March 18, 2017 edition of my newsletter

Here’s the latest edition of things worth reading. You can subscribe at Tinyletter. No podcast edition this week.

Monopoly replaces boot, thimble and wheelbarrow with a T-Rex, penguin and a rubber ducky (Telegraph)
So rarely do I play Monopoly anymore that I had no idea they were retiring pieces in favor of new ones, but alas. Are you outraged? Or is this a sign of progress? Ha.

The Problem With Interactive Graphics (FastCo)
Turns out, nobody actually looks at interactive graphics? Shocked? Not in a world where millennials confess to only reading headlines and people have less time to engage with things.

The decline of first-generation college athletes (ESPN/The Undefeated)
One of the great myths of college athletes not being paid is how it’s providing opportunities to kids who’d otherwise not be able to go to college. That might be true, but it’s a lot less true now — across all sports — than it used to be, as fewer first-gen kids are getting scholarships.

The Roots of Cowboy Music: The Search for the Black Self in The American West (MTV News)
I thought this was just a good piece of writing about self-discovery, so I shared it.

The disturbing trend of homeless community college students (Washington Post)

Craigslist Is Old, Janky and Unbeatable (Backchannel)
In 2003 when I was interned at the Boston Globe, Craigslist was responsible for me finding my apartment, my computer and pretty much all of my non-work friends.

What I’m Reading: Memoirs of a Polar Bear (Yoko Tawada)
Why We Can’t Look Away From Our Screens – A review of Adam Alter’s book “Irresistible” which is also what I’m reading this week.

What I’m Listening To: Quilt – Plaza (LP)

On being known for a particular craft

 

How do you get to a place where people recognize you for a particular thing or discipline? Doing it a lot or doing it successfully. Perhaps the two go together?

I’m always fascinated when I meet people in real life and find out what they know. It’s the distinctive things that stick out. Maybe they’ll watch a video of one of my talks at a conference somewhere. Mostly people don’t ever meet at a conference at all, so it’s harder to translate what I do on the road with folks I meet in everyday life because it just seems so distant to them.

For these folks, they’ll remember invented Tennis Polo years ago, the shoe brand I started once or more recently, that I launched a conference or my obsession with Finnish Baseball.

As I think about ‘branding’ myself or plot my course professionally, I am always struck by what things to accentuate and what thing to put down into the background. What people remember and what I tend to accentuate don’t often match, making me think there needs to be a repositioning. That said, most of the fun stuff I do isn’t especially lucrative. I have a lot of tangible skills that I think I’d do well to share. It’s just a question of choosing what things matter and then moving the ball forward.

The real issue here is being known as a jack-of-all-trades in a world that rewards specialization.  I try to specialize, but it becomes very difficult to slough off the other skills I’ve honed over the years. So. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop trying to fit myself into a paradigm that’s perhaps better suited for people with more conventional, linear professional paths. That means (somehow) melding the memorable with the marketable. It also means consolidating my myriad web presence into something a bit less confusing, so a new person discovering me for the first time doesn’t have to chase down what it is I’m actually good at.

Things Worth Reading (4 March 2017)

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Here’s some things worth reading this week:

Are the 2010s like the 1930s? (The Guardian)
I’m intrigued reading about the Depression, because most first-world living people don’t have a real concept for a world with that kind of scarcity.

The world’s worst flavor was designed in a lab by accident (Tedium)
Apparently Bitrex is everywhere and we don’t even realize it.

Earth In A Suitcase (538)
What would space colonists need to take with them on a trip away from Earth?

Sex, Husbandry and the Infinite Scroll (Design Week Portland)
A piece about real life and navigating spaces in a social media dominant world.

Why do we work so hard? (1843)
Contemplating work.

Reading: The Art of the Restaurateur (Nicholas Lander)
Listening: Quilt – Plaza (LP, 2016)
Luminous, unfiltered, haunting psych-folk that teeters among three dangerously creative mind

Why I (finally) published an e-book of my writing

Over the week, I compiled some of my writing into an e-book that’s now for sale. The book Web Management For Regular People was an exercise in sharing what you know. I’ve been lamenting lately, the need to share with wider audiences than just the people who use Twitter or folks who have seen me speak.

It wasn’t about any of that, really. It’s about confidence. No matter how much I stand on stages, how many times I present, the idea of imposter syndrome is a very real one for me. I don’t care how many projects we ship, how many awards my teams win or whether people tell me I’m smart day after day. The fact is, I’m only as good as the last time anything good really happened.

So this was a long time coming, even though the actual execution wasn’t that difficult. I did some light editing (sorry in advance) of the older content, compiled the things that I felt made the most sense and organized them in GitBook and then exported them. I used Calibre to change the cover and make sure things didn’t look wildly insane.

Then I launched.

I could have been even more painstaking, but approaching products like this as a MVP rather than some kind of all-of-nothing proposition is the best thing for my sanity. It’s also akin to the ways that I’ve devolved my slide-making into a simple process with text and very few images. It’s had a positive impact on the ways that I present and it extends to the ways that I hope my writing is able to evolve.

Should I buy your book?

Not if you’ve read my posts in the past. You’ll probably not see a ton of things that are new. On the other hand, you can procure a copy for someone else. I realize a lot of more important people would want to read a paper book, but that’s not going to happen right now. I might consider doing a podcast version, if that would be more useful too.

I’m working on a few other projects this week. I’ve just had a few months where I wasn’t able to really produce much new content. Work kept me pretty much, so did things outside of work and getting more involved locally. I’m ready now to get back to doing the work that I love and sharing it widely.

The UX of online dating sites: Why You’re Meant To Fail

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Photo of teddy bear staring at another bear on a computer

I’ve been trying to explain to friends for a while why the design of today’s online dating apps don’t work to find them the love they seek. Depending on what you’re looking for, online dating can open a wealth of opportunities and possibilities that your neighborhood simply can’t compete with. One of the things we don’t ask ourselves anymore is whether this bounty of access is really good for us.

Continue reading

Things Worth Reading (25 February 2017)

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Here’s the headlines:

Bees can train each other to use tools (ArsTechnica)
As an undergraduate, I took an insect biology class because I thought it’d be interesting. I didn’t retain much from those days, but bees and ants and their whole order fascinate me. This story tells what I mostly knew, bees are quite smart and apparently, can learn to use tools and teach other bees to do it too.

The Contestant Who Outsmarted ‘The Price Is Right’ (Esquire)
You probably don’t realize how much I love game shows. This is a story about someone who managed to get a perfect score in the showcase showdown, the first time (and only time to date) it’s ever happened, thanks to a Vegas card-counter. This is a podcast episode waiting to happen for some intrepid show.

Mars Needs Lawyers – (Five Thirty Eight)
Most people don’t realize that the majority of the treaties that govern space were drafted during the height of the space race in the 1960s. As companies continue to invade space, what will determine the rules of engagement as humans colonize space? Maggie Koerth-Baker talks about the need for more space lawyers.

The World’s Worst Skier Had Never Skiied On Snow (NYTimes)
I know a good half of my friends and followers are not regular sports fans, so I love introducing you all to these off-beat sports stories that I don’t think would otherwise end up on your radar. This is about a skiier Adrian Solano of Venezuela and his foray into the Skiing World Championships and his ‘unorthodox’ form. There are lots of warm-weather athletes who participate in cold weather sports despite no one in their country caring about that sport, the lack of training options and opportunities to get sponsorships. This one will be a useful dinner party story.

The Top 40 is anything but (Outline)
A glimpse into the outdated ways that music’s Top 40 charts get determined, radio programming gets dictated and as a result, why it fails to reflect the ways that real people listen to music in modern times.

How A Texas Teen-ager Became NYC’s premier truffle dealer (New Yorker)
Fascinating story of Ian Purkayastha and how he went from a Texas kid to one of the world’s foremost dealers in truffles? Life is a trip, man.

His book is my book rec of the week: Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground. 

I Lost My Olympic Dream By A Fraction of A Second (MEL Magazine)
I appreciated this story because I think there are few parallels to losing your dream when it’s not dictated by how hard you work, but by luck, timing and maybe someone being a fraction of a second faster than you were. I think there are not as many real life applications to this when your job is working in an office or something, but I still think it’s worth thinking about in the context of the work we do ever.

Listening: I’m always sharing old music with you all, here’s an oldies playlist I made years ago and it’s quite good.

Watching (Bonus): Speaking of game shows, did you ever hear about the Press Your Luck scandal of the 1980s? It’s about a man who figured out the algorithm and used it to win on the game for well over a month. Here’s the hour-long documentary that’ll be the highlight of your viewing.

Things Worth Reading (2/21/17)

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Here are this week’s articles:

How Albert Woodfox survived solitary (The New Yorker)

Why WNBA players go abroad during their offseason. (The Undefeated)

You’re about to see a big change to food sell-by dates (Washington Post)

How tech campuses hinder diversity (Wired)

How America counts its homeless & why so many are overlooked (The Guardian)

How To Navigate a Museum (NY Times)

Reading: The Happy Marriage (Tahar Ben Jelloun)
Listening: KCRW Eclectic 24 / Colorado Public Radio’s Open Air (via TuneIn Radio)
Watching: Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson”

Things Worth Reading (2/16/17)

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Anyway, now let’s get to this week’s stories:

Sleep-Deprived Judges Dole Our Harsher Punishments (Harvard Business)
Turns out, justice is often dependent on a good night’s sleep from those exacting the punishments.

McDonalds reinvents the straw (FastCo Design)
Coming to a modern art museum near you, McDonalds new milkshake straw?

10 Stubborn Food Myths That Won’t Die (Lifehacker)
This is an older story that appeared on my radar, but still kinda interesting about the sort of myths that we harbor in the kitchen.

Science Fairs Aren’t So Fair (The Atlantic)
I think any kid that’s participated in a science fair, probably already knew this.

The Nerdy Artisanal Charm of Hand-Drawn Infographics (Wired)
If you’ve spent any time on Tumblr, you know this already. But nonetheless…

Video: In Istanbul, Cats are King (Wall Street Journal)
Soon to be the subject of a documentary, these Istanbul stray cats rule the roost.

Music: This Chance The Rapper cover of a Drake song “No Ways” is pretty great.

Reading: I’m half slogging through Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” via Audible, but I can already tell that I’m not going to be really able to get into it and it’ll be a return for me. I can’t recommend it.

You can send me a book recommendation, I would like to add it to my list.

If you want to subscribe to my podcast where I do this audio versions, you can do that via iTunes or Stitcher to whatever podcast app you use (or just search my name. It’ll come up.)