This week, start here:
Paul Hamilton’s wonderful piece on learning to unlearn is essential reading for people who are grappling with the fidelity and process of designing new, digital services — an essay, really, on coming to terms with the necessity of various elements of the ‘design’ process.

This part, in particular, rang true:

It’s always important to take a step back and find the quickest way to validate an idea, even if it means not building anything.

It reminds us a bit of the Government Digital Service post from earlier this month, in which Ben Terrett examined the organization’s design process:

We don’t make “high fidelity mock ups” or “high fidelity wireframes”. We’re making a Thing, not pictures of a Thing.


Fans of American Football will find this Grantland piece on the Philadelphia Eagles organizational embrace of performance data and analytics quite interesting. Those of you who prefer fútbol will find comfort in Nate Silver’s math that correlates global popularity of sport with the brevity of its rulebook.

Question to ponder: does the same idea apply to employee handbooks and company policies?

If you’re the sort who gets really excited by sports analytics, PostScapes has a short, compelling piece on the science and application of Zebra Technologies’ MotionWorks system, which will be used this season to track the every on-the-field move of NFL players.

Speaking of performance analytics, it seems that the city of Santa Monica, California is seeking to measure the happiness of its citizens (who, in the author’s experience, should be really happy that they live in Santa Monica). It gets better: they’re benchmarking themselves against data on the happiness of the citizens of Somerville, Massachusetts (whose happiness is measured quantitativelybecause smiles don’t register clearly through beards).

The Gartner Hype Cycle diagram is always worth bookmarking and taking a long, hard look at. Understanding that technologies work through phases of inflated expectations, a trough of disillusionment and then work their way toward broader acceptance and utility is a really important idea — particularly as we trumpet the emergence of new technologies and hype their near-term impact.

The White House uploaded its’ agile technology procurement playbook to GitHub. Make all of the Obamacare website jokes you like, but it’s pretty smart stuff that outpaces the process for much of the procurement work done in the private sector.

Also catching our eye on the technology front: Santiago Valdarrama’s piece for A List Apart on ‘prebrowsing‘— using analytics and business intelligence to predict content that a user will want to read next, and starting the load early to improve performance (and, by extension, the user experience). It’s the web services equivalent to Amazon’s predictive shipping trials.

Turns out, when you 3D print liver tissue, it radically re-frames toxicology testing.

We touched on some of the work last week that John Willshire has been doing around the idea of an organizational ‘relativity matrix’. This week, he posted a rather intriguing extension of the idea — particularly his exploration of the ‘basic units of work’. These lenses for evaluating our contributions to organization we loved, in particular:

  1. ACTIONS: What have you done in the last day to help get something done?
  2. COMMERCE: What have you done this week to help hit our targets more quickly?
  3. CUSTOMER: What have you done this month to benefit customers?
  4. LEADERSHIP: What have you done this quarter to help others work in a new way?
  5. ORGANISATION: What have you done this year to improve our organisation’s culture?

As Clay Jones noted on his blog this week: “imagine setting down with a colleague or a group of colleagues and running through this list”

File under: indictments, scathing — Jasper Morrison drops science, then drops the mic:

It’s a sad fact that marketing is often the motor of unnecessary change, replacing satisfactory products with products which may be less efficient but which are easier to sell. I doubt a comparison of everyday objects of previous decades, even previous centuries, with those available today would show an improvement in overall quality.

Hat tip to Ben Bashford’s goldmine of a Tumblr for that one.

At a time when community/police relations are a hot topic, creating a Yelp-like app to rate local police is a provocative idea. Turns out, the brilliantly-named Five-O was developed by a group of Georgia teenagers.


The wonderful Dan Hill book from which we took the name of this newsletter — and which was the subject of our first Almighty book club — is now available in on-demand printed form. You should really give it a read.


New York Magazine’s story on the outlaw Instagrammers of New York City — kids who seek out brilliant, off-limits vantage points from which to snap breathtaking photos of the city — is an absolutely phenomenal article, filled with great photography. It completely recalls the early days of graffiti and Shepard Fairey’s forays into Obey postings in hard-to-reach spots. Brilliant stuff.