This week, start with Uninvited Guests (4 min) — a short video from the team at Superflux that imagines the struggles between a man and his smart home. It’s a fascinating short, dealing with a user (as described in a Vice piece on the video):

locked into leading a double life: the one he wants to live, and the one his objects demand of him.

It’s comic, but also enormously prescient: to whose ethics and definitions of a better life are we subscribing? Jawbone’s? Apple’s? General Electric’s? Kanye’s? What happens when the ethos’ of our ecosystems come into conflict with one another?

We’d suggest that we might tackle some of these questions with better personas, but according to UserFocus.co.uk personas are going out of style (8 min). In America, they’ll continue to be cool through late Q3 and into early Q4.


Mel Exon in a fantastic piece on mobile’s experiential form factor (3 min) last week for Marketing:

What is most striking is the degree to which mobile is dictating and accelerating… well, just about everything. In format design terms, vertical videos, once the laughing stock of the internet cognoscenti, are having the last laugh…The vertical viewing figures that are steadily on the rise and the fact that vertical is proving to be a more effective ad format – witness the nine times higher completion rate of full-screen vertical video ads on Snapchat versus horizontal mobile video ads.

Just shoot your author now and be done with it (3 min):

I can see brands doing that, sort of having emoji battles

The Autocomplete Archive stores the top Google type-forward autocomplete values beginning with ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘why’, and ‘how’ every single day, and it’s mesmerizing.

Emma Meehan has written quite a smart piece for Intercom on interview questions to use in pursuit (5 min) of a handful of key product development and design insights. Bookmark it.

Unilever released a detailed human rights audit of its operations (+/- 30 min), which was a good deal more interesting before they turned it into a PR opportunity. If your brand is defined by the good things it does, it’s also defined by the urgency to capitalize on those acts.

Mark Reed and Anna Evely have co-authored a fantastic piece, excerpted on the London School of Economics blog, on designing and planning for knowledge exchange and transfer within an organization (5 min). It’s heady and wonky and doesn’t Tweet well — but it’s fantastic stuff, and probably terribly relevant to the place you work.

The 18F Content Guide is solid gold, particularly if you make things for people.

Clive Thompson on the joys of reading War and Peace on his iPhone (23 min):

To focus on Tolstoy, I had to be much more “mindful.” I had to start paying attention to my attention, to notice my own urges to peek at Twitter or email, so that I could decide to actively ignore them, instead of responding with a Pavolovian lunge for the app.

Data as storytelling device, exhibit #45,258: the crash of the peloton at the Tour de France, visualized in Tableau.


Brian Foo has developed code that translates global refugee migration data into original composition (3 min) — particularly beautiful when paired with his visualization of that data. Intriguingly, he pulls musical inspiration not from ambient or electronic sounds, but from the language of American country music.

In related news: James Murphy’s willingness to turn algorithms into beats is the last refuge of brands with nothing left to say (1 min).

For the young, and/or uninitiated: Alex Chen’s mta.me lies on the spectrum between the two, and is still the gold standard.

Enjoy your week.