Archives

Everything I have posted to this site for the last fifteen years.

Filter archives by: Essays  Log  Links  Visual Journal 


April 14, 2024

Periodical 18 – A Personal Web

I am building a personal web....


April 12, 2024

visual journal – 2024 April 7 - April 12

Dreaming of secret worlds, minidiscs, buildings, portals. (16 images)...


April 8, 2024

Eclipse

Partial (80%) eclipse of the sun in Durham, N.C....


April 5, 2024

visual journal – 2024 March 31 - April 6

De-digitization, get more sunlight, while you still can. (13 images)...


April 2, 2024

Thought Experiment

Would I be ok if I was done?...


April 1, 2024

Out-Random the AI

It is human nature to create. This can define us without differentiating us....


March 30, 2024

Inner Worlds

Everyone's inner world is the one they are truly living in. There are billions of these worlds, each one larger than you or I can imagine....


March 24, 2024

visual journal – 2024 March 24 - March 30

If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance much less. (19 images)...


March 17, 2024

visual journal – 2024 March 17 - March 23

Every page is a time capsule. (16 images)...


March 9, 2024

visual journal – 2024 March 9 - March 16

Either nothing is magic or everything is. (3 images)...


March 9, 2024

Periodical 17 – Optimization

Optimizing a home is a years-long process....


February 24, 2024

object – Wooden Task Lamp

I made a task lamp in just a couple of hours....


February 17, 2024

Periodical 16 – Useful Lifetimes

One's moral progress is measured in unexpected moments....


February 16, 2024

Reality Doubt

We're about a year away from some piece of media that makes us doubt our own perceptions of reality....


February 15, 2024

Link – Approach Studio website

approach.studio is a really nice website....


February 2, 2024

Periodical 15

All art is a copy of something....


January 21, 2024

Periodical 14 – v DIY

While you're here, make the world your own....


January 7, 2024

Periodical 13

Image ecology and my top 10 science fiction films....


January 6, 2024

Periodical 12 – Sometimes the Old Way

Convenience is overrated. Convenience, I think, is the enemy of memory. The easier the experience, the less of it we actually experience....


January 1, 2024

Link – Linsey Rendell's personal website

linseyrendell.com is a really nice website....


December 31, 2023

Year in Review – 2023

A few notes and lists from the year 2023....


December 30, 2023

Link – Gemma Copeland's personal website

gemmacope.land is a really cool digital garden....


December 29, 2023

Being Normal

In a world of influencer-peddled illusion, we need to normalize being normal....


December 29, 2023

Link – Vasantha Yogananthan's personal website

vasanthayogananthan.com is a beautifully-designed artist's website....


December 29, 2023

Link – Paco Coursey's personal website

paco.me is a beautifully-designed personal website....


December 29, 2023

Link – Scott Boms's personal website

scottboms.com is a beautifully-designed personal website....


December 29, 2023

Link – Luke Mitchell's personal website

interroban.gg is a beautifully-designed personal website....


December 29, 2023

Link – David Sleight's personal website

stuntbox.com is a beautifully-designed personal website....


December 8, 2023

Your Own Personal Picture Collection

On building a personal collection of reference imagery, with a few examples from my own....


December 6, 2023

Periodical – 11 – What Could Have Been

Dave Karpf's re-read of the entire WIRED corpus has me thinking about predicting the future....


December 1, 2023

Periodical – 10

Thinking back on old tech and making my case for why local storage is better than the cloud....


November 29, 2023

Interaction Design is Two Things

Managing attention and persuasion are the means and ends of interaction design....


November 27, 2023

Periodical – 9

I’ve done something brilliant. A few years ago, we decided to sell our Sonos system and retreat back to an old-school, wired stereo. I liked the...


November 26, 2023

Periodical – 8

This is the first image taken from space. It was one of many images captured from 65 miles above Earth by a camera attached to a captured German V-2...


November 25, 2023

Periodical – 7

I spend a lot of time looking at websites; it’s a big part of what I do for a living. With practice, I’ve learned to look at the products of...


November 24, 2023

Periodical – 6

Good morning. It is very early. Since daylight savings, my youngest has been awake an hour or two earlier than usual and thinks the rest of us...


November 23, 2023

Periodical – 5

Happy Thanksgiving! Here in Durham, it is close to perfect. Clear skies and heading toward 57°; the aroma of holiday fireplaces is drifting...


November 22, 2023

Periodical – 4

Type “medieval marginalia” into your search engine of choice and you will quickly be confronted with a slew of naughty images straight out of the...


November 21, 2023

Periodical – 3

Hello from a rainy and cold autumn morning in Durham. We are in the midst of the most magical time of the year. Our enormous old oak is covering...


November 20, 2023

Periodical – 2

Yesterday, I mentioned the Yoto Daily, a daily podcast for kids that loads up automatically on the Yoto player. I just wanted to add that what makes...


November 19, 2023

Periodical – 1

This is a semi-daily check-in. Experimental; likely to not actually be daily. Regular and short. The kids are in the bath, listening to the Yoto...


September 10, 2023

The View from Here

There are many reasons to make things and share them, to write and publish, to speak and record. So many reasons, most unknown; far be it from me to...


August 21, 2023

The Internet's Greatest Potential

It seems that the internet’s greatest potential is to create intimacy across distance. Which means we still have a long way to go...


August 18, 2023

Organization – Office

This is the office. My wife and I work here, Monday through Friday, 9 to 5. Our children play and create in here just as often. It’s where we...


July 19, 2023

The Internet is Already a Social Network

Make it easier for anyone to have a website. Make syndication easier and better. That’s all that is needed to reclaim the power we’ve ceded to the...


July 11, 2023

The Big Picture

When your clients are persuaded by your point of view and expertise, they will not care what tools you use or what processes you follow. They will...


July 9, 2023

Personal Machines and Portable Worlds

A lifelong fascination with technology begins with a single object. Think back to when you were a child, to when you first encountered something...


July 7, 2023

Gestalt Principles of Design – Symmetry

The Gestalt Principles of Design are a set of concepts and guidelines drawn from gestalt psychology, which theorizes that the mind tends to process...


June 30, 2023

Gestalt Principles of Design – Continuity

The Gestalt Principles of Design are a set of concepts and guidelines drawn from gestalt psychology, which theorizes that the mind tends to process...


June 25, 2023

Ambient Information

Most of the time, we’re content to simply know that information exists; we lack the interest and patience to actually know the information itself....


June 25, 2023

Gestalt Principles of Design – Similarity

The Gestalt Principles of Design are a set of concepts and guidelines drawn from gestalt psychology, which theorizes that the mind tends to process...


June 21, 2023

The Fragile Bond Between Attention and Information

Most communication is visual. Isn’t that fascinating? Think of how much a picture, a symbol, a facial expression, or a gesture can communicate on...


June 16, 2023

Gestalt Principles of Design – Closure

The Gestalt Principles of Design are a set of concepts and guidelines drawn from gestalt psychology, which theorizes that the mind tends to process...


June 14, 2023

Gestalt Principles of Design – Proximity

If the term is new to you, the German word gestalt literally means the way a thing has been placed or put together. Like many German words, there...


June 11, 2023

object – WIRED Magazine, Issue 1

WIRED Magazine published its first issue in March/April of 1993 — thirty years ago. It was almost immediately considered an index of the zeitgeist...


June 9, 2023

Writing is a Primary Design Tool

In an interview with Tracy Francis at McKinsey, Jony Ive had something profound to say about writing and design: “You’ll often find creatives are...


June 9, 2023

Negative-Space Typography

Whenever I review design documentation, there are a few things I look for in the first few seconds. All of them have to do with how scannable a page...


June 3, 2023

Fascinated by Layout

Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by layout. I didn’t know to call it that before I studied design; I just knew that I could look at...


June 3, 2023

How to Adapt Long-Page Designs for Better Scanning

...


June 2, 2023

object – Bedside Lamp

We briefly dabbled with smart-bulbs in our house. It did not go well. Why we make these things, I do not know. Why is controlling a lamp with your...


June 2, 2023

The Road Through Your Screen

...


May 28, 2023

4 Levels of Grids for Web Designers

I just published an essay on how anchoring the most important information on a web page to the Y-axis will help viewer’s focus on it and pay closer...


May 27, 2023

Using the Y-Axis to Maintain Focus and Attention

Attention is the product of focus. It is what we give information — our observation, concentration, and consideration — when we are able to maintain...


May 21, 2023

Attention Degrowth

Sometimes I think that may be the most important insight beneath any design decision. Not to be combatted with manipulations, tricks, or just being...


May 20, 2023

The Rhythm of Your Screen

It’s 2023 and I’m still frequently asked by clients about scrolling. I understand why. Every design comes with assumptions about how much content...


May 16, 2023

object – The Present Clock

Something like eight or nine years ago, I funded a Kickstarter campaign for a clock that Scott Thrift was making with a neat idea behind it — its...


May 15, 2023

object – Yoto

In the month before the pandemic shut everything down, I was in the midst of some research on how designers — and other kinds of creative experts...


May 13, 2023

How to Turn Good Design Direction into a Good System

Ideas don’t stand on their own. When a good idea turns into a good thing, it’s because structure and systems — ones that existed before the idea —...


May 7, 2023

Blogging Is Not Publishing It's Therapy

I keep a NOTES.txt document as a catch-all for any ideas I jot down that don’t have an immediate place elsewhere. It is a digital container that is...


May 7, 2023

What I Want From The Internet

I’m sitting in a small room in an old house in Durham, North Carolina, USA. When I look out the window, I can see the edges of homes nearby, peeking...


May 6, 2023

What happens when the computers disappear?

Not, of course, when there are no more computers, but when they are so ubiquitous and omnipresent that we...


May 5, 2023

Designing for (Realistic) Attention

When I advise that a webpage — like a service detail page — have a maximum main body word-count of 150 words, I’m really recommending that it ask a...


April 29, 2023

object – Coffee Cup

I bought a pair of used small porcelain mugs at a thrift shop for about $1 back in 2009. I have used one of them nearly every day since. I believe...


April 28, 2023

object – 1999 Qualcomm QCP-860

My first cellphone was the Qualcomm QCP-860. It was marketed at the time as a “thin phone.” By today’s standards, that might seem silly, but at the...


April 27, 2023

object – OMNI Magazine, Issue 1

I briefly subscribed to OMNI magazine in the late ’80s and early ’90s. It was the sort of magazine that thoroughly suited my interests but was often...


April 26, 2023

object – Game Boy

On Christmas in 1990, I received a Game Boy! Though I was never much of a video game player, I was very excited about this little, handheld system....


April 24, 2023

object – Cylinder Lamp

In the spring of 2003, I graduated from college and moved in to my first apartment. After my housemate and I had moved all our things in, I made a...


April 23, 2023

object – Carved Nupe Door

Some days, if the temperature and humidity are just right, this door opens once again into the home my grandparents kept in Nyack, New York. My...


April 22, 2023

object – A 20 Year-Old Sketchbook

I began keeping it in the final months of my senior year at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). A few friends and I had managed to register...


April 16, 2023

Technology and Moral Responsibility

As I’ve been cleaning up my site, I’ll occasionally read back over something I wrote many years ago. Yesterday, I re-read a series of posts I wrote...


April 15, 2023

Persuasion

A good design might be persuasive on its own; the notion that a thing “just works” implies that its function, however novel, is an intuitive leap...


March 26, 2023

The Smallest Details

In Minimalism in UX: the blessing of no choices, Dimitris Chatzilias covers a short list of common details that are often overlooked in a way that...


March 24, 2023

Outlines are IA

When you create an outline, you are arranging ideas in relation to one another: a heading is a big idea, a sub-heading is a smaller one related to...


March 19, 2023

My Reverse Time Capsule

While rummaging in the WIRED magazine archives, I found this entry from 1995. In it, Douglas Copeland imagines a “reverse time capsule,” sent back...


March 13, 2023

Sub-Second Orientation

When a visitor encounters a web-page for the first time, they will ask and answer three questions within about one second: What is this...


March 8, 2023

Friction Can Be Good

Something I have noticed as content, software, and product design have attempted to eradicate friction is that friction is not necessarily a bad...


January 28, 2022

We Live in the Uncanny Valley Now

Making virtual worlds can help us understand the real one, but they’re not places we can live permanently. As a parent, I’ve had the chance to...


December 25, 2021

Christmas Day – Multiple UFO Sighting

At 6pm on the evening of Christmas Day, 2021, in Durham, NC, my wife and I were preparing to walk our children down the street to their...


December 17, 2021

What Eyes Want

If you drive up or down Interstate 95 between Virginia and Georgia, you will see sign after pun-riddled sign beckoning you to pull off the highway...


December 3, 2021

Are We Ready?

Inventions that were ahead of their time can help us to understand whether we are truly ready to live in the world we are making. Speculative...


November 19, 2021

There Is No Digital World

Everything digital costs something physical. It’s time for a digital conservation movement. The digital world is a parasite that we...


November 5, 2021

What If Phones Were Actually Designed for Hands?

Phones no longer fit in the hands they were made to be held and used by. How did that happen? The human hand is a marvel. Whether by design or...


November 5, 2021

What We Do When We See

What does it even mean to design when perception is reality? Do we all ever see the same thing? In, Visual Intelligence, a wonderful book about...


October 29, 2021

Can a Robot Do a Designer's Job?

Automation isn’t as much of a threat as we have been told. “Wouldn’t it be better if websites just made themselves?” That was the pitch for...


October 22, 2021

A Pep Talk for those Who Work Bullshit Jobs

How do you know if what you do is actually meaningful? The late anthropologist David Graeber once wrote that “huge swathes of people in the...


October 15, 2021

The Last Time

Life has as many ends as it has beginnings. What can an end teach us about making our world? “Bye, Chris” were the last words a friend said to...


September 17, 2021

Move Slow and Preserve Things

Haste has created waste. Someone please tell Zuckerberg to slow the hell down. Low-rent Machiavelli Mark Zuckerberg once said, “Move fast and...


September 3, 2021

Less Doesn't Have to Be More. It Can Just Be Less.

How much is enough? So much of what we design assumes that either the question has not been answered or has no answer at all. This must change....


August 27, 2021

From the Desk Of

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually peer over another designer’s shoulder once in a while and see what they actually do? If I introduce...


August 20, 2021

Systems Design is Not Enough

What good is thinking ahead in a world built entirely upon rewarding the opposite? Many years ago, I scheduled a physical with a new doctor. It...


August 13, 2021

Books

still matter in the digital age. Here are a few recommendations you might find of interest. I have long been interested in media matters...


July 30, 2021

We Have Eight Years Left

We must radically reduce carbon emissions by 2030 in order to avoid the most catastrophic damage of climate change. How can you help? We have...


July 23, 2021

First Principles

Hiring for skills is mostly bogus. Hiring for soft skills is better. Hiring for principles is ideal. How’s this for an idea: Hiring for skills...


July 16, 2021

Why I Am Still A Designer

Why we became designers is not what will keep us in the practice. There are four skills that must become the substance of our craft. I am a...


July 2, 2021

Turn It All Off

This is an intervention. We are addicted to media. Our screen time crisis will not be solved by technology, but by will. For my generation,...


June 18, 2021

We Write, Therefore We Are Cyborgs

Language is as intrinsic to the human experience as many of our biological functions, and yet it is our own creation. That is strange. Text is...


June 11, 2021

The Mosaic

The digital experience has outgrown the names we commonly use. Now is the time to think deeply about what we call it. The Internet is a bad...


May 28, 2021

The World is Crowded and That is Natural

Minimalism is en vogue. But how minimal can a lived-in world really be? Tokyo, crowded and beautiful. A lived-in world is crowded. It is...


May 21, 2021

The Luddites Were Right

Luddism wasn’t really about technology. But was their skepticism toward development a good thing? This image depicts Ned Ludd in 1812....


May 14, 2021

We Don't Need More Information

How do we make sense of reality if we can’t trust facts, sources, or one another? This image was taken by the crew of Apollo 15....


May 7, 2021

The Problem With Design is Designers

Psychology and process can get in our way just as often as they can help us get things done. This painting by Rene Magritte is ironically...


April 30, 2021

Think About the Future's Past

Emotional Futurism is a different way of shaping the future by considering about how we will feel about the past. A package arrived in the...


April 23, 2021

Encapsulated Experiences

Desire Paths and Capsule Reviews are mashed up here, for your consideration. Simplicity is a deception. The plainest things will lure you in;...


April 12, 2021

73 Ideas that Should Provoke You

Not everything that can be imagined should come into being. The mind can only suspend so much disbelief, especially when it’s trying to be...


April 9, 2021

Progress Jams

Why most innovation never actually happens. The MiniDisc’s big moment in Strange Days. On most evenings in 1999, you might have found me...


April 2, 2021

The Power of Small Images

Stamps, Computational Linguistics, and Minspeak all share a reliance upon the way pictures can communicate faster than words. Though I am not...


April 2, 2021

Other Ways

There are three reasons why what we make ends up the same as everything else. Here’s what we can do about it. Sameness is the enemy of...


March 19, 2021

Future Objects

An object made for a better future will be locally controlled, indefinitely powered, sustainable, autonomous, private, and imaginative. Sixteen...


March 12, 2021

Your Phone is Destroying the World

Our cultural obsession with the new has created a destructive cycle of consumption and destruction that affects so much more than just us....


March 5, 2021

The Circle of Now

In our home, there are eleven clocks. Some may say that eleven clocks in a home is eleven too many. I disagree. I will grant that a clock is no...


February 26, 2021

The Riddle of the Square

Shapes are mysterious. They are basic, rudimentary forms — simple ideas upon which we build more complex systems of understanding. They are also...


February 19, 2021

Attention Stewardship

Some people saw the thrashing idscape in which we tribulate coming from a long way off. And they called it “the attention economy.” A recent New...


February 11, 2021

This Is Not Good Design

Much has been written about what makes for good design. All of it is fiercely debated by designers, who would rather find ways to exclude one...


February 5, 2021

Search Engines Don't Work and They Are Not Good

“A good question is much more difficult than a brilliant answer.” That’s a decent summation of Richard Saul Wurman’s life’s work. That he said it...


January 29, 2021

The Biggest Dream is of the Small, Simple Life

Every other Tuesday, a few friends and I get together in the evening for what we jokingly refer to as “Church.” We’re all formerly of the fold, so...


January 27, 2021

Cross-Examining Coincidence in the Courtroom of Technology

So many readers sent in notes in reply to my last article that I thought something of a post-script was warranted. I must say, though, that I am so...


January 22, 2021

That Coincidental Advertisement is Not Just a Coincidence

I have never eaten a Bel Vita cracker in my life. I’d never even heard of the brand until I was visiting with my brother and he pulled them out of...


January 15, 2021

Good Prophecy Doesn't Have to Be Right

We shouldn’t try to predict the future. We should envision the futures we want and then go and make them. “Alexander Consulting the Oracle of...


January 8, 2021

We Have A Reality Problem

In the early 1990s, when the internet was still in its structural infancy, and its influence on broader culture was widely underestimated if not...


December 31, 2020

Success Mysticism

Few things make me sadder than the now predictable moment at which a successful person creates a sellable mysticism out of their good luck and...


July 1, 2020

The Place Where We Shelter

If the human eye suffered the same burn-in effect that some screens do, this would be the image now set against everything else for me. For the last...


June 18, 2018

Sunk Costs for Spite

The city where I work just spent the last two weeks clearing out a few patches of land in between the four-lane main thoroughfare in and out of...


June 14, 2018

Dada, Sit Here

S said her first sentence this morning. I was sitting on the coffee table in the living room, putting on my shoes, when she climbed up and sat...


June 6, 2018

Mind and Body

Minds are complicated. We can think about so many things at once that to say that one’s mind and body are in the same “place” at all times is hardly...


June 3, 2018

Design in a Vacuum

The baby has been put to bed. There is still plenty of daylight left. There are many definitions of “design.” One I liked for a while goes like...


June 2, 2018

Clocks

Heavy rain. SA is napping; SE is swapping out our modem. I like clocks. I always have. I like the way they look, the way they work, and the way...


June 1, 2018

You Are Here

Hello from a silent office. No one is here but me. KM and I spent the day together as planned months ago. He’s on a serious sabbatical from work...


May 31, 2018

Quietly Discoverable

Hi from a quiet house that smells of roasting beets. I’ve decided that writing a semi-public journal might be an interesting experience. Public in...


April 20, 2018

Active Erasure

My favorite professor, Al DeCredico, used to begin his fall semester foundation year drawing course with a strange assignment: make a drawing in the...


April 6, 2018

Progress Bombs

Easter Island; Image sourced from Wikipedia. Over a century ago, Oxford University’s administration decided to finally do something about the...


March 8, 2018

Computer Nostalgia and Malignant Doppelwelts

I am nostalgic for the computer. Yes, for the thing that, today, I have more of than I ever needed — or ever wanted. In a world where computers are...


February 22, 2018

Want to Resist? Delete Your Facebook Account

Tags The only meaningful act of protest in the 21st century is to permanently delete your digital accounts. Facebook. Netflix. Amazon. The big...


July 28, 2017

Unexpected and Realistic AI Headlines

Picture me staring at eight different TextEdit windows, each full of notes of things I’ve been thinking about lately and had saved there with the...


July 18, 2017

Introducing The Liminal

I know. It’s been a while. More than six months, actually. It’s been a much longer break than I intended, and I’ll be up front with you, it’s not...


December 4, 2016

Facebook Is Not necessary

I wrote this shortly after the 2016 election. Though it exposed deeper divisions among Americans than were commonly acknowledged beforehand, I...


November 4, 2016

Talking to Machines

Greetings from a very quiet kitchen at the Newfangled HQ. Mark’s Sonos Jazz alarm went off at 7:30 as usual, and right now one of my favorite...


October 29, 2016

Behind Every Robot is a Human

Hello from our quiet house on a Saturday afternoon. The pup is out sleeping in the sun, occasionally watching as the chickens peck around the...


October 10, 2016

Unearthed Time Capsules

Hello from Emerald Isle, where I am sitting on a porch listening to waves crash on the shore. The beach in October is a pretty nice place. I’ll be...


October 2, 2016

Words Matter

Where are you right now? If you were to set down the little screen you’re holding, or look past the big screen in front of you, what would you see?...


September 2, 2016

Design is Art with Rules

Current Status: Accepting the age-old truth that we are quickly who we are, as a recently unearthed postcard I sent to my mother and soon-to-be...


August 13, 2016

A Solution that Doesn't Exist

Current status: It’s early on Saturday in the very hot and humid city of Durham, North Carolina, and I am sitting in the dim morning light of our...


July 30, 2016

We don't fear the future…

I must admit to having been nervous to publish this. I’ve never been afraid to expose private things in my writing; if you’ve read my blog for long...


June 9, 2016

A Slice of Life

Current status: I received an interesting email from a reader recently. She wrote, “It’s easy to assume things about someone else’s life based upon...


June 3, 2016

How to Design a Different Future

Current Status: Ahead is a long read, so I’ll get out of the way as quickly as possible. I’m sitting at my desk on a Friday afternoon, drinking an...


May 27, 2016

The Magic of Ordinary Objects

Picture me marveling at the wonder of text, impervious as it is to the law of supply and demand. No matter how much we write, we want more. And by...


May 12, 2016

When the World Around You Shook

You are sitting on the couch in your living room. It is seven o’clock in the morning on a Saturday in April. You are the only one awake in the...


March 17, 2016

Unchecked Attention Avarice

Current Status: Much more this than this, but man, who wouldn’t want to be at the base of Chimborazo at least once in their life? That second link...


March 10, 2016

How to Think About the Future

Current Status: Trying, but in a roboty kind of way. You see, sometimes this blog is about design. Sometimes technology. Sometimes both. And every...


February 26, 2016

Sympathy for the Sim

Picture me on the couch with both cat and pup vying for prime real estate on my lap, both presumably annoyed that this cold, glowing machine is...


February 19, 2016

The Most Difficult Thing About Design

I’ve been thinking all week about design. What is design, exactly? Is it an idea? An action? A thing? Linguistically, it’s all of those things....


February 11, 2016

Technological Luxury is Powered by Oppression

The greatest lie of technology is that it is the great equalizer. Technology has its own caste system. If you don’t know that, then that means...


February 4, 2016

Beneath the Interface Layer

Hello friends. Picture me in the text editor. I’ve been there a lot this week. I wrote a couple of articles over at Newfangled, one On Letting Go,...


January 22, 2016

How to Get Your Time Back

Hello, friends, and another Happy New Year to you! My last post was mostly written in 2015, so this one feels like a fresh start. Current status:...


January 2, 2016

We Are What We Watch

Last year, I created a lifetime mix and shared it with you. It comprised thirty-four years of music; one song chosen for each year I’ve been alive...


December 18, 2015

Upgrading Our Way Out

Hello, friends. I’m back. I laid low for a month, focusing my time on closing out the year with goals met and new ones set. Meanwhile, a bunch of...


November 13, 2015

Time's First Principles

A little more than a year ago, I started this newsletter with the idea that I’d sit in the early morning darkness of my home office once a week and...


November 6, 2015

Until They All Have Faces

Hello, friends! I’m grateful that there are some of you who notice when I miss a weekly post, like my mom, who will reliably send a text: “no post...


October 23, 2015

Back to the Real Future

Hello, friends, and welcome new ones! Some of you must have shared last week’s letter with others, and so our numbers grow. If each of you shared...


October 16, 2015

The Fit Filter

Hello, friends, and welcome, new ones! Thirty-six of you have been with me since the beginning, that first post, written just over a year ago. We’ve...


October 9, 2015

Street Ritual

Current status: back in the office after a few days at HOW Interactive in Chicago. It was such a pleasure to listen and learn from the many...


September 25, 2015

The Gift in Our Work

Current Status: Officing it. Coffeing it. Sonosing it loud here to the sounds of some Newfangleder’s energetic Spotify playlist. Current song:...


September 18, 2015

Sabbaticalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Current Status: Up early, shaking off the debate hangover (three hours?! my god!) and marveling that The Joker has indeed manifest a tulpa and its...


August 21, 2015

The dream of the Nineties is alive…

Picture me tapping this message out to you on my phone, hoping that the weak signal I’ve caught will hold for long enough. I’m out in the mountains...


August 14, 2015

It won’t be interesting until we can’t see it anymore.

Hello, friends. I guess you guys were snacky last week! Many of you sent thoughtful replies to the mixpost, especially the bits about women and...


August 7, 2015

Step aside, keep quiet, and listen.

Hello, friends. Greetings from the other side of the apocalypse that was last week’s post. Somehow, it was the most divisive thing I’ve sent out...


July 30, 2015

Greetings from the Rubbish Patch

The commercial opens with a series of quick, intimate shots. Someone writing a letter by hand; someone shaking a polaroid as its exposure settles; a...


July 24, 2015

The Last Thing We Need

Picture me at home, in the office. It’s 9:41 PM, Eastern Standard Time. The sun has set on Durham. The chickens are roosting. The lights have been...


July 15, 2015

Enter the Void

Hello, old friends! And welcome, new ones. I invite you to not think about the future with us, this small but gathering crowd of the curious, we...


July 2, 2015

Perceiving the Machine

Hello, friends. Good news: we survived the leap second. I was worried, you know, after that Y2K fiasco and all. You never know what kind of computer...


June 26, 2015

Where are you, Digital Le Corbusier?

Hello there. According to the numbers, you are probably new to the Don’t Think About the Future fold. You are part of a recent swell of interest...


June 19, 2015

Randoposto

Picture me stuffing a bunch of text into the random-letter-machine and seeing what comes out. I stayed up late and got up early and was driving to...


June 12, 2015

Keeping the Fire Lit

Picture me asking for help. God grant me the strength to not watch Season One of The X-Files all over again for the thousandth time simply because I...


June 4, 2015

The Power of Perspective

Picture me monopolizing the conversation. I mean, not really, but when I look at my wordcount in the transcript of a recent roundtable I did with...


June 3, 2015

Emails are the new blogs.

A few weeks ago, Ian Fitzpatrick — of Dark Matter fame — sent an email to me and a few other writers that began a long and in-depth conversation...


May 28, 2015

What is an idea worth?

Picture me up at five; laced up, earbuds in; up and down hills and around the city; back home, cooling down; showered; packed lunch; to the office;...


May 26, 2015

We Always Start Now

I wrote the Interaction column for the Spring, 2015 issue of PRINT magazine, which was a true honor because this issue also celebrated PRINT’s 75th...


May 8, 2015

The Designer Stands Firm

Picture me in the early morning light of my office downstairs, filling its silence with the muted clatter of the keyboard, the pause and pin-drop...


May 1, 2015

Etc. Etc. Etc.

Picture me in the cloud. Look, I’m a pretty tech savvy guy and I’m all about the future and what not, but this is the first time I’ve actually...


April 17, 2015

Advertising is an Anachronism

Picture me frazzled. It’s been a busy past few weeks. I’ve been here and there, at events and planning for upcoming ones. I missed last week because...


April 3, 2015

A 200-Word Mixpost

Picture me lorem ipsuming here because I’m actually just sitting in a chair in an office staring at a big rectangular lamp and typing like we do...


March 27, 2015

The Cost of Cognitive Surplus

Picture me back in the habit. I took a break last week. It was needed. But I’m back with a bunch of words (prepare yourselves! prepare your...


March 13, 2015

A.I. is U.I.

Picture me running on a treadmill yesterday at the gym. I’ve only been on about five minutes when a woman hops on the machine to my left, plugs in...


March 6, 2015

The way to make good things is to make many things.

Picture me waking, making, breaking, steaking, baking, flaking, taking, faking, shaking, aching, caking, mistaking and bellyaching. Well, that got...


February 27, 2015

Neighborhoods, the Anti-Algorithm

Picture me snowed in. Eight inches of it is enough to shut things down for a day in these parts. But, hey, it sure is pretty. So, look, bear with me...


February 20, 2015

Everyone is someone else’s marketer…

Picture me huddled up inside where the ice can’t get me. But whatever. I live in a typically warm place and we had a little ice storm. If you live...


February 11, 2015

Don't Think About the Future

Picture me back in the habit. Another week lapsed. Another grandparent lost to the other side. Two weeks after my father’s mother, my mother’s...


January 29, 2015

Through the Looking Glass

(Hi, friends! And welcome, new ones. Old friends may have noticed that I took last week off. My Grandmother passed away after 100 years of intrepid...


January 16, 2015

Futures of Making and Being

Picture me picturing myself at home tonight, sitting on the couch with a lady, a pup, and a cat, feet up, a drink in hand, watching that show...


January 9, 2015

Liner Notes for a Lifetime Mix

Picture me in full High Fidelity mode. You’ll soon see what I mean by that. Oh, and welcome, new friends. Yes, this is ordinarily a post about...


January 1, 2015

Thirty-Four (a lifetime film list)

Just as I finished my lifetime music mix, it occurred to me that a lifetime film list would be a good idea. So here it is. There were some very...


December 31, 2014

Thirty-Four (a lifetime mix)

It’s the end of the year; why not another list? This one is a bit different, though. A friend shared with me the idea of making a mix of songs from...


December 19, 2014

We'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow.

Picture me eating a cookie for breakfast. You know it’s the holiday season when you do ridiculous things like eat a cookie for breakfast. And with...


December 12, 2014

The information is not entirely online.

Picture me staring at Chrome and marveling that I’ve pushed it to the point where the tabs are barely big enough to fit the “X” and my Textedit page...


December 4, 2014

"I just want something real to happen."

Picture me up early, half hour sitting in silence on the floor, up and tying my shoes, chasing my own breath on dark streets, back home, shave,...


November 28, 2014

Blackfridaycore

Picture me sitting by the fire, mass-deleting emails from companies who want me to be shopping right now. It’s Black Friday. (Friends in foreign...


November 21, 2014

We are all working for different futures.

Picture me at 37,000 feet in a United-brand flying tube hurtling eastward at 505 miles per hour. I’m returning home after a great time speaking at...


November 13, 2014

Hyper-local NIMBYism (and Other Easy Critiques)

Picture me in the office alone last night when I wrote this. It was thoroughly November. The post-sunset blue light peering in through the windows...


November 6, 2014

The Inexorable March of Convenience

Picture me pouring the coffee. I’m working from home today. The pup is sprawled out on the floor; she’s working on her Cong which I’ve filled to the...


October 30, 2014

21st Century Simulacra

Picture me fussing around with some sketches of a product I need that doesn’t exist yet. It’s a bit half-baked at the moment, but it’s something...


October 23, 2014

Something Wetter than Pixels

Picture me upstairs in a dark and quiet house. It’s 11:15 p.m. I’ve just returned from three very full days at a conference in Chicago. The animals...


October 16, 2014

A cup of tea and a crowbar materialize in space...

Picture me rounding the corner this morning, heading in the opposite direction of coffee, just to take another look at the arcade that is presently...


October 9, 2014

Truth and Ditto

Picture me alone in a silent office. It’s so quiet that I can hear the distant and muffled sound of water moving through pipes throughout the...


October 4, 2014

Take Time

Picture me up in the air, at 35,000 feet, with a six inch screen inviting me to sit back, snack, and enjoy the entertainment. I would if I could,...


October 1, 2014

Flesh and Machine

Picture me sitting in the dark of my home office, staring in disbelief at two things. Number one, the absurd number of open tabs in my browser. One...


September 29, 2014

Going Postal

Picture me finishing up my lunch at the Game-of-Thrones-ish table in our office dining room. This massive and gorgeous thing was handmade by a local...


September 27, 2014

Independent Brains

Picture me watching my younger brother play Hill Climb Racing on our Amazon TV while he eats what he calls a “peanut butter surprise.” Somehow, an...


September 25, 2014

The Disappointment of Now

Picture me on the couch in my den, trying my best to type three or four words in between being pawed by a certain Border Collie who insists I’ve...


September 23, 2014

Time-Collapsers, Great and Small

Picture me downstairs in my little office at home. It’s 6:15 AM. My partner is upstairs sleeping. She’s recovering from a day-long fever. My brother...


August 13, 2014

On Expertise and Control

Just a moment or so in to an hour-long consulting session, something unexpected happened. I was hunched over, hands planted shoulder-width apart on...


April 14, 2014

How to Tell the User's Story

User Stories, User Scenarios, and Use Cases can all help you better understand who your users are and ensure that what matters to them makes its way...


March 30, 2014

Remote Viewing

In the 1970’s, physicists Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff were studying a variety of parapsychological phenomena at the Stanford Research Institute...


March 26, 2014

Maybe that acquisition is just good advertising.

Google and Facebook, they’re up to something. I mean, they have to be, right? All these acquisitions must mean something! This reminds me of when...


March 14, 2014

"Disruption"

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, Dan Hon has been killing it lately with his daily dispatches. Here’s a clip from yesterday that really spoke to...


March 9, 2014

Guts

A few months ago, I woke up from a dream that left me feeling upset for days, though the more I recount it, the less upsetting it seems. In the...


March 4, 2014

This Mediated Life

Time to report! How did you sleep? What time did you wake up today? Are you working? What are you doing? Where are you? Who are you with? What did...


February 25, 2014

Groupthink

videoessay About midway through the interview, Lofgren is explaining how he first became interested in digging deeper and sticking his nose where it...


February 21, 2014

There’s a person at the other end.

Last summer, Charlie Rose hosted a short segment on 60 Minutes about David Kelley. It covered a short history of IDEO through the lens of David...


February 20, 2014

More destabilizing ideas, please.

An idea doesn’t have to be objectively true to be valuable, does it? Some ideas are intrinsically valuable, irrespective of their truth or...


February 19, 2014

We don't solve real problems anymore.

Yesterday, on the way home from work, I heard someone on the radio say, “The last thing we need are smartphones.” It was said as a quick aside. The...


January 22, 2014

Detroit

I’ve just returned from a brief visit to Detroit. My father, step-mother, three brothers and sister live there. So do my three uncles, three aunts,...


January 3, 2014

Being Online in 2014

Hours in to the long, slow drive up north for the holidays, with nothing but wilderness around me, I was still thinking about the web. I had left in...


January 1, 2014

Loves and Resolutions

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, but if there was one lesson that 2013 taught me, it is to be intentional in all things. On this first...


October 15, 2012

Don't Be So Linear

The October issue of PRINT is out, and with it, my latest Interaction column. This issue is focused on international design, so it gave me an...


August 11, 2012

Stuck in Idle

The August issue of PRINT Magazine is out, and with it, my latest column. It’s a different type of piece; this one is about information overload and...


May 29, 2012

Several Things I Have Learned

Just a few things I’ve learned that are on my mind as I draw closer to my 32nd birthday… I’m nearing the end of my thirty-second year on this...


May 14, 2012

Playing with Data

I love the fusion of infoaesthetics and abstract expressionism that Holly Gressley put into her illustration for my column in June’s issue of PRINT....


March 13, 2012

On Digital Davids and Goliaths: Why the Design We Trust Usually Comes from the Little Guy

My latest Interaction column for Print Magazine is now out in the April issue! And, hey, look, they kept my original title (first time)! Neat. Also,...


January 10, 2012

Future Daydream

This is my fourth Interaction column for Print Magazine. My original title: “A Post-Screen Future.” No matter. The illustration by Zut Alors! is as...


December 15, 2011

Ethical Technology, 5

Well, I think I’m winding down here. I can tell that I’m close to being out of things to say (for now, anyway); my mind has begun to wander back to...


December 14, 2011

Ethical Technology, 4

So far, my ramblings have gone from monopolies of information to the filter bubble to the economics of the internet. Today, what about automation...


December 13, 2011

Ethical Technology, 3

Continuing these thoughts in a meandering sort of way (Part 1 → Part 2 → You Are Here). Yesterday I was talking about the filter bubbles that we...


December 12, 2011

Ethical Technology, 2

So, picking up on Part 1. The next thing that came to mind as far as ethics and technology are concerned is the filter bubble (as coined by Eli...


December 11, 2011

Ethical Technology, 1

A few weeks ago, I sat down for a cup of coffee and conversation with a new friend—someone who had been put in touch with me by a mutual friend of...


September 16, 2011

Smarter, Better Cyborgs

This is my third Interaction column for Print Magazine. …or, as I originally titled it, “Designing the Unseen.” But, this title plus Tim Lahan’s...


July 15, 2011

How Should We Contain the Cloud

This is my second Interaction column for Print Magazine. My original title was “Post-Desk Content,” but the editors reframed it as an interesting...


June 1, 2011

The Folly of the Flock

This is my first Interaction column for Print Magazine. I’m proud of the article, and very thankful for the opportunity to write for the same design...


February 10, 2010

We are Latently Enslaved by Our Own Ingenuity

Chuck Klosterman, in his essay, “Fail,” (one of several collected in the book, Eating the Dinosaur) wrote: “We are latently enslaved by our own...


July 24, 2009

Interview with John Maeda

I first encountered John Maeda during my third year as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. I was fascinated by his work, which merged...


February 6, 2009

Can Any Problem Be Solved?

Bill Gates asks this question (specifically toward the problem of Malaria) in his TED conference talk from this week, but I’m interested in the...


February 3, 2009

21st Century Skillset

In a culture column of titled What Technology Has Taught us at Dizzying Speed, Alicia Rawsthorn muses on some areas in which technological change...


January 27, 2009

The End of Solitude

I came across a wonderful piece written in The Chronicle of Higher Education titled The End of Solitude, by William Deresiewicz, which emphatically...


January 26, 2009

Time Definitely Has Value

I am just finishing up reading Blown to Bits: How the New Economics of Information Transforms Strategy by Philip Evans and Thomas S. Wurster, which,...


January 23, 2009

The Great Equalizer

I’ve been reading a book titled What Are You Optimistic About? Today’s Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better, edited by John...


January 19, 2009

In Real Life

I just read an insightful post from Russell Davies about how screens are getting boring. He elaborates: “It’s really hard to impress anyone with...


January 7, 2009

Respond

I just saw an interesting post from Wired’s Epicenter blog discussing a new approach to user comments on blogs. The author points out that since...


September 22, 2008

Interview with Silas Munro

Silas and I were classmates at Rhode Island School of Design and have known each other for almost a decade now (wow). Silas is also a graduate of...


August 18, 2008

Interview with Eric Karjaluoto

Eric is a Canadian designer, who is passionate about ideas and experience. He studied at the Emily Carr Institute and worked as a painter prior to...



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