I wasn't sure if this experiment would hold up for a whole month, but it's been a pleasure to keep track of it all. Is it too long?
Jorge Arango: The Illusion of Explanatory Depth
When we design an “intuitive” user interface to such a system, we run the risk of making people overconfident about how it works. We can’t build good models of systems if we can’t see how they do what they do.
Designers should also aspire to create systems that are easy to use but offer some degree of transparency; that allow their users to create mental models that correspond to how the thing works.
Cate Huston: How to Begin the Invisible Work of Change Management
Sometimes people look at teams and diagnose problems as an absence of process rather than an absence of values, or cohesion, or delivery.... Lack of process is rarely the actual problem, but rather a symptom of an underlying problem.
Kelli Anderson: Russ & Daughters at the Brooklyn Navy Yard
This was so much more satisfying and joyful than design retrospectives usually are. (Maybe just because I love smoked fish?)
Molly Conway: The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies into Hustles
I admire the hell out of her...but I remember that admiration is not the same as envy.
It’s okay to love a hobby the same way you’d love a pet; for its ability to enrich your life without any expectation that it will help you pay the rent.
Christine Hyung-Oak Lee: Giving Myself to my Garden and Keeping Enough for Me
Building a thing is sometimes done by inches.
Part of tending soil means walking away and giving it time to break down leaves and vegetable peels and coffee grinds into nutritious topsoil. It is the gift of waiting—during which a garden forces me to tend to myself, to sit and read and write and sleep and eat.
I am fucking gardening my own life now.
I have not experienced nearly the hardships Christine has, but for whatever reason that last line has been echoing through my brain since I read it.
We want our employees to never forget the accidents of the past so that we can reflect on the incidents and learn from them.
This article reminded me that part of the paralysis I'm experiencing is not a lack of clarity or ambition, but maybe just grief.
We have a finite amount of time left to coexist with significant parts of the biosphere, including glaciers, coral, and thousands of species of plants, animals, and insects. We’re going to have to learn how to say goodbye to them, part of which should involve doing everything we humanly can to save whatever is left, even knowing that the odds are stacked against us.
Brad Blumer and Blacki Migliozzi for the New York Times: How to Cut US Emissions Faster?
This Snowfall-y report on the different emissions reduction programs being tried around the world is both educational and (as always, with climate reporting) extremely sobering. We have so much work ahead of us.
It also reminded me of this intense graph of energy flows, which I saw on the walls of Otherlab once.
Isaac Chotiner for The New Yorker: How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann
Brilliant, lucid thinking that connects the rise of ethnonationalism to the climate crisis, and prompted me to immediately purchase a political theory book for the first time since freshman year of college.
In the face of all that, the present liberal-capitalist international order has utterly failed, as we’ve all said, and we can’t expect people to just do nothing. They’re going to look elsewhere for answers to their problems. To make a huge generalization, they’re not turning toward the mainstream ideological resources of liberal modernity. They’re turning to variations on religious metaphysics and often, unfortunately, forms of ethnic and religious exclusion. So, hence the desperate need for us to develop a new political theory of this moment and new utopian ideas.
We could look at the current period with the crisis of liberal democracies all around the planet and the emergence of figures like Bolsonaro and Trump and [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi as symptoms of a more general crisis, which is simultaneously ecological, political, and economic.
Even before modern times the Afro-Eurasian world was already well connected. This map depicts the main trading arteries of the high middle ages, just after the decline of the Vikings and before the rise of the Mongols, the Hansa and well before the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope.
A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise, by Sandy Allen
No quotes to pull from this one because I read it ON PAPER in basically a day while catsitting for Sandy in the Catskills. Sandy gorgeously weaves their "translation" of their uncle's memoir about his life as someone diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia with reflections on mental health care in the country and reporting on the events of the book from the perspective of their other family members. Such a good read!
I aspire to this level of easy-flowing writing while tackling a subject as heavy & complex as the historical roots and current manifestations of the US's prison & policing problem.
The Tea Party was triggered not by taxes being raised but rather by a tax cut. Our common understanding of the tea party as a revolt against taxes renders this basic truth invisible, but the event only makes sense in the broader context of an enforcement regime whose abuses and excesses had destroyed the government's legitimacy.
American history is the story of white fear, of the constant violent impulses it produces and the management and ordering of those impulses. White fear keeps the citizens of the Nation wary of the Colony and fuels their desire to keep it separate.
American criminal law is constructed, maintained, patrolled, and enforced through a highly distributed, at times byzantine and chaotic set of overlapping jurisdictions, interacting awkwardly with one another.
The goal of this system is not to figure out if the person in question committed a crime, but to sort city residents according to their obedience and orderliness.
Subtly but unmistakably we have moved the object of our concern from crime to criminals, from acts to essences.
If there's one thing I've come to believe, it is that much of the cause of our current state of affairs lies in our tasking police with preserving order rather than ensuring safety. Order is a slippery thing: it's in the eyes of the beholder and the judgments of the powerful. Safety is clearer: it's freedom from violence and intrusion.
Agile for Everybody, by Matt LeMay
I really loved this book (and not just because I've been lucky enough to collaborate with Matt in the past!) It's the rare business advice book that stays strictly anti-jargon and bs-free to deliver an honest look at what it takes for teams to actually work in a people-centric, collaborative, adaptive way.
The Three Laws of Organizational Gravity:
1) Individuals in an organization will avoid customer-facing work if it is not aligned with their day-to-day responsibilities and incentives.
2) Individuals in an organization will prioritize the work that they can complete most easily within the comfort of their own team or silo.
3) A project in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by the senior-most person who approved it.
Agility is measured in your ability to change and evolve based on customer need, not in your speed to execute.
Customers choose the experiences that best meet their needs and goals, not the most "innovative" or "disruptive".