What If Social Net­works Just Aren’t Profitable?

What if we designed a social net­work to be small, self-supporting, and inde­pen­dent from the out­set? How would it look, work, and feel? I bet it would come out look­ing noth­ing like the ones we’ve got now, the ones still try­ing to turn water into gold.

How Jonah Lehrer should blog

The prob­lem with Jonah Lehrer, like the prob­lem with Zach Kouwe, is not that he was hum­bled by the insa­tiable demands of Blog. Instead, it’s that he made a cat­e­gory error, and tried to use a reg­u­lar blog as a vehi­cle for the kind of writ­ing that should not be done in blog for­mat. Lehrer shouldn’t shut down Frontal Cor­tex; he should sim­ply change it to become a real blog. And if he does that, he’s likely to find that blogs in fact are won­der­ful tools for gen­er­at­ing ideas, rather than being places where your pre­cious store of ideas gets used up in record-quick time.

Felix Salmon - How Jonah Lehrer should blog.

Productivity is about your life, not just your work

Most peo­ple mea­sure pro­duc­tiv­ity in terms of work, what they’re paid to do.

I pre­fer a dif­fer­ent measure.

Pro­duc­tiv­ity is the mea­sure of how effec­tively you get done the things you ratio­nally, explic­itly want to do (includ­ing work when nec­es­sary). Pro­duc­tiv­ity is the out­put of the exer­cise of free will. This isn’t a new gen­er­al­iza­tion, adher­ents of GTD and other pro­duc­tiv­ity sys­tems know that pro­duc­tiv­ity is about your life, not just your work.

Tan­tek Çelik — The Accel­er­a­tion of Addic­tive­ness vs Willpower, Pro­duc­tiv­ity, and Flow.

When Friction is Fiction

Some­times our lizard brains build moun­tains where only roads exist — mainly so we have an excuse not to ven­ture down them. One side of our brain is nat­u­rally built to warn of dan­ger and the other is all too apt to believe it. It is in this ten­sion that even fic­tion can become fric­tion that slows us down and keeps us from tack­ling the task at hand. Over­com­ing the chal­lenges of our lives often comes from star­ing this fric­tion in its face and see­ing it for what it really is — the fear of what we are fully capa­ble of…

Patrick Rhone — When Fric­tion is Fic­tion.

Hack the Cover

If dig­i­tal cov­ers as we know them are so ‘dead,’ why do we hold them so gin­gerly? Treat them like print cov­ers? We can’t hurt them. They’re dead. So let’s start hack­ing. Pull them apart, cut them into bits and see what we come up with.

This is an essay for book lovers and design­ers curi­ous about where the cover has been, where it’s going, and what the ethos of cov­ers means for dig­i­tal book design. It’s for those of us dis­sat­is­fied with thought­lessly trans­fer­ring print assets to dig­i­tal and clos­ing our eyes.

The cover as we know it really is — gasp — ‘dead.’ But it’s dead because the way we touch dig­i­tal books is dif­fer­ent than the way we touch phys­i­cal books. And once you acknowl­edge that, use­ful corol­lar­ies emerge.

Craig Mod — Hack the Cover.

Explorable Explanations

Do our read­ing envi­ron­ments encour­age active read­ing? Or do they utterly oppose it? A typ­i­cal read­ing tool, such as a book or web­site, dis­plays the author’s argu­ment, and noth­ing else. The reader’s line of thought remains inter­nal and invis­i­ble, vague and spec­u­la­tive. We form ques­tions, but can’t answer them. We con­sider alter­na­tives, but can’t explore them. We ques­tion assump­tions, but can’t ver­ify them. And so, in the end, we blindly trust, or blindly don’t, and we miss the deep under­stand­ing that comes from dia­logue and exploration.

Explorable Expla­na­tions is my umbrella project for ideas that enable and encour­age truly active read­ing. The goal is to change people’s rela­tion­ship with text. Peo­ple cur­rently think of text as infor­ma­tion to be con­sumed. I want text to be used as an envi­ron­ment to think in.

Bret Vic­tor - Explorable Expla­na­tions.

Design Is a Job” Highlights

It’s your job as a designer, and a com­mu­ni­ca­tion pro­fes­sional, to find the right lan­guage to com­mu­ni­cate with your client. When you say a client doesn’t “get it” you might as well be say­ing, “I couldn’t fig­ure out how to get my point across. I am a lazy designer. Please take all my clients from me.”

Remem­ber, a small job for you is not nec­es­sar­ily a small job for the client.

Mike Mon­teiro — Design Is a Job.

Building a Cabin

But for me, the cabin was as nec­es­sary as it was pre­pos­ter­ous. Enor­mously far away, these wide-open lands, which share a lonely vigil in the deep­est realms of the world’s emp­ti­est hemi­sphere, had long ago infused me with their clean skies, eerily pure water, and deep forests.

Patrick Symmes - Build­ing a Cabin.

The Farmer

This farmer real­izes that the rela­tion­ship with her work, like any good rela­tion­ship is, and should be, rec­i­p­ro­cal. That the work, the land, would not be as good with­out her com­mit­ment to it. And, in turn, it returns that com­mit­ment to her. And, because of her inti­macy with it, it returns that much more.

This. This pas­sion. This love for what we are born to do. What­ever that is for each of us. Like her, our days should be filled with it. Every moment. We should wake up each day inch­ing to get up to our necks in it. To be cov­ered with it. To be a part of it. To be inti­mate with it.

Patrick Rhone — The Farmer.