The Blogroll: Week 18

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll

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Chris Aldrich - Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet

As mentioned earlier, Webmentions allow notifications between web addresses. If both sites are set up to send and receive them, the system works like this:

  • Alice has a website where she writes an article about her rocket engine hobby.
  • Bob has his own website where he writes a reply to Alice’s article. Within his reply, Bob includes the permalink URL of Alice’s article.
  • When Bob publishes his reply, his publishing software automatically notifies Alice’s server that her post has been linked to by the URL of Bob’s reply.
  • Alice’s publishing software verifies that Bob’s post actually contains a link to her post and then (optionally) includes information about Bob’s post on her site; for example, displaying it as a comment.

A Webmention is simply an @mention that works from one website to another!

My non-developer brain says, “THIS IS IT. THIS IS HOW THE OPEN WEB WINS.” I’m probably getting ahead of myself, but this does give me hope. We should all collectively make this happen on all the sites.

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Cal Newport - The Peacock in Menlo Park: On Open Offices and Signaling Theory

The goal of an open office in this context is not to make employees more efficient, or to spark more brilliant cross-discipline breakthroughs, but instead to signal to new hires and investors that your organization is innovative.

Disruption and revolution are so valuable in the fiercely competitive tech sector that signaling these traits through a radical office layout might be worth the cost in reduced productivity. (This is similar, in signaling theory terms, to how a healthy peacock will expose itself to greater predation risk with a garish plumage to increase the chances it attracts a mate.)

Put simpler: If you were a Silicon Valley start-up, would you rather your 10x developers work from home to avoid open office distraction, or not be able to attract 10x developers in the first place?

I totally buy this. When you go in for your first interview, one of two things pop into your head:

  • You see a bunch of cubes or closed off offices that disrupt sightlines and make everything feel very conservative.
  • You see blue skies and sun on all sides because nothing is blocking the view — it’s the future of work.

The truth, unfortunately, is that getting shit done is all about minimizing distraction. People have been practicing feng shui for a long time, and one of the basic principals to maximize energy (also known as focus) is to not seat yourself to where your back is facing an entrance. In an open office, your back is wide open by design. It seems appealing at first (even if you’re dead-set against open offices, pretty designs are captivating), but I’d take the alternative every day. It’s why I don’t spend a lot of time in coworking spaces.

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Om Malik - Companies, like people, don’t change

Dr. House, a curmudgeonly brilliant reincarnation of another recalcitrant detective, Sherlock Holmes, famously observed, that people don’t change. Even almost dying doesn’t change people. It was one of his many astute observations. And you could apply that thinking to companies — because companies, at their very core, are all about people, and are an apt reflection of the people who lead these companies, and the people who end up working for them.

Like people, companies too, are genetically pre-programmed and obey what their DNA tells them. As a result, the culture that a company starts with is virtually hard to overhaul — not matter how much effort is put into trying to change a culture. The DNA of a company permeates its thinking, its business processes and most importantly its revenue models. Those start to define how a company is organized, and its people are incentivized. And that’s company culture.

I hear this a lot, but I don’t think I agree. I tend to think that people change when their experiences drastically, and permanently change. I don’t know if I buy a medium-length vacation “changing everything” as some like to claim, but me going to college 1,000 miles from my hometown fundamentally changed my thoughts about so many things. It didn’t happen overnight though — something clicked around year five. Change is slow.

To me, that’s our problem with the modern workplace. Companies get built, the founders often stay, but employees now move on before they’d ever have a chance to truly impact the culture. And when founders do leave, people expect wholesale change to come instantly — it takes time. Time for new leadership to install a new vision, and time for the stress of a toxic culture to wear off so people can start leading healthy lifestyles again. It’s hard to be open to change when your gut bacteria is telling your brain that you need to self-medicate at every turn.

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Khoi Vinh - What Is This Thing Called Design?

This more expansive definition of design has led modern practitioners to define design as more than just the visual. Every “touchpoint” where a user or customer interacts with a company’s products or services is seen as an opportunity to apply the principles of good design, from the emails they get to the technical support they receive to even the quality of offline, in-person interactions with the brand. The end result is no longer just a “good looking” or “user friendly” interface; the goal is now to create a satisfying if not delightful overall experience for users.

People who don’t do design or see design as windowdressing should absolutely read this post. Send it to your friends.

This is also, in sort of a roundabout way, a call to designers to bulldoze their way into the decisionmaking processes of the companies they work for. Designers need to be fighting for power — not only for the good of themselves, but for the good of the businesses they work for.

In 2018 and every day forward, good design equals good business.

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Cate Huston - Estimations and Orders of Magnitude

Call me a cynic, but I don’t expect software estimations to be accurate. Because software is built by humans – and they take sick days, and vacations, time to help their colleagues (hopefully), have off days as well as good ones.

But I still think estimations are worth doing. Firstly, because if we don’t have some reasonable concept of how long something will take, how do we compare the effort and impact of A vs B and make any kind of rational decision?

Mainly, though, because the order of magnitude by which we are off says something about the project. We should be off by an order of magnitude smaller than the one we estimated in. I.e. when we estimate in months, we should be off by weeks. When we estimate in weeks, days.

This seems reasonable.

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)

The Blogroll: Week 17

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll

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18F - Accessibility for Teams

Accessibility is one of the most important aspects of modern web development. Accessibility means the greatest number of users can view your content. It means search engines will be able to read your site more completely. Users of all types will have a better experience if you take accessibility concerns into account. And least of all, it is a required by law for all federal EIT products to be accessible (with a few minor exceptions).

Accessibility works best when incorporated into an agile production environment. It’s very hard to adequately address accessibility concerns at the end of a project, but if taken into account at the beginning, it’s quite straightforward and cost effective. The best and perhaps only way to ensure this is done, is training and education. Every member of a production team should be aware of what accessibility concerns are and a basic understanding of how they are addressed.

This quick-start guide is pretty wonderful. If you’re building a website anytime in the near future, you should skim through it before you begin.

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Jonathan S. Geller - Exclusive: Apple to deploy 1Password to all 123,000 employees, acquisition talks underway

According to our source, after many months of planning, Apple plans to deploy 1Password internally to all 123,000 employees. This includes not just employees in Cupertino, but extends all the way to retail, too. Furthermore, the company is said to have carved out a deal that includes family plans, giving up to 5 family members of each employee a free license for 1Password. With more and more emphasis on security in general, and especially at Apple, there are a number of reasons this deal makes sense. We’re told that 100 Apple employees will start using 1Password through this initiative starting this week, with the full 123,000+ users expected to be activated within the next one to two months.

You should be using a password manager as well. Don’t be the clown using the same weak password for everything in 2018.

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Jeremy Keith - GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button - Bloomberg

Paul Ford explains version control in a way that is clear and straightforward, while also being wistful and poetic.

“I had idle fantasies about what the world of technology would look like if, instead of files, we were all sharing repositories and managing our lives in git: book projects, code projects, side projects, article drafts, everything. It’s just so damned … safe. I come home, work on something, push the changes back to the master repository, and download it when I get to work. If I needed to collaborate with other people, nothing would need to change. I’d just give them access to my repositories (repos, for short). I imagined myself handing git repos to my kids. “These are yours now. Iteratively add features to them, as I taught you.””

Sorry for the linkception. I saw this, wanted to copy the same bit of the OG article, and decided to just copy over the whole thing instead. This is a professional operation.

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Patrick Stafford - Let go of the A/B test

But there are a couple of problems with exclusively using A/B tests, and it’s important to understand why they’re not always a good fit:

  • They can take a long time. Depending on your traffic, you might not see results for weeks. That’s time you could spend testing other methods or alternatives, and an opportunity cost you need to realize.
  • Most of the time, they’re based on your own beliefs. Think about what you’re testing and why. If you haven’t based your test on any sort of input—like user testing—then you’re just testing your own biases. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s important to recognize.
  • Many people don’t know how to execute them properly. A good optimization manager is worth their weight in gold. If you have someone who’s unskilled running your program, they can make small mistakes with huge consequences. Executing the wrong types of tests, ending tests too early, and improper segmentation are huge misfires.
  • You don’t test like for like. This is a huge one. You can’t provide two wildly different experiences and then pinpoint what caused the result. It could be a number of different things, and inexperienced teams running A/B tests make that mistake all too often. The result? It’s all guesswork.
  • It stops you from getting stuff done. It can be way too tempting to just keep testing and never actually deploy anything. Speed is everything, and waiting until you’re absolutely sure about something—which is a trap UX researchers often fall into—can lead to lost gains.

I’ve never been a big fan of A/B testing unless there’s a clear argument between two different ways forward. If it’s your cool idea against a thing that’s just been there but isn’t moving the needle, don’t waste your time testing it. Make the change.

People get way too caught up in the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” way of thinking. The web changes fast — anything that’s been untouched for 2-3 years is fair game in my opinion. If you’re not evolving, you’re collecting dust.

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Austin Kleon - Fevered Egos

“I am not a fan of books,” Kanye said in 2009. “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph. I am a proud non-reader of books. I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life.”

Shocker! The President doesn’t read books, either.

(Unfortunately, this proud non-reading doesn’t stop them from writing their own books.)

My friend Matt Thomas, who is a scholar of both egos, says: “Kanye would have been that kid in college who didn’t always do the reading but had a really high participation grade because he always debated people in class and did alternate assignments.”

It strikes me over and over, reading old books, how the past is just one gigantic subtweet of these fevered egos.

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Rob Clark - Your Answers are Only as Good as Your Questions

More specifically, what’s the change you’re hoping to make or the decision to be made? From a business perspective, information’s value comes from its ability to provide clarity for decision making. If information helps mitigate risk by pointing you in the right direction, then it provides a clear financial value. If information isn’t feeding into a decision, then it is simply trivia. Interesting perhaps, but of no true relevance.

Around every decision made, there are things known and a great many things unknown. If you’re not careful, you could spend forever digging through data to find that very few pieces of information will point you in the right direction.

Don’t over-data. I know we’re in the era of analytics, but there’s something refreshingly human about trusting smart people’s instincts and only relying on data when you hit an a-ha moment that requires specific information to move forward.

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)

Tips for writing good tech/creative job cover letters

fantastic

I have absolutely zero experience with how big brand hiring processes work, but I’m confident in saying that the trick to getting an interview at a small-ish tech/creative shop is to write a fantastic cover letter.

That’s not saying that all good cover letters get interviews, but it is saying the opposite — a bad cover letter probably won’t get you past step one.

So here are a few tips to writing a good one, brought to you by someone who has written and read a few in his time.

Sell your beliefs more than your past

The biggest mistake people in cover letters is to present their work/education history as proof that they deserve something. Every business — even the tiniest ones — are complex beasts with unique needs and aspirations. But most importantly, nearly every job you’ll find in a small business will be completely different. Even jobs with the exact same title.

Your past matters in the sense that you can successfully do a thing, but thousands of people can do a thing, and half the time that thing will evolve into something completely different as the years go by. The trick is to give your prospective employer the feeling that your way of thinking will add value to the existing team.

What do you believe in? What’s important to you? What do you bring to a team dynamic?

Don’t pander

Everyone likes a compliment, but your cover letter isn’t the time for that. Instead, you should be selling yourself as a completely independent thing. Don’t mention the company you’re applying for in any way other than the fact that you’d be really excited to work there.

Here’s why: they’re looking to hire someone for a reason, and you probably don’t know what that reason is. The last thing you want to do is accidentally compliment something that’s unpopular internally.

Oh, you like our homepage? Your first task was going to be to redesign it… maybe we’ll go with someone who’s a little more forward-thinking.

Seriously, you’re not going to get very far with compliments in a cover letter. Use that space to sell yourself.

Edit out lazy storytelling

Humans are storytellers — it’s one of those things that makes us different from monkeys. But not many humans are good storytellers. Instead of weaving together interesting sentences, many of us default to simply documenting things that happened.

First, this happened. Then, that happened. After that, this other thing happened, and now I’m here applying for this job.

Even if your winding tale technically proves the case that you’re a good applicant, part of the challenge is to seem remotely interesting. Remember that the person running the hiring process might be digging through dozens of applications every day — if your letter is boring, you’re going to fall through the cracks.

So don’t make it boring. Edit out anything that doesn’t immediately answer why you’re a great hire. Also, be selective about including things that are already in your resume — no one wants to read your resume in sentence form.

Apply for the job in front of you

What employers are looking for is someone who thinks deeply about the position that’s open. If you’re a designer who also dabbles in development and copywriting, that’s great. Please spend your cover letter space explaining the design stuff — the rest is of lesser importance.

And please don’t start your letter with, “I have a CompSci Ph.D., so I’ll be perfect for your support position.” All that says is, “I really want a dev job, but since this support job is open, I guess I’ll do it for a few months.” Training people is hard work — if it seems like you’re going to be dissatisfied with the role within the year, we’re probably just going to hire someone else.

Use your cover letter to build the case that you want the job in front of you. Every position is vital to every employer, so treating anything as a bridge to something “better” is probably going to be insulting to the hiring manager, who, by nature, has probably spent a career doing the job you’re already trying to get out of.

Use up some of that white space

Try to remember that even though cover letters have largely moved to email, they’re still rooted in old-school letter writing. Imagine taking the time to hand-write something — you wouldn’t just put down a couple sentences and call it a day, and you also wouldn’t write out a long-form treatise.

Say what you need to say. Take your time. Just not too much time — there are other applications to get through.

Get the details right

  • Spell the company name correctly (pay attention to current branding).
  • Follow the instructions provided in the job ad.
  • Explicitly acknowledge any requirements for the role if it’s not clear initially that you do meet them.
  • Unless specifically requested, don’t send anything as a .doc file (no one likes .doc files, and they’re not very secure).
  • Don’t be gender specific… definitely don’t start your letter with “Dear sir”.
  • Further to that, try really hard to find out who you’re talking to. “Dear Recruiter” when our entire team is listed on our About page isn’t going to impress.
  • Have someone proof your writing. Even if you’re a professional writer.

The Blogroll: Week 16

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll

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Mike Davidson - Design-Driven Companies. Are We There Yet?

Finally, I also think it’s important to highlight the value of helping upgrade your own company’s product development processes. Designers love talking about the actual product design work they’ve done in the form of visual artifacts and launched services. Just as valuable, however, is the work that went into reshaping the processes that made these products possible. PMs make their own PM-centric contributions to what product development processes look like, and engineers do the same with their own lens. By adding your own perspective as a designer and improving the product development process at your own company, you’re accomplishing something you may not even get to accomplish at a place like Apple… and that, is something to be proud of.

Designers, and really anyone involved in creating user experiences, need to be fighters to be successful. It’s not only your job to produce good shit — it’s just as important to show the design agnostic what good shit can do for them. Prove to them that good taste isn’t just superficial.

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Cal Newport - Open Offices Make You Less Open

Here’s a summary of what they found:

  • Contrary to what’s predicted by the sociological literature, the 52 participants studied spent 72% less time interacting face-to-face after the shift to an open office layout. To make these numbers concrete: In the 15 days before the office redesign, participants accumulated an average of around 5.8 hours of face-to-face interaction per person per day. After the switch to the open layout, the same participants dropped to around 1.7 hours of face-to-face interaction per day.
  • At the same time, the shift to an open office significantly increased digital communication. After the redesign, participants sent 56% more emails (and were cc’d 41% more times), and the number of IM messages sent increased by 67%.

Not surprisingly, this shift from face-to-face to electronic interaction made employees less effective.

This probably sounds crazy, but in my ~15 years of professional life, I’ve never worked in a “traditional” space — it’s all either been open offices or remote. There was a two-week span though where the company I worked for merged/bought with another company and I was temporarily planted in their closed office to integrate with their creative team.

It was glorious. When there was work, I had a quiet space to do it. When meetings were needed, we would gather up in meeting rooms. And if you wanted to talk to someone, you didn’t have to have a big public conversation with everyone in the “cluster,” you just sat down and could calmly talk.

Remote work is the extreme form of this tough. Humans crave face-to-face conversations, but the only social options we’ve come up with are big, open coworking spaces and coffee shops. What we need is a closed coworking space that gives people a reason to co-mingle with people doing different things. Tough challenge.

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Alexis C. Madrigal - Disposable America

The big paper and food companies circled Maryland Cup, but it was eventually sold for $534 million to Fort Howard, a paper company that had gone public in the early ’70s, and began to aggressively expand beyond its Wisconsin base.

The sale was a boon for Maryland Cup’s shareholders, but the company did not fare well under the new management. Following the transaction, the Baltimore Sun relates, Maryland Cup executives flew to dinner with Fort Howard’s hard-charging CEO, Paul Schierl. He brought out a flip chart, on which he’d written the company’s “old” values—“service, quality, responding to customers.” He turned the page to show the company’s “new” values—“profits, profits, profits.” It’s like a scene out of Tommy Boy, or a socialist’s fever dream.

I like how the same Americans who yearn for “old” values of “service, quality, responding to customers” voted elected the poster child for “profits, profits, profits.”

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Cate Huston - Towards Productive Technical Discussions

The goal of these discussions is to define a path forward, and they should end with a specific decision which we then act on. Non-decision decisions* are a common dysfunction that I strongly prefer we avoid. Have some back and forth, switch to a call if necessary, but at the end of the thread there should be a decision and some next actions. Review the feedback, answer the questions, and then based on that, circle back, summarize, and state the decision.

My summer resolution has been to come out of every work conversation with either a to-do list or a Mario Tennis match scheduled. Anything less is unprofessional. Also, playing with Bowser Jr. is unprofessional.

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Cameron Adams - Creativity at scale

From the germinating seed of a musical idea, a film score passes from the hands of a composer to an orchestrator, a conductor, musical performers, editors, sound engineers, mixers, and the film director themselves. Each of them puts their fingerprints on the work, and it’s the coordination between each of these professionals that produces the finished piece of creativity.

I’m reminded of the insight into fashion design delivered by Dior and I (ok, I might be a bit of a creative process nerd) which looked at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection for the Christian Dior label. It was fascinating to see the interplay between Simons’ creative direction and the countless craftswomen whose hands his vision passed through, each helping to shape an idea into something tangible. It was truly the work of a finely honed creative team and a testament to collaboration over isolation.

While I wouldn’t dare to put a sublime piece of art like the theme from Jaws in the same ballpark as making software, great products aren’t made by great people, they’re made by great teams. Having a brilliant idea or a beautifully executed design is meaningless without the ability to galvanise and work with engineers, QAs, marketers, salespeople and support staff.

Here’s what this says to me: the best things come from the combination of heirarchy and trust. Managers/idea people have to be trusted to put forward ideas/plans that are actionable and makes sense, and they have to trust that the people under them will make the best decisions they can based on the expertise they have. If that’s not the way it’s working, there’s a problem.

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Mike Davidson - How To Give Helpful Product Design Feedback

Level 2: Understand

See something that looks sub-optimal and begin an inquiry to figure out why.

Example: “The Profile page is much harder for me to get to right now. What advantages are achieved with this tradeoff?”

Appropriate Usage: Now we’re getting somewhere. Product design is a series of tradeoffs. Simplicity vs extensibility. Speed vs power. Whimsy vs seriousness. When designers move something around, it is usually with an objective in mind. That objective could even be to intentionally get you to do something less frequently. Designers, however, often misfire and don’t fully appreciate what they are giving up for what they are gaining. Worse yet, sometimes they may be gaining nothing at all. It is more than fair to ask these questions. It is helpful! Often in the course of giving Level 2 feedback like this, you may in fact cause the designer to think of this tradeoff for the first time, since they may not have even realized the magnitude of the downside.

To me, this goes for all feedback. In a professional setting, always assume that things are done with a purpose, because all things should be done with a purpose. If your question triggers a “hey, I never thought of that” response, that’s great. And if someone provides a thought-out resonining, that’s great, too. But never assume there was no thought put in (the author’s example was “Something about the navigation just feels wrong.”). Even if you mean well, you have to go in assuming all choices are intentional — assuming complete lapse of judgement is pretty disrespectful.

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Ben Wolford - Gmail’s privacy problem and why it matters

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article highlighting privacy concerns related to Gmail’s use of third-party apps. When users install tools known as “add-ons” in their Gmail accounts, they are often giving outside companies full access to their mailbox. In at least one instance, the WSJ reported, “engineers personally read through thousands of emails“.

In the public debate that followed, many people focused on Google’s poor oversight of these third-party developers and the inadequacy of their privacy policies. While these are important concerns, they distract from the fundamental problem with Google, which is that the company’s entire purpose is to spy on you and sell your private information to organizations that want to influence you.

I don’t want to be alarmist guy, but we should all make a plan to get off Google platforms. All of them. There are companies out there doing the exact same things without a business model based on exploiting your data.

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)

The Blogroll: Week 15

If you’re asking “what the heck am I looking at?”, here’s a primer. Also, if you know of an article or blog I should be reading, let me know.

The Blogroll

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Robin Rendle - I Don’t Believe in Full-Stack Engineering

Despite the evidence that front-end development is a focused activity that requires full-time effort I see a lot of companies hiring full-stack engineers and hiring designers without coding experience, and I see design teams focused intently on pixel pushing and making animations without understanding basic HTML structure. I constantly see wildly inaccessible interfaces that don’t have focus states and forms that don’t let you navigate effectively with a keyboard. I see unusable mobile interfaces and giant web apps that feel slow and clunky because no-one really considered how browsers function at the most basic of levels.

If you’re only hiring full-stack engineers then you should carefully consider why that’s the case and you should have a grasp of what you’re sacrificing for that lack of focus and expertise in that area.

Because there’s no such thing as a unicorn and there’s no such thing as a full-stack engineer.

We’re going to be hiring soon. My thoughts mirror these.

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Taffy Brodesser-Akner - Jonathan Franzen Is Fine With All of It

“I’ve never been a big fan of society structured predominantly along lines of consumerism, but I had made my peace with it,” he said. “But then when it began to be that every individual person also had to be a product that they were selling and liking became paramount, that seemed like a very worrisome thing at a personal level as a human being. If you’re in a state of perpetual fear of losing market share for you as a person, it’s just the wrong mind-set to move through the world with.” Meaning that if your goal is to get liked and retweeted, then you are perhaps molding yourself into the kind of person you believe will get those things, whether or not that person resembles the actual you. The writer’s job is to say things that are uncomfortable and hard to reduce. Why would a writer mold himself into a product?

And why couldn’t people hear him about the social effects this would have? “The internet is all about destroying the elite, destroying the gatekeepers,” he said. “The people know best. You take that to its conclusion, and you get Donald Trump. What do those Washington insiders know? What does the elite know? What do papers like The New York Times know? Listen, the people know what’s right.” He threw up his hands.

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Preston Gannaway - How the Startup Mentality Failed Kids in San Francisco

In Payne’s view, Brown was a “super-good-faith effort to build a state-of-the-art school that is still ongoing. The startup metaphor is a really good one,” he said, “where you have to iterate. You can’t expect everything to run perfectly on the first day. And I think, you know, that process of storming and norming and developing a community is going to be challenging under the best of circumstances.”

To be sure, Brown was the most ambitious new-school launch ever undertaken by the district, and is still populated by children and teachers who deserve encouragement and every chance to succeed. The allure of the startup metaphor is likewise understandable—except tech startups are launched by entrepreneurs backed by investors who understand the risks they are taking, while Brown was started by government employees with little personal stake in the outcome.

This, to me, is a real problem. We have politicians and community leaders around the world trying to run countries and institutions more like startups — but unlike businesses that can just close their doors with little consequence, you can’t just close the doors of a school. There’s no bankruptcy. There’s no investor on the other side expecting schools to fail because all they really want is a single unicorn from their portfolio. The people on the other end are families trying to give their children a chance. Failure isn’t an option.

Everyone involved in a public institution should know that and be held accountable.

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Jason Smith - Domain registrations now total 333.8 million, new gTLD registrations decline 20.7% YoY

There are now also 3.2 million more .com and .net registrations than there were at the end of Q1 2017, which represents a 3.2 percent (4.6 million) increase. Of the 148.3 million .com and .net registrations, 133.9 million are .com domain names while 14.4 million are .net domain names.

Meanwhile, new generic top-level domain registrations (gTLDs) now total 20.2 million and registrations of gTLDs decreased by 0.4 million (2 percent) quarter-on-quarter and 5.3 million (20.7 percent) year-on-year.

These numbers aren’t super surprising — there haven’t been early as many new gTLD launches this year, so the buzz is down. But I do see it as a worrying trend, if it is indeed a trend.

To me, established brands and new brands in less tech-focused industries will naturally go with the safest option. And that — today — is either .com or a local country-code TLD (ccTLD). Growth there is fine. But blogs and portfolio sites have so much more room to experiment, and they’re often the ones pushing trends. So one way to interpret these stats is to assume would-be bloggers and portfolio owners are choosing closed platforms instead of the open web. Facebook and Instagram instead of Wordpress and Cargo.

It’s a choice people are making, and I would say it’s a bad one for the long-term health of the internet. I’ve said it before, but we need more polished tools in the open web. Lots of people are doing lots of neat things, but there’s still no better way than Instagram for a bakery to share a picture and see immediate results.

The argument for the open web can’t purely be a philosophical one, or even a security-focused one (I think we can safely assume that most people don’t care). It actually needs to be better.

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Nicola Wood - Rest

It’s not possible to do everything at once. You just end up doing them badly. Important things - and people - may get lost along the way. There has to be time to chat to family and friends about their day. To play with Mufasa. To have a proper lunch-break. To go for walks. To blog twice a week. To keep the house clean … If there’s no room for those then I’ve got too much on and something needs to change. Locking myself in the toilet until it all goes away isn’t really an option … However tempting it sometimes is.

This might be a cultural thing, but in my corner of America, we call the room with the toilet the restroom for a reason.

I kid, I kid. (I really don’t… we all have far too many things going on.)

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Jeremy Keith - Why Design Systems Fail by Una Kravets

At Digital Ocean, there was a design system called Buoy version 1. Una helped build a design system called Float. There was also a BUI version 2. Buoy was for product, Float was for the marketing site. Classic example of 927. Nobody was using them.

Una checked the CSS of the final output and the design system code only accounted for 28% of the codebase. Most of the CSS was over-riding the CSS in the design system. Happy design systems scale good standards, unify component styles and code and reduce code cruft. Why were people adding on instead of using the existing system? Because everyone was being judged on different metrics. Some teams were judged on shipping features rather than producing clean code. So the advantages of a happy design systems don’t apply to them.

This is a good post for people trying to implement anything as a standard. People have to really want it to be successful, and the goals of each team have to be unified. If priority one is getting a product out the door, standards that don’t seamlessly integrate into workflows just won’t get followed.

It’s much easier to say, “I shipped it, but it needs work” than spending the time trying to understand why something is the way it is.

The actual blogroll

(Blogs are ranked in order of appearances in these Blogroll posts. Also, I’m only listing blogs that don’t act as newspapers, because those are the ones I feel need the most support.)

Support person wanted… apply inside

typing

We (maybe just me) have really been struggling with what to call people who do support. Are they representatives? Staffers? Ninjas (kill me!)?

Anyways, we’re hiring one — a support person to do support. And it’s an excellent job, even though we can’t seem to land on an official title.

Unlike most companies, everyone here is equally valued in our hierarchy. Sure, certain people are tasked to do different things, and some things might get prioritized over others, but at the end of the day everyone at iwantmyname makes the same amount of money.

What’s that? Yes. As a support person, you’ll be making the same amount as our GM, all the developers, and everyone else doing stuff. It’s kind of bizarre — I think someone on Hacker News once said that it can’t possibly work because of communism or something, but here we are. We’re celebrating our 10th year in December and we’ve been doing it this way from the start.

So here’s what we’re looking for:

  • Someone in a New Zealand, Australia, or E. Asian time zone (between UTC +8 and +12) who can work Sunday-Thursday.
  • Someone who is comfortable with remote work. If you’re used to regular office jobs, it can be quite a transition. Previous remote experience is a plus, but certainly not a requirement.
  • A master of written English. We do 100% email support, so you’ll be typing all day. You have to be good at written communication.
  • This probably wouldn’t be a good first customer experience job, so prior support/customer service experience is a must. Bonus points for having domain industry experience. We’ll teach you a ton, but it’s nice to not have to start from the very beginning.
  • Not a jerk. Seriously, if you’re a jerk, you should work on that before applying.

To apply, please head over to the official job posting before July 11, 2018. Directions are at the bottom.