“I’m the boss.”

“When companies become design-led, he believes, designers are saying “get out of the way, I’m the boss.” The forceful “I’m the boss” mentality combines with design’s tendency to become what he calls a “microworld of aesthetic high-fives”: in which designers have an invisible language about what good design looks like based on a history and experience that they tend to privilege, and this understanding that designers together at the exclusion of others. Maeda thinks these two elements end up alienating other disciplines when everyone should be working together.”

John Maeda: “In reality, design is not that important” – Fast Company

This, 100%. He’s gonna get ripped for putting this on the table, but what he describes matches with my experience. And, as the article states, this doesn’t just apply to design and designers. I’ve seen it with engineering, hardware and software, too. Hubris.

Meada is “head of inclusion and computational design” at Automattic, the maker of WordPress. It seems he is taking the broadest possible view of inclusion, not just to consider traditional identity categories, but different perspectives and professional roles. It will be interesting to see if this gauntlet generates insightful discussion and change in the design community, or just pushback.

EDIT: Here it comes. And of course, it immediately goes for the “no true Scotsman” argument.

“The Irony”

The irony is that Americans remain in agreement on many actual issues. Eight out of 10 Americans think that political correctness is a problem; the same number say that hate speech is a concern too. Most Americans are worriedabout the federal budget deficit, believe abortion should be legal in some or all cases, and want stricter gun regulation. Nevertheless, we are more and more convinced that the other side poses a threat to the country. Our stereotypes have outpaced reality, as stereotypes tend to do.

The Geography of Partisan Prejudice” – The Atlantic

Is it “irony” that those who hold the minority views have artificially engineered political power to impose policies 180° from what the majority would prefer? Calling that “a threat” to democracy is far from prejudicial.

If Cohen saw himself in the Republican congressmen he faced across the dais, then Cummings was speaking to them, too, in offering the possibility of redemption—though they may not have heard it. Imagining the questions those in the hearing room would face years from now, Cummings asked: “In 2019, what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact? Did we stand on the sidelines and say nothing?” After the end of this presidency, the country will have to take stock of how to move forward. Cummings offered one model of how to do so: with a keen awareness of the pain that it caused, but also with grace.

Elijah Cummings Saved the Michael Cohen Hearings” – The Atlantic

“User research is hard — not because recruiting participants and conducting interviews are difficult, the logistics have never been easier or less expensive. True user research is hard to take because it forces you to consider the true behaviors of real people who aren’t like you and quickly reveals wishful thinking.”

“Focus Groups Are Worthless” – Erika Hall

Circle the Wagons

When something is designed, we need to look at the motives of the designer. Tech campuses are designed to, first of all, lure you in… Secondly, they’re designed to keep you there… Thirdly, and most insidiously, they’re designed to inspire loyalty. Especially when the community is under attack. They may appear to be designed for the benefit of the worker, but the feelings of loyalty the community is designed to engender benefit the company much, much more.

Facebook Isn’t a Community, It’s a Company Town” – Mike Monteiro

The Keys to a Great Rebrand

  • Be crystal clear on why you need a rebrand
  • Dig deep into your history
  • Be willing to change your story
  • Connect what you’re doing to a futuristic idea – and leave room for others to join
  • Meet your customers where they are
  • Get your key stakeholders deeply committed

Advice from Brian Collins, CCO of branding consultancy COLLINS, and Lelan Mashmeyer, CCO of yogurt maker Chobani. Both are co-founders of COLLINS.

Whistling past the robot factory…

…no algorithm can replicate human creativity. In fact, creativity is antithetical to the way artificial intelligence works. We develop machine learning by feeding in data about the way people react in certain situations. The point of algorithms is to predict what most people will do and execute that expected action.

How to thwart the robots: unabashed creativity” – Fast Company

I worry that statements like these misunderstand AI, fetishize human creativity, and underestimate the drive to substitute every human labor with capital.

My Jukai

This morning I undertook Buddhist lay ordination in a ceremony called jukai, which means “receiving precepts” in Japanese. “Precepts” are a series of vows for living one’s life. This ceremony was conducted entirely online through Treeleaf Zendo, an all-online Soto Zen sangha that I’m a part of. The others taking part came from all around the world – Ukraine, Thailand, Vietnam, and elsewhere. Here’s a recording of the ceremony.

What are we waiting for?

The biggest risk may be that an external emergency — a war, a terrorist attack, a financial crisis, an immense natural disaster — will arise. By then, it will be too late to pretend that he is anything other than manifestly unfit to lead.

For the country’s sake, there is only one acceptable outcome, just as there was after Americans realized in 1974 that a criminal was occupying the Oval Office. The president must go.”

The People vs. Donald TrumpThe New York Times

“Emergency” Powers

It would be nice to think that America is protected from the worst excesses of Trump’s impulses by its democratic laws and institutions. After all, Trump can do only so much without bumping up against the limits set by the Constitution and Congress and enforced by the courts. Those who see Trump as a threat to democracy comfort themselves with the belief that these limits will hold him in check.

What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of EmergencyThe Atlantic