This week, start here: take a few minutes (ok, maybe 25) and read Emily Bell’s 2015 Hugh Cudlipp lecture — a phenomenal, expertly-woven take on contemporary digital journalism, succinctly articulated in this way:

The most powerful trend in journalism today is full integration with reporting, presentation and distribution of journalism through the social web.

It’s easy, and absurdly reductive, to dismiss this as the article on declining journalistic standards you’ve already read a few thousand times. Read past that, though, and you get a powerfully-thoughtful take on the interwoven nature of the media we’re all consuming, to wit:

We need the values of journalism in software as much as we need the software systems supporting journalism.

Yikes / indeed!

Tangentially related, but equally relevant to many of you: Vox reveals its method for (you say refreshing / we say optimizing) its evergreen content (3 min).


There’s been a lot of chatter in the last week about the relative merits of hamburger menus, much of it stemming from a Redbooth post espousing a substantive uptick in engagement-style metrics (4 min) after eliminating their own hamburger. One perspective: the problem isn’t explicitly hamburger menus, but rather the hiding of navigation options that stem from them.

Jeff Sauro has written a fascinating, well-founded piece challenging the perception that mobile websites are inherently less-usable (5 min) than their desktop counterparts.

Take a few minutes with Fabrice Grinda’s slides on building marketplaces (4 min), and the way in which Craigslist has defined entire sets of new offerings.

A great use for 3D printing: pre-modeling bone, tissue and ligament structures so that surgeons can practice operations (7 min) prior to incision.

Grant McCracken on the dangers of the migration of designers into the corporation(4 min):

For all these years, designers kept a careful distance. They were in but not of the world of business. But now, if Fabricant is correct, they are at risk of falling into the gravitation field of the corporation, into what for some may be an incinerating embrace.

A thought to ponder: the largest employer of designers in the world is now IBM.

Six critical trends in an increasingly-automated workforce (8 min): manual skills within jobs have become less-important over time the importance of perception skills within jobs has decreased over time interpersonal skills have become more important over time the importance of workers ability to use technological tools has become more important with time individual skills within jobs are changing in relative importance over time each of the above trends is accelerating.

What if the “sharing economy” is really just a gentle phrase for the transfer of risk (3 min) from the corporation to the individual?

Forward-thinking designers the world over have gushed at length over Stewart Brand’s book How Buildings Learn, though Christopher Alexander’s A Timeless Way of Building is an equally-compelling collection of insights. This week, Rian van der Merwe highlighted this excerpt as instructive for the world of software development (1 min):

Each building when it is first built, is an attempt to make a self-maintaining whole configuration … But our predictions are invariably wrong … It is therefore necessary to keep changing the buildings, according to the real events which actually happen there.” (p. 479-480) The last portion of the book drives home that fact that no building  (software application) is ever perfect.  We shouldn’t look down on “repair” but instead see it as a way to continually mature what we’ve built and apply what we’ve learned along they way.

Is the same not true for a broad swathe of brand and marketing experiences? Something to contemplate.

Audrey Watters’ history of the multiple choice test (5 min) reveals some interesting background on both how we make choices (and how we make computers).

There’s been a lot of noise lately about SAAS for the enterprise, and the dissonance between user experience in B2B and B2C. As usual, Fred Wilson delivers some signal on where enterprise software is going next (3 min — or 20 min if you read the comment thread, which you should).

Mark Suster thinks you might be kidding yourself about how much your product really matters (2 min).

Ben Thompson has written a sprawling piece on cellist Zoe Keating and her battle with YouTube (8 min). This, in particular, jumped off the screen at us:

I think it’s more that nearly everyone at tech – and I’ve witnessed this first hand again and again – is deeply conditioned to think at scale. It is the first question out of anyone’s mouth when it comes to a new service or product – “Can it scale?” Niches, though, don’t scale; they go deep. More importantly, they go deep in a way that wasn’t possible previously.

Artist Zach Blas has designed a mask that shrouds users from facial recognition software (7 min). Your authors are reminded of the words of Tom Armitage, who famously suggested that:

The camouflage of the 21st century is to resist interpretation, to fail to make mechanical sense: through strange and complex plays and tactics, or clothes and makeup, or a particularly ugly t-shirt.


On an unrelated note: someone either is or isn’t flooding the market with either real or fake unreleased Aphex Twin recordings (5 min). On the other hand, someone is almost certainly data mining your license plate (8 min) – particularly if you live in Oakland.