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

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.

Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated

…only those safe from fascism and its practices are likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives—and it does so because it openly aims so.

Aleksandar Hemon

Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It’s a Set of Actions to Fight

Design must be an innovative, highly creative, cross-disciplinary tool responsive to the needs of men. It must be more research-oriented, and we must stop defiling the earth itself with poorly-designed objects and structures.

Victor Papanek (via inthenoosphere)

Buddhahood in Three Dimensions

Even though we are used to seeing everything in terms of the historical dimension, we can touch the ultimate dimension. So our practice is to become like a wave—while living the life of a wave in the historical dimension, we realize that we are also water and live the life of water. That is the essence of the practice. Because if you know your true nature of no coming, no going, no being, no nonbeing, no birth, no death, then you will have no fear and can dwell in the ultimate dimension, nirvana, right here and now. You don’t have to die in order to reach nirvana. When you dwell in your true nature, you are already dwelling in nirvana.

Thich Nhat Hanh

My libertarian vacation nightmare

In America, libertarian ideas are attractive to mostly young, white men with high ideals and no life experience that live off of the previous generation’s investments and sacrifice. I know this because as a young, white idiot, I subscribed to this system of discredited ideas: Selfishness is good, government is bad. Take what you want, when you want and however you can. Poor people deserve what they get, and the smartest, hardworking people always win.

EDWIN LYNGAR

It is inconceivable that a sovereign people should continue, as we do so abjectly, to say, ‘I can’t do anything about it. It’s the government.’ The government is the creation of the people. It is responsible to the people. And the people are responsible for it… one of the paradoxes of education was that precisely at the point when you begin to develop a conscience, you must find yourself at war with your society. It is your responsibility to change society if you think of yourself as an educated person. And on the basis of the evidence – the moral and political evidence – one is compelled to say that this is a backward society.

James Baldwin, “A Talk to Teachers”, 1963

According to the Buddha, the mind is the base of all actions. It is most dangerous to kill in the mind. When you believe, for example, that yours is the only way for humankind and that everyone who follows another way is your enemy, millions of people could be killed because of that idea.

Reverence for Life”, Thich Nhat Hanh

You have two decisions to make: where to stand and when to press the shutter. Pressing the shutter is saying ‘Yes’ to the world.

Henry Wessel, 1942-2018

Sometimes I look at pictures that I took many years ago, and I consider how many of the people in them have died already. Some were rich, some were poor, and others were great masters, but it’s all the same. They all died. You can look at history books and know this fact. Or you can imagine a hundred years from now and ask, “Who of us will be living?” Probably no one. These are contemplations that can trigger the thought of impermanence.

Every Day Is A Bonus”, Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

The transition from full-time employees to contract workers has created a seismic shift in the American workforce. It is financially beneficial for corporations, and the executives who run them. Amazon said it uses this model to empower small businesses. But for those who actually do the grunt work, it can make them feel powerless. Labor experts say they often receive low pay, few benefits, and have no real allies in these difficult-to-regulate third-party environments.

The good designer is the anonymous designer … the one who does not stand in the way of the material; who sends his products on the way to a useful life without an ambitious appearance.

Anni Albers, 1947
(via design-is-fine)

The value of design only exists when it’s in relation to the other parts of a company’s operations. Alone, design is a microworld of aesthetic high-fives. Integrated, design is a catalyst for interdisciplinary teaming, learning, and winning.

John Maeda

the new, algorithmic gatekeepers aren’t merely (as they like to believe) neutral conduits for both truth and falsehood. They make their money by keeping people on their sites and apps; that aligns their incentives closely with those who stoke outrage, spread misinformation, and appeal to people’s existing biases and preferences. Old gatekeepers failed in many ways, and no doubt that failure helped fuel mistrust and doubt; but the new gatekeepers succeed by fueling mistrust and doubt, as long as the clicks keep coming.

How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump”, by Zeynep Tufekci, MIT Technology Review

The combination of huge images that serve little additional purpose than decoration, several scripts that track how far you scroll on a page, and dozens of scripts that are advertising related means that text-based webpages are now obese and torpid and excreting a casual contempt for visitors.

The Bullshit Web”, Nick Heer

Newsrooms must understand that even with the best of intentions, they can find themselves being used by extremists. By contrast, they must also understand they have the power to defy the goals of hate groups by optimizing for core American values of equality, respect and civil discourse. All Americans have the right to speak their minds, but not every person deserves to have their opinions amplified, particularly when their goals are to sow violence, hatred and chaos.

[Teen Titans Go!] is absolutely hated by a certain contingent of superhero fans. Some hate it for parodying the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, even though it’s made by literally the same people, same voice actors, same animators, and uses the same designs. Some hate it because it’s disrespectful of the source material, portraying the Teen Titans as dumb jerks who are easily distracted from saving lives and die all the time. Some hate it for its chibi designs and flattened animation style. Some hate it because Cartoon Network shows it too often. Basically, some fans who hate Teen Titans Go! hate it because it’s popular with kids.

Titans Exposes Everything Wrong with DC’s Gritty, Boring Approach to Live Action” – Tor.com

And these are all the reasons I love watching Teen Titans Go! with my kids.