your rawest thoughts in a notebook is like putting a wild, unknown beast into a holding cell for further observation. Here, you can safely discover what the beast is and figure out what to do with it. Sometimes the beast needs indefinite incarceration, sometimes it needs rehabilitation, sometimes it’s ready for release into the wild, and sometimes it just needs to be put down. But to let it escape at whim is rarely a good idea.”

    This, this, this! This is why I started journaling so heavily last fall. I backed away from sharing as much online and I started writing things out. It's freeing to write the stuff down that may be things you aren't comfortable sharing or shouldn't share. Holding my tongue can be a good thing and getting it into my notebook to think about later or abandon is helping me do that.

  • Getting Others Right

    “The responsibility toward other people’s stories is real and inescapable, but that doesn’t mean that appropriation is the way to satisfy that responsibility. In fact, the opposite is true: Telling the stories in which we are complicit outsiders has to be done with imagination and skepticism. It might require us not to give up our freedom, but to prioritize justice over freedom.”

    Teju Cole's monthly column in the New York Times Magazine is always worth your time, this month is no exception.

  • For an Inclusive Culture, Try Working Less

    “That’s because the culture was mostly about the business of software, how you build it, how you sell it, how you support it. If you were excited about that, you automatically belonged. You didn’t need to stay late, or drink alcohol, or play Rock Band, or play board games, or not have kids to pick up, or go to church, or not go to church, or do anything except show up 9-to-5 and care a lot about good software.”

    This article was interesting because it points to one of the reasons why I prefer remote work. I often don't have a lot in common with the people I work with, because I don't necessarily fit into the stereotype of what a person who writes code for the web is like. And that's fine with me, but when I go into an office, I feel pressure to be "one of the group" and to do the social activities I may not enjoy. Remote work takes all of that pressure away, since you aren't physically located together.

  • A working pattern library.

    “A more granular understanding of who—or what—will access your pattern library can better inform its design, ensuring it’s used by as many people—or products—as possible.”

    I believe quite strongly that pattern libraries should be custom and unique for each team, so they reflect the needs of the organization. And thinking about the consumers of your library is part of that, making sure that everyone (and everything) who needs to use it can do so easily.

  • The Loneliness of Donald Trump

    “Equality keeps us honest. Our peers tell us who we are and how we are doing, providing that service in personal life that a free press does in a functioning society. Inequality creates liars and delusion. The powerless need to dissemble—that’s how slaves, servants, and women got the reputation of being liars—and the powerful grow stupid on the lies they require from their subordinates and on the lack of need to know about others who are nobody, who don’t count, who’ve been silenced or trained to please. This is why I always pair privilege with obliviousness; obliviousness is privilege’s form of deprivation. When you don’t hear others, you don’t imagine them, they become unreal, and you are left in the wasteland of a world with only yourself in it, and that surely makes you starving, though you know not for what, if you have ceased to imagine others exist in any true deep way that matters. This is about a need for which we hardly have language or at least not a familiar conversation.”

    This piece is really great and it's about way more than what the title may lead you to believe. I was skeptical, but I love it and will be rereading it.

  • Leaving Social Media Taught Me How Broken The News Cycle Is

    “More than anything else, my break from social media reinforced my belief in the importance of traditional journalism, where (ideally) facts are verified and follow-up questions are asked before a story is published. Without social media focusing me on the news of the instant, I consumed news in a slower, less frantic fashion. I read second-day stories and deep dives that put news in context, and I came away feeling better informed.”

    This was an interesting read because it's from the perspective of a journalist, but she echoed a lot of what I've really come to hate about social media and the way it handles news. Often, on Twitter the story isn't the whole story or it's half baked or something else about it is off. The next day when I read an article I get the entire story, which she points to with a few particular incidents. And that's the reason I'm following very few people on Twitter and I read news in a more deliberate way, RSS is still my go to.

  • Part of a cure

    A nice collection of quotes compiled by Kleon about how much drawing can be a cure, and in fact can be a way to survive.

  • Making a Marriage Magically Tidy

    “I took a harder look around my home and answered. Boxes of novel manuscripts that were never published did not spark joy. Designer shoes I bought at sample sales but never wore because they pinched my feet did not spark joy. My husband confessed that his inheritance of Greek doilies and paintings of fishing boats from his grandmother did not spark joy. So out it all went.”

    A funny look at marriage, clutter, and habits. I laughed several times out loud as I read this.

  • Left to our own devices.

    “Because for me, the real value of a device lab isn’t in testing, as such: a device lab is a design tool. It’s a great way to remind myself that some of the assumptions I might be making about the design need to be tested on something other than my laptop or my phone. While I’m designing, I might assume web fonts will always render flawlessly, that JavaScript will download and execute perfectly every time, or that the user’s got enough bandwidth to download the art on the page. But all of those assumptions need to be checked.”

    Ethan hits the nail on the head again. Assumptions are killers, and it's hard to get away from them, but testing on devices that we don't normally use, being on slow internet, and other habits can shake us out of those assumptions fairly quickly.

  • Gratitude for Invisible Systems

    “When we think about caring for our neighbors, we think about local churches, and charities—systems embedded in our communities. But I see these technological systems as one of the main ways that we take care of each other at scale. It’s how Americans care for all three hundred million of our neighbors, rich or poor, spread over four million square miles, embedded in global supply chains.”

    The US likes to hide all the ways in which government makes our lives better and Chachra points out that if they were more visible maybe more people would be grateful for them and value what they do.

  • The United States of Work

    “Lincoln’s scenario does not reflect the way most people work today. Yet the “small business owner” endures as an American stock character, conjured by politicians to push through deregulatory measures that benefit large corporations. In reality, thanks to a lack of guaranteed, nationalized health care and threadbare welfare benefits, setting up a small business is simply too risky a venture for many Americans, who must rely on their employers for health insurance and income. These conditions render long-term employment more palatable than a precarious existence of freelance gigs, which further gives companies license to oppress their employees.”

    I know, I know, more about how we work in this culture, but holy cow it is screwed up. And this piece highlights two books I now want to read. And I have a longer post brewing in my head about it all.

  • Dear Making Comics Class...

    “Get a book-size (or paperback-size)d sketchbook. Write your name and date on an early page and maybe think of a name for it — and if you want, write the book’s name there at the front. Make it into your little painful pal. The pain goes away slowly page by page. Fill it up and do another one. It can be hard to get started. Don’t flunk yourself before you get the ball rolling.”

    Thanks to my coworker Sue I've discovered Lynda Barry and holy shit her book Syllabus is changing how I think about drawing and writing so much (review will be coming). But in the meantime, the original link to Gary Panter's sketchbook tips isn't working, but I found this instead. I hope this one stays up, but I may print it just in case.

  • You’re Too Busy. You Need a ‘Shultz Hour.’

    “Even before smartphones, this country’s professional culture had come to venerate freneticism. How often do you hear somebody humble-brag about how busy they are? The saddest version, and I’ve heard it more than once, is the story of people who send work emails on their wedding day or from the hospital room where their child is born — and are proud of it.”

    I link to a lot of articles that talk about disconnecting and slowing down and this one isn't even that controversial, taking one hour a week to unplug and be uninterrupted. I realized in the last week or so that I want a simple, un-busy life, and I realize it's a privilege to even think about that.

  • There are maps for these territories

    “To emphasize: CSS isn’t a programming language. It’s a stylesheet language. We shouldn’t expect it to behave like a programming language. It has its own unique landscape and structures, ones that people with programming language mental maps might not expect.”

    This article is so good. And I've heard similar sentiments before, but this says it the best I've ever seen. Thank you Danielle.

  • Margaret Atwood, the prophet of dystopia

    ““This is not a question of expect,” she said. “It is a question of hope. It is a question of faith rather than knowledge. You wouldn’t do it unless you thought there was a chance.” Humans, she said, “have hope built in,” adding, “If our ancestors had not had that component, they would not have bothered getting up in the morning. You are always going to have hope that today there will be a giraffe, where yesterday there wasn’t one.” At the same time, Atwood loves to entertain notions of how degraded our future might become, and what effect that might have on the human race. She speculates that, if our atmosphere becomes too carbon-heavy, with a dwindling in the oxygen supply, one of the first things that will happen is that we will become a lot less intelligent.”

    I've been reading a lot of Atwood lately, mostly her novels, and I really enjoyed this profile. I haven't read The Handmaid's Tale yet, mostly because it's a bit too real and too much for me. But I love her work and this profile is a great way to get to know more about her.

  • The work I like.

    “To put it another way: in the long term, the organization of a pattern library is more important than the patterns themselves. If a pattern’s purpose isn’t clear, or if the pattern isn’t easily findable within the library, then the value of that pattern quickly approaches zero.”

    I really like this. My role at my job has been changing a bit lately so I've been thinking a lot about the work I like to do as well. I'm doing some project management, some writing, and some code. It's a weird mix, and I'm still working through how I feel about it all, and reading someone else's thoughts on their work helps me do that. The way in which Ethan talks about the work is also just great, because I like how these are loose and flexible, making it easier to see the high level amongst the actual doing.

  • SuperHi Forward

    “We feel the grain and discover the contours of the problem we are solving, and revise when our efforts don’t work quite as expected. Luckily, code and pixels are free, so your trials and errors should be less expensive than the considerable amount of lumber I’d waste if I ever took up woodworking.”

    Frank's talked about thinking of the grain of the web before and as I think about the analogy more, it works more and more.

  • Back to the Cave

    “Many people presume that employment is the opposite of independence, and that endlessly irritates me. It’s so short-sighted. History shows a long record of artists who did “normal” work to support their creative practice. If you work as a barista, graphic designer, or accountant to fund your writing or music: great! (You can swap out any of those job titles or passions with your own.) By keeping your day job, you’re in the fine company of T.S. Eliot, Herman Melville, Toni Morrison, and more.”

    I had a hard time picking a quote because this is such a great piece. But I chose the one above because I've been thinking a lot about independence versus being employed full time. Over the past two years I've held full time jobs and in many ways, especially in the past year, I've felt more free than ever before. I leave work behind at the end of my day and I pursue the things that matter to me with no worries. That's become the ultimate freedom.

  • The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews

    “The key psychological insight here is that people have no trouble turning any information into a coherent narrative. This is true when, as in the case of my friend, the information (i.e., her tardiness) is incorrect. And this is true, as in our experiments, when the information is random. People can’t help seeing signals, even in noise.”

    I found the thoughts in this piece really interesting, especially as it pertains to long, in person interviews. I'm not saying we should throw them out, but I also think that they often, when structured badly, do more harm than good.

  • Designing Systems, Part 3: Components and Composition

    “Perhaps Lego is the right example, we’ve just been looking at the wrong aspect of it. The most important aspect of Lego is not so much the bricks themselves, but the system of tubes and stubs that holds them to together. New bricks have been added to the system over the years, yet a brick manufactured today will still connect with one of the first produced in 1958.”

    Paul's written a fantastic series based on a talk of his that I really love. It is one of my favorite things when people take something outside the web world and use it to illustrate concepts we use every day as we make things for the web. Cross discipline thinking is so valuable. Do read the entire series, it's fantastic (and gorgeous photos as well!).

  • Being Lazy Is the Key to Success

    “That’s something most of us do, Lewis said. “People waste years of their lives not being willing to waste hours of their lives. If you mistake busyness for importance–which we do a lot–you’re not able to see what really is important.””

    I'm so on board with this idea. I spend a lot of my weekend time just puttering around, doing whatever, and yes, sometimes being totally lazy.

  • Plainness and Sweetness

    “Adaptability seems the key here. Many believe that normalcy and consistency breeds monotony, but what about the trap of an overly accentuated, hyper-specific identity? When the world changes around you, what do you do? Personal identities are not corporate communication or software, though now we prescribe all to have brands. All contain the aching desire to be noticed when instead they should focus on being useful. Which leads me to something my grandfather used to say occasionally while I was growing up, “Not everyone gets to be special, but everyone can be useful.” It is so plain, yet so sweet.”

    Not much to say here other than Chimero's thoughts are interesting and lovely. I am a huge fan of vanilla, and I love the way he describes that and uses it in relation to thoughts on design.

  • McCall’s 6102 or Why I Sew

    “When I make my own clothing, I think about each stitch and every color. As I pass fabric through the machine, I think about my friends, my week, my mom. Turns out developing consciousness around one thing makes you conscious of lots of other things. You think about the things that really matter to you. Or sometimes you remember the theme to Gilligan’s Island and that’s a thing too.”

    I really love this piece, so much. I don't sew, but I crochet now and I've been drawing for years. I make all our cards (I even did our New Year's cards for last holiday season and had a local print shop do the printing). As I make birthday cards, thank yous, and others, I often think about who I'm making them for and then I end up going all over the place. Drawing, and crochet, is meditative for me. Thank you so much Ethan for sharing this piece.

  • Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America

    “My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.”

    If you live in the US and you don't know how employer provided benefits are also government provided (through tax subsidies) then you need to read this. Too many people are unaware of how much our government already subsidizes our health insurance coverage and how that system is just reserved for those with good jobs. I went on a little Twitter rampage about this last week and this article explains it well. I'm not sure I agree with why certain groups of people voted the way they did last November, but I completely agree that most people don't get how this system works and how utterly awful it is.

  • The Problem With Facts

    “But the facts need a champion. Facts rarely stand up for themselves — they need someone to make us care about them, to make us curious. That’s what Rosling did. And faced with the apocalyptic possibility of a world where the facts don’t matter, that is the example we must follow.”

    This is a long, but really interesting article regarding fact checking, trying to report the truth, and how people deal with facts. Along the way you get a glimpse into the fascinating history of how the tobacco companies fooled the public for years while knowing their products were dangerous and horrible. I really like the idea of using curiosity to get people to find the truth and the idea of truth champions who are able to do this for social sciences and politics just as has been done for other areas of study.

  • Planting iris

    Austin’s blog continues to point out stories of interest and things to think about, along with helping me to see that I don’t need to know everything that’s going on in this crazy world right now.

  • The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death

    “At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.”

    I'm not much of a fan of the gig economy or the sharing economy or whatever else you want to call it. I think it's a bunch of BS and is using nice talk to disguise how it's screwing everyone but those at the top. And this article shows how that spin works to the companies advantage but the workers disadvantage.

  • Writing on the web

    “I know not everybody wants to write on the web, and that’s fine. But it makes me sad when people choose not to publish their thoughts because they think no-one will be interested, or that it’s all been said before. I understand where those worries come from, but I believe—no, I know—that they are unfounded.”

    Jeremy's dead on with this sentiment. I haven't written many longer pieces lately, but there are things brewing and I do a lot of drafts as I think through things. And I do write other places, mainly my work blog, but this is my home on the web, even if I'm not always writing longer form pieces but am talking about books and links for a long while.

  • What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life?

    “Accept that all I really want is a small, slow, simple life. A mediocre life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. I think it is enough.”

    A friend sent me this link with the words "thought you might like this" and she's right, I do like it. I like it a lot. I live a very slow and unplanned life. Most weekend we have zero plans and we love it. I love time to putter, ponder, listening to myself to see what it is I want to do with my free time.

  • Dying before We Reach the Promised Land

    “All of this is much more than just moving the goalposts from where they were for past candidates. It’s a disembowelment of Christianity’s most cherished principles, ethics we have deemed to be part of America’s moral bedrock since its very founding.”

    If you've ever been a part of an Evangelical Christian community, this read is really interesting. Most of the people who know me now don't realize that I studied theology in graduate school and while I'm no longer deeply involved in that community, I do know many who are and this piece describes how many of my friends felt after the election.

  • Pay attention to what you pay attention to

    “The quote above comes from something she tweeted once that stuck with me: “for anyone trying to discern what to do w/ their life: PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TO. that’s pretty much all the info u need.””

    Love this quote and it is very true. I don't track my days and time as some do, but I've shifted my attention a lot recently and it's been amazing.

  • On Political Correctness

    “True diversity means true disagreement. Political correctness exists at public institutions, but it doesn’t dominate them. A friend of mine who went to Columbia and Yale now teaches at Hunter College, part of the City University of New York. “When you meet someone at Hunter,” she told me, “you can’t assume they see the world the same way you do.” That’s about as pithy an expression of the problem at selective private colleges as I can imagine. When you meet someone at Columbia or Yale or Scripps or Whitman or any of scores of other institutions, you absolutely can assume they see the world the same way you do. And anyone who threatens to disrupt that cozy situation must be disinvited, reeducated, or silenced. It’s no surprise that the large majority of high-profile PC absurdities take place at elite private schools like Emory or Oberlin or Northwestern.”

    It is somewhat ironic that I hesitated to post this link. But this link captured a lot of how I feel in some of the communities that I participate in. I didn't go to a small liberal arts college, but rather a huge university with a total of 50,000 students (graduate and undergraduate), but today as I age and I struggle to keep up with some of the fast paced changes in our culture, I often feel I can't express thoughts or work out how I feel in certain places. I censor myself and instead have a group of trusted and safe friends with whom I talk about these things. And in some ways that's probably the way it should be, but in other ways I am saddened that people can't work out their thoughts without being targeted in some way, that we can't be our true selves with most of the world.

  • It’s not all lightbulbs

    “As political artefacts, standards embody certain ideologies. For the internet, it is an aspiration towards openness – open systems, open access, open source. In the US, this ideology has deep historical roots. Some ideas inherent in this openness can be traced from the civil liberties driving resistance towards England’s Stamp Act in the mid-18th century to 20th-century ideals of open societies as alternatives to fascist and communist regimes. The philosopher Langdon Winner argued in 1980 that artefacts have politics, beliefs and assumptions about the world and society that are embedded and written into their very fabric.”

    I really wanted to quote this whole thing, but you know, you should read it. It reflects on so many good things about how we make things and how we move forward and it reminded me of The Real World of Technology in all the best ways.

  • Confidence to diverge

    “Without homogeneity, there would be no variation. It is the mechanics of sameness in some areas of our life that allows us wild diversity in others.”

  • Tarkovsky’s Flame

    “When the world is brash, fast, and stupid, we must seek out what is quiet, slow, and intelligent to brace ourselves against the world’s madness. ”

    I'd never heard of the films that Chimero talks about here, but now I want to watch them. I also appreciate, more than I can say, how he points out how hard it is for our culture to slow down, to be patient, and to soak in things that may be hard or different or something we're not used to. I've been trying, especially in the last month, to do just that—focusing on one thing at a time and leaving behind the distractions. It's a change for me, not always easy, but it's been worth it for the calm it brings into my life.

  • Culture is the Behavior You Reward and Punish

    “People stop taking values seriously when the public rewards (and consequences) don’t match up. We can say that our culture requires treating each other with respect, but all too often, the openly rude high performer is privately disciplined, but keeps getting more and better projects. It doesn’t matter if you docked his bonus or yelled at him in private. When your team sees unkind people get ahead, they understand that the real culture is not one of kindness.”

    I really enjoyed this article and found it fascinating. I don't think too often about work culture, but this article hits the nail on the head about how culture actually works, not the way we want it to work. And it's given me a lot of food for thought about places I've worked and where I'm currently working. Hat tip to Rob for pointing me towards it.

  • Busyness and stress reduction

    I think about the topic of busyness and how to slow down in a life a lot. Over the years I’ve essentially started habits that’ve helped me say no, make time for myself, and given myself time with no plans so that my mind can wonder. And when I come across some links that are helpful, I usually read through them. In Vox, a professor talks about how he’s become less busy and it’s through really small, simple things. And in HBR, there is a list of things that can be helpful to making small changes that can slowly work into larger changes. I especially liked the part about questioning your thoughts to do away with negative thinking, something I have a hard time with much of the time.

  • A checklist for every day

    “What seems universally true is that we could all use a little song, a good poem, and a fine picture in our daily routine. (Speaking a few good words seems entirely optional.)”

    I really like the way Kleon digs into the origins of this list. But I agree with the list, taking time to appreciate is extremely important, not just trying to create.

  • Voting Should Be Mandatory

    “Even the most persuasive argument — that compulsory voting violates free speech ideals that include the right to silence — misunderstands how compulsory voting works. Voters are not compelled to support a candidate or even to cast a valid ballot. They are obliged to turn up.”

    This was really interesting to me and I had a hard time picking out the right quote, because I also find the argument about fringe parties not being able to get elected since swing voters, rather than turn out, are what matter. I found a lot of this compelling since our recent elections elected a president with small fraction of the population actually voting for him.

  • Why America is Self-Segregating

    “The divisions are not just happening through commercialism though. School choice has led people to self-segregate from childhood on up. The structures of American work life mean that fewer people work alongside others from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Our contemporary culture of retail and service labor means that there’s a huge cultural gap between workers and customers with little opportunity to truly get to know one another. Even many religious institutions are increasingly fragmented such that people have fewer interactions across diverse lines. (Just think about how there are now “family services” and “traditional services” which age-segregate.) In so many parts of public, civic, and professional life, we are self-segregating and the opportunities for doing so are increasing every day.”

    This is an interesting read about how several institutions used to force more mixing of people from different backgrounds. The military is one such example, but college dorm life was something I wouldn't have thought about before reading this (even though it makes complete sense). I think about this a lot and about how to bring more influences (in real life as opposed to voices on social media) into my own life.

  • Vinicuna

    A beautiful image and short post about a book that I now want to read as it sounds amazing.

  • How Extreme Partisanship Opens the Authoritarian Door

    “While healthy policy differences between the traditional right and the left will continue, they should not prevent Americans from uniting in the defense of democracy and our Constitution. There are deep differences and misunderstandings between both sides, each of which have somewhat different definitions for even words like liberty and equality. But on their most basic meaning, I believe there is broad consensus. We should celebrate this; it’s critical that we do.”

    Evan McMullin is extremely conservative and I think in a normal political year I wouldn't agree with him very much, but since the election, he's been a critical voice of the incoming administration. And I'm grateful he's still speaking up.

  • The Heroism of Incremental Care

    “Like the specialists at the Graham Center, the generalists at Jamaica Plain are incrementalists. They focus on the course of a person’s health over time—even through a life. All understanding is provisional and subject to continual adjustment. For Rose, taking the long view meant thinking not just about her patient’s bouts of facial swelling, or her headaches, or her depression, but about all of it—along with her living situation, her family history, her nutrition, her stress levels, and how they interrelated—and what that picture meant a doctor could do to improve her patient’s long-term health and well-being throughout her life.”

    This article describes what frustrates me so much about care in the US health care system. The person who should know me the best and be able to spend time to ensure my treatment is what I really need, is the one who is paid the least and expected to rush through their days. I went to the same clinic from the time I was born until I moved out of state at 32. The history and knowledge they had about my life and my health is something that can't be replicated easily, but it can make all the difference when a crisis or chronic illness strikes.

  • It's more than just the words

    “As we move our code to CodePen, our writing to Medium, our photographs to Instagram we don’t just run the risk of losing that content and the associated metadata if those services vanish. We also lose our own place to experiment and add personality to that content, in the context of our own home on the web.”

    I'm so with Rachel on this, this space is my home, and I'm increasingly all in on it with syndication to other places. And it's why I care less about Twitter and other social media.

  • Hard Reset

    “So back to fundamentals. My first duties are to my family and close friends, to my communities of work and care, and to myself, though that last has taken me a very long time to understand. The panicky rhythm of Twitter is no longer compatible with those duties, so I’m off it. I was genuinely sad about its decline for a couple of years, but I don’t have any sadness to spare anymore.”

    One of the benefits of the decline of Twitter is that more people that I've followed on RSS for years are blogging again and also writing Tiny Letters. I'm excited as I like reading long form thoughts from great writers and I'm seeing more of it in my feed.

  • Why time management is ruining our lives

    “One of the sneakier pitfalls of an efficiency-based attitude to time is that we start to feel pressured to use our leisure time “productively”, too – an attitude which implies that enjoying leisure for its own sake, which you might have assumed was the whole point of leisure, is somehow not quite enough. And so we find ourselves, for example, travelling to unfamiliar places not for the sheer experience of travel, but in order to add to our mental storehouse of experiences, or to our Instagram feeds. We go walking or running to improve our health, not for the pleasure of movement; we approach the tasks of parenthood with a fixation on the successful future adults we hope to create.”

    I don't really do much for time management. I have routines, because they help me be healthy; things like take work breaks, getting up for breakfast, and leaving my desk periodically to move around. But I've found lately that there are people who think you need to be productive with every second of your day. I'm not, I like leisure, and sometimes that may mean a nap or taking an aimless walk slowly through the neighborhood.

  • Hyper text

    “There are, it should be noted, heartening attempts to correct this consolidation, and many voices are still speaking up for the future of media. (Also, Teen Vogue is likely going to save us all.) But in the meantime, I suppose it’s on me. I need to figure out how to translate what I read online into action, even if it means using Twitter a little less. Heck, I’d be lying if this wasn’t a goal of getting this little blog online: to place words next to each other, and write a few paragraphs of my own.”

    An incredibly timely post from Ethan and it quotes heavily one of my favorite talks by Mandy. I recommend reading them both. And I agree with Ethan, figuring out how to take in what's happening online and turn that into meaningful action is something we all need to do for ourselves and as I'm finding, it's not always easy.

  • For women, heavy drinking has been normalized. That’s dangerous.

    “As a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are more prone to suffer brain atrophy, heart disease and liver damage. Even if a woman stops drinking, liver disease continues to progress in ways it does not in men, said Gyongyi Szabo, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. And research definitively shows that women who drink have an increased risk of breast cancer.”

    I've written about this before, but I've been thinking a lot about alcohol and how I consume it, what triggers me wanting it, and lately I've been ensuring I'm staying within healthy limits. This article is hard to read, but I believe it's important. We've normalized excessive drinking for women and it's a serious health risk. And now I can't help but notice all the ways we talk about drinking as if it is normal and OK to drink too much. And as the article talks about, smoking used to be considered normal and that's changed, maybe we need to do the same thing for drinking.

  • The entirety of a life

    “Memories are a starting point for hope. Where they lead is up to us.”

    A short post, but it's words are just what I needed this week.

  • On Optimism and Despair

    “But neither do I believe in time travel. I believe in human limitation, not out of any sense of fatalism but out of a learned caution, gleaned from both recent and distant history. We will never be perfect: that is our limitation. But we can have, and have had, moments in which we can take genuine pride. I took pride in my neighborhood, in my childhood, back in 1999. It was not perfect but it was filled with possibility. If the clouds have rolled in over my fiction it is not because what was perfect has been proved empty but because what was becoming possible—and is still experienced as possible by millions—is now denied as if it never did and never could exist.”

    I have Zadie Smith's latest book on my list to read, but in the interim I've been reading a lot of articles by her and they are wonderful. This in particular, dealing with both how aging changes us and how the world events play into what we do and focus on as we age, is really interesting. More good words that I need to hear in these times.

  • The triumph of the small

    “And sometime around 2017, we will change again. The new year will bring a different kind of retreat. Rather than retreating into making or craft, we will retreat into smaller and more nuanced connections. Into quality over quantity. Into the single story over collections of stories. Into the subtle over the general. Into the singular datapoint over big data. Into attention over distraction.”

    Another piece of comfort and thought about the world in which news lives by someone working in that field at NPR.

  • One Way Not to Be Like Trump

    “Moderation does not mean truth is always found equidistant between two extreme positions, nor does it mean that bold and at times even radical steps are not necessary to advance moral ends. Moderation takes into account what is needed at any given moment; it allows circumstances to determine action in the way that weather patterns dictate which route a ship will follow.”

    I long for the days when compromise was not a dirty word, when moderation was how we could move forward, when the other side was not evil or unpatriotic. I have no idea if, when, or how we'll get back to that, but I hope we can or I fear for our future in the US.

  • On Digital Minimalism

    “To be a digital minimalist, in other words, means you accept the idea that new communication technologies have the potential to massively improve your life, but also recognize that realizing this potential is hard work.”

    I'm really enjoying Newport's blog, it's leading me to think about the way I spend my time and the things that I do. In addition, this post led me to the documentary, Minimalism, which is also quite interesting.

  • Metafoundry 65

    “So I find Scott Alexander’s thrive/survive model (aka the ‘zombies vs post-scarcity utopia’ model) of political behaviour more useful than a left/right distinction. The model looks like this: If you are (or anticipate) living in a world where zombies are after all of humanity, it fosters a ‘circle the wagon’ mentality: protect your own at all costs, don’t waste your resources on other people, support the military and stock up on guns, control reproduction (ie sexuality, particularly women’s) to ensure the survival of your tribe, create and enforce clear lines of command (hierarchies), etc. Alternatively, if you think that you live in a post-scarcity utopia, or that we someday will, you can prioritize things like helping other people, investing in art and science, taking care of the environment, and celebrating personal freedom.”

    If you aren't subscribed to Deb's email newsletter, you should be, it's always good. But this issue was particularly good in the wake of the US election.

  • Jamie Kalven: The Man with a Lantern

    “With this election, we’ve joined the rest of the world. Think of all the other nations that live under moronic, venal leadership. There are models for honorable political lives in those circumstances, but those models are quite different from our dominant notions of citizenship in which we follow politics as a spectator sport and occasionally vote. All over the world there are people in repressive settings who find ways to live as free human beings, act in solidarity with their neighbors, and fashion strategies to resist state power. We’re going to need to get good at practicing that kind of politics.”

    Interesting thoughts that provided me some sense of comfort and hope amidst the difficult news of most days.

  • Fascism and The Historical Irony of Facebook’s “Fake News” Problem

    “It’s the turn from fact that makes fascism possible. If they turn away from reasoning altogether, they can turn toward feeling like part of a body following a charismatic leader.”

    This was really fascinating. I've been reading a lot of history lately and it's been helping me get through what is an absolutely crazy feeling time. I take comfort in it somehow and I look to history for guidance.

  • Trevor Noah: Let’s Not Be Divided. Divided People Are Easier to Rule.

    “When you grow up in the middle, you see that life is more in the middle than it is on the sides. The majority of people are in the middle, the margin of victory is almost always in the middle, and very often the truth is there as well, waiting for us.”

    The American system of government is a system that encourages compromise and governing from the center because of the checks and balances that exist. This is also one reason that change happens slowly. But I agree with Noah, the middle is often where so many of us live and where so much truth can be found.

  • Donald Trump, the First President of Our Post-Literate Age

    “And here we begin to see how the age of social media resembles the pre-literate, oral world. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other platforms are fostering an emerging linguistic economy that places a high premium on ideas that are pithy, clear, memorable and repeatable (that is to say, viral). Complicated, nuanced thoughts that require context don’t play very well on most social platforms, but a resonant hashtag can have extraordinary influence. Evan Spiegel, the chief executive officer of Snap Inc., grasped the new oral dynamics of social media when he told the Wall Street Journal: ‘People wonder why their daughter is taking 10,000 photos a day. What they don’t realize is that she isn’t preserving images. She’s talking.’”

    Fascinating idea, not sure I believe it or not, but maybe that's because reading and words are so important to me.

  • Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About

    “Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.”

    Thank you, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, for your words. Thank you.

  • Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency

    “‘The prescription that some offer, which is stop trade, reduce global integration, I don’t think is going to work,” he went on. “If that’s not going to work, then we’re going to have to redesign the social compact in some fairly fundamental ways over the next twenty years. And I know how to build a bridge to that new social compact. It begins with all the things we’ve talked about in the past—early-childhood education, continuous learning, job training, a basic social safety net, expanding the earned-income tax credit, investments in infrastructure—which, by definition, aren’t shipped overseas. All of those things accelerate growth, give you more of a runway. But at some point, when the problem is not just Uber but driverless Uber, when radiologists are losing their jobs to A.I., then we’re going to have to figure out how do we maintain a cohesive society and a cohesive democracy in which productivity and wealth generation are not automatically linked to how many hours you put in, where the links between production and distribution are broken, in some sense. Because I can sit in my office, do a bunch of stuff, send it out over the Internet, and suddenly I just made a couple of million bucks, and the person who’s looking after my kid while I’m doing that has no leverage to get paid more than ten bucks an hour.’”

    A lot of really interesting things in this interview with Obama. I'll miss his calm and eloquent way of talking about world affairs. But the insider look at the days leading up to and the days after the election were fascinating to me, both in how Obama talked about the odds and how he cared for his staff in the aftermath. I also think he is making a case for a basic income in this quote, but if our government isn't thinking this way, then I think many people may get left behind and the inequality gap will only widen.

  • Washington Post Editor Marty Baron Has a Message to Journalists in the Trump Era

    “The truth is not meant to be hidden. It is not meant to be suppressed. It is not meant to be ignored. It is not meant to be disguised. It is not meant to be manipulated. It is not meant to be falsified. Otherwise, wrongdoing will persist.”

    I just watched Spotlight not that long ago, it's a really great movie, and Baron's role in the story is super intriguing as well. This short speech has a lot in it, and I hope that journalists heed his message. We desperately need people bringing the truth into the light in the days ahead.

  • What To Do With One’s Hands After The Election

    “You don’t need another person telling you what to feel or not feel, what to do or not do in this eviscerating and potentially paralyzing moment. Everyone around me just wants to find the best way to help right now. Me too.”

    What I enjoyed most about this piece was the acknowledgement that we all aren't going to feel the same way and we aren't all going to react in the same way to what is happening in the US right now. And that's OK. I'm tired of being told how I should feel or what I should do.

  • Means of Descent

    “It sometimes seems to me that books are fighting — I don’t want to talk about other books, just my own. Sometimes I feel that my books have increased people’s understanding of how power works. I remember I spoke at Queens College, and a young man came up to me and said, “I really read The Power Broker, so I am in student government and I asked to be the chairman of the bylaws committee.” And I said, “Oh, he got it!””

    I really need to read The Power Broker. This interview is great, well worth a few minutes of your time.

  • It took America 200 years to abolish boredom. Now that looks like a huge mistake.

    “Today, boredom is an option. To the extent that boredom is a lack of stimulation, we have cured it, and this isn’t necessarily a good thing. If you can endure boredom, you can devote yourself to deep and serious projects. If you can’t endure boredom, how do you write a book or enter into reflection?”

    Some interesting thoughts in here about how we distract ourselves and what this does to our ability to focus and think deeply. Much like the NY Times article about social media I linked to yesterday, I think there's a lot of merit in slowing down and tuning out.

  • Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.

    “Perhaps more important, however, than my specific objections to the idea that social media is a harmless lift to your career, is my general unease with the mind-set this belief fosters. A dedication to cultivating your social media brand is a fundamentally passive approach to professional advancement. It diverts your time and attention away from producing work that matters and toward convincing the world that you matter. The latter activity is seductive, especially for many members of my generation who were raised on this message, but it can be disastrously counterproductive.”

    When I read this two things came to mind. The first was a quote I read about David Carr after he died, where he was interested in creating a reputation, not a brand. The second was that as I've pulled back from social media in the past few weeks some amazing things have happened: I'm writing a lot and some of it may makes its way onto this site, and I'm thinking more deeply and reading more. This is all coming from focused time and ignoring the hot takes of the moment. I'm grateful because with what's happening in the world right now, I need it more than ever. One other note: Cal Newport wrote more about how he defines social media on his own site as a follow up to this piece. And I'm with him, I love the internet, but I'm starting to hate several of the social media companies and how they view and define the internet.

  • My year of no spending is over – here's how I got through it

    “Despite the awkward moments and missing out, this year has been the shove I needed to try new things. The best thing about the challenge is that I’ve been willing to say ‘yes’ more and that I’ve become more adventurous.Having the choice to spend, or not, is a privilege and I have become far more aware of why we buy. I have come to realise that consumerism keeps us chained to our desks, working to earn money to spend on stuff we think will make our lives better. And when the stuff doesn’t make us happy, we go back to work to earn more money to buy something else. The last 12 months have allowed me to step outside this cycle and I can honestly say I’m happier now. I’ve gained confidence and skills, done things I would never have done and met lovely people I wouldn’t have otherwise met.”

    I live what many may see as a frugal life. We keep a very close eye on our spending and it's for the very reason McGagh outlines. The more you spend, the more you need to work. And in the quest to spend less we've found out that being content with what you have and enjoying what is around you is truly wonderful, instead of always striving for more stuff that you often forget about in time.

  • Fix the internet by writing good stuff and being nice to people

    “Which brings me to the saddest thing about these platforms: they are taking all of our input and time, and our thoughts, energy, and content, and using all of that for free to make money. Think about how many times you’ve tweeted. Or written or commented on a Facebook post. Or started a Medium draft. These are all our words, locked in proprietary platforms that controls not only how our message is displayed, but how we write it, and even more worrying, how we think about it.”

    So many good points in this piece. I will admit that I'm most saddened that so many are using tweetstorms or threads to share longer form thoughts. I find them jarring to read and while they contain good thoughts, they'd be so much better as a blog post. And, as the author states, I get why people do it, but these platforms aren't good for meaningful discourse anymore; maybe they never were.

  • Teju Cole Reminds Us of Life Beyond Politics, and the Beauty of Art

    “But let me make my own personal argument in defence of making art: I don’t even know who fashioned this particular phrase or idea, but there’s this idea that we do war so that our children will do commerce so that their children will be poets. Well, Adam, I’m not doing war, and I’m not gonna waste my life with commerce. Whether or not it’s financially viable for me, I want my goal of civilization to be as follows: to do the work, to pay attention to what’s beautiful, to encourage others in that form of attention as well. That’s where I want to be. And I will listen to Bismillah Khan and I will listen to Young Thug. Deferring one’s pleasure because of other peoples’ anxieties seems kind of weird to me.”

    I love Cole's writing and now can't wait to read the essays.

  • Alice Walker Tells Readers: Don’t Despair

    “This is not a lament. It is counsel. It is saying: We can awaken completely. The best sign of which will be how we treat every being who crosses our path. For real change is personal. The change within ourselves expressed in our willingness to hear, and have patience with, the “other.” Together we move forward. Anger, the pointing of fingers, the wishing that everyone had done exactly as you did, none of that will help relieve our pain. We are here now. In this scary, and to some quite new and never imagined place. What do we do with our fear?”

    Reading a lot of things to help me through these days and Walker is one I'll be coming back to, I'm sure.

  • Addiction, the Mobile Currency

    “In the wake of recent events I’d encourage those of us who build hypertext to have discussions about how you measure success. Are all of your KPIs attention-based? Are you driving addiction? Are you comfortable with the repercussions?”

    So much good thinking is coming out right now about the way in which we use social media, our devices, and how we spend our time and what we give our attention. Dave's right on here and asking some very good questions about how, as creators of these things and web workers, we may want to think about.

  • A Time for Refusal

    “Evil settles into everyday life when people are unable or unwilling to recognize it. It makes its home among us when we are keen to minimize it or describe it as something else. This is not a process that began a week or month or year ago. It did not begin with drone assassinations, or with the war on Iraq. Evil has always been here. But now it has taken on a totalitarian tone.”

    Teju Cole <3 <3 <3 <3

  • What Beyoncé taught me

    “Lady writers who inspire similar devotion (in far smaller audiences): Muriel Spark, Joan Didion, Jane Austen. Such writers offer the same essential qualities (or illusions): total control (over their form) and no freedom (for the reader). Compare and contrast, say, Jean Rhys or Octavia Butler, lady writers much loved but rarely copied. There’s too much freedom in them. Meanwhile every sentence of Didion’s says: obey me! Who runs the world? Girls!”

    A lovely piece looking at dancing as it relates to writing.

  • Blogging and Atrophy

    “Alternatively, it concerns me that folks in the Bay Area tend to treat their websites as business cards instead of archives, as Jeremy suggests. Many designers and developers that I’ve met believe personal websites are constrained to a lonely paragraph of text that only clarifies what they do for a living.”

    As I've spent more and more time on the web, I've come to believe that this site is my true home. While I've written for other publications, I've always come back here for my thoughts, my ideas, my archiving of what I like. The reason is because I control it and I can search through the files to find things again. And so I keep adding to it. I'm not only sad by folks who don't see the value in having control of their words, I wonder how many words will be lost, yet again, when the current hot platform shutters and the urls are lost.

  • Buttons shouldn’t have a hand cursor

    “Affordance is provided by the way something looks regardless of the cursor. Remember, the cursor is only available when hovering with a pointing device such as a mouse.”

    I'm almost done with the Heydon Pickering's new book on accessibility and this article was cited. I'm sold. No more hands for buttons.

  • Rockets of India

    “It’s the vision of humility, collaboration and acknowledgement, that we are not as gods…but instead, we are as children lost in dreams, yet to realise our true potential and place in the universe.

    This was originally a talk at Webstock this past February and it's so good.

  • Obama Brought Silicon Valley to Washington

    “For better or for worse, the last eight years have been defined less by the rise of small tech companies than by the expansion of Big Tech. We’ve seen the second Silicon Valley boom, with companies valued in the billions, including Facebook, Uber, Snapchat, Palantir and Dropbox. Established technology companies like Amazon, Apple and Google have expanded their reach and influence throughout the world. And while many countries have pushed back against that spread, our government has essentially left them alone. (In August, for instance, WhatsApp announced that it would begin sharing user data with Facebook, its parent company, and its suite of products — news that gave some Americans pause but caused German regulators to intervene on behalf on their citizens.)”

    This is a great piece looking at how the Obama administration has pushed for technology. And the author references a speech Obama gave a few days later where he admits that government has to do it all and it's messy, unlike Silicon Valley. But I enjoyed the perspective about how our government hasn't protected the citizens from bad practices as much as some other world governments have. Privacy and how our data is used/shared/leaked is one of the biggest issues as everything moves online.

  • The downside of believing in Apple

    “Apple’s own apps don’t even come close to providing the features most regular workplaces rely on, let alone addressing the needs of the multitude of specialised industries that are using Apple’s platforms.”

    I've seen a lot of anger about the updated Macs that were announced last week. Most of it is coming from my developer friends, for the very reason that Baldur talks about in his piece. In my house, we are talking about getting a Surface Tablet, we don't use devices a lot when not working, and the Surface would allow us to share it and each have an account. And I'm seeing a lot of colleagues considering switching to Microsoft.

  • Two opinion pieces about polarization

    I don’t normally do this, but I read two different pieces in the New York Times Sunday Review yesterday that were talking about two sides of the very same coin and I found it interesting. The first was on the cover and got the big splashy illustration, “Go Midwest, Young Hipster”, about how we are self segregating ourselves based on political leanings. The second was much more subtle, in an inner page, just along the side of the page, a full page column and that was it, “Good Neighbors, No Politics”, where the author talks about living her neighborhood for 21 years and politics don’t divide them. As neighbors they support each other through their life crisis and it’s OK if they don’t agree politically, they’re still in community and close friends.

    The reason these two are so interesting to me is that they point to some assumptions we’re making about people based solely on one thing: how they vote. But when you get to know people, when you are in community with them, when you support them through good and bad times, that may not be the most important thing. I’m starting to believe more and more that community is what will see us through the crazy polarization we are in, being in community with people who are different than you in many ways. We aren’t moving, but I do think about this as I realize where we live and what that means for our community and echo chamber.

  • 10 Learnings from 10 Years of Brain Pickings

    “When people tell you who they are, Maya Angelou famously advised, believe them. Just as important, however, when people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them. You are the only custodian of your own integrity, and the assumptions made by those that misunderstand who you are and what you stand for reveal a great deal about them and absolutely nothing about you.”

    It was hard to pick a quote for this one because I loved all 10 of the learnings. But I chose this one because I've been in a bit of a funk lately and this is what I needed to hear this weekend. It's hard, in an age of all the information flying at you all the time, to feel like you are enough, just as you are. But this piece, along with the piece I linked to about Ursula Le Guin, are helping set me to rights. I'm also staying away from the noise, which means less Twitter and more reading and posting here.

  • Donald Trump Is the First Demagogue of the Anthropocene

    “But Trump’s success in the primary among the civically disintegrated suggests another way forward. Improving the United States’s immune response to authoritarian leadership—a response that could be repeatedly tested in the century to come—can follow from weaving its civic fabric ever tighter. I don’t know what this will look like, exactly, for every person. But here are some places to start: Volunteer. Run for local or state office. Give to charity (whether due to religion or effective altruism). Organize at work. Join a church or a community choir or the local library staff. Make your hometown a better place for refugees to settle. Raise a child well.”

    We talk a lot about climate change at my house, it's our main worry about the future. This piece is really great for how it looks at the climate crisis and how it may be compounded by unscrupulous leaders and it's people who will suffer. It feels very much like capitalism is in a thrash because it's goals and the goal of protecting the earth don't go together very well.

  • Refreshing The Verge: no platform like home

    “We weren’t — we aren’t — designing systems where an audience passively consumes our content, but are inviting them in to talk and share and push back and expand. More platforms means more places to publish; it also means more places to reach that community, more places for those discussions to happen, more opportunities for amazing connections to be made. And, alas, many more vectors for abuse.”

  • The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin

    “Le Guin can be polemical, prone to what one close friend calls “tirades” on questions she feels strongly about. I once watched her participate in a panel discussion on gender and literature at WisCon, an annual gathering of feminist science-fiction writers, readers, and academics in Madison, Wisconsin. Scowling like a snapping turtle, she sat waiting for illogical remarks, which she then gently but firmly tore to bits. Yet a conversation with Le Guin is often full of comic asides, laughter, and—a particularly Le Guin trait—good-natured snorts. Humor seems to be her way of taking the edge off the polemic, as well as an introvert’s channel of communication. Behind even the lightest remarks, one is aware of a keen intelligence and a lifetime of thought, held back for the purposes of casual conversation.”

    This piece, I don't know how to talk about it. It may be a season I'm going through right now, but reading about Le Guin's life, reading about her seasons of loneliness and pushing through, continuing to write, something about it resonated deeply. As I wade through my current season, feeling a bit lost in life, wondering where I should be heading, what I should be working on (work not necessarily meaning for pay), I'm going to hang on to the story of Le Guin. I'll be coming back to this piece again and again over the coming weeks as I try and figure out what I want to do, where I want to go, and who I want along for support and laughter.

  • The Tragedy/Farce of the Open Web according to journalists

    “The modern journalist is not an expert on the web. They and their colleagues have spent a large part of the last twenty-five years dismissing the open web at every stage. They are not the people you can trust to either accurately assess the web or to make usable websites. You can’t even trust them to make sensible decisions about web strategy. Just look at their damn websites!

    So much good stuff in this piece. And it's so true. The open web is here, the open web is amazing, and I love the web. (I just discovered this site and it's fantastic, added to my feed list immediately.)

  • The Internet Is For Everyone

    “There are literally billions of people out there that rely on the work we do collectively. It’s our obligation to make sure that what we build is usable, accessible, and actually works. We have to build responsibly, proactively, and with empathy.”

    I agree with this, but at the same time, these articles keep having to be written and I'm sad that so many don't want to make a web for everyone, but rather for a privileged few.

  • It wasn’t for me

    “The wonderful thing is that “me” is always changing. Every day you’re a different you. So when you say, “It wasn’t for me,” maybe it’s not for the “me” right now—maybe it’s for the “me” in the future.”

    There are two things I like about this short post. The first is that it gives me a way to respond to the stream of things that people are telling me I need to watch, especially movies, which I don't do very much anymore. Second, we do change all the time. I often start a book and it doesn't click and I don't want to finish, so I put it on the shelf and it may be years before I pick it up again.

  • Choice

    “Personally, I find progressive enhancement a sensible way to counteract any assumptions I might inadvertently make. Progressive enhancement increases the chances that the web site (or web app) I’m building is resilient to the kind of scenarios that I never would’ve predicted or anticipated.”

  • Your team needs a UX engineer

    “Is a developer building a new component and needs some styles? The UX Engineer writes that CSS. The UX Engineer gives a snippet of HTML to the developer for them to incorporate into the component. The UX engineer ensures the correct semantics and can come alongside the developer to ensure keyboard navigation works. The UX Engineer maintains a pattern library for the team to use as a reference to find existing styles.”

  • What she made

    “I will realize, only then, that she didn’t escape from China—the oldest daughter of a proud family of academics, married off to the son of a merchant in America; who walked miles and miles from her village to Toisaan carrying my father, eventually managing to get herself to Hong Kong; who boarded a plane to London and, unsure which plane was bound for Boston, followed two students to another flight that took her to New York; who spent a terrifying month at Ellis Island with my father; who was somehow, in this age before Facebook and cell phones and databases, found by my grandfather and brought back to Boston; who worked seven brutal days a week washing and steam-pressing the clothes of white, working-class families in North Cambridge; who bought a home and raised three children in that laundry; who, with the help of local resident Tip O’Neill, would gradually bring almost her entire family to America; who, when the laundry was sold, worked in a belt factory; who, by the time I was a child, seemed to know so many people on the streets of Boston’s Chinatown that I thought she was its mayor—for me to forgo the beef.”

    This is lovely, read it.

  • Designing Systems: Theory, Practice, and the Unfortunate In-Between

    This talk by Paul Lloyd from SmashingConf Freiburg is so fantastic. I really love it when people take other industries and history and relate it back to the web in some way. Paul does this with city planning and then moves to talking about design systems. It’s really worth the watch and I’ll be returning to it.

  • Ethics in Web Development

    “But what about web development? I have found a code of ethics for software engineers , and maybe this is something taught as part of a CS degree, but for most self-taught web developers, I imagine they have never spent time looking into this. There are a few different bodies that put together codes of ethics for software engineers, but the very first bullet point listed on that Wikipedia article is: “Contribute to society and human well-being”.”

    Kristin is blogging again and I'm so excited. And she, like others in our industry, is asking some really good questions about how we think (or don't) about the things we make.

  • Doing Agile Wrong: Design is not Development

    “Just as an architect can draw up the plans for a building that never gets built, a UX Designer can design a product that’s never built. In fact, roughly half of the projects I’ve worked on never shipped. Some were exercises in exploring new audiences where the business client decided there wasn’t a good fit yet. Some were situations where we discovered the complexity of the product put its price tag way above what the client wanted to spend. Some looked like fantastic ideas, but the users had zero interest in the products.”

    Design plus agile has always been an issue, and I completely agree with where Anne is coming from here. There is a lot of work to do before you even start to make the software as far as design goes. I can't wait to read part two of this, because I do have thoughts on how design can be done once you decided to build the thing and need to design as you build.

  • Chasing Tools

    “Those tools are useful in the right context, but you need to be able to understand what that context is. Whenever you come across an issue that needs solving, think about what the underyling problem actually is. Only once you’ve identified that should you consider whether you might want to use a tool to help you address the problem, and which tool that might be.”

    Tim is being reasonable again and speaking to the realities of working on the web. I rarely follow the latest and greatest new tools and I'm more concerned with making things that work well for users rather than using a new tool in the process. I guess I can come across as a curmudgeon at times, but somehow I manage to continue making websites.

  • Stupefied

    “Working in a stupefied firm often means blinding others with bullshit. A very effective way to get out of doing anything real is to rely on a flurry of management jargon. Develop strategies, generate business models, engage in thought leadership. This will get you off the hook of doing any actual work. It will also make you seem like you are at the cutting edge. When things go wrong, you can blame the fashionable management idea.”

    I can't even begin to tell you how much I've seen this in practice in my career. And it's sad that using your brain and asking questions in so many places is frowned upon.

  • What Happened When I Moved My Company To A 5-Hour Workday

    “Being a beach lifestyle company, where our whole brand is wrapped up the notion of a healthy work-life balance, the idea that should be working differently, too, if we truly wanted to live differently, wasn’t as much a leap. But if you ask me, we’re more of an online marketing agency that happens to own a surf brand. There’s no reason that virtually any company that employees a large chunk of knowledge workers can’t cut its hours by 30% and still succeed.”

    I've been thinking for a long time about how we treat knowledge work like we treat factory work. Knowledge work doesn't just happen during work hours. I can't count the number of times I've been frustrated with a bug at the end of the work day and I stop working, move into the kitchen and start cooking, and within a half hour or hour I have a solution that I'm jotting down on paper to try in the morning. But we insist that work happens during a 9-5 work day, even though the vast majority of office workers aren't working that entire time. I wonder how much longer it will take to break this cycle and realize that many jobs can be done in far fewer hours.

  • I Used to Be a Human Being

    “We all understand the joys of our always-wired world — the connections, the validations, the laughs, the porn, the info. I don’t want to deny any of them here. But we are only beginning to get our minds around the costs, if we are even prepared to accept that there are costs. For the subtle snare of this new technology is that it lulls us into the belief that there are no downsides. It’s all just more of everything. Online life is simply layered on top of offline life. We can meet in person and text beforehand. We can eat together while checking our feeds. We can transform life into what the writer Sherry Turkle refers to as “life-mix.””

    I found much of this piece intriguing, especially since I read it at the tail end of a vacation where I was as unplugged as possible. Also as someone who's studied theology and thought a lot about secularism and religion in my life, Sullivan's conclusions have me thinking a lot. I'm one of the people he refers to, I do yoga now and I meditate as part of it, it's my way of finding quiet. And walking with no device is in my routine as well. I wonder what would happen if more churches went back the simple, quiet customs of the past, rather than chasing after being just like the modern world.

  • How to be a Writer: 10 Tips from Rebecca Solnit

    “Originality is partly a matter of having your own influences: read evolutionary biology textbooks or the Old Testament, find your metaphors where no one’s looking, don’t belong. Or belong to the other world that is not quite this one, the world from which you send back your messages. Imagine Herman Melville in workshop in 1849 being told by all his peers that he needed to cut all those informative digressions and really his big whale book was kind of dull and why did it take him so long to get to the point. And actually it was a quiet failure at the time. So was pretty much everything Thoreau published, and Emily Dickinson published only a handful of poems in her lifetime but wrote thousands.”

    I had a hard time with the quote for this one, I loved most of the tips. And I think they can be said for anything you want to be good at. Right now art is becoming a passion again and I love writing, and I'll get better at both if I do them a lot.

  • Why Are Babies so Dumb if Humans are so Smart?

    “During their investigation, Kidd and Piantadosi realized something important that strengthened their theory. It turns out that another variable has an even higher correlation with intelligence than brain size—time to maturity, or weaning time. In other words, the time it takes to shepherd newborns through absolute helplessness to a point of relative self-sufficiency predicts primate intelligence more strongly than the best measure that has previously been proposed, namely, head circumference. Orangutans have smarter babies than baboons and they wean them longer. Baboon babies, in turn, are weaned longer, and are smarter, than lemur babies.”

    I found this fascinating. Science and the way the world works are mind blowing.

  • And their eyes glazed over

    “My students investigate the questions raised in this essay during the seminars I give on writing and researching robotics and technology. As my students’ fingers move unconsciously across desktops, miming the texting or typing they desperately want to be doing, we talk about how technology has consumed us. The students write papers on internet addiction, the consequences of smartphone use, the internet of things, the dark side of Fitbits. And yet they actively demonstrate everything we discuss. One of my students acknowledged that she can’t avoid surfing the web if she uses her laptop in class, yet she doesn’t opt for paper and pencil.”

    This essay was interesting to me. I didn't love everything about it, but the glimpses I get into life with devices as a young person intrigue me. As I age I'm more and more grateful to be away from devices. I spend long hours reading and thinking. I now draw with pen and paper more than on my iPad, and I journal with pen and paper as well. My todo lists have even gone low tech as of late. There is something comforting about it all to me. But I still love the internet and my iPad to be able to read things like this article. Balance, as usual, is the key but it can be very hard.

  • The web is not print and other stories

    “No, the web is not print. However it shouldn’t be defined by being not print. Nor should we allow assumptions about what is and isn’t possible stop us experimenting. Unless we find the edges, unless we ask why we can’t do things, unless we come up with ways to try and make it work, the native tools won’t get better.”

    I've really enjoyed Rachel's work on CSS Grid and I agree with her that we aren't doing enough to push the boundaries on the web. The edges of the web are different and maybe we've become too complacent with that we're doing that's easy.

  • 40 things I learned in my last job

    “Ownership is tricky and I don’t know quite what makes it work, but I suspect it’s the most important thing; when people own something they give it all they’ve got. When they don’t, they behave unpredictably (i.e. shit on it).”

    This is a really great list, super great and recommend reading it all. If you make for the web you'll find some things to think about, remember, and nod your head to.

  • Steal our accessibility best practices presentation

    Vox Product has been doing incredible work on accessibility and baking it into their teams practices. And now they’ve shared a presentation they’ve created to help the rest of their team and company understand how important it is. Thank you for sharing Vox and well done!

  • Fractured Lands

    “On a more philosophical level, this journey has served to remind me again of how terribly delicate is the fabric of civilization, of the vigilance required to protect it and of the slow and painstaking work of mending it once it has been torn. This is hardly an original thought; it is a lesson we were supposed to have learned after Nazi Germany, after Bosnia and Rwanda. Perhaps it is a lesson we need to constantly relearn.”

    This is an incredibly well done piece. It was the entire NY Times Magazine a few weeks ago and I just finished reading it over the weekend. At the same time we've been watching a documentary about World War I and it's incredible how the echoes of that war have reached into the years since. More so than World War II, World War I changed us and it ushered in an era of change in the world, change we are still dealing with, including in the lands highlighted in this piece. My take away from both this piece and the series on World War I is that democracy is hard, really hard, because it means compromising and respect for the other. And, related to that, the West has traipsed all over the world and decided we know how to do things best and, as history shows repeatedly, we've only made things worse. I will think about the people in this piece for years to come, especially when I see news about this part of the world.

  • Amazon is piloting teams with a 30-hour workweek

    “These 30-hour employees will be salaried and receive the same benefits as traditional 40-hour workers, but they will receive only 75 percent of the pay full-time workers earn. Currently, the company employs part-time workers that share the same benefits as full-time workers. However, the pilot program would differ in that an entire team, including managers, would work reduced hours.”

    Oh, how I want this to succeed. I've written about this in the past, but I believe that part time is something that could work in our industry, especially now that we work remotely on teams and in different time zones. If you are overlapping less, why can't you also get work done in less time? I've said this before, I would love to work a 30 hour, 4 day a week job. I believe I can produce great code, writing, and ideas in that time, and I think I can benefit a company. Too bad most companies can't take the risk to do this. I can't wait to see what happens at Amazon.

  • A World at War

    “Building these factories doesn’t require any new technology. In fact, the effort would be much the same as the one that Solomon oversaw at Intel’s semiconductor factory in New Mexico: Pick a site with good roads and a good technical school nearby to supply the workforce; find trained local contractors who can deal with everything from rebar to HVAC; get the local permits; order long-lead-time items like I-beam steel; level the ground and excavate; lay foundations and floors; build walls, columns, and a roof; “facilitate each of the stations for factory machine tooling with plumbing, piping, and electrical wiring”; and train a workforce of 1,500. To match the flow of panels needed to meet the Stanford targets, in the most intense years of construction we need to erect 30 of these solar panel factories a year, plus another 15 for making wind turbines. “It’s at the upper end of what I could possibly imagine,” Solomon says.”

    This may not be the best metaphor, but for humans who want to think of themselves as ruling over nature and not part of nature, it is a metaphor that could work. And to be quite honest, all I want right now is some action that would spur some action, because without the action soon, we are all fucked. (As you can tell, I'm fairly pessimistic about us doing anything in time to stop catastrophe).

  • The not yet principle

    “Practicing waiting is a lifelong practice since, as it turns out, impatience has a particular gravitational pull. But after all that waiting, finding or opening or having that once-future thing feels very much present.”

  • Stunning Paper Cut Art from One Sheet of Paper

    These are amazing, really, click the link, go look at it.

  • Some Thoughts on Accessibility

    “And technology can feel miraculous. The application of knowledge and available materials to create new tools allows us to continually rework the world for our needs. We find gaps in our abilities and we make things that fill those gaps. We then look for more gaps. More opportunities. More frustrations. We keep building. We circle back and find that our previous gap-filling technologies had significant consequences and so we find better ways to fill the gaps. In theory we improve our lives.”

    This is really great and Winston has done great work on accessibility at Vox. And it's a pleasure to read more about what Winston has thought about in regards to it. We all could need affordances at some point in our lives, and it's very easy to forget that.

  • Mindful Drinking

    This is a really great comic and it speaks to me a lot where I am right now in life. I’m spending August working on a few different things related to my health and feeling better and one of them is drinking. So I’ve cut way back on how much I consume. I also am on the hunt for interesting drink recipes, because if I’m going to drink a lot less, I want it to be delicious and deliberate. So when out with friends, if I order a drink, I sip it and take time with it. But I find that I prefer to have my limited amount at home, enjoying it with G, and time on the porch (in winter that’ll be in front of the fire).

  • What I Think Every Time I See an Airbnb Renter in My Neighborhood

    “The more salient point is that they are also forcing their neighbors to make that choice by turning the neighborhood into a commodity as well. The host has forced their neighbors — who see strangers coming and going constantly — to become just a little bit less engaged and connected to their home. It’s not just that they aren’t benefiting financially, it’s that they are incurring the majority of the social costs and losing what they thought their home was when they moved in. Maybe the Airbnb renter is okay with being in a cheaper “hotel,” but their neighbors didn’t sign a lease to live in any kind of hotel.”

    I'm not a fan of AirBnB and I think this article points out really well how the use of an apartment for full time rental disrupts and changes a neighborhood. There is a lot of things that come along with this and many times it is the neighbors who pay a hidden price while just trying to live their lives in the place they've chosen to do so.

  • The Original Underclass

    “The distinction’s relevance persists today. Large areas of “real America” are almost entirely white. In Appalachia, that homogeneity, along with the region’s populist tradition, helps explain why white voters there took so much longer to flip from Democrat to Republican than in the Deep South. This does not mean that racism is absent in these areas—far from it. But it suggests that the racism is fueled as much by suspicion of the “other” as it is by firsthand experience of blacks and competition with them—and that political sentiment on issues such as welfare and crime isn’t as racially motivated as many liberal analysts assume. A focus on the South also eclipses places where low-income whites consist mainly of descendants of later European immigrants. (Think of the South Boston Irish, or Baltimore’s Polish American dockworkers depicted in the second season of The Wire.)”

    This election year in the US has brought out a lot of anger of certain folks who are feeling left behind. And the angry working class white voter is talked about more than almost any other. This piece is really fantastic, drawing on two different books written about the subject of poor whites, but from very different perspectives. I learned a lot and it made me want to read more on the subject.

  • Love in Translation

    “Bilinguals overwhelmingly report that they feel like different people in different languages. It is often assumed that the mother tongue is the language of the true self. In many ways, it remains the primal vehicle. A person who has spoken English most of her life is always going to speak English when she stubs her toe (or, according to spycraft, at the moment of orgasm). But, if first languages are reservoirs of emotion, second languages can be rivers undammed, freeing their speakers to ride different currents. People are more likely to say they’d push a man off a bridge—in order to save five other people about to be hit by a train—when the dilemma is presented in their second language.”

    A really lovely piece about language, love, and communication. I speak a second language and I related to a lot of the bits and pieces that she talked about as she was learning. If you like language, this is well worth reading.

  • Twitter, Free Speech, or Whatever and Stuff

    “I know this much: I don’t want to be a part of a community like Twitter if the previous offenses are an accepted part of that community. Twitter isn’t a country, it’s a service. And as a store gets to decide what products it sells, services decide what is and is not permissible. Twitter finds a lot of horrible things permissible, is what I’m saying, and it doesn’t want you to be able to filter or curate your experience. They want to sell you shit. They sure as hell don’t want to behave as responsible community arbiters. It doesn’t want to protect its users or act with any kind of moral authority lest they be judged for daring to not permit everything under the guise of consequence-free first amendment protection.”

    This is from 2014 and Fraction nails it. Still so true.

  • Fences: A Brexit Diary

    “After settling this question, we all moved on to bemoaning the strange tendency of the younger lefty generation to censor or silence speech or opinions they consider in some way wrong: no-platforming, safe spaces, and the rest of it. We were all right about that, too. But then, from the corner, on a sofa, the cleverest among us, who was at that moment feeding a new baby, waited till we’d all stopped bloviating and added: “Well, they got that habit from us. We always wanted to be seen to be right. To be on the right side of an issue. More so even than doing anything. Being right was always the most important thing.””

    Really interesting piece on Brexit and the vote. There are lessons here for Americans with what is going on in our current election.

  • The Conjoined Triangles of Senior-Level Development

    “When we take a “gut feeling” sense of someone’s seniority without specific criteria, there is basically no way to counteract our own biases, but we still make a judgement. It’s completely possible for a person applying to multiple dev jobs to be evaluated as junior at one, mid-level at another, and even senior at another, with very little feedback as to why.

    I really like the way this is defined and talked about. Job titles, in particular when you are senior or not, are a difficult thing and the proposed way to define them here is really interesting.

  • A Portland Project Keeps It Funky, With Design and Funding

    “The “dumbbell” design was conceived to give each tenant its own floor and create an entrance and outdoor common area sheltered from the busy intersection. The result allows for retail space on the ground floors and 10 floors of office space, each 4,000 square feet, which he said was ideal for a 12- to 15-person company. The building is 44 percent preleased as of late last year. Mr. Cavenaugh reserved one floor of the building for co-working space that his company will manage; this will be his third co-working space in Portland.”

    This building, as you'll see if you click through to see the rendering, has been controversial, to say the least. People either love it or hate it. But that is exactly why I like it. Great buildings often are controversial when built. In addition, the developer is a super interesting guy who does non traditional projects, but his projects are successful (as defined by being fully leased out). He spoke at the Portland Creative Mornings and I recommend that talk as well.

  • A theory of nonscalability

    “That tech (and, increasingly, media—and oh, that boundary is nothing if not fluid) also speaks of scalability in religious terms puts Tsing’s contention here in an even more interesting light. Scalability is expressed not only in the external artifacts of an organization—the software, the servers, the business model—but also the people who work for it and the people who interact with it as customers, clients, and, increasingly, inconstant laborers. That latter category—the Uber drivers, TaskRabbits, and Postmates—seems especially relevant to notions of scalability. Uber can scale, but the single parent who works as a driver and can’t predict what they’ll make from week to week cannot.”

    The book, The Mushroom at the End of the World has now moved up on my reading list. I want to finish what I have started and then it will get to the top. But the way Mandy talks about tech in relation to scale and the questions we should be asking about it are interesting and I think vital. If scale, as she says at the end of this piece, is the solitary success metric, there are problems. Because when you scale what do you lose? What do you leave behind? And how does scale affect people?

  • A Rant About "Technology"

    “We have been so desensitized by a hundred and fifty years of ceaselessly expanding technical prowess that we think nothing less complex and showy than a computer or a jet bomber deserves to be called “technology “ at all. As if linen were the same thing as flax — as if paper, ink, wheels, knives, clocks, chairs, aspirin pills, were natural objects, born with us like our teeth and fingers – as if steel saucepans with copper bottoms and fleece vests spun from recycled glass grew on trees, and we just picked them when they were ripe…”

    I love Le Guin and it's my dream to bump into her on the bus someday here in Portland.

  • The worst thing I read this year, and what it taught me… or Can we design sociotechnical systems that don’t suck

    “But it’s rare that technology provides a robust solution to a social problem by itself. Successful technological approaches to solving social problems usually require changes in laws and norms, as well as market incentives to make change at scale. ”

    This is a long piece, but very well thought out. We in tech have a problem with thinking that tech alone can solve all the problems of the world. But in actuality it is just one piece of the puzzle and Zuckerman does a good job of showing how that could possibly work.

  • SASE Panel remarks

    “The first step towards a better tech economy is humility and recognition of limits. It’s time to hold technology politically accountable for its promises. I am very suspicious of attempts to change the world that can’t first work on a local scale. If after decades we can’t improve quality of life in places where the tech élite actually lives, why would we possibly make life better anywhere else?”

    As usual Maciej has made me think. I agree with a lot of the points in here, but I also think that there are counter arguments to be made, that there is more gray than this piece alludes to. And I thank Cennydd for helping me see that.

  • Just don’t lose the magic

    “But whenever that impulse returns, that impulse to come on now be serious, I lose the magic again. It happened most recently getting ready for my upcoming art show. That stupid voice started saying: This is a gallery show. This is Art. I need to be serious.

    This is a really huge reason that my drawing right now is still just for me, just in a sketchbook and I share crappy iPad photos of it on Flickr. I feel like making it more would make it tighten up and it would lose the magic for me.

  • Coding Is Over

    “Engineers should be solving new and interesting problems, not rebuilding the same apps over and over. That is a job for robots.”

    I don't agree with absolutely everything in this article but I do agree that we seem to do the same things over and over again in many ways when we make things for the web. And I wonder if we still need to do this or if there is a better way.

  • 10 Months, 45 National Parks, 11 Rules

    “This might seem paradoxical. Aren’t road trips supposed to be as spontaneous as possible? Of course. My rules sought to enhance spontaneity by making sure I noticed it when it happened. They made a big difference for my trip, and they should work for other travelers as well.?”

    We're doing road trips a lot for our vacations lately for a number of reasons. I love all these rules. And to be honest, it's how we try and make things happen when we are out on the road.

  • Why the Humble Notebook Is Flourishing in the iPhone Era

    “The bullet journal enthusiasts insist that filling notebooks is about far more than just getting things done or crossing off lists—it’s also about paying attention to, and taking stock of, your life. It’s an act of agency—deciding who you want to be and what you want to do and setting those decisions down in pen on paper where they cannot be deleted or ignored or erased. It’s an act of archiving—recording what you’re thinking, what your goals are, what your handwriting looks like, at a very particular moment in time, and then being able to look back and see just how far you’ve come since you were the 12-year-old who wrote in big pencil letters in a blue plastic spiral-bound homework planner about shoveling snow in a driveway that didn’t exist (and also, of course, being able to see just how much you still have in common with her). It’s this combination of productive, therapeutic, aesthetic, historical, and spiritual elements that makes notebook-keeping such an addictive and potent activity, even—or perhaps especially—in a world of countless productivity apps, online to-do lists, and gamified habit-building tools.”

    I don't do bullet journalling, but I really love the way the notebook was talked about in this piece. I've gone non digital for journaling and sketching and it's been really great for me. I love the act of writing with a pen, of taking stock, of drawing, and it relaxes me in ways nothing else does lately.

  • Riding against the Grain: Line 75

    “The new pattern created several frequent lines that the British would call orbitals. Radial lines go into and out of the center, but orbitals orbit the center, at various distances out. They intersect the radials, offering useful connections, but never go downtown themselves. And instead of hauling big volumes of commuters into and out of downtown, they serve thousands of little trips that are all a bit different, among diverse neighborhoods and destinations. It works: these orbital lines are among the busiest in the city.”

    I live a few blocks from the 75 and take it if I'm going to the airport (it gets me to one of the radials) or to a few different appointments or friends' houses. I really like this take on it. And, we are using transit more as we are going carless, so it's interesting to think about the orbitals and radials I'll be making use of.

  • Debugging the Tech Industry

    “What we need to understand is that, as people in tech, we have a collective responsibility. We keep pretending that the technology we build is neutral. We still believe that we can be apolitical as people in tech. We keep pretending that our algorithms are neutral. We don’t care about ethical aspects of our work. And most of us are in a position where we don’t have to care. But it’s our responsibility to understand: Technology is not neutral, our code is not neutral. Our work is political. And our work has consequences on actual lives.

    This is a really great piece. So much great thinking about how we operate as an industry and so much good stuff on how we can change.

  • ‘A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand’: Ken Burns’ Stanford Commencement Address

    “Over those decades of historical documentary filmmaking, I have also come to the realization that history is not a fixed thing, a collection of precise dates, facts and events that add up to a quantifiable, certain, confidently known, truth. History is a mysterious and malleable thing, constantly changing, not just as new information emerges, but as our own interests, emotions and inclinations change. Each generation rediscovers and reexamines that part of its past that gives its present new meaning, new possibility and new power. The question becomes for us now—for you especially—what will we choose as our inspiration? Which distant events and long dead figures will provide us with the greatest help, the most coherent context, and the wisdom to go forward?”

    I really enjoyed the first part of this commencement address. I've been reading a bunch of revolutionary era history because during the time of tumult in our current election, I want to remind myself there has always been tumult. It's never been easy. Burns goes on to get very political and I think the address isn't bad, but it looses something for me.

  • What did you make today, papa?

    “But rarely does a day go by when my son doesn’t make something. I envy his setup and his habits. His mom has placed all the supplies within easy reach. He doesn’t torture himself. The goal is simple: There is a car-carrier truck that doesn’t exist that needs to exist. He sets to work with clear purpose and utter concentration. There is frustration, occasionally, but it usually passes. And when he’s done, he’s done, and it’s off to something else.”

    I've done Austin's Steal Like an Artist Journal, it's pretty great to get you out of your head and into some other ways of thinking, I liked doing it. And I love the way he relates making to how his kid does it. Since I started daily drawing this past December, I've approached my sketchbook and making so much differently than I did when in art school. And most of it's because I don't care as much, no one ever has to see it, it's for me and I'm having fun. I approach writing the same way these days. That looseness has been so great for me and helped me create regularly. It also helps that it's not how I earn a living.

  • Facebook is wrong, text is deathless

    “Because nothing has proved as invincible as writing and literacy. Because text is just so malleable. Because it fits into any container we put it in. Because our world is supersaturated in it, indoors and out. Because we have so much invested in it. Because nothing we have ever made has ever rewarded our universal investment in it more. Unless our civilization fundamentally collapses, we will never give up writing and reading.”

    I absolutely LOVE this post by Tim on Kottke's blog. I'm in a phase of life right now where all I want to do when not working is read. In fact, I just had 4 books come up for me at the library that I had holds on and I'm wishing I could take the next week off of work just to read them and savor them. I love words. Words have changed my thinking and my life in many, many ways. I can't see them ever going away.

  • Past and futures

    “Progress will always create winners and losers, but we ignore the scary and disenfranchising potential of our work at our peril. What Silicon Valley wants is often not what the wider world needs. The past has a lot to answer for, but then, so does the future.”

    This short piece by Cennydd is really good. So much is going on right now that is heartbreaking and frightening. The romanticization of the past is dangerous. But what do we in the tech world do to help point to a better future? I'm not sure we do much at all.

  • Our Values

    “If a statement can be invoked by anyone in an organization, and cause a decision to be re-evaluated or changed, without regard to anyone’s rank or title, then you have a bona fide value. If it doesn’t work that way, then it’s not a value.”

    I've been watching the work of the U.S. Digital Service from the outside now for quite some time. I have a few friends that work there, but have never really talked with anyone about their experience. But everything I've read about Mikey Dickerson gives me hope that the digital work of my government is hopefully moving in the right direction.

  • Identity

    “Because you are allowed to change without a brain tumor to justify it. You are allowed to find new versions of yourself so your identity continues to authenticate; it doesn’t make you a schizophrenic.”

    I don't know Jennifer Dary, I've only heard of her brain tumor and this piece through mutual friends tweeting about it. But to write this after that experience is in many ways amazing. This piece is so good. I find that my identity has change dramatically from when I was in my twenties. Some of that due to maturing and hopefully gaining more wisdom through life experiences, but also much of that is through wanting to change, wanting to be someone different, and in my naive hope, someone better.

  • Under Attack

    “The threat to free speech on Western campuses is very different from that faced by atheists in Afghanistan or democrats in China. But when progressive thinkers agree that offensive words should be censored, it helps authoritarian regimes to justify their own much harsher restrictions and intolerant religious groups their violence. When human-rights campaigners object to what is happening under oppressive regimes, despots can point out that liberal democracies such as France and Spain also criminalise those who “glorify” or “defend” terrorism, and that many Western countries make it a crime to insult a religion or to incite racial hatred.”

    I've been out of college now almost 20 years. But my most lasting memory of my time as an undergraduate is that I was constantly forced to think about new ideas, think differently, and I learned to think critically. So when I read about the things happening on campuses today, I will admit that I'm concerned.

  • There's No Hand Off in Design

    “High-level product decisions are usually nailed down long before engineering starts. However, in terms of interaction and visual design, details reveal themselves as the product is being built. Instead of handing off pixel-perfect designs to your engineering team, embrace the opportunity to design alongside them as they build.”

    “Designing as you build also allows you to identify opportunities to strengthen your original solution. Designers aren’t infallible. Details are often missed first time around, so use your opportunity to improve the flow, offering alternative forms of feedback.”

    I love how they emphasize team work and supporting each other the entire way through the build of a feature or application. Which is why I couldn't pick just one quote. It's worth the read. I love how so many people are realizing that we are all one team building a thing and we need to act like it.

  • Frend

    Some really great little JS components in this site. They are accessible (yay!) and well done with no dependencies. Nice to see this work being shared, it’s impressive.

  • Building a Visual Language

    “Instead of relying on individual atoms, we started considering our components as elements of a living organism. They have a function and personality, are defined by a set of properties, can co-exists with others and can evolve independently. A unified design language should not just be a set of static rules and individual atoms, but an evolving ecosystem.”

    I really love this approach and the reason is that AirBnB created what worked for their team. They set about to make process, flow, and design better for them and created a system that is unique to them. It's hard work, but the work pays off because it fits their needs perfectly.

  • Advice for the recent graduate

    “A structureless life is a depressing life. Our days work better when they have a reliable shape. Grab a copy of Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals (if you can’t afford it, see #2 on this list) and read about the daily routines of famous artists, scientists, and creative people. Take inspiration from them. Cobble together your own daily routine and stick to it.”

    Yup, another bit of advice for graduates, but I think it also translates to all of us. I'm a huge fan of the daily routine. Even between jobs this spring, I kept to a routine. I also love the library and recommend people use it; it's easy, you can read digitally if you want, and the price is right.

  • Can Portland Avoid Repeating San Francisco’s Mistakes?

    “But that narrative isn’t quite right. Portland prices are skyrocketing, yes. And newcomers are generally the type of people who want to live in the center of the city, near transit and bike lanes, which drives up prices for those areas. But it’s not tech or newcomers that are solely to blame. Portland hasn’t been able to slow its rental crisis because in a city that prides itself on progressivism, many of the traditional tools used to create more affordability are off the table.”

    The best part of this article is the fact that it doesn't put all the blame on newcomers, but points out that how the city deals with the growth is important. We can't stop people from moving here, what we can do is get much more progressive about how we build and develop to keep housing affordable.

  • In Sweden, an Experiment Turns Shorter Workdays Into Bigger Gains

    “Such concerns have not deterred a growing number of small businesses in Sweden from testing the concept. Many found that a shorter workday can reduce turnover, enhance employee creativity and lift productivity enough to offset the cost of hiring additional staff.”

    There are two things I find really intriguing about this concept. The first is the fact that we still think of paying for knowledge work like it is factory work. Something great, such as a great logo, can take 5 minutes, but behind that five minutes can be 25 years of experience (Paula Scher talks about this so wonderfully). But the other interesting piece is that both a surgery unit and an auto repair shop could make more money because they made more use of their buildings. I found, personally, that 6 hours is about right when I was freelancing. I may solve a code problem when I walk on errands after work or I may do it while cooking dinner. Knowledge work isn't contained by time.

  • Homemade drinking vinegars

    I’m trying to drink a lot less alcohol, but what I miss about it is the ritual of making a drink in the evening while I’m cooking dinner. So I made my first drinking vinegar a few weeks ago. I used frozen cherries and it’s super delicious. Add in a twist of lime and soda water and you’ve got a pretty great mocktail.

  • Happy Cog Starter Files 2016

    “Consider this a very high-level primer of the tools and techniques we’re leveraging these days. This is by no means an in-depth account of each, if something piques your interest there are links below for you to explore further. Really, I just wanted to expose our secret blend of CSS front-end starter files naming conventions, basic gruntfile.js, syntax, coding methodology etc.”

    I love this, I love seeing how different places, especially consultancies that are starting things a lot, do it. And what I really like about this is that it's very loose, and you could easily modify it.

  • Design systems and Postel’s law

    “Policing a design system never works in my experience. It never works because people don’t like rigid systems, being told what to do, and will straight up do the opposite. Being liberal in accepting things into the system, and being liberal about how you go about that, ensures you don’t police the system. You collaborate on it.”

    Mark is doing some of the best writing and speaking on large scale design systems I've read and heard in a long time. He isn't focusing on the nitty gritty details of implementation, but he's focusing on the big picture and that's been what interests me lately. Tooling and implementation come and go, but big picture ideas usually stick around.

  • MCAD Commencement Speech

    “But also remember that the greatest challenges you will face starting tomorrow, have little to do with your talent. Sure, talent matters. It matters a lot. But I like to say that 10% of your career is your talent and ingenuity. And the other 90% rests on your energy and enthusiasm, your humility and perseverance, your professionalism and dedication to pushing through every bump in the road you will encounter.”

    I like this address. I went to art school, but have never made my living from art. This past six months has found me creating again, but there is a lot in this speech that can be applied across disciplines, and the above quote is definitely true no matter what your work is. Careers are long, they are full of change and bumps, there is so much that is unexpected, and what gets you through is not luck or talent, but, at times, sheer perseverance.

  • Social Network Algorithms Are Distorting Reality By Boosting Conspiracy Theories

    “Activism spawned from these online conspiracy groups wastes time and money, and it’s increasing. In a recent interview, Californian Republican Representative Devin Nunes said that 90% of the communication he receives from constituents is conspiracy-theorist nonsense, up from approximately 10% when he took office in 2003. It’s impacting the political process on everything from zoning laws (fears of UN Agenda 21) to public health policy (water fluoridation). In Hawaii last month, for example, lawmakers killed a simple procedural bill that would have allowed the state to more quickly adopt federal guidelines on administering vaccines in case of an outbreak—because outraged residents claimed that vaccines were responsible for Zika (and, of course, for autism).”

    This article is fascinating, talking about how the way we are kept in a bubble in our social networks (always seeing things we like or that are related to what we like) is resulting in shifts in policy. I saw this with the Portland fluoride vote. The amount of conspiracy theories and bad science being talked about during that time was unbelievable. And it feels like it is only getting worse with this current election cycle.

  • Building remote-first teams

    “There are very few things that require instantaneous reply or attention, such as a service being down or a major security flaw. Most of the questions, doubts or bugs can be resolved at later notice. We are an attention hungry generation, but it’s disrespectful to assume that anyone we ping will immediately drop whatever they’re involved in. With multilayered communication we can choose an appropriate medium for the severity and urgency of the message where about to convey. We need to value each others time and attention.”

    This is a great article. And it's interesting because I've been a remote team member now for several years. We talk about how tools can be asynchronous, but then we don't treat them as such. It used to be that way with people expecting instant replies to emails, but now it is instant replies to Slack. The point of the tool is the the information waits for us, so let's calm down a bit. But this whole article has some really wonderful points about how to work remotely.

  • Passion

    “If you’re passionate about your work and you have a certain temperament, you may be inclined towards your own Work Singularities. But I know people who don’t ever work that way and still produce amazing outcomes. I don’t want to over-romanticize this kind of scheduling just because it happens to be a thing that I do. There are other ways to get a lot done.”

    This piece is a reaction piece, so you should probably read the links at the beginning to understand it fully. But what I truly appreciated about this was her way of framing what she calls a "work singularity", a time where you are pushing through to finish something because you just have to get it done. And it is a short burst, followed by downtime to recover. And, she also acknowledges, you never need work this way to do great things, which is comforting because I never work that way.

  • Back Story: Who was Susan, and was she lazy?

    “Historians can trace the concept to 18th century England, when it was probably known as a dumbwaiter. It may have become popular at a time when household servants were in declining supply. In the absence of maids or footmen to refill wine goblets and deliver condiments, diners were forced to reach across the table or interrupt conversation with “pass the pimientos please.” The Lazy Susan helped to solve that problem, and plenty of 18th century examples prove it. ”

    Just a tidbit I found super fascinating!

  • Accessibility matters—and here's what we're doing about it

    “Accessibility is not a checklist item that only needs to be considered in some projects, or at the end of a process. Rather, these practices should be woven into every step of a project and role in a team. An accessible product stems from everyone on a team owning and shouldering the responsibility. It’s part of our jobs as creators.”

    I know Winston, one of the Vox Product people who's been working so hard to bring accessibility into their process and it's so great to see what's happening with the work they are doing. This stuff is important and this post points out all the reasons why, it's so great.

  • A Design SDK

    “It would be ideal for me if an SDK could be created on the fly for different people based on project needs. So, for example, for freelancer ‘A’, I don’t want to send them HTML or CSS as I know they’re not building anything, so I just send them mood boards and inspiration, image assets and branding guidelines. For freelancer ‘b’, a front-end developer, I send boilerplate, CSS, template assets and icons. I mix and match and provide the design SDK, rather than send along a URL and expect them to know what they need and how to use them.”

    I'm thinking about style guides a lot again, for reasons. And this idea from Mark is really interesting. How do we make a thing that documents and helps the entire team? That is a hard to answer question, but also really necessary before any team approaches a style guide type of project.

  • Bots

    “Taken together, Leckie’s world subverts traditional gender stereotypes, features genderless characters who are caretakers, heroes, leaders, and villains (often several of those characteristics at once), questions notions of gender in language and the male defaults which continue to infect us, all the while simultaneously proposing fascinating relationships between humans and AIs that probe complex areas of privacy, dependance, and love.”

    Mandy's writing here is amazing. She takes what is currently happening with AI and then takes a look at how AI is portrayed in fiction. It's amazing because the people currently building these bots are taking the most unimaginative route possible. I realize that I link to everything Mandy writes, but that's because it is all so worth reading. And if you haven't yet, while on her site, check out her book reviews, lots of good ideas for reading in there.

  • I fly 747s for a living. Here are the amazing things I see every day.

    “By the way, at dusk or dawn (which can last for hours in an airliner) you may see a clearly delineated, barely curved shadow on the sky above the horizon. That’s the shadow of the earth on the sky — one of the few opportunities, for the non-astronauts among us, to observe more or less directly the shape of our planet.”

    Beautiful photos in this one, and even though I've come to dread flying, I do find the ideas and facts in this piece fascinating.

  • Can Reading Make You Happier?

    “In a secular age, I suspect that reading fiction is one of the few remaining paths to transcendence, that elusive state in which the distance between the self and the universe shrinks. Reading fiction makes me lose all sense of self, but at the same time makes me feel most uniquely myself.”

    I love reading. And lately, I prefer it above almost all other forms of entertainment. I hardly watch shows or movies these days. I read widely, and other than sketchbooking, it's become my main source of growth, learning, and thinking.

  • Uncanny Valley

    “Around here, we nonengineers are pressed to prove our value. The hierarchy is pervasive, ingrained in the industry’s dismissal of marketing and its insistence that a good product sells itself; evident in the few “office hours” established for engineers (our scheduled opportunity to approach with questions and bugs); reflected in our salaries and equity allotment, even though it’s harder to find a good copywriter than a liberal-arts graduate with a degree in history and twelve weeks’ training from an uncredentialed coding dojo. This is a cozy home for believers in bootstrapping and meritocracy, proponents of shallow libertarianism. I am susceptible to it, too. “He just taught himself to code over the summer,” I hear myself say one afternoon, with the awe of someone relaying a miracle.”

    It was tough to pick a quote here as so much of this is devastating, but true to what I've seen in the start up world. The other part of this piece is that it's one of the best written pieces I've read in a long time. The content is tough at times, but it should be, what we're creating is pretty crappy—I'm really glad to see someone critiquing it.

  • RWD Podcast: Modular Design

    “The more sustainable way of doing that—and I think we’ve talked about this on the show a little bit—is to work with the organization to kind of come up with a system for naming these parts of the design that actually works for that organization. Trent Walton had this really great blog entry a couple months ago about how in projects that he’s worked on, that atomic design classification has actually introduced—I don’t know, there’s probably a better phrase than “organizational friction,” but I haven’t had enough coffee yet… Like, that metaphor of talking about certain parts of the design as either atoms or elements or organisms is great for front-end designers and developers, but when you’re actually talking with a larger team of non-technical actors, it doesn’t always scale. There’s often a bit of a disconnect between what the metaphor means and what the interface actually does in the context of the larger design system.”

    This is a great podcast highlighting how design systems are great, but also how they are hard. For most organizations I believe the system should be customized to them. I read a tweet once that said that if you are using Twitter's Bootstrap you are using something that works for Twitter, but may not work well for your organization or your site. And in this podcast Ethan and Karen do a great job of highlighting all the things to think about when creating a system.

  • Combining Typefaces

    This is a great little book and with the closure of Five Simple Steps, Tim is giving it away. You should grab it.

  • Bodyhackers are all around you, they’re called women

    “The rise of grinders — hackers who open up their bodies and insert things like chips, magnets, sensors and more — has been met by the popular press with both fascination and horror. NPR recently ran a piece, “Body hacking movement rises ahead of moral answers,” about grinders that approached the premise with an almost comedic tone of uncertainty. The piece even features a woman, at a conference where she was promoting meditation, calling RFID implants “the craziest thing she had seen.” And yet, a not insignificant number of women at that conference probably had an IUD. Would she consider that crazy? I doubt it.”

    I found this really interesting. Often, the things that have to do with women and their reproductive system are forgotten about or thought of differently, but should they be?

  • Why Do We Work So Hard

    “And I begin to understand the nature of the trouble I’m having communicating to my parents precisely why what I’m doing appeals to me. They are asking about a job. I am thinking about identity, community, purpose – the things that provide meaning and motivation. I am talking about my life.”

    I actually don't like this article very much, I completely disagree with the author. But it's another article in my quest to read and understand more about work. Making work your life is not a great plan for many of us. Time away for rest, relaxation, and letting your mind wander is also really important. When you are always working, when does this happen? This isn't only something to do during our childhoods or during college, but it's a thing that should be done throughout all of life. Wasting time is a good thing.

  • What Slack is doing to our offices—and our minds

    “Companies have been experimenting for over a decade with social enterprise software, not to mention standard office communications packages like Outlook. Slack is different. It’s not designed to supplement your office software; it’s designed to replace it. Even more radically, Slack aims to replace the office itself, creating a platform for people who work entirely online. The question is, what will happen to office culture when everything we do and say at work is converted into a string of emoji-laced texts—especially when those texts are logged and searchable forever?”

    This article was fascinating on so many levels. On the legal implications of all your office chat being logged and saved, on the way in which Slack is replacing all other forms of communication, and the way in which there is push back from this situation. As someone who has worked remote for the past several years, I love Slack (much more than IRC on which it is based). But I also believe it should be OK to close group chat to get work done. I believe that it doesn't replace all meetings, that sometimes a video call is necessary to talk through things. And the snarky part of me wonders if Slack means you don't need an office why does the company Slack not hire more remote workers?

  • A Too-Perfect Picture

    “The problem is that the uniqueness of any given country is a mixture not only of its indigenous practices and borrowed customs but also of its past and its present. Any given photograph encloses only a section of the world within its borders. A sequence of photographs, taken over many years and carefully arranged, however, reveals a worldview. To consider a place largely from the perspective of a permanent anthropological past, to settle on a notion of authenticity that edits out the present day, is not simply to present an alternative truth: It is to indulge in fantasy.”

    One of my favorite columns in the NY Times Magazine is Teju Cole's monthly column on photography. It always makes me think, and it is filled with words that make me want to be a better writer, thinker, and looker (as in at the things around me).

  • Jack Gilbert, The Art of Poetry No. 91

    “Those I love. Being. Living my life without being diverted into things that people so often get diverted into. Being alive is so extraordinary I don’t know why people limit it to riches, pride, security—all of those things life is built on. People miss so much because they want money and comfort and pride, a house and a job to pay for the house. And they have to get a car. You can’t see anything from a car. It’s moving too fast. People take vacations. That’s their reward—the vacation. Why not the life? Vacations are second-rate. People deprive themselves of so much of their lives—until it’s too late. Though I understand that often you don’t have a choice..”

    “No. I really don’t like chitchat. Often when I went places with people I liked, they would chat the whole time. It’s very human, but if there’s going to be talk I want it to be interesting. I don’t want to know that so-and-so spilled milk or how sad it is that she didn’t get the dress she wanted. All of the things that people are shamed by or don’t think they’ve succeeded in—I don’t want to talk about that. I really like to meet people, to be with people, but I don’t want to be chatting all the time. I like it when people talk about things.”

    I couldn't chose just one from this piece. There is a lot about being a poet in here, a lot about living a life, and a lot about being alone. It's all fairly amazing and enlightening and I'm so glad I'm friends with someone who would link to it.

  • ARIA Examples

    I just reviewed a book on accessibility, A Web for Everyone, which is a great book that spans both design and development of accessible sites. Heydon has put together a great list of examples on how to do a lot of different things and code them with ARIA so that they are accessible.

  • Today I Built a Chicken Coop

    “I wonder how much better we could make online spaces if we took more cues from farmers. Because any farmer can tell you, the deer will never decide to stop being deer. It’s your job to protect your garden. Or, at least, make it inhospitable enough that the pests move on to the next one.”

    This piece is so wonderful. I love the way Derek talks about his work, his current work and his past work. Tech is such a difficult place to be at times. I struggle with it and I wonder, if I left it where would I go? What would I do? I can't answer that right now and tech is still where I want to be, but I look back and see the path of how I got here and wonder where it will take me next.

  • Museum of Endangered Sounds

    I don’t remember now how I came upon this website, but I love it. I love what it is trying to do. I love the sounds which trigger so many memories for me.

  • Three common accessibility pitfalls for developers: information and relationships

    “Sometimes programmers think that learning HTML is beneath them because it’s not real programming. But HTML markup is how people actually get the results of your programming. It’s the part of the web that connects your content to the whole world, so it deserves just as much care and attention as your programming and your server.”

    I love HTML. I agonize over using the right element for the right content when I do a fresh layout. Thinking about how it will work across all different kinds of devices is part of the fun of it all. Too often this work is given short shrift and done by people who don't care and that just makes me sad.

  • Why I Value Truly Responsive Web Design

    “This can be hard work because it requires a lot of consideration and testing to get it right. One of the pitfalls of most design processes is that little consideration goes into all the conditions in which content can live.”

    Really nice piece by Jonathon that I would +1 all the way. It is more work, but it is also worth it, because the user benefits more than we can imagine.

  • One weird trick to get online—designers hate it

    “Now, I don’t care about Opera Mini per se (I’m not its Product Manager). In the same way, I don’t care about walking sticks, wheelchairs, mobility scooters or guide dogs. But I care deeply about people who use enabling technologies — and Opera Mini is an enabling technology. It allows people on feature phones, low-powered smartphones, people in low-bandwidth areas, people with very small data plans, people who are roaming (you?) connect to the web.”

    Bruce goes on to talk about how many people in the world use Opera Mini and it is quite significant. If you're OK with leaving behind that many people that's fine, but just remember that it is a useful tool for a lot of people and they don't all live in non Western countries. I know several people who use Mini in the US to save on data.

  • The New Web Typography

    “I’ve begun to think of design today as not so much defined by a binary option, but instead as a spectrum or a continuum—I’m fascinated in this space between the networked and un-networked texts.”

    “I suppose that these suggestions all deal with the instability I find when setting text for the web, and I hope to remind myself of this when a new feature replaces an older one in a browser, or a new hack emerges. I want to consider technical implications of my decisions, and I want to ensure that we think about the effects of an unstable network sending an unstable codebase, only to be interpreted by an unstable browsing environment.”

    Ethan Marcotte talks about the space between in his latest book, Responsive Design: Patterns & Principles, and I too am fascinated by this space. Robin is referring to networks here, but I think there are a lot of spaces in between. Many areas where the interesting work actually happens. I love that Robin references it. The whole post is fantastic, which is why it got two quotes pulled from it.

  • Maybe we could tone down the JavaScript

    “I can almost hear the Hacker News comments now, about what a luddite I am for not thinking five paragraphs of static text need to be infested with a thousand lines of script. Well, let me say proactively: fuck all y’all. I think the Web is great, I think interactive dynamic stuff is great, and I think the progress we’ve made in the last decade is great. I also think it’s great that the Web is and always has been inherently customizable by users, and that I can use an extension that lets me decide ahead of time what an arbitrary site can run on my computer.”

    So much great stuff in this piece, so many awesome points about how using the right tool for the job is the best way to go.

  • Three common accessibility pitfalls for developers: colour contrast

    “Have a chat with your designers before they begin work on your next project. Let them know that your product will be tested for contrast, either by you or as part of your standard quality assurance process—and make sure they’re clear on how to pass. That proactive support will go a long way.”

    Color contast is a really huge issue that gets left behind way too often. I'm always pushing we think more deeply about this on the sites I work on, especially as it's also about less than ideal monitors as much as it is about people with vision problems.

  • How to Have a Professional Conversation

    “Pretty soon you’ll find out that every interview is a conversation, and every conversation is an interview.”

    So. Much. Good. Advice. Here. Even the obvious stuff (don't be late) and the non obvious. When you are speaking with someone about a job, about the possibility of a job, or just wanting to know more about what they do, remember that you asked for the favor and treat it as such. My only add to this would be to buy the coffee too.

  • Design systems in difficult places

    “I like to apply the same thinking for the adoption of a design system: be where the creator is. ”

    Lots of good, practical advice on how to get a system to be taken seriously and used by the organization. I especially like that Mark admits this isn't easy, but it can be done.

  • Design as Participation

    “These designers do this by engaging with the complex adaptive systems that surround us, by revealing instead of obscuring, by building friction instead of hiding it, and by making clear that every one of us (designers included) are nothing more than participants in systems that have no center to begin with. These are designers of systems that participate – with us and with one another – systems that invite participation instead of demanding interaction. ”

    Everything about this piece is just so great. Lately I've been very interested in and motivated by the things outside of the tech world that are similar or that I can learn from, so I've been reading a lot about art. But architecture is a close second here because I think you can draw a lot of parallels.

  • Atomic Classification

    “Choose names and classifications that make the most sense for the most people. It can be counter-productive if a team spends more time struggling with the analogy than designing and building the tool itself.”

    Trent, being all reasonable here, but he really is right.

  • Art and Math and Science, Oh My!

    “The technology/art dichotomy discourages people who might otherwise be interested in one or the other, or forces people who are interested in both to pick one or the other.”

    The illustrations are great in this piece, but I also really love the point. I spend a lot of time away from the computer doing art and it's nice to see the acknowledgement that the two can actually work in tandem and help you be better at both.

  • The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems

    “It’s intimidating to throw yourself into solving problems that you’ve grown up with and around. Most American kids, unless they’ve been raised in a highly sheltered environment, have some sense of how multi-faceted problems like mass incarceration really are. Choosing to work on that issue (one that many countries in the Global South handle far better than we do, by the way) means choosing to nurture a deep, motivating horror at what this country is doing via a long and humble journey of learning. It means studying sentencing reform. The privatization of prisons. Cutting-edge approaches already underway, like restorative justice and rehabilitation. And then synthesizing, from all that studying, a sense of what direction a solution lies in and steadfastly moving toward it.”

  • Pleasure is good: How French children acquire a taste for life

    “The moment that tied it all together for me was when I asked a mother in my research study why it was important to train her children to behave properly in public. She simply replied, “Because if they know how to behave properly, they will know how to adapt and get along with people. And that will give them pleasure.” Adhering to social rules is a means to greater pleasure. You have to give up something to gain something greater.”

    This article is somewhat about parenting, but I think it's broader topic is how we live life in America versus how they do so in France. And it's taken me a long time to feel OK and good about taking time off, doing things I enjoy, and not living to work but rather working to live and do the things I enjoy.

  • The Facebook-Loving Farmers of Myanmar

    “The expectations for a Facebook experience are shaped by the cultural expectations brought to the table. No farmer we spoke to had explicit or calcified expectations—they had not joined Facebook ten years ago or five years ago or even two years ago. They had not been indoctrinated into whatever it is Facebook thinks it is. Or what Facebook wants us to think it is. For them, it is a malleable tool. And they have made it into what they want: Largely a news reader. A relatively bandwidth efficient way to read about topics that interest them (the weather, Buddhism, pretty girls in swimsuits).”

    This is a really lovely look at how an application can vary in how it's used and what it means. And the key to the Facebook popularity is the low data usage. We often forget these things as we consume data in gargantuan amounts because it's cheap for us.

  • Erik Spiekermann

    “There’s a tendency for human beings to interface with things that are pleasant to us. It’s taken 600 years, from Gutenberg to now, for the book to achieve the shape that seems to be optimal for our eyes and hands. Everything that is electronic will achieve the same standard. It will be a different substrate, but there is obviously something in it. Otherwise it wouldn’t have survived for 500 years. The same goes for the screen. I knew it wasn’t going to stay as bad as that. In ’91, Adobe published ATM, Adobe Type Manager, when some of the bitmaps went smooth and there was anti-aliasing. I know it has taken 20 years, but now it’s as good if not better.”

    “Learn as much about our culture as you possibly can, by reading, by traveling, by involving yourself in things that go on. But don’t become an artist. Don’t think, “I’ll do it intuitively.” You have to learn if not to code at least to appreciate code, to understand code. Because code is what nuts and bolts were a hundred years ago.”

    Had to do two quotes here, it's a great interview, especially his life story at the beginning.

  • The Echo Chamber

    “That anger explains a lot, but the question still remains: how do folks continue to ignore facts? How have people’s viewpoints become so insular and isolated that any contradictory information never even penetrates the bubble? How did we get to a point where dialogue is impossible? And I’m not just referring to this presidential race, but to many other areas of discussion as well. Am I imagining this or has the echo chamber, where one only hears what one agrees with, expanded in scope and at the same time had the effect of increasing that anger and the inability to have a dialogue?”

    This entire thing is awesome. I had no idea David Byrne had a newsletter, but I'm glad I know now and I'm subscribed.

  • All our imagined futures

    “Unlike the web of today, where more or less everything exists at a particular address and, if that server goes offline, the content is lost, connected copies ensure that even if one person or company ceases to pay their hosting bills, many other copies persist. Caulfield compares it to a run of books: one library can burn, but odds are every book in its stacks exists elsewhere, so the loss to collective human knowledge is minimal. I couldn’t help but think of this in context of the rising era of platforms on the web and the increasingly dire consequences if (when) some of these systems eventually shut down. It’s very likely that our next Octavia Butler is today writing on WattPad or Tumblr or Facebook. When those servers cease to respond, what will we lose? More than the past is at stake—all our imagined futures are at risk, too.”

  • Follow the Links

    “But accessibility should be a baseline, not the sum of it all. And I want more from a feed than basic accessibility. I want to fucking learn something. I want to challenge my perception of the world. And, yeah, I want to see pandas rolling in the snow, too, but a panda-only web would be pretty dull. At some point, a feed that you never leave is going to feel like a prison. Platform designers should take heed.”

    Well, as usual, Mandy has written another great letter. And what I love about this letter so much is that final conclusion. I'm not on very many of the usual networks, and I have people in my life that get upset with me about it, but there are reasons for that, very good ones, and one of them is that I want to discover way more than just what those networks decide I should discover. I want the web, the open web, filled with links.

  • Hypertext for all

    “I worry that the push to keep the web defined to words, while pragmatic and reasonable in many ways, may also be used to decide what stories get told, and what stories are heard. Many more people are using their tiny computers to record video and audio and take pictures than are writing; as much as I may love writing, and as much as I know that transmitting writing via cables and air is a hell of a lot easier and cheaper than transmitting video, I’m not sure I can really stand here and say that the writing is—or should be—primary.

    One of the design principles of the web is to pave the cowpaths: it looks to me like there are some new paths opening up, ones we may not have expected, ones that aren’t going to make many of our jobs easier. Maybe instead of putting up signs saying there are better paths elsewhere, it’s time we see where these ones take us.”

    I really love Mandy's writing, which if you read this site regularly you know. For this one, it was so hard to keep the quote short, so it isn't. I'm quite similar to Mandy, I'm a word person and it's what I love about the web. But, like Mandy, I realize that images and other pieces of the web are important, which we need to recognize.

  • Banking time

    “We don’t always have the luxury of putting time away. Yet if we observe it as an asset — save-able, invest-able, and appreciable — in time, we get to appreciate it back.”

    I love these ideas about time. And as usual, because it's as story involving a bank, I'm right with Liz, back to my childhood as my dad worked in a bank and I spent time in and around it.

  • Untangling the Tale of Ada Lovelace

    “Ada Lovelace was born 200 years ago today. To some she is a great hero in the history of computing; to others an overestimated minor figure. I’ve been curious for a long time what the real story is. And in preparation for her bicentennial, I decided to try to solve what for me has always been the “mystery of Ada”.”

    I know very little about the story of Ada Lovelace, so I found this account really fascinating. I saw a machine of Charles Babbage in the Computer History Machine in California in September, so it was interesting to read of her relationship with him.

  • Shadows and smoke

    “The role assignments can vary hugely from project to project, which is great. People are varied and multi-faceted. Trying to force the same people into the same roles over and over again would be demoralising and counter-productive. I fear that’s exactly what job titles do—they reinforce barriers.”

    I really love Jeremy's thinking on this. A title is telling you what the person's speciality is. But on differing projects, actual responsibilities may change (hopefully they do, that's what keeps things interesting). So the title isn't enough to know what's what, but talking as a team is.

  • The High-Stakes Race to Rid the World of Human Drivers

    “The question of which path to take to full autonomy, a ground-up approach or a more gradual semi-autonomous one, is at the center of many debates about the technology. A more pressing question in the short-term is this: How much does a person’s perception of the computer’s job make a difference? ”

    I find the self driving car fascinating, ever since I read Three Commutes. I definitely think it will have to come in waves, getting people comfortable with the technology (much like we had elevator operators because people were uncomfortable with elevators when they first started appearing). I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  • Why is so much of design school a waste of time?

    “The hero in your life is never going to be the person who pats you on the head: it’s going to be the person who puts their own need to be liked aside to make you a better designer. And no, someone doesn’t need to understand you or your project 100% before they have the right to say anything about it. The person who doesn’t get you or what you made is the one that is most likely to come up with the idea or the insight that you can’t come up with on your own. People who see things differently are gold.”

    I studied fine arts in college and much of what is said here in relation to design work would apply to art as well. The best teachers I had in school were the ones who would push me, make me think, and make me listen. She goes on to talk about how you need to handle and respond in critique. And it's the exact opposite of what most people want to do, it's to ask more questions and be open to the answers.

  • Why I Quit Ordering From Uber-for-Food Start-Ups

    “We are alive at a time when huge systems—industrial, infrastructural—are being remade, and I think it’s our responsibility as we make choices both commercial and civic—it’s just a light responsibility, don’t stress—to extrapolate forward, and ask ourselves: Is this a system I want to live inside? Is this a system fit for humans?”

    I really love the way that Robin Sloan juxtaposes these two different ways to get food when you are hungry. One is slick, but what is the true harm of it, what is the society we are building if we choose it? The other fosters community, neighborhood, people knowing people and I love that idea.

  • Raiders of the Lost Web

    “Saving something on the web, just as Kevin Vaughan learned from what happened to his work, means not just preserving websites but maintaining the environments in which they first appeared—the same environments that often fail, even when they’re being actively maintained. Rose, looking ahead hundreds of generations from now, suspects “next to nothing” will survive in a useful way. “If we have continuity in our technological civilization, I suspect a lot of the bare data will remain findable and searchable,” he said. “But I suspect almost nothing of the format in which it was delivered will be recognizable.””

    Such a good article about all the things we lose on a regular basis as we shut down servers and web sites. So much of our history is now digital, and many don't seem to care when it disappears. It's rather sad.

  • Living and Dying on Airbnb

    “While “Airbnb’ing a room” has become the norm for many travelers, the company denies it has anything to do with lodging. Rather, it’s “a trusted community marketplace” and “an online platform that connects hosts who have accommodations to rent with guests seeking to rent such accommodations.” Of course, platforms are not neutral pieces of technology: they are embedded with the values of the marketplace, strategically designed for maximum profit and minimal liability. Companies that take advantage of such ambiguity pose risks to consumers, particularly when they’re trafficking in human experience, not just data or speech like Napster, Tumblr, and others before them who have appealed to their platform status to weather challenges to the legally murky activities they host.”

    Many who know me know that I don't really like AirBnB. Our one and only time renting for a vacation was disastrous and we lived next door to a house that was rented for a whole summer and it sucked. So we avoid them. And while I know there is risk in licensed establishments as well, I like to think that there is less risk. I may be kidding myself, but it's my preference. This article points out the many reasons why I don't trust AirBnB.

  • The Decay of Twitter

    “I think Stewart is identifying a new facet of this. It’s not quite context collapse, because what’s collapsing aren’t audiences so much as expectations. Rather, it’s a collapse of speech-based expectations and print-based interpretations. It’s a consequence of the oral-literate hybrid that flourishes online. It’s conversation smoosh.”

    I've long felt that something is different with the way people are online, in particular how they are when they use Twitter. But this article goes a lot further in looking at language and how we use it and think about it. Fascinating.

  • Haunted by Data

    “I think of this as the Jetsons fallacy, where you imagine you can transform the world with technology without changing anything about people’s behavior. Of course the world reacts and changes shape in ways no one person can anticipate.”

    Maciej does it again. I would love to see him speak in person.

  • The Heart's Intention

    “Ironically, by being in touch with and acting from your true intentions, you become more effective in reaching your goals than when you act from wants and insecurities. Once the yogi understood this, she started to work with goals and intentions as separate functions. She later reported that continually coming back to her intentions in the course of her day was actually helping her with her goals.”

    This piece was linked in the Pastry Box piece I just linked to the other day. It is wonderful, really wonderful. I'm trying more and more to live my life with intentions rather than setting extreme goals and beating myself up if I don't meet them by a certain time period.

  • An Alpine Antidote to Working Weekends

    “Instead of worrying about working weekends and holidays the way I had in the United States, I planned trips like the rest of my colleagues: Paris. Prague. Zermatt. For the first time in my working life, I was living, too. Because of this, my creativity flourished. I had both time and money, and because I had real time off, I was more productive when I was at work. In my spare time I wrote blogs and essays and I swam in the lake.”

    This piece resonates with me so much. Not only the thoughts on working your day and then leaving work behind in the evenings and weekends so you can recharge and refresh, but also the ideas about part time work. I find it so intriguing that in Europe part time works and many companies do it. I brought up the idea of part time work when on a work retreat a few weeks ago and I was surprised at how impossible it seemed to make happen. But, in thinking about it, I already work with colleagues half a world away and so it is almost like part time, since we aren't working the entire day overlapping. I think it can work, and I wish I could find a company that would be willing to try it with me.

  • Static AMP

    This is a parody of the AMP Project and it’s quite funny. We now have a framework, that is reworking HTML and using it’s own language to make things fast. Why in the world we need this is beyond me and beyond Maciej and I love it. It is possible to make a fast web page out of the tools we now have, but most developers either don’t do it or aren’t allowed to do it due to demands of their bosses.

  • Pastry Box October 19

    “What if, instead of setting a goal, I set an intention: “I will run without hyper-extending my knees”? It doesn’t look very different from a goal. Here’s the crux, though: the moment I realize I have abandoned my intention, I can pick it back up again and continue moving forward. I realized at some point that I wasn’t bending my knees enough on a downhill stretch. I changed my behavior, and I kept going.”

    I love this idea and have been doing the same thing for quite some time. My to-do list is mostly made up of intentions and I don't get super upset if I don't get everything done.

  • Future Reading

    “Aside from revamping digital book covers and the library browsing interface, Kindles could remind us of past purchases – books either bought but left unread, or books we read passionately and should reread. And, in doing so, trump the unnetworked isolation of physical books. Thanks to our in-app reading statistics, Kindle knows when we can’t put a book down, when we plunge ourselves into an author’s world far too late into the night, on a weeknight, when the next day is most definitely not a holiday. Kindle knows when we are hypnotised, possessed, gluttonous; knows when we consume an entire feast of words in a single sitting. Knows that others haven’t been so ravenous with a particular story, but we were, and so Kindle can intuit our special relationship with the text. It certainly knows enough to meaningfully resurface books of that ilk. It could be as simple as an email. Kindle could help foster that act of returning, of rereading. It could bring a book back from the periphery of our working library into the core, ‘into the bloodstream’, as Susan Sontag put it. And yet it doesn’t.”

    I read digitally, mostly library books that I can borrow and try out. But I'm also reading a lot of books on paper again. I prefer comics in paper, to be able to slowly page through and look at the art work and in an effort to support a local bookstore, if I want to buy a book, I do that in paper now. But I agree with Craig, many things could be made better about the Kindle experience. And for books I truly love, paper is still my preference.

  • Why Teams Don't work

    “This is where what I call a deviant comes in. Every team needs a deviant, someone who can help the team by challenging the tendency to want too much homogeneity, which can stifle creativity and learning. Deviants are the ones who stand back and say, “Well, wait a minute, why are we even doing this at all? What if we looked at the thing backwards or turned it inside out?” That’s when people say, “Oh, no, no, no, that’s ridiculous,” and so the discussion about what’s ridiculous comes up. Unlike the CFO I mentioned before, who derailed the team by shutting down discussions, the deviant opens up more ideas, and that gets you a lot more originality. In our research, we’ve looked carefully at both teams that produced something original and those that were merely average, where nothing really sparkled. It turned out that the teams with deviants outperformed teams without them. In many cases, deviant thinking is a source of great innovation.”

    I was reminded of this article while I was on a team retreat with workmates for a week. And I think the best part of this article is this concept of the deviant. There needs to be a person pushing against things to make the team more successful and when I look at the most successful teams I've worked with, I can pick that person out right away. It isn't a bad thing, but it can make for frustrating moments.

  • The Fallacy of Keeping Up

    “The reason for focusing on the core has nothing to do with the validity of any of those other frameworks, libraries or tools. On the contrary, focusing on the core helps you to recognize the strengths and limitations of these tools and abstractions. A developer with a solid understanding of vanilla JavaScript can shift fairly easily from React to Angular to Ember. More importantly, they are well equipped to understand if the shift should be made at all.”

    I love the way Tim built on the idea I had about being overwhelmed with code and made it even better. He's spot on, focusing on the core is always a good use of your time.

  • Efficiency up, turnover down: Sweden experiments with six-hour working day

    “For Maria Bråth, boss of internet startup Brath, the six-hour working day the company introduced when it was formed three years ago gives it a competitive advantage because it attracts better staff and keeps them. “They are the most valuable thing we have,” she says – an offer of more pay elsewhere would not make up for the shorter hours they have at Brath.”

    The public sector jobs this article talks about are being pushed and pulled by the will of different political parties, but what I found most interesting in this article are the private sector companies who have done it for years and are doing well. The recognition that knowledge work is tiring and you need to have time away is incredibly nice to see. I would love a six hour works day.

  • The Whole of Work

    “I shouldn’t have to say this, but here we are: work that is excessive, consuming north of 40 hours a week and without regular holidays, leads to burnout and reduced productivity, not to mention a toll on workers’ mental and physical health. We should build workplaces that encourage healthy work habits because we are not monsters, but also because we benefit from sane work cultures because they achieve better results.”

    Having worked for Mandy, I know that all of what she says here is what she strives for in her teams. But this piece is so much more, the bits on transparency, the bits on competition versus collaboration, it is all so, so good.

  • #StopTheSwag

    “It’s just too much. Too much plastic. Too much paper. Too much waste in a world that is already incredibly wasteful. I don’t need that. We don’t need that. I know, people love free stuff, but please. Stop it. I’ll buy my own tote bags, cables, pens, stickers, notepads, USB sticks, mugs, bottles, and all other things if I need them. Stop littering the world with useless crap. Most of the people won’t keep half of the items. I cringe when I think of all the raw materials that were used to make all of that.”

    I really love this piece. At my house this year we've become just as conscious of what comes in as what is going out. To prevent waste we are watching the stuff we bring into the house just as much as I'm aware of our garbage, recycling, etc. And the conference swag is usually all waste in the end. Earlier this year at a conference I refused the swag and the person behind the registration desk got upset. At the very least, let people politely decline without making it an issue.

  • Ursula K. Le Guin

    “This is not Tierra del Fuego, you know. I get bored with the parochialness of the East Coast. They think that the news doesn’t get out here and that people out here live in rustic ignorance of real life. It’s embarrassing that people can be so ignorant as East Coast people tend to be of the West Coast-and the whole Midwest-and, of course, so contemptuous of the whole South. So sometimes I have written some rather resentful and snarky things about the urban Northeast-particularly in literature-the notion that nothing is worth writing about except the suburbs of large Eastern cities. Blech. That gets nowhere with me.”

    I've only read one book by Le Guin, but it is amazing. I have several more on my list. And this interview is amazing. I love the way she describes working with an editor, as a collaboration, which is exactly how I see it as well.

  • Thinking Responsively: A Framework for Future Learning

    “If we want to build a web that is truly universal, then we must embrace its unpredictable nature. We must listen more closely to the full spectrum of our audience. We must see opportunities for optimization where we previously saw barriers to entry. And we must consider our fellow makers in this process by building tools that will help us navigate these challenges together.”

    I love this piece by Paul, along with his presentation on the same idea. He is thinking deeply about how we make things, how we work together, and how we move forward to make the web better.

  • The Slow Web

    “I see this in the world of front-end techniques and technology. We become obsessed with tools and methods, very rarely looking at how these relate to the fundamental basics of web standards, accessibility and progressive enhancement. We obsess about a right way to do things as if there was one right way rather than looking at the goal; how things fit into the broader philosophy of what we do on the web and how what we write contributes to us being better at what we do.”

    I had an interesting conversation today with coworkers about what it mean to be "offline" as I prepare for vacation. And we all have different things we struggle with, but I will admit, I struggle with the pithy ephemera of social media, so I tend to need long breaks for my own sanity. And it's interesting, because we aren't all the same in that regard.

  • The Slow Web - Paul Lloyd

    “On a more personal level, I have long tried to curtail this overflow of information. I use few social networks (mainly due to their impropriety) and limit most of my activity to Twitter. I aim to keep the number of people I follow below 75 (Dunbar divided by two), and follow a stream composed mainly of friends and former colleagues. I find it surprising (and somewhat annoying) that given this number, ‘hot drama’ still manages to surface. The more I read about our growing reliance on social media, the more I’m given to thinking, that like most things, it’s best enjoyed in moderation.”

    I'm with Paul here, trying to slow down, focus on what matters to me, and leave the rest behind.

  • Whatever works for you

    “I don’t think you do your cause any favours by jumping straight to the “you must do this” stage. I think that people are more amenable to hearing “hey, here’s something that worked for me; maybe it will work for you” rather than “everything you know is wrong and this is the future.” I certainly don’t think that it’s helpful to compare CSS to Neanderthals co-existing with JavaScript Homo Sapiens.”

    I listened to the podcast to which Jeremy is referring in this piece and his voice was the voice of calm reason to me, I was grateful for the balance. This goes back to the my age old complaint with so much on the web these days: what works for you works for you, but it is not the only way and stop saying it is when you write or talk about it.

  • Twitter and emotional resilience

    “And I think: I don’t need this. I could make some principled, or “principled,” arguments against it — that there’s no reason to pay more attention to this murder than any of the several dozen others that will happen in America today, that this is a classic illustration of the “society of the spectacle”, that we should follow Augustine’s example in denouncing curiositas — but my real problem is that it just makes me very sad and very tired, and I have too much to do to be sad and tired. ”

    Each year, I pull back both from social media a bit and from thinking about and being online in the time I'm not working. And it has been good for me. Right now I plan to make 2016 the year of me without the web in some fashion. I'll still work on the web for a living, but when I'm not working I'm thinking of staying away from the web and immersing myself in other things.

  • The Late, Great Stephen Colbert

    “He was tracing an arc on the table with his fingers and speaking with such deliberation and care. “I was left alone a lot after Dad and the boys died…. And it was just me and Mom for a long time,” he said. “And by her example am I not bitter. By her example. She was not. Broken, yes. Bitter, no.” Maybe, he said, she had to be that for him. He has said this before—that even in those days of unremitting grief, she drew on her faith that the only way to not be swallowed by sorrow, to in fact recognize that our sorrow is inseparable from our joy, is to always understand our suffering, ourselves, in the light of eternity. What is this in the light of eternity? Imagine being a parent so filled with your own pain, and yet still being able to pass that on to your son.”

    This interview is so full of interesting and thoughtful things I had a really hard time picking what to quote. It is well worth your time to read the whole thing. I had read bits and pieces about Colbert's life, but his honesty here is startling and beautiful.

  • More time is better than more money.

    “Money is an attempt to buy time, but it rarely is able to buy any of the above. When we don’t have time we use money to try to get us to the secret door on time, or we use it avoid needing to know the real prices, or we use money to have someone explain to us what is really going on. Money can get us close, but not all the way.”

    Agree 100%. We have started to take longer vacations and slower vacations, letting ourselves explore, get to know a place, and be there. I would also add: making them offline vacations has been wonderful.

  • The ethics of modern web ad-blocking

    “That’s why the implied-contract theory is invalid: people aren’t agreeing to write a blank check and give up reasonable expectations of privacy by clicking a link. They can’t even know what the cost of visiting a page will be until they’ve already visited it and paid the price.”

    I work on the web, so I understand all that is happening when a web page is loaded. But for most people, all they know is that their page is slow and that it's quite strange that the shoes they were just looking at on Zappos are now showing up in ads as they read a story on the New York Times. And that's what worries me about this trend. We are making people pay with their privacy, their data plans they pay for, and their time.

  • The Pastry Box, August 8

    “The time not spent on me’ing has freed up mental space for me to do other things. You know, crazy shit like spending time with my family and friends. Wow, progressive thinking. The less I blog or market myself, the more time I can spend on my hobbies that wont interest anyone but myself, like infusing oils. Mind-blowing.”

    I've found the exact same thing to be true this summer. I've spent my time away from work not thinking about work at all and just doing the things I enjoy to relax.

  • The Internet That Was (and Still Could Be)

    “As long as we continue to think of the Internet as the place where you can creates sites and services that make other people laugh, argue forever, and encounter ideas they’d never have imagined, then the Internet stays true to the values its architecture embodies.”

  • It's Not Climate Change—It's Everything Change

    “We are all joined together globally in ways we have never been joined before, so if we fail, we all fail together: we have “just one chance to get it right.” This is not the way we will inevitably go, says he, though it is the way we will inevitably go unless we choose to invent and follow some less hazardous road.”

    I'm becoming more and more pessimistic about our ability to make any changes and prevent catastrophe due to climate change. We need to have a collective coming together, and not just by one country or a few countries, but by the entire world, to make this change happen. And I don't see the wealthy of any nation admitting this is even necessary. So while I try and do my bit, it feels quite hopeless, as so many around me aren't doing their part, or even thinking about it.

  • Publishing vs Performance: Our Struggle for the Soul of the Web

    “It may indeed be a false dichotomy that “either you can have a performant website or you have a business model based on advertising” but it is also a truth that advertisers demand more and more for their dollar. They want to know what page you read, how long you looked at it, where on the web you went next, and a thousand other invasive things that make thoughtful people everywhere uncomfortable—but are the price we currently pay to access the earth’s largest library.”

    I really enjoy Jeffrey's perspective here. This is a really hard issue. We want an open web, we want information to be accessible, but that information, writing, and more have to be paid for somehow. We live in a society where people need to earn. While I'm starting to hate a lot about capitalism, it's what we've got right now.

  • On The Verge

    “For such a young, supposedly-innovative industry, I’m often amazed at what people choose to treat as immovable, unchangeable, carved-in-stone issues. Bloated, invasive ad tracking isn’t a law of nature. It’s a choice. We can choose to change.”

    Jeremy's piece made me think of my own thoughts on performance where I thought about how it is more than just the developers making things better, but a fundamental culture change that must occur at an organization to make it happen. And what Nilay Patel says about The Verge and so many other websites illustrates perfectly the issues that developers and anyone who cares about performance are facing. Sites need to earn money and that seems to be very much at odds with performance, unfortunately.

  • Design Machines

    “While we’ve been streamlining our processes and perfecting our machine-like assembly techniques, others have been watching closely and assembling their own machines. We’ve designed ourselves right into an environment ripe for automation. Applications like Squarespace (and soon The Grid) are here and are clamouring for our jobs.”

  • Web Design: The First 100 Years

    “Right now there’s a profound sense of irreality in the tech industry. All problems are to be solved with technology, especially the ones that have been caused with previous technology. The new technologies will fix it.”

    There was so much to quote in this piece, I had a hard time to pull just one. And having been on the outskirts of the VC world for a while, I am tired of it. Tired of the idea that technology can solve everything and everything must scale at exponential rates to be worthwhile. I disagree with that notion. Small ideas, small things that help people, community, and more, are very much worth our time. But the piece is amazing. And I choose the web that connects knowledge, people, and cats.

  • The (Newly Discovered, Very Important) Ice Mountains of Pluto

    “And that, in turn, is important, because humanity’s search for exoplanets—planets beyond the solar system—has just begun. So far, we’ve found 1,932 of them. Some are gas giants, a few seem to be rocky worlds in their star’s habitable zone. What seems likely, though, is that there are many worlds like Pluto: small, round, and distant from their suns.”

  • Time management is only making our busy lives worse

    “It is true: we will be able to do more stuff if we focus on managing our time, but in today’s business environment, we don’t need more repetitive, synchronized activity like we did in the Industrial Revolution. We need more thinking, more creativity, and more problem solving. A focus on time will undermine all of these. It will make you feel more overwhelmed and miserable too!”

  • The Cognitive Benefits of Doodling

    “For most people, the big question isn’t “when did you start drawing?” but “when did you stop drawing?” Virtually everyone drew and doodled at one point in their lives. For artists and non-artists alike, drawing is about more than art—it’s about the very art of thinking.”

    I just finished a project that got me drawing every day. It was the first time I had drawn daily since art school. And it was fantastic. I saw myself improving, experimenting, thinking as I looked back at each day and drew something. And, I'm just two days out from finishing the project, but I'm still drawing daily, just on a wider variety of surfaces.

  • Why the Great Glitch of July 8th Should Scare You

    “Our dominant operating systems, our way of working, and our common approach to developing, auditing and debugging software, and spending (or not) money on its maintenance, has not yet reached the requirements of the 21st century. So, yes, NYSE going down is not a big deal, and United Airlines will probably have more ground halts if they don’t figure out how to change their infrastructure (not a cheap or easy undertaking). But it’s not just them. From our infrastructure to our privacy, our software suffers from “software sucks” syndrome which doesn’t sound as important as a Big Mean Attack of Cyberterrorists. But it is probably worse in the danger it poses.”

    If you've worked on any large scale, older software, then you know that this article is dead on. We love building things in our industry, but we really don't like maintaining them very much. And that means, we have a lot of creaky software all over the place running our many of the things we depend on.

  • The Secret Startup That Saved the Worst Website in America

    “So the team that started by performing bug fixes on a sprawling, struggling mass of code ended by writing critical, efficient infrastructure for the government. Yet what the MPL team accomplished philosophically may be even more important: It helped teach government bureaucrats how to think about building websites in 2015.”

    Really well written article that is mostly about communicating. A team of tech folks learning how government works while the government folks learned how to make software.

  • Relentless persistence

    A pretty funny comic about JavaScript frameworks, if you are a developer, you’ll probably laugh.

  • On making it up, or the virtues of make believe

    “Early on, my mother exposed this myth — casually, just after piano practice and before dinnertime. Adults too were making it up. Adults were winging it. It has been an invaluable insight that’s guided me my whole life.”

  • What dogs teach us about aging

    “Getting a puppy, the comic Louis C.K. observed, is a “countdown to sorrow.” Inscribed in the act of welcoming this adorable fur ball into your home is the moment of its death a decade or so hence. Grief over a pet can equal or exceed that of a human family member, studies show. This is canine neoteny’s cruel flip side: Yes, your dog gets to be an emotional adolescent into ripe old age. But when he dies, it will feel like losing a child.”

    I really love this article. I found it when I watched (and cried my eyes out watching) a video about a man and his dog at the end of the dog's life. I still miss my girl, every day, even after a year and a half since she's been gone.

  • Thriving in unpredictability

    “It’s about the users. It’s about finding ways to make our content available to them no matter how unpredictable the path that lies between us and them.”

    It's about users! 'nuff said.

  • Easier to keep up than catch up

    “Small steps move us forward. They may not be the amazing, overnight success stories we hear about, but that’s because you don’t hear about the thousand small steps that contributed to that overnight success story.”

  • Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America

    “Some will point out, correctly, that even educated people can still be racists, but this shouldn’t remove the spotlight from anti-intellectualism. Yes, even intelligent and educated individuals, often due to cultural and institutional influences, can sometimes carry racist biases. But critically thinking individuals recognize racism as wrong and undesirable, even if they aren’t yet able to eliminate every morsel of bias from their own psyches or from social institutions. An anti-intellectual society, however, will have large swaths of people who are motivated by fear, susceptible to tribalism and simplistic explanations, incapable of emotional maturity, and prone to violent solutions. Sound familiar?”

  • A world without work

    “The post-work proponents acknowledge that, even in the best post-work scenarios, pride and jealousy will persevere, because reputation will always be scarce, even in an economy of abundance. But with the right government provisions, they believe, the end of wage labor will allow for a golden age of well-being. Hunnicutt said he thinks colleges could reemerge as cultural centers rather than job-prep institutions. The word school, he pointed out, comes from skholē, the Greek word for “leisure.” “We used to teach people to be free,” he said. “Now we teach them to work.””

    This is a long, but really fascinating article on work and what would happen if there is no work in the future. I've read and thought a lot about work in the past several years. I'm not sure that I agree that if we have no work we will become like the people on the spaceships in WALL-E, I would like to think it would be more like Star Trek, where we still do things, but we don't have to worry about earning wages or the basics of life. What I found most fascinating is how people in Youngstown have a revitalization of culture and creative pursuits, because they have the time for it now.

  • Words as Material

    “But I’ve also come to see writing as a material in itself. Something we can play with and manipulate. Something that can change over time as questions come up in the design process or an idea evolves. Writing can be a tool for talking to ourselves when we’re still figuring things out. A sort of mirror or feedback system. A way to understand and articulate design.”

    Over the past several years, I've come to love words more. I've also realized that words in design/applications/etc are so very important, more important than we often think. And I love the way Nicole talks about this, using words in design and as part of the process.

  • Yes, and

    “Years later, a wise friend said he found the more interesting people tend to be ones who can’t exactly describe what they do day to day. Instead, of forcing prescription, let’s embrace ‘and.’

  • Seven Leading Architects Defend the World's Most Hated Buildings

    “I want to defend it not because it’s a particularly beautiful tower, but because of the idea it represents. Parisians panicked when they saw it, and when they abandoned the tower they also abandoned the idea of a high-density sustainable city. Because they exiled all future high rises to some far neighborhood like La Défense, they were segregating growth.”

    I saved this link because I love the way the architect talks about the building in Paris. We are going through a huge building boom in Portland, and because we limit sprawl and growth, it means lots of new buildings in old neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods, like mine, are changing, but I'm not sure it's for the worse. It's just change. And I, for one, would rather encourage density and deal with the change.

  • Smartphones Don't Make Us Dumb

    “Digital devices are not eating away at our brains. They are, however, luring us toward near constant outwardly directed thought, a situation that’s probably unique in human experience. A flat cap on time with devices — the restriction we first think of for ourselves and our kids — might help. So would parking devices in another room for a while. But it would be more effective if we could learn to recognize in ourselves when escape from our thoughts is O.K. and when reflection is in order. As a bonus, judgments like that require inwardly directed attention, a mental habit that in our smartphone era, we’d be dumb to lose.”

    I've been going through a bit of a step away from devices and from the internet in general when I'm not working. What I've found, my mind has time for rest and ideas form. It's been good, and it's been my choice. I don't think the devices are doing anything to us, they are just pointing out that we lack the will power to step away from them.

  • Remote Control: Mandy Brown of Vox Product

    “I think the biggest policy is to assume a remote stance by default: that is, assume everyone is remote all the time and behave accordingly, accommodating people in offices as need be, rather than the reverse. In practice that primarily means leveraging written communication (whether asynchronous, like email or shared docs, or synchronous, such as chat) over oral, since writing is easier to transmit, archive, and reference later.”

  • The programming talent myth

    “He then gave an example of what this narrative can do to people. At the University of Kansas’s geographic information system (GIS) day a few years ago, he sat in on a “fantastic presentation” about predicting seasonal floods on the Kansas River. The student had used tools that should be familiar to many of those at PyCon: Amazon Web Services, Linux, PostgreSQL, Python, Django, GeoDjango, and so on. Kaplan-Moss was hiring at the time, and she (the student) had just written thousands of lines of Python, so he asked if she wanted to interview for his company. Her response was that she couldn’t do that, because she “was not really a programmer”. That came from a woman who had just invented her own distributed GIS data processing pipeline, he said—but she’s not really a programmer. That’s because “programming is something you are in this myth, not something you do”.”

    Really interesting read on how we talk about programming, and how we should be talking about it.

  • Pastry Box, June 26, 2015

    “The weird thing about removing a chunk of time from our weekly calendar is that, as far as I can tell, we do the same amount in a week as everyone else. Work gets done, deliverables get delivered. No client has ever cared that we’re not available for calls on Tuesday mornings.”

    I adore this idea. When I freelanced, Fridays were my day. I usually did admin in the morning and generally caught up on little things so I could start on Mondays with things squared away. But the afternoons, they were mine. I would read, write, relax, explore Portland, or whatever else I wanted to do. I think it's beneficial to have this time and would love to work out a way to do this in my current job, even if just for a couple of hours to recharge.

  • I'm a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

    “I am frightened sometimes by the thought that a student would complain again like he did in 2009. Only this time it would be a student accusing me not of saying something too ideologically extreme — be it communism or racism or whatever — but of not being sensitive enough toward his feelings, of some simple act of indelicacy that’s considered tantamount to physical assault. As Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis writes, “Emotional discomfort is [now] regarded as equivalent to material injury, and all injuries have to be remediated.” Hurting a student’s feelings, even in the course of instruction that is absolutely appropriate and respectful, can now get a teacher into serious trouble.”

  • They Write The Right Stuff

    “That’s the culture: the on-board shuttle group produces grown-up software, and the way they do it is by being grown-ups. It may not be sexy, it may not be a coding ego-trip — but it is the future of software. When you’re ready to take the next step — when you have to write perfect software instead of software that’s just good enough — then it’s time to grow up.”

    This whole article is fantastic and I am grateful to Rob for the link. I had a hard time picking out a quote, so picked the above, but there is also a fantastic section on mistakes and how a mistake isn't owned by one person since the team reviewed code and it was allowed to get to the point of error. I really like that idea, the idea of things being a team effort, truly. And the rise of Gitblame, in my opinion, can be harmful for the team attitude when it comes to writing software.

  • In flight

    “It’s routine from the cockpit to see storms form in real time, and from them the fall of new rain on the roof of the ocean, or to overfly the endpoints of glaciers, where shards of the ancient snow-glass tumble into the police-light blue of northern seas. When, after long hours over desert or sparsely inhabited land a city appears, the water we see near it — lakes, dams, rivers locked in their rolling green frames of vegetation — looks holy as blood.”

    I really love this piece and the way the pilot describes his point of view on flying. So very different from what we experience in our seats. I've started to be much more nervous about flying lately and it coincides with having to do it more than ever, so it was nice to be reminded of the amazing parts of it all.

  • Decode DC: Narwhal vs Orca

    This is a great podcast on how tech was used in the 2012 US Presidential election. But more than that, I really love the way Harper Reed talks about how we talk about tech. He makes so many great points, so much to think about.

  • The Web of Alexandria part 2

    “The “web” is not a part of nature. It was not discovered; we don’t have to just accept it. The “web” is an infrastructural system that was built by people, and it was built very recently and very sloppily. It currently has the property that it forgets what must be remembered, and remembers what must be forgotten. It manages to screw up both the sacredness of the common record and the sacredness of private interaction.”

  • From Mega-Machines to Mega-Algorithms

    “Whereas the mega-machine operated by violent means—forcibly divorcing the human-cogs of identity and absorbing their productive and creative energies through wage or slave labor—the mega-algorithm doubles back and promises you reunification with this alienated self through “authentic” (or “creative” or “social”) work completed on your own time. We are sold a desirable narrative about the wealth of networks, decentralized production, cognitive surplus, collaborative consumption, social engagement, and instant convenience. The techno-utopic discourses of emancipation and community that surround the technologies and sociopolitics that make up the mega-algorithm serve as an effective ideological veil, which shrouds the practices of exploitation and control. Don’t think of yourself as an overworked, underpaid laborer trying to hustle for a paycheck. No, you’re actually an entrepreneurial individual, building your personal brand and finding (or making) your niche in the marketplace.”

  • Get off my lawn

    “You want some advice: stop reading advice articles. Advice from someone you do not know is not advice at all it’s just another opinion (yes I realize the irony of that sentence). Do you really need more opinions in your life? Formulate your opinions from doing, not from reading how others do.”

    I wish two things: one, that people would write articles with more caring and not as if they are law and two, that we would be able to read them that way instead of feeling like we are doing something wrong.

  • Web vs. native: let’s concede defeat

    “It’s time to recognise that this is the wrong approach. We shouldn’t try to compete with native apps in terms set by the native apps. Instead, we should concentrate on the unique web selling points: its reach, which, more or less by definition, encompasses all native platforms, URLs, which are fantastically useful and don’t work in a native environment, and its hassle-free quality.”

    YES! This is the key part of that quote for me “concentrate on the unique web selling points”—let's start concentrating on the parts of the web that are unique. As my friend Jason Grigsby has said time and time again, you can't link into a native app, but you can link to the web

  • Instantiation

    “There needs to be a cultural change in how we approach building for the web. Yes, some of the tools we choose are part of the problem, but the bigger problem is that performance still isn’t being recognised as the most important factor in how people feel about websites (and by extension, the web). This isn’t just a developer issue. It’s a design issue. It’s a UX issue. It’s a business issue. Performance is everybody’s collective responsibility.”

    I've been thinking a lot about the topic of performance on the web and how to change culture. I hear a lot of people talk about the need for culture change, but I hear very little about how the developer who cares goes about doing that. So, while I'm grateful people are talking about performance so much, I wish a little bit of that conversation focused more on the how of culture change.

  • Facebook and the media: united, they attack the web

    “And web developers? Stop buying into the ‘native is better’ myth. (It’s just different.) Progressive enhancement has never been an optional extra and it’s high time you make sure that your managers and your CEOs know that.”

    Last one on this topic, promise. But the writing and the compilation of quotes is just so good.

  • Without anyone’s consent

    “The thing about this idea of consent is that it implies that simply being somewhere—entering a space, looking around, staying there for however long—is indicative of consenting to whatever happens in that space. If you didn’t consent, you would just leave, right? But that neglects the possibility that you might need to be in that space, that you might be obligated to be there, while also disagreeing with all or some of what is going on.”

  • Tools don’t solve the web’s problems, they ARE the problem

    “The movement toward toolchains and ever more libraries to do ever less useful things has become hysterical, and with every day that passes I’m more happy with my 2006 decision to ignore tools and just carry on. Tools don’t solve problems any more, they have become the problem. There’s just too many of them and they all include an incredible amount of features that you don’t use on your site — but that users are still required to download and execute.”

  • The Sliding Scale of Giving a Fuck

    “Ever since then, I’ve found myself more and more rating both my feelings and the importance of any particular decision on that same one-to-ten scale. Is the decision non-critical and I don’t actually care that much one way or another? Then I’ll voice my preference, but follow up with “but I’m a two-out-of-ten on this, so whatever you want to do is fine.” Is the topic mission-critical, with far-reaching effects? My opinion will probably be a bit stronger and I’ll debate a bit harder or longer.”

  • The Plot Against Trains

    “What we have, uniquely in America, is a political class, and an entire political party, devoted to the idea that any money spent on public goods is money misplaced, not because the state goods might not be good but because they would distract us from the larger principle that no ultimate good can be found in the state. Ride a fast train to Washington today and you’ll start thinking about national health insurance tomorrow.”

  • Overkill

    “We now have a vast and costly health-care industry devoted to finding and responding to turtles. Our ever more sensitive technologies turn up more and more abnormalities—cancers, clogged arteries, damaged-looking knees and backs—that aren’t actually causing problems and never will. And then we doctors try to fix them, even though the result is often more harm than good.”

  • I have seen the tops of the clouds

    “All these grown-up monsters for my grown-up mind, they are there in the nights I wake up terrified and taunted by death. When I feel so small and broken, when despair and terror take me, I have a secret tool, a talisman against the night. I don’t use it too often so that it doesn’t lose its power. I learned it on airplanes, which are strange and thrilling and full of fear and boredom and discomfort.”

  • The Desktop Conundrum

    “Yet, if I’m completely honest, the desktop is often how our work is still perceived. Perceived by our peers on launch day (vanity) and also internally how we as organizations perceive the big picture of a completed responsive design system.”

  • Choosing performance

    “While this is frustrating, this is also why I’m optimistic. The awareness of performance as not merely a technical issue but a cultural one, has been spreading. If things are progressing a little slower than I would like, it’s also fair to point out out that cultural change is a much more difficult and time consuming process that technical change. The progress may be hard to see, but I believe it is there.”

  • Be kind

    “Being kind is fundamentally about taking responsibility for your impact on the people around you. It requires you be mindful of their feelings and considerate of the way your presence affects them.”

  • What Hollywood Can Teach Us About the Future of Work

    “Creating and communicating added value comes from many of the same skills that go into a movie: making sure that all of the elements of a product are harmonious, that they communicate the same values.”

    I love the model of the Hollywood team coming together to make the movie, it's a lot like a group of independent web folks coming together to make a web site.

  • Upon this Wrist

    “You are strapped into this new world. This future of screens in places you may not want them. And so you must embrace it. This thing on the wrist. It will not make you better. It will not change your life. Someday, perhaps. The potential is there. But not now. It is still a baby. And so for now, into it we mash our noses. We are optimistic doofuses. It is black like the ocean on a moonless night. It pings softly from the future and says: It is time to stand up. You are a lazy man. I feel your beating heart.”

    I know, another watch article, but this one is just such a great piece of writing. I love Craig's writing and this is no exception. I read it and I learn more about how to write.

  • Tales of a Non-Unicorn: A Story About The Trouble with Job Titles and Descriptions

    “Who is writing these descriptions? I’m sure these companies find a perfect match now and again. But I have a feeling that’s not the norm. It’s more likely that many of these companies just don’t know what they need so they look for everything. A recruiter or HR person whips something up and puts it out there to see who bites. Maybe they’ll catch a unicorn!”

    I really love everything about the post, from the fact that she questioned the interviewer about the FizzBuzz question, to the fact that she's calling a real issue in our industry. Whoever writes the job postings has no idea what they really want and often times I wonder if the people interviewing do either.

  • Distractions

    “The Watch is the first device that’s encouraged me to spend as little time as possible with it, or with any of the other electronic sinkholes around my office, my home, and in my pockets. It’s the first product that lives in this world, offering a small, brief window into the digital one - instead of being a portal that envelopes us, pulling us into another place to be held hostage by our own need for novelty and trivial diversion.”

    This was the first thing I read about the watch that made me see why it could be useful or valuable to someone. And it was the best endorsement yet for it as well.

  • DC, Marvel And 'The Problem'

    “The key point of Stan’s argument is that Marvel’s offering a more “sophisticated” choice, and to be fair, that’s fairly accurate — but only in the way that DC’s making comics for kids, and Marvel’s trying to corner the teen market. This, it’s worth noting, was the dawn of the teenager as an economic powerhouse, and that made a huge difference to the evolution of comics as much as it did to everything else. You can see that reflected across all of pop culture as everyone tries to capitalize on it, whether it’s Marvel comics and their soap operatic angst or, you know, the best song ever written. It all happens at once, and it was inevitable that it was going to happen in comics — Marvel just got there first, because DC had no real reason to change just yet.”

    I asked about the whole DC vs Marvel thing and was pointed to this and it's fascinating.

  • Why

    “When we water down work to pithy sayings like “do what you love” or “work is love made visible” we do the complexity of the topic an enormous disservice, and we ignore the huge role that—yes, I’m going to go there—privilege plays in all of it. You see, “do what you love” is only possible if you’re in a financial and social position to follow your passion wherever it goes. “Work is love made visible” is easier said than done when you have three jobs that you don’t like, and have to struggle to make it through the day.”

    Sometimes, to be honest, many of us work because we have to. And I love that Rian points out the privilege here. I lead an extremely privileged life because I was born to white, middle class parents in the last half of the twentieth century in the upper midwest of the US. I don't feel bad about it, but I acknowledge and accept that not everyone has had the same starting point, therefore I may need to work harder to relate and understand their point of view on life.

  • I took a vacation and you should too

    “In order for people to think that you can take a three week vacation, or work remotely for a month, you need to lead by doing. Without an example, only the bravest team members seem to believe the words that have been said to them, and take these policies to heart.”

    A great post on the need to get away, completely away. But the above quote is what's really important to me. If the people running things don't lead by example, many employees find the words and policies surrounding flexibility and time off to be empty promises.

  • Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Medium?

    “So just why are we afraid of Medium? Aside from not soliciting or editing most of its content, and not paying most of its authors, how does it differ from all previous web publications, from Slate to The Verge? Why does publishing content on Medium (in addition to your personal site and other publications) herald, not just the final-final-final death of blogging (“Death of Blogging III: This Time It’s Personal”), but, even more alarmingly, the death of the open web?”

    I publish a lot of other places, currently A List Apart and The Pastry Box, but I have all that writing somewhere else. If those publications disappeared and my work were no longer available, I still have it and could republish it on this very site. I think there is a time and a place to write and publish on other sites, but I don't trust using Medium for all my publishing as I fear for the future of all that content. You'll also notice that Jeffrey posted this same post on Medium, but I trust the link to his site will remain viable longer than the link to the Medium post.

  • Pastry Box April 19

    “When we get mired in a rigid process, or have written ourselves into a corner with an overly-detailed Statement of Work, we’re paying too much attention to the tools, and not enough to the goals. We’re gritting our teeth and making our knee bend just so while unthinkingly holding our breath.”

    As a yoga practitioner, I love how Eileen uses yoga for her examples so often <3.

  • Hope

    “I hope that openness will prevail. Hope sounds like such a wishy-washy word, like “faith” or “belief”, but it carries with it a seed of resistance. Hope, faith, and belief all carry connotations of optimism, but where faith and belief sound passive, even downright complacent, hope carries the promise of action.”

    This is another piece where you need to read the whole thing. But I agree with Jeremy, I hope the open web wins and I think hoping for that, having the mindset that it can win, may actually be half the battle.

  • A Critique of “Don’t Fuck Up The Culture”

    “And of course the most vocal challengers to most cultures are the first to be shown the door. It’s in human nature to want to eliminate the most disruptive people. And it’s also human nature to want to bring in more people that fit in well. Repeat these two behaviors over time and culture becomes homogeny, even if everyone still believes the culture values diversity. Is the culture still the same at that point? Everyone still there might believe so, but the people who left because of the culture don’t get asked their opinion.”

    I've found this to be true in my own career. Some of the time I was the vocal dissenter and I usually got uncomfortable and fed up, so I left. Culture is hard, but the people at the top have the power and in my best work situations, those people were open, honest, and willing to hear criticism.

  • Cool Kids

    “But now that I’ve met the cool kids, I know they are just like me. They have their own human failings, their own self-doubts, their own mortgages to pay. The cool kids are just as scared as the rest of us underneath their prestige and cool swagger.”

    This piece resonates with me so much. Now that I'm writing more on other sites and doing a few conference talks I'm meeting some of my heroes. I've been so happy to meet them and realize that we are all very much the same and worrying about a lot of the same things.

  • UX accessibility with aria-label

    “As I already covered, aria-label is favored in accessible name calculation. Apart from aria-labelledby, it will override all additional naming methods. This means you can use it to provide better text for assistive technologies without altering text intended for visual users.”

  • Forgetting again

    “If you want to imagine a truly frightening scenario, imagine an entire world in which people entrust their thoughts, their work, and pictures of their family to online services in the mistaken belief that the internet never forgets. Imagine the devastation when all of those trivial, silly, precious moments are wiped out. For some reason we have a hard time imagining that dystopia even though it has already played out time and time again.”

  • 100 words 016

    “We once took on the tropes of print design and tried to apply them to the web. I fear that today we run the risk of treating web development no different to other kinds of software development, ignoring the strengths of the web that John highlighted for us. Flexibility, ubiquity, and uncertainty: don’t fight them as bugs; embrace them as features.”

  • My Quantified Email Self Experiment: A failure

    “So that’s what I learned. That’s why the experiment was a failure. This is the era of the quantified self and radical transformation. And I’ve made charts and counted and poked around. I can tell you the top 20 words for each of my years, the number of times I wrote about weight loss, the first time I started thinking about being a father. My basic self is just this single, continuous, thread — quantifiable, in the form of actuarial tables, bank account statements, square footage owned, number of children. But counting things doesn’t change them.”

  • Let Links be Links

    “Crucially, if a server can render links into a tags, like Ember currently does on the client, it would be possible for a user who did not receive JavaScript (for whatever reason) to navigate around the website. It might be possible to get forms working as well, by running all the validation and submission logic on the server instead of on the client. If this effort could be made at the outset by a framework maintainer, then every developer using that framework could immediately transform an app that only worked on the latest web browsers into a progressively enhanced experience compatible with virtually any web client—past, present, or future.”

  • Fast-world Values

    “The culture of busyness and hyperproductivity is so ascendant, that it is hard to raise questions about whether speed itself should be the ultimate rationale for innovation. Is ‘the best’ technical design always about maximum efficiency in the sense of being economical with time? This instrumental philosophy is certainly at the heart of engineering, in which the latest, fastest and most automated systems appear as, objectively, the best.”

  • Emulating Failure

    “Is it just me, or are new web UI technologies continuing to try to solve the wrong problems?”

  • Bot Benediction

    “I spend a lot of time thinking about and talking to people about magic and technology, and honestly one of the biggest reasons I do this is because I see magic disappearing from the internet all the time—or worse, magic being invoked toward entirely the wrong reasons and mostly questionable business models. Twitter bots aren’t the magic of alienated labor or the magic of manipulation. They’re honest magic, they’re chaos magic, they’re real fucking magic. That kind of magic has a way of persisting online, regardless of the vacillations of markets and platforms. For now, we have it in our Twitter bots, and for now, I’m just so happy it’s thriving.”

  • Mikey Dickerson to SXSW: Why We Need You in Government

    “So I went back to my old job and tried to care about it. I was not successful. On one hand the company does not need me; there are thousands of other engineers that are as good or better. On the other hand, if I succeeded beyond anybody’s wildest dreams the net effect is that some extra billions of dollars would go to one billionaire instead of a different billionaire. It was hard to see why I should bother, and still is.”

  • Louis vs Rick

    A really great twenty post series about a guy instant messaging with his cat while at work. Hilarious and also touching.

  • In Search of a Living Design System

    “We now have a true Single Source of Truth for our theme tokens which can be used by a wide variety of platform and devices. We also have an internal repository of assets (like icons and fonts) that we keep updated in one place. The style guide pulls from this to display all the icons in our style guide.”

    This system, along with what I've researched and learned about Marriott and Lonely Planet, sounds fantastic! I'm hoping to find the time soon to dig in and get a better sense of how it works.

  • Dieter Rams: If I Could Do It Again, “I Would Not Want To Be A Designer”

    “We need to deal with our resources differently, in terms of how we waste things. We have to move away from the throwaway habit. Things can, and must, last longer. They must be designed so that they can be reused. We need to take more care of our environment. That means not only our personal environment but also our cities and our resources. That is the future of design, to take more care of these basic elements. Otherwise I’m not sure what the future of our planet will be. So designers have to take on that responsibility, and to do so we need more support from government. We need political support to solve the problems with our environment and how we should shape our cities. As designers, we shouldn’t be doing this for ourselves, but for our community. And the community needs support, not only to interact with each other democratically, but it also needs support to live democratically.”

  • The best icon is a text label

    “So let me repeat: don’t use an icon if its meaning isn’t a 100% clear to everyone. When in doubt, skip the icon. Reside to simple copy. A text label is always clearer.”

  • Rothkode

    These are super great experiments with CSS gradients. My bachelors is in fine art and I studied color theory and Rothko is one of my favorite artists, so it is also fitting that I love these. Not as great as the paintings, but for a digital representation, pretty great.

  • The Pastry Box March 27

    “We can choose to remain small. We can choose to devote ourselves to something, and to those we serve. We can choose to do our small things in small ways and which, over a period of time, can build upon themselves.”

  • The most convenient tool for the job

    “And that’s what the browsers on devices like phones, game consoles and smart watches are like. We’ll sometimes use whatever’s closest to hand. It might not be the best tool for the job, but if it can still do a good enough job, so what?”

  • Why Health Care Tech Is Still So Bad

    “In my research, I found humility in a surprising place: the headquarters of I.B.M.’s Watson team, the people who built the computer that trounced the “Jeopardy!” champions. I asked the lead engineer of Watson’s health team, Eric Brown, what the equivalent of the “Jeopardy!” victory would be in medicine. I expected him to describe some kind of holographic physician, like the doctor on “Star Trek Voyager,” with Watson serving as the cognitive engine. His answer, however, reflected his deep respect for the unique challenges of health care. “It’ll be when we have a technology that physicians suddenly can’t live without,” he said.”

    I wish more start ups would devote their energy to the health care tech field. It desperately needs smart people (just like government tech does) and it is hard, but wow, the wins could mean saved lives and that would be pretty cool.

  • A Bewildering Crash

    “They could have been any of us, anywhere—whoever flies or rides a train or takes a bus or in any way entrusts her life to strangers, as we all must regularly and routinely to get through this world. That sense of investment in calamity—it could have been me—is true, of course, of accidents and targeted acts of terrorism as well. But to be told that a scene of mass death is the result of an accident or terrorism is to be given not only an explanation of the cause but also an idea of how to reckon with the consequence–through justice, or revenge, or measures meant to prevent a recurrence. ”

    I've got to admit, this plane crash this week, and the seemingly deliberate act that caused it have me confounded. And I honestly can't stop thinking of the last moments for the poor people on board. Horrifying.

  • The billionaire's typewriter

    “As writ­ers, we don’t need com­pa­nies like Medium to tell us how to use the web. Or de­fine open­ness and democ­racy. Or tell us what’s a “waste of [our] time” and what’s not. Or de­ter­mine how and where read­ers ex­pe­ri­ence our work. We need to de­cide those things for ourselves.”

    This piece resonated with me on so many levels. I'm trying very hard to keep my thoughts, ideas, jottings right here on this site, where they are under my control and no one can take them away from me, especially since I have the source so even if my rented server space goes away, I still have this. But it also reminded me of the approach Editorially took to helping writers get their writing where they wanted it to be. It was a tool to help you write, but not to tell you what to do with those words.

  • Tabbing to reveal accessibility links

    A really great interface trick to use for accessibility with tabbing. Love the idea, would love to see the code behind it.

  • Janelle Monae's building a music empore

    “In the very beginning, I used Jim Collins’ book Built to Last to figure out my core values. And then I gave those core values to everyone I worked with: Atlantic Records, CoverGirl, etc., and as I embarked on new creative projects or business partnerships, I weighed my core values and the proposed opportunity and I decided accordingly. Style is important, having fun and being whimsical and free is important, but I’ve always believed I can accomplish anything I want while also inspiring young girls and pushing for change around the world.”

  • The Web's Grain

    “And, most interesting to me, edgelessness means blurred lines between the disciplines that work together to make things for the web. Everyone that I’ve spoken with that’s worked on a large responsive project with a big client says that the process disrupts workflows, expectations, and work culture.”

    I had a really hard time picking just one quote from this piece, so read it, read it now! This is yet another example of why I love the web and why I love so much writing on the web, it is bringing together so many disparate ideas and people are using them to explain and understand concepts in a new way, much like Mandy Brown's Ferengi piece which I linked to earlier this week.

  • Taking Steps

    “I wonder how much effort we should be putting into influencing the evolution of those emergent social constructs, whether through our work or our personal interactions, and how much of that effort would be ultimately fruitless.”

  • A Few Words On Mismatched Minifigs

    “Methodology is sticky in this way. We come up with our own techniques and plans and hold other people accountable to them, despite knowing that methodologies are, at heart, deeply personal. No one works like you do. No one works like I do.”

  • The Failed Attempt to Destroy GPS

    “In the rush of a persistent accelerated now, interruptions and challenges to life in real-time are sometimes necessary in order to ask what kind of future we’re building.”

  • CSS Grid Layout - creating complex grids

    I’m excited about the new possibilities of leaving complex math behind when doing a grid. I love that Rachel took an existing grid and made it with the new Grid layout. In addition, I’ll be at AEA Boston and can’t wait to hear her speak on this.

  • Content Amid Chaos

    “What if we worried less about fixing the content, and instead accepted some chaos along the way? What if we looked at our work designing and building websites as opportunities to help others—to create ownership, commitment, and progress for the long term, rather than perfect webpages?”

  • Ferengi

    “All of which is a long-winded way of saying that our core discomfort with Medium—with most of online publishing—is we can’t quite see how the money works no matter how hard we squint. And we’re naturally suspicious of the ways that money skews our relationships, with each other and with art. (And art, lowercase-a, is what a lot of writing is, no matter what the investors tell you. It’s what we love in the writing we fall in love with.)”

  • What Blogging Has Become

    “What is web writing in 2015? Is it still based on the author model? If you enjoy watching a writer’s mind work over time (or you enjoy having that freedom as a writer), is there still a way to do that? Or is the writer’s-voice-driven Internet over, forever, everything’s atomistic now and it’s no longer possible to scrape an audience together that way even if you want to?”

    So many good things in this one that I had a hard time picking a quote. But the questions, about what is web writing, about platforms, about social networks, all very worth thinking about.

  • Unicorns vs. Horses

    “Maybe this slow and steady thing isn’t for you. Maybe you’re going to be the next Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk and fit the profile. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t raise money, or that venture capital is inherently bad, just that there’s a big grey area between a lifestyle business and a venture backed moonshot. Raising venture money is a high risk commitment to go big or go home, and it isn’t for everyone. It certainly isn’t right for me, but neither is the surfer lifestyle business. I’m somewhere in the middle, with the Snyders of the world. I’m not a unicorn, I’m a horse.”

  • On Meta-Design and Algorithmic Design Systems

    “I envision a design practice that works in the intersection between art, design and computation. A company founded on the belief that the pragmatic and poetic is inseparable, and that modern design products should be dynamic, adaptable systems built in code. This kind of practice would create beautiful, intelligent, and functional design products for any medium, be it physical installations, web applications, or print products. Most of all, it would be a company dedicated to good ideas, with the talent to implement them despite technical requirements.”

  • Meditation and Performance

    “As I’ve progressed in my career, my mindfulness practice has progressed as well. No coincidence, then, that I find myself more radical and questioning of our capitalist system at an age (and in a tax bracket) that’s most commonly associated with creeping conservatism. I credit my practice not just for helping me to survive the stresses of work, but for putting that work in context. Sometimes, that new context has led me to serious reevaluations of my priorities.”

    The last three paragraphs of this post are stunners. I stopped and reread them twice. The above is the second to last, but the last paragraph is a punch in the gut. Take the time to feel it and to think about what he's saying because I think he's onto something.

  • King David

    “And among the many things I am taking from David’s death is to be better with young writers, and young people in general.”

    After reading several pieces on David Carr, I'm trying to figure out how I can give back to those younger than me, be they working in the web or not.

  • The Practical Case for Progressive Enhancement

    A great three part series by Jason Garber on the need for progressive enhancement. It’s well written, funny, and relaxed—bonus for lots of links to a lot of really good stuff.

  • Who Should Pay?

    “So yes, I would love a world where preprocessors are unnecessary, but I would much rather spend a few seconds (or even a few minutes) transcompiling my SASS into CSS in order to save my users even a few milliseconds. It’s the same reason I optimize my images, minify my JavaScript, use Gzip, and lazy load design and experience enhancements only in contexts where they provide a real benefit.”

  • What Is Pinterest? A Database of Intentions

    “You know why that is? It’s the way the Internet was architected. HTML is the architecture of the web and it is about the presentation of text. It’s Hyper Text Markup Langauge. And if you’re Google and you’re trying to index that world of information, you’re really great at text because that’s what the code on the Internet does. It marks up text. But if you want to get at objects or the things on web pages, we think you need humans to go in and do that for you. So we think of Pinterest some days as this crazy human indexing machine. Where millions and millions of people are hand indexing billions of objects—30 billion objects—in a way that’s personally meaningful to them.”

    There are a lot of great nuggets in this piece. You just have to keep reading to find them.

  • How Will I Pay The Bills?

    “The next time someone tells you to “do what you love no matter what,” ask to see their tax return.”

  • My Own Life

    “I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”

  • Go Find Happiness. And Take Your Job With You!

    “As I’m writing this article at my kitchen table in Chicago, just 7 miles from our office, it’s clear that our team members’ freedom to move to wherever they’re happiest and most productive is one of the most valuable aspects of working at our companies. Sometimes that means moving across the country. Sometimes it’s moving across the street to a café. It comes with a whole different set of responsibilities and dynamics to be sure, but it’s been integral to our ability, as a business and individuals, to thrive and move forward at work and beyond.”

  • Cults at Scale

    “Silicon Valley’s move to make corporations more like cults, then, could be seen as a way of resisting the movement toward gender, racial, and sexual equality that may, at core, threaten executive power by asking that all employees, not just ones who look like their CEO, be treated equitably. Because another thing that cults offer is mystification: in a cult, you don’t ask, you just believe, and in a corporation, it profits the leadership for its members not to inquire or demand to be treated equally, but rather to accept their different placement in the corporate hierarchy. Cults then are an innovative, if deeply traditional, solution for what to do when the business climate threatens to become too equitable. If it isn’t legal to discriminate within an organization, perhaps one may attempt to do so by more mysterious, cloaked, socially enforced means. The Silicon Valley startup’s coveted “unknown”, like in the traditional cult, becomes a kind of yearning for the return of a mystified, hierarchical power that remains unquestioned.”

  • Access optional

    “The problem is not that there is a cost involved in building something that works well in different contexts than our own. The problem is that we’re treating that as an option instead of a given part of what it means to build for the web.”

    I've been reading about accessibility lately; trying to learn more, trying to bake it into the parts of a project I touch. Mostly, I'm trying to be aware that we all make a lot of assumptions every day as we work. We forget all the time that not everyone is like us and so as we build our things, it's good to try and remember that.

  • Saved

    “Perhaps it’s not our job to decide what’s important right now. Instead, we’re the ones who save everything for those after us to sift through. Those future people, with their knowledge and context we can’t foresee, are the ones who trace the paths back to us.”

  • Ordinary plenty

    “My words might not be as important as the great works of print that have survived thus far, but because they are digital, and because they are online, they can and should be preserved …along with all the millions of other words by millions of other historical nobodies like me out there on the web.”

  • The Engineer and the Craftsman

    “This is why I would work hard to avoid any “Us vs Them” rhetoric. Much the opposite, I would argue all developers should aim to achieve a combination of engineering and craftsmanship.”

  • Stop Blowhard Syndrome

    “But I am furious at a world in which women and POC are being told to be as self-confident as a group of mostly white dudes who are basically delusional megalomaniacs. We’re great the way we are, level-headed self-assessments and all. Stop rewarding them for being jackasses.”

  • Pastry Box February 9

    “In this, as in so many other things, we would do well to be gentler with ourselves and others. Her choices are not an inherent judgment of mine, and my choices are not always, or ever, a good match for her needs. Our journeys are our own, and the key to each person’s success does not – cannot – lie on someone else’s path.”

  • At some start-ups, Friday is so casual that it’s not even a workday

    “BambooHR software in Utah has an “antiworkaholic” policy. Christian Rennella instituted a four-day work week at, a search engine in Latin America. And Jason Fried, co-author of the book, “Rework,” and co-founder and CEO of Basecamp, an online project management and collaboration Web site based in Chicago, has his 46 employees work four days a week May through October, and five days a week the rest of the year. “But we’re an outlier. . . . I don’t think people are creative when they’re tired. ””

    I had a hard time picking out a quote in this one, so I recommend reading the whole thing. But this article makes some really great points. If most start ups fail, as the researcher quoted found, then why are we killing ourselves? The pay off is a remote possibility, so why not enjoy work and life while building your company. These companies show it can be done. In addition, the people quoted as talking about working hard as a must, well, they just come off as asses to me. You don't have to live life that way. And if these companies can make 32 hours work, why is it so hard for other companies to even consider part time?

  • Recovery

    “But you are the only person you absolutely must live with for your entire life. No matter how long you live, you will be stuck with yourself.”

  • Get More Done by Focusing Less on Work

    “It might seem counterintuitive that you will perform better at work if you spend more time with your kids, leave work early to volunteer at a local nonprofit, or take an hour out of your workday to go to the gym. But that’s just what happens.”

  • One Month with No Phone

    “I’ve stopped mindlessly checking Twitter. I’ve stopped using Facebook on mobile at all. I don’t refresh my inbox. I don’t fill awkward silences with technology. I’m mindful of the affect of my tech behavior on the people around me. I’m much more present, and I’ve grown incredibly irritated at my friends when they have their phone out for absolutely no reason.”

    I haven't used a phone regularly for about a year and a half. Like this post, I use an iPad mini for all my roaming about data needs. And as this post states, it means I don't pull it out in public a lot, people notice, that side effect has been great.

  • CSS Reference

    The team at Codrops have put together a fantastic resource on CSS. What is great about this is that it is about CSS and not about a preprocessor. We need to remember and understand the underlying elements of what we are working with to understand how to use CSS. I’ll use this a lot, along with MDN. Thanks Codrops!

  • Asphalt vs Dirt

    “My goal is to live a balanced life, where the work I do is important, where the time I have with my family and friends is plentiful, where I can grow and improve and do fantastic work. I don’t need the big stage to do these things.”

    I think a lot about balance and about what success means for me, even more, what does work mean? I really like the idea of getting off the “paved road” that Corey talks about. But I also wish that it didn't feel like I had to explain myself so much to people in my life. Viewing life differently means people ask questions and it gets tiring.

  • The Purge: What happens when you unfollow everyone on the Internet

    “We’re among the first generations expected to maintain connections with every single person we’ve ever met, thanks to the Internet. The weight of our swollen social networks can be super stressful, let alone a distraction from knowing who you want to focus your time on.”

  • How to use Web Fonts responsibly

    “Our users want a usable page as quickly as possible—within a second, ideally—so we want visible text as close to that goal as we can. There are several approaches you can take to work around these issues, but the most important thing you can do is to move away from the default way we’re told to load fonts.”

  • Sass snippets

    I am, ever so slowly, coming to use a bit more of Sass than just variables. I like these snippets not just for ways to do things easier/faster but also for giving me ideas for what is possible in Sass.

  • Design Principles

    Jeremy’s design principles are wonderful, lots of good ideas in here. I particularly like that he has all kinds of different organizations principles laid out so you can compare and contrast them.

  • Android wear and the Moto 360

    “When the Apple Watch was announced, I was gutted that they’d decided to stick with that word because consumers will apply the same mental models to a smartwatch as to an analogue one. It’s like calling a smartphone a pocket watch, or a computer an electronic abacus.”

  • The 2014 CSS Report

    An utterly fascinating breakdown of data on how CSS is actually being used. Lot of tidbits that I found really interesting. Also, the conclusions tell me that people who really care about CSS are few and far between and there is a spot for them to help clean up the mess. In addition they say:

    “The best thing a company can do (especially true the more people are involved in writing CSS) is to run a CSS Audit. This will help identify past mistakes, and integrate tooling into your workflow to prevent mistakes moving forward.”

    If you need help with that, let me know, cause I love doing them.

  • In Your Wildest Schemes

    This is a giant, wonderful cartoon about climate change and our economy. Go, read it, think about it, it’s so good.

  • Why I Am Not a Maker

    “Making is not a rebel movement, scrappy individuals going up against the system. While the shift might be from the corporate to the individual (supported, mind, by a different set of companies selling a different set of things), it mostly re-inscribes familiar values, in slightly different form: that artifacts are important, and people are not.”

  • Dev Discomfort

    “I essentially told them the things I have to remind myself: it’s okay to take time. Rushing doesn’t improve things, it might even slow you down. Focusing on a few things and doing them well is worthwhile. Sharing what you learn—even while you’re still figuring things out—is even better.”

  • It’s never been more important for design firms to think differently

    “A dozen years ago, companies like Teehan + Lax and Adaptive Path were unique. They thought differently and communicated the value of their perspective through great work and compelling language. Firms like these created and popularized the language of user experience design. They made it possible for their clients and the digital industry at large to think differently. Hundreds of firms followed their lead over the last decade, but they copied the mindset of these formative companies. They didn’t create new language and ideas to challenge what they saw in the digital world. When an entire design industry follows a single mindset, commoditization quickly sets in. This is good when you want to buy more of the same, but not when you want something different. It’s no surprise that in-house design is so strong today. Agencies have fallen into the trap of competing with them, instead of providing a valuable contrast.”

  • Angular momentum

    “This isn’t anything new. If you think about it, sites that used the Flash plug-in to deliver their experience were on the web, but not of the web. They were using the web as a delivery mechanism, but they weren’t making use of the capabilities of the web for universal access. As long as you have the Flash plug-in, you get 100% of the intended experience. If you don’t have the plug-in, you get 0% of the intended experience. The modern equivalent is using a monolithic JavaScript library like Angular. As longer as your browser (and network) fulfils the minimum requirements, you should get 100% of the experience. But if your browser falls short, you get nothing. In other words, Angular and its ilk treat the web as a platform, not a continuum.”

  • A Lack of Blue

    “I know a simple truth: that people who genuinely care about you are the same people that you should care for as well. These are relationships that deserve more than just a thumbs up, or a #blessed, or a +1. These deserve love — that thing that wells up from the deepest springs of your soul and you give away with no thought to yourself.”

  • Gentle Metrics of Success

    “I finally feel successful, and it’s not about the money. I feel successful because I’ve gotten better at treating myself well, at finding that elusive work-life balance, and at making a major difference in my clients’ lives and businesses. I feel successful because I know that the work I’m doing in the world is important, and I don’t have to run myself ragged to do it. (In fact, just the opposite. We have to put on our own oxygen masks first. Of course.)”

  • Pastry Box Project, January 1

    “Consistency is the small effort that happens every day, that only in looking back do we see the effort that created something big, something great, something meaningful.”

  • Pastry Box Project, December 22

    “It’s tough to let go of that rush, the importance that can come with that reactive sort of busyness. It’s easy to focus on the times when you jumped in quickly and saved the day. Harder to remember all the times you jumped on something that could’ve waited. Harder still to picture what you could’ve done, the things you could’ve built, if you hadn’t been reacting constantly.”

  • What is an expert, anyway?

    “I think the “because” is the much more interesting and informational part, and the part that’s harder to doubt. Oh, you wrote a book? Awesome! You spent 2 years doing that on your last job? Impressive! I learn so much more about your experience with something from the “because” than I do from hearing a claim of expertise.”

  • Design Engineering

    “People in this role provide a great bridge between design and engineering. I’ve often called these people the “arbiters of design”. They inform design of possibilities and constraints and help ensure that designers build a consistent and usable interface for as many users as possible. They help codify the design work. They have a developer mindset with concerns about render performance and load times and can work with engineering to build out a performant front-end.”

    For what it's worth, this is how I see myself, as a design engineer, it best explains not only what I like to do, but what I think is missing in a lot of teams.

  • Ursula K Le Guin's speech at National Book Awards: 'Books aren't just commodities'

    “Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.”

  • The Disease of Being Busy

    “I want my kids to be dirty, messy, even bored — learning to become human. I want us to have a kind of existence where we can pause, look each other in the eye, touch one another, and inquire together: Here is how my heart is doing? I am taking the time to reflect on my own existence; I am in touch enough with my own heart and soul to know how I fare, and I know how to express the state of my heart.”

  • Pastry Box, November 24

    “I honestly don’t know that I would be who I am today, if Twitter didn’t exist. I have been exposed to voices and ideas that I may not have found without this network, and through those connections, have been encouraged to share, to speak up, to find my own voice as well.”

  • Pastry Box, November 25

    “So let’s try something new, shall we? Here at the holidays, while you’re visiting with friends & family & loved ones, don’t make any person, of any age or gender or OS preference, feel bad about how they use technology. Not one single one.”

  • Where fitness trackers fail

    “At some point, you’ve got to ask yourself whether it’s just the friction created by health-industry regulation—the HIPAA security rules and FDA approval (or waiver) process and the hassle of integration with legacy systems. Or is it too daunting for a twenty-something engineer to develop technology for people who aren’t like them at all? An obese diabetic on a motorized scooter? Or a frail old lady with memory loss? Or her caregiver? Someone who’s three bus transfers away from a doctor’s office?”

  • A need to walk

    “Mysteries are presented to the walker — the floating sound of a guitar above, screen door murmurs, cats frozen, baths splashing, the far off buzz of a motorcycle. Mysteries sometimes answered, more often serving only as ballast for the flitting narratives of the walker mind.”

  • The web is read/write

    “Reflective, analytical writing doesn’t fit the “get in, score, and get out” model. Its rewards and gratifications are far from instant. But they are long-lasting. And I believe web design needs such writing, alongside the more usual kind, to advance its purpose. Web design is a public practice. It can tell us about our culture and society. Web design writing must in part be concerned with insightful accounting of the social, cultural, aesthetic and even political forces reflected in the work itself. It can be an opportunity to intensify, alter and expand our discipline.”

  • The Online Memory

    “But everything from the 90s to today is going to remain mostly broken in that respect. Most of what we said and did had ephemerality long before apps started selling us ephemeral nature as a positive advertising point. Possibly no other generation threw so many words at such velocity into a deep dark well of ghosts.”

  • Reward my actions please

    “You don’t lose users because you don’t tell them enough about other cool features you have. You lose them because you confuse them. Reward my actions and we can work together!”

  • A company that profits as it pampers workers

    “At a time when surveys show many Americans are worried about their jobs and research shows that long hours of face time in the office are highly rewarded, workers at Patagonia set their own hours. And the company signals that it doesn’t want those hours to be excessive; The child development center closes at 5 p.m. The headquarters buildings are locked, with everybody out, at 8 p.m., and on weekends.”

  • A Rare Look at Design Genius Jony Ive

    “Easygoing Ive morphs into Serious Ive on this point: He sees design schools failing their students by moving away from a foundation in traditional skills. ‘I think it’s important that we learn how to draw and to make something and to do it directly,’ he says, ‘to understand the properties you’re working with by manipulating them and transforming them yourself.’”

  • The Second Trip-Up

    “I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that design can lead you to words, so I’m putting the fact here to register it as a possibility for others.”

  • 33 thoughts on reading

    “I will read whatever the hell I feel like. No guilty pleasures.”

  • Indie web building blocks

    “But its worth remembering that these are just implementation details. What really matters is that you’re publishing your stuff on your website. If you want to use different formats and protocols to do that, that’s absolutely fine. The whole point is that this is the independent web—you can do whatever you please on your own website.”

    As an aside, I've done the first two things on this list as of today. I'm slowly coming around to this idea and think it's important for me to control my web presence.

  • Be progressive

    “Developer convenience is a very powerful and important force. I wish that progressive enhancement could provide the same level of developer convenience offered by Angular and Ember, but right now, it doesn’t. Instead, its benefits are focused on the end user, often at the expense of the developer.”

  • My XOXO 2014 talk video and transcript

    “So this is what I try to remember when I’m deep in the muck, and I hope you’ll remember it, too. Somehow, some way, your worst moments feed your best work, and it might well take a decade to see it.”

  • The unready

    “In other words, the unfinished is far more valuable than the finished. The un-figured out far more valuable than the figured out.”

  • Stillness in motion

    “If I met me, but younger, we’d talk about the value of one thing. You have to choose one thing to do for yourself every day. No matter what practice you choose — how fulfilling or meaningful — it will sometimes overwhelm you. Choose something for yourself every day. Do it repeatedly and without fail. If you do something for yourself every day, no matter how many standoffs or negotiations or letdowns you face throughout the day, no one can take that away from you.”

  • On starting

    “In our race just to finish, we underestimate the benefits of quitting. I want to come out of the unfinished project closet. I want to consider the benefits of starting.”

  • Keeping the Lights On

    “We have a lot of say in who gets a voice and who doesn’t in our community. That’s a huge responsibility and a tremendous amount of power. We need to use it wisely.”

  • Pastry Box September 28

    “I want my work and my skills to stand the test of time like my house’s brick foundation. I don’t want my work to become the shitty drop ceilings that get torn out once that trend has come and gone.”

  • There Go The Grown Ups

    “I’m actually glad the grown-up is dying—we need the space to have versions of adulthood for people who don’t happen to be straight, white, and cis-gendered. I look forward to fewer noun-based versions of adulthood (spouse, house, kids) and more verb-based visions of adulthood. The future is a lot less scary if you believe an adult is someone who wields autonomy, empathy, and responsibility with an even hand.”

  • The Boring Designer

    “The boring designer realizes that the glory isn’t in putting their personal stamp on everything they touch. In fact, most of the time, it’s about leaving no trace of themselves. The boring designer loves consistency. The boring designer loves a style guide. They love not having to worry about choosing the wrong blue or accidentally introducing a new pattern.”

  • Why hourly time tracking doesn't work for software

    “This is why at Bocoup our team members only work on one project at a time and the length of a project is measured in weeks. We believe that hourly or even daily accounting of time for programming tasks is not realistic and gets in the way of both productivity and happiness. This does require that we have a lot of trust in our team, which is a really good thing to have for a million other reasons too. In the past we’ve turned down work that required hourly time accounting for this reason. This hasn’t ended up being much of an issue because the industry has been gradually getting more realistic about how programmers work. That means happier programmers and better software.”

  • Pastry Box September 25

    “I always end my day or my week knowing what I need to design next. Sometimes I start shitty first drafts late in the afternoon so I have something to work with the next morning. It can be very tempting, when the work is going well, to “just keep going” and stay at your desk late into the evening. That lovely state of flow is so elusive, we don’t want to walk away—and yet we must.”

  • Pastry Box September 24

    “It’s easy to get isolated in our not-knowing-ness (it’s fine, just add “words” to the list of things I don’t know), to assume that everyone else must have the answers, must have already figured this out. Sometimes that’s true. More often than not though, we’re all grappling with the same questions.”

  • What We Talk About When We Talk About What We Talk About When We Talk About Making

    “But to be sat amongst a community who do not share your concerns is a terribly alienating experience, especially if the speakers on stage are claiming a we for the room that you do not feel. A greater diversity of speakers and a greater diversity of participants means by definition fewer common experiences and a more complicated we.”

  • The fringe benefits of no

    “There are many instances where deadlines are crucial, where getting things done needs to get done. Sometimes saying yes is just the thing that must happen. But just as importantly, most times it is not.”

  • Pay People to Cook at Home

    “It’s nearly impossible for a single parent or even two parents working full time to cook every meal from scratch, planning it beforehand and cleaning it up afterward. This is why many working parents of means employ housekeepers. But if we put this work on women of lower socioeconomic status (as is almost always the case), what about their children? Who cooks and cleans up for them?”

  • All you need is publish

    “To work with new people, to connect to new audiences. To broaden the scale and breadth of your voice. To stand upon the soapboxes that publications offer. To collect dissenting opinions. To see what couldn’t be seen without the help of an editor or gang of skeptics willing to look over your shoulder, pointing you in directions you considered but were too meek to explore. Mainly, to write better and with greater empathy.”

  • Pics or It Didn't Happen: The New Crisis of Connected Cameras

    “And I think it’s this, the import and ethics of networked lenses, that we’re wrestling with in story after story. Networked images are simply different than the products of film cameras. They’re easier to edit and slipperier to steal. Networked pictures get away from you, via black hat Torrenting, social media drag-and-dropping, or illicit iCloud downloading.”

  • Pastry Box Sept 15

    “Just try to remember, no one expects you, as a person, to remain ‘static’ — to always do the same thing, day in, day out — that can lead to stagnation, not just for ideas but for you as a person.”

  • Other days, other voices

    “There’s something about the power of the human voice—divorced from the moving image—that still gets to me. It’s like slow glass for the soul.”

  • Hypertext as an agent of change

    “But hypertext brings with it something else, too: that speed and fidelity give rise to a transparency of iteration and revision previously unavailable. Not only can I rapidly evolve a text, but I can also expose that evolution and let others participate within it. I can open up the collaboration wider than I could before.”

  • A Fundamental Disconnect

    “We do not control the environment executing our JavaScript code, interpreting our HTML, or applying our CSS. Our users control the device (and, thereby, it’s processor speed, RAM, etc.). Our users choose the operating system. Our users pick the browser and which version they use. Our users can decide which add-ons they put in the browser. Our users can shrink or enlarge the fonts used to display our Web pages and apps. And the Internet providers that sit between us and our users, dictating the network speed, latency, and ultimately controlling how—and what part of—our content makes it to our users.”

  • Ditching Twitter

    “The first is feeling like I’m sitting at a sidewalk cafe, speaking in a conversational voice, but having that voice projected so loudly that strangers many streets away are invited to comment on my most inconsequential statements—especially if something I say gets retweeted beyond my usual circles.”

  • The atomic sentence

    “At the end of each day, I write an “atomic sentence,” a single statement that summarizes the most vital lesson about that day.”

  • Improving Smashing Magazine's Performance: A Case Study

    “Because the entire website was built mobile first, we quickly realized that adding or changing components on the page would entail going through the mobile-first approach for every single (minor and major) design decision. We’d design a new component in a mobile view first, and then design an “extended” view for the situations when more space is available. Often that meant adjusting media queries with every single change, and more often it meant adding new stuff to style sheets and to the markup to address new issues that came up.”

  • The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit

    “Chris became surprisingly introspective. “I did examine myself,” he said. “Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.””

  • Pocket sized design

    “In other words, by thinking about the needs of the small screen first, you can layer on more complexity from there. And if you’re hearing shades of mobile first and progressive enhancement here, you’d be right: they’re treating their markup—their content—as a foundation, and gently layering styles atop it to make it accessible to more devices, more places than ever before.”

  • The amazing contortions of BKS Iyengar

    “He found ways of making yoga more accessible to non-bendy newcomers, developing methods for using props like belts, straps, and blocks—or, in the early days, bricks and pieces of wood—to get people into positions. Even in the hippy-filled 1970s, he was making the practice more mainstream. ”

  • From the Porch to the Street

    “I think for many of us Twitter started as the porch—our space, our friends, with the occassional neighborhood passer-by. As the service grew and we gained follwers, we slid across the spectrum of privacy into the street.”

    Side note from me: I do a lot to make twitter remain a bit more porchlike for me. Muting words, people, and hashtags like mad, following a smaller number of people, and not feeling compelled to check it all the time.

  • How to be polite

    “This is not a world where you can simply express love for other people, where you can praise them. Perhaps it should be. But it’s not. I’ve found that people will fear your enthusiasm and warmth, and wait to hear the price. Which is fair. We’ve all been drawn into someone’s love only to find out that we couldn’t afford it. A little distance buys everyone time.”

  • Time lost and found

    “Will they give me one hour of housecleaning in exchange for the poetry reading? Or wash the car just one time a month, for the turtles? No? I understand. But at 80, will they be proud that they spent their lives keeping their houses cleaner than anyone else in the family did, except for mad Aunt Beth, who had the vapors? Or that they kept their car polished to a high sheen that made the neighbors quiver with jealousy? Or worked their fingers to the bone providing a high quality of life, but maybe accidentally forgot to be deeply and truly present for their kids, and now their grandchildren?”

  • Hit the reset button with your brain

    “Increasing creativity will happen naturally as we tame the multitasking and immerse ourselves in a single task for sustained periods of, say, 30 to 50 minutes. Several studies have shown that a walk in nature or listening to music can trigger the mind-wandering mode. This acts as a neural reset button, and provides much needed perspective on what you’re doing.”

  • What is privacy?

    “As Anil points out, our lives are shaped by all sorts of unspoken social agreements. Allowing organizations or powerful actors to undermine them for personal gain may not be illegal, but it does tear at the social fabric. The costs of this are, at one level, minuscule, but when added up, they can cause a serious earthquake. Is that really what we’re seeking to achieve?”

  • What's the design process at GDS?

    “We don’t want a culture of designs being “thrown over a wall” to a dev team. We don’t make “high fidelity mock ups” or “high fidelity wireframes”. We’re making a Thing, not pictures of a Thing.”

  • Pastry Box July 16

    “I don’t mean to say that I think people don’t pursue this career because they doubt their own exceptionalism, but that they don’t pursue it because they have no ambition of joining a cult.”

  • Secluded innovation

    “For a community that understands the essential value of open source, there’s a distinct lack of respect for openness in the way they relate to the city. Re-engaging with the public realm is the most fundamental tool that companies (and groups of companies) have to connect with the public, to understand needs more holistically, and to convert that understanding into longterm public and private value.”

  • "RWD is bad for performance" is Good for Performance

    “And—because of the negative stigma around responsive design and performance—they had suddenly become a little more interested in this performance stuff than they had been in the past. The myth wasn’t causing harm; it was opening the door to a more intentional approach to web performance.”

  • The Developer's Dystopian Future

    “My tolerance for learning curves grows smaller every day. New technologies, once exciting for the sake of newness, now seem like hassles. I’m less and less tolerant of hokey marketing filled with superlatives. I value stability and clarity.”

  • Pastry Box, July 07

    “One thing I am pretty sure of though, is that having a fast, accessible, user-friendly site can reflect incredibly well on a company, and I’d love to see more guidelines and expectations that prioritize these aspects of a service as branding requirements in addition to the usual visual details.”

  • The Pursuit of Laziness: Thoughts from Responsive Day Out

    “Ideally everybody involved are multi-disciplinary to an extent, T-shaped in their range of skills (a designer should have enough familiarity with CSS to allow them to style a page using developer tools, for example).”

  • Inside the Mirrortocracy

    “The obscurity and arbitrariness are very much by design, and is why explainer posts are supposed to be so valuable. Having engineered an unfair situation, insiders then offer secret guides to winning it.”

  • Normal

    “But normality isn’t an external phenomenon that exists in isolation. Normality is created. If something is perceived as normal—whether that’s topless women in a national newspaper or threatening remarks in an online forum—that perception is fueled by what we collectively accept to be “normal”.”

  • Pastry Box June 16

    “We need more engineers and more productive engineers. We don’t need to send people on quests through the dark woods of our issue tracker to have them prove their worth.”

  • Designing Products for Existing Behaviors

    “Products that change user behaviors, which is what Twitter always has been and in retrospect is what Mixel was trying to be, require tremendous effort. They almost always take lots of iteration, lots of manpower, and lots and lots of money.”

  • Prototyping your workflow

    “…[I]n the end, we decided that the main focus should be how to get our designs into the browser earlier in the process, instead of who should be doing that work.”

  • My Handbook – Environment

    “But recently, we’ve been working to change that perception in the team so that talking, and meetings, and writing is the work. It’s tending the garden. Making the conditions right for good work to happen.”

  • Only openings

    “The wolf approach is about disrupting the order of things and eliminating the presumed source of the problem. This is the kind of thinking that I fear is taking over places like Silicon Valley and becoming the dominant story about how to design businesses, services, and interfaces. There is an off-putting bravado and violence to this approach—almost a will to destroy something old to make way for the new. Behind it all is a refusal to acknowledge the source of the problem as a important character in the ecosystem. (If it weren’t so important, it wouldn’t hold enough influence to create the problem.) So, yes—if you shoot the wolves, the wolves no longer eat the livestock. But you also no longer have wolves. What will come of that?”

  • Index cards

    “But that’s not my only goal: I also want to design the system my writing inhabits, and to maintain a proximity to the development process which can inform how that system evolves. That is, I want to be as close as possible to the forms, mechanisms, and methods by which my words are published.”

  • Seams

    “My point is that while we don’t want to overwhelm the user with choice overload, we also need to be careful not to unintentionally remove valuable choices that can empower people. In our quest to make experiences seamless, we run the risk of also making those experiences rigid and inflexible.”

  • 12 Little-Known CSS Facts

    “In my research, I come across new little tidbits all the time, so I thought I’d share some of them in this post. Admittedly, not everything in this post will have a ton of immediate practical value, but maybe you can mentally file some of these away for later use.”

  • No New Tools

    “Consider making a program for people, not a program for a computer. I don’t want a new app to help me do work; I want different ways to think about work so I can get more done. It’s a nuanced difference, but I think it is an important one.”

  • A Bit of Nothing on Madness and Rowing

    “And the reminder that not all long things are slow, complicated, boring things gave me the courage to pick up Edith Grossman’s translation of Don Quixote. And wouldn’t you know? A couple of hours and a handful of full-on belly laughs later, I am about 150 pages in, and flirting with the idea that this may be my favorite novel.”

  • Designer Duds: Losing Our Seat at the Table

    “What if design uses its seat at the table to draw pretty things, but otherwise not pay much attention to the outcomes, the user behaviors, the things enabled? ”

  • And they all look just the same

    “As an industry, we’re never going to really break free of molds if we’re borrowing design patterns and styles from everything that is already out there. Learn how designers, architects, typographers, and composers broke the mold in their day.”

  • Mob Rule

    “You are entitled to run an organization that reflects your values within the bounds of the law. What you are not inherently entitled to is the opportunity to lead an important and visible organization with values and actions that deviate from social norms.”

  • Mandy Brown for The Pastry Box

    “At its best, “do what you love” is a friendly pep-talk to the dissatisfied elite. At its worst, it’s exclusive: the ugly side of the American dream, the one that judges those with the least as being the least deserving. If only they had the will or ethic to pursue their dreams! If only that was all it took.”

  • Letter to a junior designer

    “So go deeper. Squander loose time on expanding your ideas, even if you’re sure they’re perfect or useless. Look closely at decisions you think are trivial. I guarantee you’ll find better solutions around the corner.”

  • Typekit practice

    “Whether you’re a novice or an expert in any medium, good decisions take practice — and great ones stand on a solid foundation. Typekit Practice is a collection of resources and a place to try things, hone your skills, and stay sharp. ”

  • Designing in the borderlands

    “Granted, the walls between the disciplines are much higher now than they were back then. But, I believe, every once in a while it’s worth having someone stand in front of you and say that the walls that separate things are usually stupid, and they deserve to be stepped over whenever possible.”

  • Accessibility checker

    “I recently switched to using Chrome’s Accessibility Developer Tools built in contrast checker and I love it. Take a look at the audits being run by the tools and let’s look at how to begin using it once installed.”

  • Pastry Box, April 12, 2014

    “If you have an idea, own it. Just because someone else has already talked about it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. And so what if it’s not perfectly articulated? So what if it turns out to be wrong? So what if you change your mind later?”

  • The values of the web

    “As I scroll through my feeds littered with stories of deplorable behavior coming from the tech industry and beyond, I rest assured knowing there’s a massive community of people working on the Web that value honesty, openness, and collaboration.”

  • A lament for Readmill

    I’m with Elliot on the way he talks about Readmill. It was so beautiful and easy to use, I am sad they are shutting down. But I am also so grateful that they have left us with a beautiful reading journal as well as an easy export to take our memories with us.

    “I’ll miss you Readmill. My home screen will feel empty without you. Oh, and I don’t think you failed at all.”

  • Visual inventory

    “It’s not that responsive design inherently takes longer; we just don’t know as much about the nuances like performance and image sizes and resolution-independent graphics… yet.”

  • On making design mistakes

    “By refusing to let myself screw up, I was screwing up. Much of that style guide is in the garbage bin now. It was so airtight with certainty it was useless as a design document.”

  • Mastery and mimicry

    “The user sees the world as it is. Our job as builders is to create the world as it could be.”

  • Why RWD Looks Like RWD

    “The good news is that the transition can be made—and a lot of folks are sharing how they’re handling it. Eventually those walls between roles will break down.”

  • Good taste doesn't matter

    “Good taste is a myth. A story our rider creates to serve the needs of the elephant. And the sooner you kill your good taste idol, the sooner you’re going to give yourself a chance to be a better designer.”

  • This One's for Me

    “The wounds are a gift: with the mask gone, you get to be a person again. You learn how to accept help, and better yet, how to better give it.”

  • Device agnostic

    “I use the term device-agnostic, now synonymous (to me) with good web design, to distinguish those sites that embrace the inherent variability of the web—which, in itself, is nothing new.”

  • Accessibility and Building a web for everyone because sometimes it's not all about us

    “So what can we do? Study, duh. Change our perspectives by constantly telling ourselves “this is not all about me.” The more we study and talk and write about the subject, the quicker and easier it will be to change the idea of accessibility being an afterthought or something to wait to consider until the end “if we have the time and the budget.””

  • Platformed.

    “But I do wonder if our collective short-term frustrations leads us to longer-term losses. And seeing the web not as a “platform” but as a “continuum”—a truly fluid, chaotic design medium serving millions of imperfect clients—might help.”

  • Scenes from an internet

    “We need to remember that there are many narrative options available to us, not one. Each has its own pros and cons that we as an industry can learn more about and you, as someone interested, can discover your favorite.”

  • Continuum

    “It’s our job to explain how the web works …and how the unevenly-distributed nature of browser capabilities is not a bug, it’s a feature.”

  • Pastry Box February 24, 2014

    “Web sites are now expected to work on a wide array of devices and screen resolutions, but somehow screen readers and magnifiers are never listed as a “device” when speaking about responsive design.”

  • If you build it, they will come

    “Our work, our responsibility, does not end when building is complete. Perhaps because the building is never really complete.”

  • A visual lexicon

    “But these sorts of problems only seem to reveal themselves in large, responsive projects with multiple developers, designers and share holders all tugging in different directions, all trying to make the project their thing instead of our thing.”

  • A new taco place

    “It sucks sometimes, but most of the things we invest our time or money in, if we don’t own them, are things we are lucky to have while they last. If they disappear, someone who does own them will certainly feel it a lot more acutely than we ever will.”

  • Climbing mount responsive

    “Instead of asking ‘How can I make these patterns (mega-menus, lightboxes, complex data tables) work when the screen size shrinks?’, you need to ask ‘What’s the problem they’re supposed to be solving, and how would I design a solution for the small screen to start with?’”

  • Take a breath

    “So, let’s take a breath. And let’s spend a bit more time making well-formed thoughts before speaking our mind. We’re all doing our best out here.”

  • The French way of cancer treatment

    “Pretty much everyone has insurance, it explained, and the French get better primary care and more choice of doctors than we do. It also turns out, as has been much commented on, that despite all this great treatment, the French spend far less on healthcare than Americans.”

  • UX teams

    “When you hire, look for skill fit, but don’t make it your primary evaluation criteria. Look for passion, curiosity, personality fit, selflessness, openness, confidence, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and intrinsic motivation. These things can’t be taught, but skills can. ”

  • Why writing?

    “Because it helps clarify my thoughts. It forces me to take a jumbled mess of half-formed ideas and try to make something coherent out of it.”

  • Making remote teams work

    There are many things I could pull out of this piece, because I think it is so fantastic, so read it! But here is one quote:

    “Remote working encourages habits of communication and collaboration that can make a team objectively better: redundant communication and a naturally occurring record of conversation enable team members to better understand each other and work productively towards common ends.”

  • Impatiently Grazing On Music

    “I’ve spent a lot more on music in the last year than I ever did on Rdio but the result is a collection I adore because I listened to every album dozens of times. Just like I used to.”

    This is how I listen to music as well. I buy entire albums and listen over and over and over again.

  • Caviar.

    “The discovery of new things is a lot of fun, but I’m feeling the need for fewer options, fewer distractions. It’s time to put less emphasis on discovery and more on appreciation and application.”

  • Perennial Design

    “There are more ways to scale than growth. There are more ways to deepen our impact than just reaching more people. ”

  • Pastry Box for January 16, 2014

    Garann means on how to make a better workplace.

    “So I wanted my first thought of the year to be a small, simple idea: Treat your colleagues as though they know everything you do.”

  • Pastry Box for January 15, 2014

    Jason Santa Maria with some thought provoking questions about how we discuss and critique web sites.

    “And perhaps that’s the key: maybe this needs to come from the outside, from people who can step back, see a larger picture of web design, and understand how it fits into everything else.”

  • Writing is thinking

    “Because writing—that first leap into taking your idea and making it a Thing People Read—isn’t really about wording. It’s about thinking. And if you can tell the difference between an article that knows what it’s about and one that exists purely to sell ad space, then you’re pretty good at that already.”

  • Photography, hello

    “Because while our relationship with so-called traditional cameras is fading, there’s never been a more interesting and, indeed, complicated, time to be involved with the photograph.”

  • Speaking in tongues

    “Maybe it was wanting people to stop asking, ‘Where are you from?’ Maybe I wanted to become invisible in that particular way. Or maybe it was my subconscious wishing that I could belong in this beautiful Art Nouveau city with its rhodochrosite government palace and the sometimes-crumbling statuary of its eerie necropolis and the cobbled streets of my neighborhood, San Telmo, festooned with graffiti. The Sunday flea markets, giving way to the tango milongas, which look like a painting of Paris in the twenties. The glittering Teatro Colón, an Italianate splendor of red velvet and stained glass and gold, surrounded by svelte, elegant palm trees. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a place where people sit elbow-to-elbow late into the night, sawing through hunks of delicious local steak cooked to the Platonic ideal of medium-rare, nothing for seasoning but a perfect flame?”

  • New York Times tech redesign

    Really interesting look at the changes to the technology behind the New York Times redesign. I love it when companies share this type of information, so helpful to understand what’s happening behind the scenes.

  • Beyond Responsive

    “If there’s one thing I hope we see in the upcoming year it’s this sort of maturity: that we’ll stop celebrating sites simply for being responsive and instead view it as just another (important!) characteristic of a well-built site.”

  • This is not 2013 in review

    Elliot Jay Stocks makes some fantastic points about living a quieter life, concentrating on offline things.

    “As 2013 progressed, I found myself caring less and less about social media, less and less about online debates in the web community, and less and less about the representation of myself online. Partly by accident and partly by design, I became quieter.”

  • Pasty Box 31 December 2013

    Jay Fanelli on The Pastry Box Project

    “Spend more time with your spouse, your kids, and your friends. And stop eating lunch at your desk. No one dies wishing they’d put in more time at the office.”

  • In dependence

    “In all likelihood, the independent web will never be able to match the power and reach of the silos. But that won’t stop me (and others) from owning our own words. If nothing else, we can at least demonstrate that the independent path is an option—even if that option requires more effort.”

  • Homesteading 2014

    “So, I’m doubling down on my personal site in 2014. In light of the noisy, fragmented internet, I want a unified place for myself—the internet version of a quiet, cluttered cottage in the country. I’ll have you over for a visit when it’s finished.”

  • Pastry Box 12-20-2013

    Rebecca Murphey on the Pastry Box

    “Whenever I give a talk about refactoring a codebase, someone in the audience always asks, ‘How do I convince my company that this is as important as the next big feature or deadline?’ My answer is simple: for the sake of the health of your team and your project, you can’t afford to not pay attention to these things. If the powers that be don’t believe you, well, we’re hiring. ”