This morning I caught the NPR story of Amanda Gorman, 22, who will “become the youngest poet in recent memory to deliver a poem at a presidential inauguration.” Even more remarkable (to me), Gorman has had challenges since childhood with a speech impediment that affects her ability to say certain letters. So much so that she would find different words to use—words she could pronounce without difficulty—in her poems. Since then, she has performed her poetry at esteemed places like the Library of Congress and curious venues like the Empire State Building’s observation deck.
Tomorrow, Amanda will perform her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” written specifically for the inauguration. In her earlier years, she has held the title of Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and became the first National Youth Poet Laureate. We’ll be in good hands and in the presence of remarkable talent.
If you want a preview of what we’re in for, take five minutes and read In This Place (An American Lyric), written and performed by Amanda at the Library of Congress.➵
A new podcast (to me) that I read about in the most recent issues of Dense Discovery.
How To Citizen with Baratunde reimagines the word “citizen” as a verb and reminds us how to wield our collective power. So many of us want to do more in response to the problems we hear about constantly, but where and how to participate can leave us feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Voting, while critically important, simply isn’t enough. It takes more to make this experiment in self-governance work. Listen in to learn new perspectives and practices from people working to improve society for the many.
I’m intrigued by the premise as I’ve been thinking about how to make the most out of the next twenty years. How to contribute in a way to really fix problems rather than apply more patches.➵
I’ve been thinking for years about what it would take to make the social web magical in all the right ways—less extreme, less toxic, more true—and I realized only recently that I’ve been thinking far too narrowly about the problem. I’ve long wanted Mark Zuckerberg to admit that Facebook is a media company, to take responsibility for the informational environment he created in the same way that the editor of a magazine would. (I pressed him on this once and he laughed.) In recent years, as Facebook’s mistakes have compounded and its reputation has tanked, it has become clear that negligence is only part of the problem. No one, not even Mark Zuckerberg, can control the product he made. I’ve come to realize that Facebook is not a media company. It’s a Doomsday Machine.
When reality starts to sound like the plot of a James Bond film, it’s time to, uh, reverse course. What gets my attention is the notion that the problems as a result of Facebook out-scale the maker’s ability to “just turn it off.” Does that sound familiar to you? It’s the dystopian pre-story for a million science fiction movies. We may already be on the path to living out THX 1138.➵
Earlier this week, I signed up for David Hoang’s newsletter, and I’m sure glad that I did. In response to this week’s attack on the capital, David shares his views on the systems we are born into. He proffers how these systems come with their own unconscious biases and how they can play into the wrong hands, even in those cases when—looking in from the outside—it doesn’t make sense.
It turns out that because you experienced oppression, it does not make you immune from participating in other systems of oppression. Imagine how many unconscious bias decisions one might make a day. Think about when that’s multiplied by every human being for the last hundred years. Now, imagine when that bias is conscious, and someone made a deliberate decision to oppress. As Darien Boyd wrote, the system is working as designed. If you thought The Social Dilemma was enlightening around system design, wait till you read about systemic racism. Some of you might have similar upbringings of being raised in model minority families. They might not like a narcissistic president, in fact, they might despise him. However, he talks about communism, socialism, and the threat of it. That can be triggering for people who experienced it.
Taking in David’s perspective, my first thought is the need for us to live with a mindset of curious diplomacy. Given our society’s state and condition, we can’t afford to presume anything about one another. Nothing. Not even the smallest data point. I’m old enough to know the world isn’t black and white, but I’m beginning to understand that it’s also not gray—it’s full color. It’s our systems and biases that reduce the world to a smaller spectrum.
We’re not going to fix anything with a mindset that a few discussions will heal our combined culture. And this will require more than just listening. If we’re going to achieve some form of harmony (the kind I thought we lived in before the last four years, but I’m pretty sure I was wrong back then, too), then we have to be genuinely curious how our systems might work together through diplomatic means.➵
Rob Weychert will always be a source of inspiration as he seems to always be in motion. Not even a pandemic gets in his way. In fact it inspires him to dust off an old zine and publish a new issue.
Zaly began as a parody of the grassroots, amateur nature of zines. We initially made it entirely by hand and made a point of putting in as little effort as possible. Like Seinfeld, it was about nothing. Unlike Seinfeld, it was not remotely compelling. I’ve been looking through a lot of old punk zines this year, and that renewed interest, combined with quarantine ennui, created a fertile environment for a Zaly revival. I wanted to occupy Zaly’s anarchic creative space again, but I also wanted to have a physical artifact to share with friends, a way to connect across our pandemic boundaries of self-isolation without asking anyone to spend any more time staring at the screen of an electronic device.
I contacted the old Zaly crew (most of whom I still speak to regularly) with print specs and a call for submissions. We set a deadline and got to work. When the dust settled and the submissions were in, Zaly9 added up to 28 pages of invigorating nonsense. That page count doesn’t include the cover, adorned with a blurry image of an audio cassette which nods at the content’s mixtape essence while acknowledging that the endeavor is driven by nostalgia.
Click the link to see photos of early issues and the hotness of the latest. I love this idea. Maybe it’s time to for an Airbag zine…➵
Trying to stop globalization is like trying to hold back nature.
In recent years a different type of globalisation has accelerated. A new design aesthetic is taking over the world, spread not via brands or FDI [foreign direct investment], but through social media and the internet. Even as formal trade slows, the globalisation of taste is rampant. Starbucks may not have reached large chunks of the world, but there are very few large cities in the world now in which a visitor cannot order a latte surrounded by exposed wood and vintage light bulbs. Kabul boasts no McDonald’s, but you can get a decent burger and fries at Burger House, a restaurant that would not be out of place in San Francisco.
It does my heart good to see other cultures progressing without global brands dictating what’s in or out. This is the way.➵
An easy to use punch list of senators and representatives who should be removed from office immediately—the 148 congress persons who voted to overturn the federal election. Although, the NYTimes missed one, Lindsey Graham, a prominent Trump supporter for the last four years who turned Judas only at the last minute.
Bonus list: The three senators who co-sponsored yesterday’s coup.➵
Mandy Brown writes,
“Bro!” begins Headley’s delightful new translation of Beowulf, and from there unravels a tale of heroism and machismo and masculinity that honors the origins of the epic poem while also carrying it forward. There’s an unexpected irreverance and comedy here that elevates the usually gloomy tale into a story as brash and boisterous as the brags told by its eponymous protagonist. “He was our man, but every man dies. / Here he is now! Here our best boy lies! / He rode hard! He stayed thirsty! He was the man! / He was the man.” Indeed.
A group of Google workers have announced plans to unionize with the Communications Workers of America (CWA). The Alphabet Workers Union will be open to all employees and contractors at Google’s parent company. Its goal will be to tackle ongoing issues like pay disparity, retaliation, and controversial government contracts.
From a related CWA press release.
Google began as a small tech company with a “Don’t Be Evil” mantra, but has quickly become one of the most influential companies in the world. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now has more than 120,000 workers. Yet half of Google workers at Alphabet companies are hired as TVCs—temps, vendors, or contractors—without the benefits afforded to full-time employees. Executives have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in exit packages after documented sexual harassment against fellow Googlers. And the company has taken on unethical government contracts, like drone targeting for the military, yet kept the nature of that technology secret even to the Googlers working on those projects. It has removed its past motto from its mission statement.
It’s a shame that companies tend to turn into what they started with the intent to avoid. And it doesn’t take 120,000 people for that change to happen. I’ve witnessed this first hand at companies that doubled in size too quickly (20 to 40 and again 500 to 1000). As revenues rise and more money is at stake, the culture starts to take body blows—Especially if investment money is on the line. It is a shame Google no longer lives up to its original intent. It just goes to show how difficult it is to stay the same as the company grows.
Based on my own employment experience with unions and after watching too many mob movies, I’m always leary of a union’s honest intent. But If the workers want to unionize because Google’s leadership isn’t responsive to their perspective—then (and not that it matters), I support their move. We spend too much time working as it is; there’s no need to make it worse with repressive culture. I hope forming the AWU brings about positive changes the members seek and that other groups who also need change might find their leadership more receptive and supportive.➵
The platform “reaches more than one million readers in 200 countries. Boasting a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, Glose carries ebooks and audiobooks from all major publishers, including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette, and Simon & Schuster.”
The move seems to have been made to help Medium members discover (and therefore synthesize and share) more ideas. From Medium founder Ev:
Books are a means of exploring an idea, a way to go deeper. The vast majority of the world’s ideas are stored in books and journals, yet are hardly searchable nor shareable. With Glose, we want to improve that experience within Medium’s large network of engaged readers and writers.
Even more exciting, Medium intends to explore new ideas to evolve Glose beyond what it is today. Again from Ev:
We want to rethink the book-reading experience, and we’re hiring. If you’re a certain type of book-loving designer, product person, or engineer, this might be a dream job for you. Did I mention the books team will be based in Paris?
Travail de rêve en effet!➵
Just received an email notification about this publication. “A collaboration between _Pop-Up Magazine_’s Brand Studio and Google. It’s the print magazine extension of Google’s Year in Search campaign” which explains the PDF format. More from Pop-Up:
For the Year in Search magazine, we enlisted experts, artists, writers, scientists, photographers, and big thinkers to help make sense of this unforgettable year. They introduce us to their beloved dogs (page 20) and challenge us to rethink our relationship to the planet (page 42). We’re invited to taste a special bowl of noodles in Linghua (Lily) Qi’s kitchen (page 10) and sit in a barbershop chair for much more than a haircut (page 32). Each of these stories surprised us and moved us in its own way. Looking back on a year filled with unprecedented crises and systemic conflicts, we found stories of resilience, humor, community, and creativity.
I love collaborations like this and wish there were more.➵
For anyone in the online publishing business considering memberships of any and all kind comes this handy resource from a project called the Membership Puzzle Project.
In partnership with The Lenfest Institute and the Google News Initiative — released the Membership Guide. It is the culmination of three years of study and support for membership models in news. The Guide is like a little course in membership. It takes you through the steps. It tells you how to do each one. It identifies best practices. It warns about common mistakes. And it gathers into one place the lessons people have learned as they built their membership programs— including, of course, the errors and wrong turns. We spent six months pulling it all together, we consulted a lot of knowledgeable people to make sure we had it right, we talked to 50+ newsrooms — or individuals and organizations supporting newsrooms — on five continents, and we’re excited to share the results with you now.
While the site is a considerable resource, I would also recommend creating and updating a Business Model Canvas to help in this process.➵
As a strategy, modern brands represent a specific business model. This model unlocks new sources of value at the time of economic involution. Modern brands make their products and services valuable beyond their function and utility; they build an architecture to deliver new value (like subscription or membership); and then find a new way to harness this value and turn it into profit.
A Neiman contributor predicts more journalists going independent in 2021 through blog-based upstarts:
The primary difference is that these blogs, these magazines, these whatevers, will be built and guided by the individual creators for their audience, not by the executives they once reported to or their shareholders and owners. And that’s interesting. You’re unlikely to see a new brand from Condé Nast this year, which is still trying (and failing) to clean up the ongoing problems at Bon Appetit. But we’ve already seen exciting new launches like Defector, from the team that brought you Deadspin, and Brick House, a media cooperative owned by the editors of the publications that it houses.
More independent publishing on the web—yes please!➵
Seth Godin shares a tiny bit of wisdom this morning:
Some people hesitate to share an idea because they’re worried it will be stolen. In general, these people are afraid of success, not failure. An idea unspoken is a safe one, which not only can’t be stolen, but it can’t be tested, criticized, improved or used in the real world.
I can only think of one type of regret that a person can have when they are old, and that’s not putting their ideas out there and giving them a try.➵
A solid list from Polygon. Don’t miss the Star Wars books (and others like Dune and the Foundation) mentioned in the opening paragraph.➵
I love Erik Spiekermann just as much as the next designer, but it’s nice to have this article from the Financial Times featuring a different design/typography legend, Bruno Maag. He is the founder behind DaltonMaag, the second largest type foundry. While DaltonMaag may not be a household name, they are the studio behind typefaces for companies everyone has heard of like AirBnB, USA Today, and Amazon (they created Bookerly, the eye-pleasing font for the Kindle). As well as a large host of cities and companies not as well known.
Before reading this article, I didn’t know much about Bruno (which I intend to change), but I share his opinion on Helvetica:
When Maag dislikes something, he is prone to saying so bluntly, knowing that it will attract attention. One of his targets is Helvetica, the famous font that is owned by Monotype and can be seen everywhere from the New York City subway to museums. “It has become a lazy choice – if you can’t be bothered to think, pick Helvetica,” Maag says dismissively. “You know you can get away with it. You’re not putting yourself out there.”
Be sure to add this to your weekend list of long reads, but don’t wait because I don’t know how long the Financial Times keeps articles outside of their paywall.➵
After years of living and computing in a deep underground cave, Dave emerged unsatisfied by his Windows experiences and purchased a new M1 MacBook. And the totally comes out swinging with these two insults of macOS.
I miss Segoe. Probably going to offend some type nerds here, but San Francisco is too squatty. I also find macOS’ 1× type rendering pales in comparison to Windows’ type rendering. Type looks great on 2× but at 1× it’s too bold and looks like a lossy JPEG.
Ok, I might have to give him the bit about San Francisco because I’m not a huge fan either, but his comment about type rendering on Windows? Are you kidding me?! By the Nine Sons of Blind Poppycock! Windows renders type in the same way unaccountable government employees spray paint letters to form words on streets. And I’m pretty sure kerning doesn’t exist in Windows.➵
I found myself nodding in constant agreement with every statement Miles Surrey made about Ted Lasso, a new television program that debuted earlier this year on Apple TV+.
There have been plenty of good shows this year, and most of my favorites (Better Call Saul, ZeroZeroZero, Gangs of London) don’t quite renew one’s faith in humanity—frankly, they feel like appropriate 2020 viewing all the more for it. But no series I’ve watched this year has been more rewarding, on an emotional level, than Ted Lasso. I mean this sincerely: The show has struck an optimistic chord in my increasingly cynical heart and made me want to be a better person.
Ted Lasso was a blessing for Kitchen Storey and me this year. It is a program that entertained and made you feel like maybe the world might end up in an okay place. And perhaps it will if we can get more people to hang their guard on the coat rack and listen to what Ted has to say about life, peanut butter, and teamwork.➵
I have and will always be a fan of MailChimp, but this latest expression of their brand is too much. Before you click the link, take a restroom break, grab a beverage, tell your co-workers you won’t see them for a while because it takes forever to get through.
My biggest gripe is that there are points in this story where I should be able to click-through to the thing being presented, but there are no hyperlinks. For example, near the beginning, there is a yellow newsstand promoting Courier, the small business magazine MailChimp purchased earlier this year. In this promotion, three of the top stories are called out, yet I can’t click on any of them.
This means I can’t share any of the content—this report is like a six-foot blog post made up of one run-on sentence. It’s a shame because there are some really great stories about how their service is enabling companies to do their best work. Comicbook form storytelling has always been a part of the Mailchimp brand, but I preferred it when they just sent out actual comic books instead of producing an HTML based cartoon.➵
Enough dying already, @#$%! Unfortunately I had not heard of Anthony Veasna So until coming across this weird biography/obituary piece in the Times. Intrigued by what I read, I headed over to literary magazine N+1 and started reading So’s short story, Superking Son Scores Again—The Magic Johnson of badminton. I’m not all the way through, but already I’m hooked on his storytelling, and I’m pissed that such a great talent is gone. I’ve pre-ordered Anthony’s book, Afterparties: Stories, and I can already tell I’ll want more when I’m done.➵
Sounds a bit too similar to a haunting Robert Frost story:
It’s below freezing. The front valve stuck. The tire is almost deflated before I noticed. By now, there’s maybe 4 psi in the tire. I’m screwed, I think. It’s freezing rain. The bead is gonna break away from the rim. I know it. If the tire blows, I’ll have to walk home, do I have enough layers on to stay warm? I’m worried.
Thankfully nobody died of hypothermia but instead came away with a lesson in “free air life.”➵
The one hundred and twenty-eight questions and answers immigrants must know as part of their citizenship application.
These questions cover important topics about American government and history. The civics test is an oral test and the USCIS [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] officer will ask you to answer 20 out of the 128 civics test questions. You must answer at least 12 questions (or 60%) correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.
When the Karens and Terrys shout at minorities to go home, a citizenship test should be administered to see if they have what it takes to live in “America.” And if they fail, perhaps a lovely evening at an ICE detention center to help them reflect on their anger and actions.➵
I abhor silos, fiefdoms, and territories in the workplace. They are the toxic result of poor leadership, but that doesn’t mean we have to live with it. If you agree, then you’re going to love Misook Ji’s article. It is a design-centric call to action, every company should consider, and if you need a reason why Misook states it right up front:
Strong cross-discipline collaboration between design, research, engineering, and product management, makes a huge difference in adding value for consumers and businesses. Accenture’s Together Makes Better reports that companies that invested in cross-functional collaboration to drive digital transformation enjoyed 27% earnings growth from 2017 to 2019, while those that didn’t only achieve 2% growth.
The bottom line—collaboration equals positive revenue growth. Cross-discipline collaboration, when done right, means better communication, stronger ideas, and faster execution. Yes, this article emphasized product teams (design, engineering, management), but this approach works in every place where there are cross-discipline dependencies.➵
My head nodded in agreement when I read this statement by John on his blog, Daring Fireball. In his post, John quotes a passage from an article written by Richard Hofstadter for Harper’s magazine in November 1964. The Paranoid Style in American Politics describes a politically charged, divided country. While reading the paragraph, it is easy to imagine Richard wrote the article just yesterday to describe our current climate. While the 1960s did not contain a pandemic, other events turned the country into a powder keg: The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Protests, and the assassinations of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Senator Kennedy. I hope we never get to the point of mirroring all of the events from that time, but I too take a measure of comfort that the United States has been through tough times like these before.➵
A helicopter pilot found a frozen glacial lake and hot mopped it to create a small playing surface. Two helicopters, several trips, and many COVID tests later, they played hockey.
Red team vs. Blue team. With a single net, the men played two games of “half-ice,” hockey’s answer to half-court basketball.
I love this—hockey’s version of Volta.➵
Sure, everyone’s (including mine) goto for Thanksgiving is Planes, Trains & Automobiles but Les Nessman’s classic live broadcast of a turkey giveaway came first.➵
This might kill the Nintendo Switch for me. I’ve never been a huge Nintendo fan, I got one primarily for the new Zelda title. Since then Nintendo has been slow to release anything new and compelling. Streaming would also help me reduce the number of devices I have which is always a big plus. The only thing that might be better is if Microsoft brings their Gold Pass service to iOS.➵
Like I needed one more reason to visit Japan.➵
From an adapted excerpt of President Barack Obama’s new memoir, A Promised Land published by The Atlantic comes this thought from Obama about writing while he drafted his presidential memoirs:
I still like writing things out in longhand, finding that a computer gives even my roughest drafts too smooth a gloss and lends half-baked thoughts the mask of tidiness.
I haven’t written anything by hand in so long I don’t know what I might be missing. Though it does not share any insights into his process, here’s an interesting story on Obama’s literary past including authoring his first book, Dreams From My Father.➵
Quick note, if you’re not following Mr. Ruperts blog then get on it. Moving on, Dave shares a lesson learned on blogging:
I made a mistake. Three weeks ago I settled into a nice blogging flow and had a decent stream of published posts. It felt so good to get ideas out of my head. Sitting on a handful of nearly done posts, I was putting the finishing touches on one of my precious thoughvomits, I got the bright idea to spice it up by adding some illustrations…
I chuckled because I did this about a year ago inspired by blogs that use Unsplash to add an image to every post. It’s easy to search for a photo, but illustrations not so much. I concur with Dave’s thoughts including his conclusion—”Don’t do this.”➵
Boxes and Arrows makes the case for dropping old, conventional wisdom in the face of new learnings from research:
Let’s stop counting clicks. The speed, conversion rates, and user satisfaction for your product are in no way connected to the number of clicks a user makes. And once we start limiting clicks, our page quickly starts to look like a directory: a list of every option, tiny font, in alphabetical order. For the user, this ultimately ends up feeling like we’re looking for a needle in a haystack. This is not the experience we’re hoping to achieve. Instead, we should focus on the human. We should zero in on how they want to use our application. The less experience they have, the higher the risk and the stranger the situation, the more stress the task entails.
Designing to simplify a users life is always the path to victory.➵
If you love publishing then I have an event for you. The annual magCulture conference is now a two-day affair, November 17 and 18, with each day dedicated to a theme.
The first session has ‘Activism’ as its central theme, highlighting the power of magazines as platforms for change from both historical and contemporary standpoints. The second session is based around the theme ‘Analogue’, reminding us that there’s more to magazine-making than computers. How can editors and art directors maintain a human touch?
The speakers are a wonderful collection of designers, editors, authors, and founders from an eclectic range of publications from The Atlantic to Record Culture. The price point for admission is very affordable and the sessions run late in the UK which means early attendance here in the US.➵
A glimpse of well preserved North Korean hospitality architecture (interior and exteriors) heavenly influenced by 1970’s China, East Germany, and the Soviet Union. Looks like a bunch of Wed Anderson film sets without the heavy use of Futura.
The photos are from a new book published out of Australia.➵
It’s great to see book stores getting a competitive tool. I’ve heard from friends they love the service, so I’ll have to try this myself. I wish there was a way to do this with ebooks that had a competitive reader to Amazon’s Paperwhite reader.➵
Not much, but newspapers know that already. Today, endorsements are a time for the leadership to reflect on “what that publication is, what it advocates, how it thinks, what principles it holds dear.”➵
Given the metric tons of shit we’re all dealing with right now, it’s nice to have some comedy back in our lives. Watch the trailer and you’ll see for yourself, the writing is just as sharp and smart as it was. And it proves that while satire might need a break, comedy—when done right—still works.
What’s that? You don’t like animation? Either learn to appreciate the format and have a laugh or go grow some grass from seeds you harvested one at a time.➵
Even before they get to talking about food, I can tell I’d love Gaggan Anand and his restaurant by the same name.
The meal cost $400 and came with rules. No. 1: No using cellphones, except to document the dinner and the chefs preparing it. “Please do the Instagram, the Facebook, the Twitter; give me the fame, I need the fame,” said Gaggan Anand, whose restaurant bore the same name. Clad in black, with a booming voice that suited his hulking figure, he stalked between a vast kitchen island and an L-shaped table for 14. “Those of you with good cameras, if you can take a photo of me scratching my ass, you get a bottle of Champagne.
And more rules, perhaps the best saved for last.
Limits on trips to the bathroom. “The first hour is all belted in,” he said. “After that, we will not give toilet breaks”—the meal would last the usual five hours—“but if you have to, just go quickly and come back. Think of this as a nonsmoking flight with no Wi-Fi, no network, and it’s an Indian airline, so nothing works and it’s very turbulent. You might be crashing soon, so you’d better enjoy.
Gotta love a good sense of humor. Especially when you’re approaching a four hour long dinner.➵
Feels like there is rarely good news about the Internet these days. Maybe that’s why this morning’s news of the return of Gowalla was especially welcome.
Gowalla was a beloved iOS application. It was one of the first to encourage real-world exploration by rewarding users to register or check-into the place they were visiting. Places could be anything from a park to a public building to the corner watering hole. The quality of the design was second to none and featured an ever-expanding catalog of icons illustrated by Brian Brasher. A lot of work went into the brand that extended beyond the digital experience. It was warm, welcome, and made travel–of all kinds—more fun.
Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for a competing experience to appear in the form of Foursquare which paired business check-ins with coupons. It was ugly and lacked personality, but the value proposition of savings a dollar off a margarita was enough to attract more users. Gowalla was shut down in 2012.
This morning a tweet from an old Twitter account announced the return of Gowalla though with a different experience based on augmented reality. I’m just glad to have it back. It’s so great to see the Gowalla brand and its kangaroo back in the world.➵
American aviation company Boom Supersonic unveiled a scaled prototype—called “Baby Boom”—of a supersonic aircraft earlier today. The larger vehicle is scheduled to be finished in 2025 with commercial flights taking place approximately four years later. Flights like Tokyo to Seattle, New York to London, and Montreal to Paris will take four hours on the new aircraft. In addition to this amazing news, Boom won a contract last month to design a future version of Air Force One.➵
In my experience many of the problems encountered are due to pour alignment as a result of even worse communication. And I think we’ve all had to bear the brunt of the results more often than we care to recall.
To help improve both communication and alignment in product design and development, Phil Gilbert (GM of IBM Design) came up with “Playbacks” as a “place where the results of all the detailed operational decisions are shown and alignment is kept with a minimum of fuss.” They are a key in IBM Design Thinking. Playbacks have evolved a bit from their original scope to become a vital tool for alignment across teams and levels of leadership. To achieve success It should not be considered a tool but a fundamental practice in product management as it is done at IBM.
My friend and former colleague Colin Naver has presented many of Playbacks during his tenure at IBM. Recently he published an article on this practice and how it has helped his career in product management and design.➵
Finally available for Macintosh, the software allows the use of both E-body and digital still cameras for online use. If you find yourself in online meetings frequently and have a Sony camera you’ll want to check this out.➵
Bloomberg CityLab has thoughts on how to prepare. TL;DR: Prepare to spend time in the out of doors and in the cold. So, order your Canada Goose Expeditions and practice your hot run cocktail recipes because you’re going to need it with all the ice fishing in your near future.➵
On his way to his next venture, health and wellbeing columnist Oliver Burkman sums up years of writing and research.
What follows isn’t intended as an exhaustive summary. But these are the principles that surfaced again and again, and that now seem to me most useful for navigating times as baffling and stress-inducing as ours.
Some very useful and practical advice. You’re all going to want to read through this and likely save a copy to Pocket.➵
I look forward to the drone delivery failure videos.➵
Also an interesting look at which states are more progressive about voting than others. I was surprised to see New York doesn’t support mail-in ballots.➵
An interesting data visualization from the The Economist. The data charts out search patterns to find we are genuinely interesting in how to live a more healthy lifestyle.➵
And on this day the design community received a gift from the heavens in the form of Emigre magazine, for free.
The final six issues of Emigre magazine, co-published with Princeton Architectural Press from 2003-2005, are now available as free PDF downloads from the Emigre website. These six pocket-book sized volumes were a final effort by Emigre to highlight and encourage critical writing within graphic design. We believed that design, as a cultural force, was worthy of an evaluative look, so we turned an inquisitive eye on our profession. All six issues have sold out years ago. We’re now making them available for free to anybody who’d like to revisit or who missed the excitement of the often heated debates that were circulating within graphic design during the early years of the 21st century.
As anticipated here’s BrandNew on the Seattle Kraken identity:
While the rest of the year crumbles around us, 2020 has been a very good one for sports logos and now we have a team called the Kraken and while that could easily go wrong in so many ways this doesn’t disappoint in any single way. I don’t know what it is about “Kraken” but whether it’s rum or robotics it’s a name that delivers so much without breaking a sweat and, here, when paired with “Seattle” it just blows up instantly with the mere idea that a kraken could live in the Puget Sound. As if the attention to detail wasn’t so good so far, the secondary logo of an anchor has the Space Needle at the top. I mean, c’mon!
I could not agree more.➵
In case any of you were thinking this whole pandemic thing is close to ending soon—buy a better mask and tuck in.➵
While we wait for BrandNew to run their feature, here is the backstory as told by ESPN. Interesting tidbit, Adidas pitched the owners on having a seat at the table during the creative development.➵
An older article that includes this piece of advice:
Ask Murray about his reputation as the master of surreal celebrity encounters and he grimaces, not eager to explain his motivations. But he will concede that he’s aware of how his presence is received. “No one has an easy life,” he says. “It’s this face we put on, that we’re not all getting rained on. But you can’t start thinking about numbers—if I can change just one person, or I had three nice encounters. You can’t think that way, because you’re certainly going to have one where you say, ‘What did I just do?’ You’re a disappointment to yourself, and others, imminently. Any second.”
Something to remember when you’re cruising through Instagram.➵
#idiocracy / "Readers don’t always know what “editorial” means, and the word itself has multiple uses."
This is exactly why bloggers should never have been treated like members of the press earlier in the century. The rise of editorial content in the form of blogging (without proper disclaimers and public education) helped to propagate ignorance on what is news versus editorial. And then cable television jumped on the bandwagon and turned what was left of news into nothing but 24/7 editorial and punditry, though it is consumed as “news.” What’s really a shame (and not currently helping) is that members of the Baby Boomer generation—who grew up on Walter Cronkite—can’t tell the difference anymore.
By the way, we still have a good old fashioned news program. It’s called PBS Newshour.➵
Monocle 24 talks to the sibling owners of Canlis, the best restaurant on the West coast, on their multiple, amazing pivots during the pandemic. “How do we throw our entire selves in being three completely different restaurants.” They prepared long before the shut-down and have kept all 1500 of their people employed.
A must listen to everyone in business.➵
Wow! From their email announcement:
We’re excited to share that Courier, a London-based media company, has recently joined the Mailchimp family. Courier’s mission is to help modern small business founders and entrepreneurs like you work smarter, realize your dreams, and live life on your terms. And starting today, we’re bringing Courier’s stories, interviews, and guides to the Mailchimp site, so all our customers can benefit from their insights.
Courier’s existing website is still up and running. The MailChimp version seems to be selective (maybe?) about which articles are brought over. And there is a distinctive difference in the creative direction between the two properties.➵
Mr. Hoefler with an interesting tidbit on the usage guidelines for the Biden campaign: “Working together, we came up with some guidelines for the campaign’s typography, which would help articulate thoughtful messages with attentive typography. Words of action would be set in Decimal’s declarative small capitals, while the supporting syntax would rely on Mercury Text Grade Four.”➵
This has to be one of the best episodes of 99% Invisible ever.➵
A terrific point taken from “The design systems between us,” an insightful essay from Ethan on the cost of dedicated design tools and development decisions may not scale outside of engineering.
Modern digital teams rarely discuss decisions in terms of the collaborative costs they incur. It’s tempting—and natural!—to see design-or engineering-related decisions in isolation: that selecting Vue as a front-end framework only impacts the engineering team, or that migrating to Figma only impacts designers. But each of these changes the way that team works, which impacts how other teams will work and collaborate with them.
If you’re in the business, I encourage you to read and re-read this post because it alludes to another evolution in our industry that will shake things up. It’s not clear if it will be good or bad for designers and/or developers, but it has the potential to have a bigger impact than Responsive and Ajax combined.➵
A Wes Anderson film starring Bill Murray about a newspaper—are you kidding me?! Ye gods! I hope the suits aren’t going to sit on this until a cure for COVID-19 is found. I don’t care what’s playing, going to a movie theatre is at the very bottom of my post-pandemic checklist.➵
#movetenspaces / "Senet is an all-new independent print magazine about the craft, creativity and community of board gaming."
I love it when my interests converge with independent magazine publishing. My copies of Senet have not arrived just yet but by the photos, this looks to be a fantastic publication.
The magazine promotes board gaming as an art form. Each issue includes previews of the most exciting and intriguing upcoming games, features which explore the tabletop experience and the creative processes behind it, and reviews of the latest releases from both major and independent publishers.
The tell will be in the quality of the writing, but I’m hopeful and look forward to future issues.➵
#ageoldwisdom / "A conversation with the graphic designer, who, until his death at 91, was still thinking about how his craft could help his beleaguered city."
One last interview with Milton Glaser. Wise words up until the very end.➵
Great work and good for a solid laugh throughout the collection. Snagged from Coudal Partners.➵
#design / "Graphic design is usually used to amplify a desired effect. As such, when successful, typography changes perception. This is not easy to quantify, but we know that it happens."
— Milton Glaser
A response to a reader of Mag Men—Fifty Years of Making Magazines by Walter Bernard and Milton. I highly recommend the physical book over the Kindle version due to the nature of the visual content.➵
”…the board has decided to dismantle the organization in its current state and end the lease on the Club’s physical space. The board believes the club should be reconstituted in a new, more inclusive form, under different leadership in the future.”
This is in response to the TDC called out recently for racist perspectives and practices by a former board member Juan Villanueva. He writes, “I hate burning bridges but the bridge of racism needs to burn.”➵
#regimechange / "Nonwhites and Hispanics were a majority of people under age 16 in 2019, an expected demographic shift that will grow over the coming decades."
The Republican Party has a year, maybe two, to completely retool their program or they’ll never see a majority seat again. I hope they do, but as long as the current guard is in power they’ll go to the grave clutching old ideals that will die with them.➵
“I’m a professor who teaches and a consultant who advises various organizations, married to a committed working spouse [and] the mom of four children: the oldest is seven; the youngest is just over six months old.
I’ve come to believe that the difference between going to bed feeling content or disappointed at the end of the day has a lot to do with the expectations we set for ourselves. Let’s lower our standards. Better yet: Let’s use this moment to shift them to something more reasonable.”
Solid advice from a mom who knows a thing or two about the hustle.➵
I can’t say that I’m surprised. When I read the analysts’ reports about this move to ARM my first thought was, Basecamp is screwed. I believe this happened before when Apple made the move from PowerPC to Intel. I can’t imagine that Microsoft will lift a finger to create a version of Windows that will run on ARM chipsets which possibly means this is the end to dual-boot Macs (emulators will possibly figure this out if there is an adequate market demand). This seriously puts a cramp into my initial thoughts about switching to PC gaming instead of buying into the next generation of consoles. Maybe it’s time to follow in Dolan’s footsteps and take up chess.➵
“I will start by making a bold claim: I think most people don’t even have any idea what a dinosaur is.” Now we just need a similar guide for Jeff Goldblum.➵
It’s a shame that Valiant did not make the list this year. Immortal Hulk, Doctor Doom, Invisible Kingdom, Once & Future, and Undiscovered Country were all delightful news to me and I picked up the first story arc for all of the titles (Marvel books are on sale right now and regularly). I also came upon The White Trees, Afterlift, and Starship Down. I love it when the Eisner Awards points me to titles I would have never considered checking out otherwise.➵
What better way to kick off a new week than with free, amazing type? I wish more Monday’s started off this way.
Apple has recently licensed fonts from type foundries such as Commercial Type, Klim Type Foundry and Mark Simonson Studio to be used as system fonts on Mac OS Catalina. But since these fonts are an optional download, many users of Mac OS X are not even aware they have access to them for free.
Over-saturation of Domaine, Produkt, and Publico is imminent.➵
One day event with a solid line up of speakers and content. At $350 this is a no-brainer for An Event Apart experience.➵
Ten years on, Ethan shares his story for creating the compositional framework that evolved the World Wide Web.➵
Convincing Indeed. I’m a sucker for 90’s web design but I don’t know that I’d ever way to bring back non-aliased type. We’ve come a long, long way in typography. Thanks for the link, Ethan.➵
A fun read with a kicker!
As great as “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is, it is a source of some regret for one of its key creative architects.
“I wish we did this as the plot for Generations,” Moore says, referencing the first Star Trek feature film featuring The Next Generation crew that he co-wrote with Brannon Braga. “If we hadn’t have done that episode, then [the movie] would have been the Enterprise-A coming through that wormhole, and you’d have Spock and Kirk and everyone on that ship, we’d play the same story. They — the original crew — they had to go back to their deaths. And Guinan knew Kirk, and Guinan knew Picard, and that would have been an amazing movie.”
Can you imagine? I agree with Brannon, this plot would have made a fantastic film. There is a lot behind this one storyline that a cinematic format could have addressed so much better.➵
I’m literally freaking out right now.➵
Harvard Business Review examines four scenarios that would lead to economic depression and why each scenario is unlikely. So why do we keep hearing about a pending depression? “We think at least part of the answer is the extreme intensity of the coronavirus shock.”➵
The Daily looks at the history of domestic policy, current situation, and the future of the US oil industry. One conclusion: “Energy security is an illusion.”➵
Seeing the flying fish market in Pikes Place operating behind the chain barrier is chilling.➵
#viewsource / How to take a decent photo of your own shoes with a combination of iPhone and Apple Watch.
You can replace “your own shoes” with anything that is difficult to capture by yourself. Pay attention to Matt’s instructions because “the Camera app on the watch is a little buggy.” Not sure if the URL is going to work for Windows users so if it’s not working just visit A Whole Lotta Nothing and look for the post.➵
I’m not a virtual background person myself, so I’d like to point out that these images also make fine backgrounds for computers and devices.➵
Themed cases don’t normally float my boat but Holy Toledo this one is an exception.➵
#typography / Under Consideration takes a look at the identity for Think 2020, IBM's annual technology and insights conference.
The work was a joint effort between artist Imogen Heap and a UK based creative agency called Field. I enjoyed the story behind this work (near the bottom of the page) and how Imogen seemingly wandered around Armonk—IBM headquarters—to record different sounds to incorporate in the work. It reminded me of watching Ben Burtt share his many stories on creating sounds for Star Wars in a similar fashion. And any time IBM Plex (one of the all-time best type families) gets front-row attention it’s worth sharing.➵
A much-appreciated list from Mr. Jonathan Hoefler who writes:
All five [books] share a sincerity, an attention to detail, and a sense of humor that has kept me smiling for weeks. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I have.
If reading is not your thing then I encourage you to stop watching tiger trash and enjoy Jonathan’s episode of Abstract on the subject of typography.➵
Vox looks at models (from left, center, and right-leaning institutions) projecting how to return people back to work and restart the economy while the virus continues to linger. One insight that seems certain: Mass-and-ongoing testing (when the nation has built the infrastructure) and mass surveillance are coming to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave, and Never Ready for a Real Crisis.
It might be a good time to brush up on 1984.➵
As part of a stay at home, play at home campaign the game publishers are giving away resources during the quarantine—Especially for parents.
With schools closed around the world, many parents and caregivers are at home with their kids, including many in the D&D community. If you are in need of fun & educational material to share and/or play with your kids, you can check back here each day for D&D stuff to help during this time. If you (or someone you know) is a younger gamer, we’re also releasing resources to make it even easier to get into D&D.
When I was in grade school the smart kids were pulled into special creative and critical thinking classes. One of the things we did was play Dungeons & Dragons to teach a number of team mechanics and to extend our imagination.➵
I recommend starting with The Paint Wizard, a “portrait of Millie “The Paint Wizzard” McCrory, who decided at the age of 58 to change her name and pronouns and embrace her authentic self, cat ears and all.”➵
Be sure to add this to your reading list for the weekend. I mean come on, it’s not like you have anything else to do. Parents, give this article to your children and have them present a report on what they learned. It’s not like they have anything else to do either.➵
“Zoom is sloppy. Zoom also has made poor privacy decisions.” Via Daring Fireball.➵
Since joining InVision I have been repeatedly asked to share my tactics and techniques for facilitating a remote workshop. Happy to see this finally make it out into the world.➵
#reading / Diamond Comics Distributors “announced that it will cease shipping new comics as of this week.”
No, this isn’t a poor attempt at an April 1st joke, the system is shut down and with it the digital side as well. I can appreciate why they are doing this and I’m behind it, but Wednesdays have zero meaning for me now. It’s stupid, like pre-Thursday.➵
I suspect demand will grow for better experiences to interact with other people as more time goes by and we’re all bouncing off the walls. I’m joining a Shadowrun campaign with some friends in Seattle and we’re already looking at the best way to do it virtually or maybe we just need a big room and table so we can sit six feet away from each other.➵
#design / "She Designs Books celebrates two years of recognizing women designers working in book publishing with a special exhibition at Type Directors Club."
If you happen to be fortunate enough to live in New York, New York, I can’t think of a better escape from all the craziness than this exhibit from the Type Director’s Club.➵
An interesting look behind the scenes of what it looks like to manage an entire airline, and the current decision making to reduce risk to passengers and the company.
On Friday, in an extraordinary letter to employees, chief executive Ed Bastian announced a 40 percent cut in capacity—the biggest in Delta’s history, including after 9/11. “The speed of the demand falloff is unlike anything we’ve seen.”
Feels like airline mergers are on the horizon again. Here’s Business Insider on “the fallout” from 9/11 and the coronavirus.➵
An op-ed piece from Beth Cameron, former senior director for global health security and biodefense on the White House National Security Council:
When President Trump took office in 2017, the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense survived the transition intact. Its mission was the same as when I was asked to lead the office, established after the Ebola epidemic of 2014: to do everything possible within the vast powers and resources of the U.S. government to prepare for the next disease outbreak and prevent it from becoming an epidemic or pandemic. One year later, I was mystified when the White House dissolved the office, leaving the country less prepared for pandemics like covid-19.
No doubt part of the Drain the Swamp Make America Great Again initiative. Now we’re living in a swamp and America doesn’t feel so great. Nice work.➵
#Utopia / "After three years of data analysis, the discrepancy remains—a potential sign of new physics."➵
“Let this be a lesson: Make sure you’ve selected the correct printer when you’re at work when printing personal stuff.”➵
#viewsource / "Helping Greg Storey get Airbag Industries off Movabletype and onto a better publishing stack."
My friend and engineering partner Jesse just published the entire backstory of saving and migrating eighteen years of Airbag content to a brand new tech stack, including that one time when my trusty old webserver died the week before we were to start the migration process. Fun times!➵
From Wired magazine (I gotta hand it to those folks, they’re trying to bring back the magic. Be a cynic all you want but I’d rather live in a world that’s trying to bring the magazine back to its roots than one that just gives up. Okay, back to the story about languages.):
Python is one of the world’s most popular programming languages. In fact, it’s more so than ever. Python climbed from third place to tie for second in the latest ranking of programming language popularity published by the analyst firm RedMonk.
You know, this site used to run on Movabletype that was initially powered by Python. Maybe it’s time to bring it back. Just kidding Jesse!➵
Working on three different branding projects, I have browsed through a good deal of type families lately. Most families contain a fair amount of glyphs (boxes, stars, etc.) but on occasion, I’ve come across the symbol of a pointing hand. I didn’t think much about its use until recently after coming across the article “Point, don’t point.”
[The] pointed-finger symbol goes by many names: mutton fist, printer’s fist, bishop’s fist, pointer, hand director, indicule, or most unimaginatively as “a hand.” Scholarly consensus has pretty much settled on the word “manicule”, from the Latin maniculum, meaning “little hand.”
Scribes and scholars—sometimes readers—used a manicule to “emphasize a significant word, phrase or passage” much like how readers today use a highlighter. FF Franziska, the type family used in the upcoming Airbag design refresh has such a mark and now I am intrigued on how to incorporate it here in the future.➵
It’s not just the sound, but the visual of all the cards—all the data—spinning until the right combination of information is found. These signs are also known as split-flat displays and found in many train stations (in Europe anyway). It’s a shame to read they are being phased out.➵
From the official website: “Atari Hotels level up hotel entertainment with fully immersive experiences for every age and gaming ability, including the latest in Virtual and Augmented Reality.” It makes sense to integrate a hotel around these entertainment options given the popularity of gaming. But only if the tech and content are constantly updated. Otherwise, it will end up like today’s movie theater lobbies rocking Time Crisis II and Sega OutRun.➵
The same year also saw a new record for most digital checkouts.➵
“In the creative world we hear an awful lot about collaboration, but it seems that while working together is essential to bring an idea to life, it’s not that good for shaping ideas in the first place.”➵
A poignant opinion piece inspired by the debut of William Gibson’s new book, Agency.➵
“Google picked a problem they thought to be really hard on a classical machine, but IBM now has demonstrated that the problem is not as hard as Google thought it was,” says Jonathan Dowling, a professor at Louisiana State University.
As a fellow IBMer it makes me feel good to see Big Blue getting into a bit of a street fight here. While I didn’t work with the quantum computing folks directly, I followed some of their work and it’s truly badass—IBM doing what their brand always makes me think of: Deep research and development into the future.➵
A first person account of the record breaking 19 hour non-stop flight from New York City to Sydney, Australia. The flight was setup to run a number of experiments including how to get passengers through such a grueling flight while acclimating to the destination time during the travel.
Marie Carroll, a professor at the University of Sydney who’s overseeing the passenger research on the flight, rallies her troops at the back of the plane. “This is the time, guys, when we really have to work through this,” she tells them. Moments later, they’re leaning against the food trolleys in the galley, stretching. Next, they perform upright press-ups among the empty economy sets. As a finale, they attempt synchronized dance moves in the aisles. All in the name of science. It looks like cabaret, but beating jet lag is serious business. Beyond the sleepless nights and daytime fatigue, experts say critical processes including heart function and metabolism are upset when the body clock gets disrupted.
It will be interesting to see how the research impacts the passenger experience on future long-haul flights. I once flew from Dallas to Shanghai and it took 14.5 hours and even though I had a first class cabin on a brand new Boing 787, the travel affects hit me like a wall and it took an entire day to recover.
As the number of annual airline passengers increases from “4.6 billion this year to 8.2 billion by 2037” I’m sure this research will come in handy. Meanwhile, the Guardian pledges [“How to explore the world without harming it.”]()➵
From the editors of Wired magazine:
Climate change. Flawed algorithms. Deadly diseases. Tech monopolies. We are facing many existential challenges that need to be tackled head-on before it’s too late. Many of these problems are of our own making, consequences of our relentless push for progress. Fortunately, there are lots of people who are racing to save us from ourselves—progress we can definitely get behind.
It’s great to see Wired getting back into its game, and on these topics.➵
#typography / FontShop is celebrating 30 years in business with a 30% discount on particular font families.
If you ever wanted to purchase a FontShop family or two, now is the time. From the looks of it, new families are being added daily until—my guess-the reach day thirty.➵