I am a UX professional living in Austin Texas.

Published: 2 months ago

Bios Urn: Convert Cemeteries to Forests

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Yes, yes, yes, please sign me up immediately. Bios Urn is a completely biodegradable product that converts your urn’s ashes into a tree. Life after life is finally a possibility! For your pets, too.

Simply choose a seed for the tree you want to be, and get the kit mailed to you anywhere in the world. Give to your loved ones, add it to your will, gift it to friends saying goodbye to a family pet, ALL THE THINGS. Did I mention there is an app to share the information with your friends and loved ones? Because there is an app, The Tree Lovers.

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Via Bored Panda.

Published: 2 months ago

Durst & Rumsfeld & Morris: No One Tells the Whole Truth

(AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

If you’re not watching HBO’s documentary on Robert Durst, The Jinx, you should. If you do, you probably had to manually close your jaw after Andrew Jarecki (the director) interviewed him present day and Durst was caught with a hot mic during a break, repeating to himself (on the subject of his murder trial in Texas), “I did not knowingly, purposefully, intentionally lie. I did make mistakes.” He seems to be rehearsing for how the conversation will pick up after a break. His lawyer advises him that the mic is on and that the cameras are getting all of his self-talk.

Durst’s lawyers then came over to tell him that his mic was still on and that they were able to hear everything, but he did not seem to care at all. He doubles down and confirms he meant what he said: “I did not tell the whole truth. Nobody tells the whole truth.”

“I did not tell the whole truth,” Durst told one of his lawyers. “Nobody tells the whole truth.”

The moment is shocking, and many viewers undoubtedly heard that as, “Of course I lied on the stand” or maybe even “I probably killed this guy, and others, because clearly you see I have no problem lying.” But I do think the point Durst is making — albeit inelegantly — is that human brains just don’t tell the whole truth. The premise that we can is false. Coming from Durst (partnered with his famous twitching and squirming) this fact feels dark and ominous. But philosophers have known this forever.

I was struck when Errol Morris, in his recent interview with Grantland, addressed the nuance of this seemingly-terrifying-but-truly-human notion thusly:

“One of the reasons I hate the idea of lie detectors is that we think of the brain as being a recorder, a memory recorder, so you can go back in there and find out what happened and what didn’t happen, and whether the person is lying or telling the truth. Well, maybe you can figure out whether they’re misrepresenting what they know or think they know, but we all can fabulate, we’ve all lied, we all change things in innumerable ways. It’s just part of being human. And part of our job is to try to struggle through this nimbus of confusion and error and get to something that approximates what’s out there in the world. The fact that someone misremembers something, or that there’s an element of wishful thinking in what they remember, am I surprised by that? Not really. Am I horrified by it? Not really. I’m horrified by a lot of stuff. Not so much by that. Or let’s put it this way: I’m horrified by it when it just leads to truly terrible stuff.”

Morris is talking about his film, The Unknown Known, about Donald Rumsfeld. Completely difference topic, not at all related to Durst or that case or anything on HBO. He’s discussing how Rumsfeld is somehow able to get through life without noticing nuance, without really addressing the dark and ugly shit that (probably) makes him a war criminal. He just grins and tells the story and seems perfectly comfortable in his truth, no matter how absurd it might be. Perception is everything, and in many cases, the truth is almost irrelevant when telling our stories. How can any one human being really tell the whole truth? We take this for granted every time we say things like “Well I heard Sally’s side, I wonder what Tom says.” It’s only scary when someone scary says it.

Even more so when we talking about the truth from an individual’s perspective. What Morris argues above is essentially, “Part of being human is probably not being capable of The Truth, capital T, that’s just how we manage and function.” I believe that’s exactly what Durst meant too, only, that lack of nuance delivers a significant Rumsfeld-like detachment that startles us.

Anyway, there might not be a parallel between Durst and Rumsfeld, but there is a very good argument to be made for Durst’s terse and matter-of-fact “No one tells the whole truth.”

Published: 2 months ago

IBM’s Annual Report

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Having worked client-side in a corporate responsibility and sustainability marketing group tasked with researching, creating and marketing an annual report, I can attest to how big a challenge it is. Particularly at a company as big as IBM. It’s a monumental effort that requires so much buy-in across the globe, and getting to a place where you’re actually innovating how people (not just stakeholders) get the information can be the biggest hurdle.

IBM’s 2014 annual report is intuitive, well-organized and engaging, offering a true experience across all the sections of the report as well as the legal and mandatory elements that can sometimes slow down creativity (PDF downloads, accessibility, financials).

Not to mention it’s fun to read more about their efforts!

Published: 2 months ago

Let’s Hang at SXSW Saturday: UX & Content Meetup

pmI’m hosting an informal meet-up on Saturday, March 14 to discuss all things content and UX. More than anything, I’m hoping to get people from across both disciplines to come together and talk about processes and innovations they’re using (or fighting for) in their organizations that help bring UX to the table in meaningful ways for clients. Whether you’re client-side, agency or freelance, I want to hear your voice and opinions (the stronger the better! just be nice!) this weekend at SXSW Interactive.

The meet-up is from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 14 in Room 502-503 at the JW Marriott. Add it to your schedule and share with your friends by visiting the official listing here.

Any questions? Feel free to reach out via LinkedIn or email: paige.maguire@razorfish.com.

Published: 2 months ago

Google Ability

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Via PSFK:

“In envisioning an improved technology for the visually impaired, Google Ability uses new design elements to create tools and features that consider all types of conditions and can be filtered across other platforms. The service would act independently to the Google Maps App while complementing the indoor and outdoor mapping service.”

“Indoor and outdoor” is the part of that bit that excites me the most from an accessibility standpoint. Making navigation better for everyone, wherever they are, is incredibly important, but particularly for low vision users.

It’s just in London right now, but tinker with the site and learn more. Should inspire you even if you don’t work on ADA compliant websites. By making assistive technology something everyone benefits from using, we’re pulling it out from the shadows and inspiring more developers and thinkers to iterate in the space.

Published: 2 months ago

Overlook Hotel, Under Construction

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Thanks to The Overlook Hotel for sharing these amazing photos of the scale models of the film’s facade under construction. These small models were used by Production Designer Roy Walker to work out layout and scale issues, as well as for Director of Photography John Alcott’s initial lighting tests.

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Published: 2 months ago

Giant UI Magnets

vinyl_product2I love these UI Magnets – huge iPhone whiteboards that go anywhere and can function as creative space for teams with ease. Also available in vinyl! Shop now, and sign up for a free test product!

Published: 2 months ago

Denis Boudreau Joins Simply Accessible

Great news!

“The founding principles of web accessibility instantly made sense to me. For a couple of years, it was just about building an efficient process. It’s only later that I started to really look at accessibility and its benefits from a human perspective.” —Denis Boudreau

Published: 2 months ago

Ghostbusters & the Environmental Regulation Debate, 1997

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Thanks to Futility Closet for pointing me to this wonderful piece about Ghostbusters‘ substance as “a thoughtful introduction to environmental law and policy, suitable for discussion in a law school class.” Christine Alice Corcos’ “Who Ya Gonna C(S)ite”: Ghostbusters and the Environmental Regulation Debate (Copyright © 1997 Florida State University Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law) examines this and more.

The Ghostbuster facility is housed in a former fire station, in which the Ghostbusters also reside.[35] The surrounding area seems to have a mixture of small businesses and warehouses.[36] One may well ask whether the area is zoned for uses that include waste storage facilities. If not, the city might object that the facility is a public nuisance. The neighbors may argue that the Ghostbusters’ facility is a private nuisance[37] due to their strange activities including the comings and goings of various employees and visitors, the sirens on the Ghostbusters vehicle,[38] and the oddity of some of their clientele.[39]

Just go read it.

Published: 2 months ago

Accessibility Begins with UX, Not Code

Henny Swan on making the BBC’s iPlayer truly accessible:

“Part of the issue is that standards and guidelines tend to focus more on code than design, more on output than outcome, more on compliance than experience. As such, technically compliant pages could be built that are not the most usable for disabled users. It may not seem immediately obvious, but visual design can have a massive impact on users who cannot see the page. I often find that mobile applications and websites that are problematic to make accessible are the ones where the visual design, by dictating structure, does not allow it.”

Preach.

Published: 2 months ago

StoriesOnBoard: Interactive Backlogs for Teams

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StoriesOnBoard looks like an incredible product planning tool for agile teams to use when backlogging user stories and features. Even if your team isn’t agile, if you’re on a product and working across teams to address a functional specification, this tool can be immensely helpful. Watch the video to see how robust the features are – just amazing!