This week, start here: We’re a few weeks late to it, but Georgia Malden’s piece for Contagious on ‘Premiumness’ and the ways in which efficiency is supplanting luxury (6 min) (within many marketplaces) is absolutely essential reading for marketers in 2015. This x 1000:

I was struck when I read in Fjord’s 2015 Trends report that a leading retailer’s head of ecommerce had told them that while transparent inventory is a ‘worthy endeavor’, it is not ‘prestigious’ enough for brands to take on. It seems that it’s all too tempting to focus on window dressing for the brand – whether that’s glitzy marketing campaigns that express the brand values or PR-grabbing innovation ideas – rather than what matters to real people. It’s simply easier to bolt-on ‘innovations’ that provide spikes of interest, than delve into the operational nuts and bolts behind the scenes that contribute to making the whole process better.


If you missed it on the Twitters, the National Geographic data storytelling on what the world eats (1 min to 1 hour) is interactive infographic gold. More brands should tell stories that acknowledge the intelligence of the user in this way.

Your author will never be able to read this book (2 min), as it refuses to open if the reader’s face bears a skeptical expression. An absurd example? Perhaps. It’s worth asking, though: if we’re going to live in an age of sentient, connected, smart objects, do we want them making value judgements on our behalf? (2 min) To wit:

If a ‘smart’ coffee machine knows about its user’s heart problems, should it accept giving him a coffee when he requests one?

Put down that PSFK report on Home Depot’s drone culture, and read Esko Kilpi on men, machines and the changing value of interaction (4 min).

The social revolution, the human-centric revolution, is about deeply rethinking the value of human effort. An increase in value can only occur if people can do something in interaction that they cannot do alone.

If you enjoy that sort of heady organizational technology thinking, Brian Dean’s December essay on Antiwork (9 min) will be satisfying, as well. Clay Jones strings together observations about counterinsurgency and Google into a really smart set of thoughts on organizational behavior (3 min), namely:

A decent organizational design that is created by its inhabitants is better than a perfect organizational design pushed down from senior leadership.

“Ok everybody, it’s time to get off the maker bandwagon.” Debbie, you go first (6 min). Rian van der Merwe, again with the wisdom (2 min):

We often see a UI issue and immediately switch out the pattern instead of trying to understand what the the real problem is. It’s great if we can look at something we designed and say, “Hmm, that doesn’t work.” But we have to go further and also understand why it doesn’t work before we just take the easy why out and replace the UI element.

Buzzfeed published an outstanding Editorial Standards and Ethics Guide (15 min) that you should absolutely read.

In related news, these are among the articles currently featured on the homepage of Buzzfeed:

  • Are You A F**kboy?
  • This Sweet Baby Is Startled By A Shadow And It’s The Cutest
  • How Stereotypically Filipino Are You?
  • 23 Times D.W. from Arthur Was The Realest Bitch Who Ever Lived
  • The Butt Of Every Football Player In The Super Bowl, Ranked

At the heart of Netflix’ massive bet on data-driven programming: human intuition (4 min).  As Tim Wu’s piece for The New Yorker cleverly points out, this subverts an established barrier to entry— something we suspect this is true far beyond streaming.

For fans of Atul Gawande, checklists and the Hawthorne Effect: a device that (gently) buzzes health care workers to remind them to wash their hands (2 min). We’re getting awfully close to invisible dog fences for humans, kids.

Please read Chris Dixon on idea mazes and the ‘fault tolerant UX’ (5 min).

For the third consecutive week, Craigslist as predictor of everything: researchers have identified meaningful correlation between response rates to the site’s personals ads in key markets and the the rise in STD infections (3 min).


It won’t make you smarter, but Rick Rubin went on Genius and annotated a whole slew of the songs he helped to produce (1 min to 1 hour). Oh, and John Tatlock interviewed Hank Shocklee (22 min), head of Public Enemy’s production team, The Bomb Squad, for The Quietus. Each makes for an exceptional way to while away the hours.

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