Harihareswara: UX is a Social Justice Issue

Sumana Harihareswara at 2014′s Code4Lib conference:

“Let’s look at what it takes to do user experience work. You have to look at your service from the point of view of someone who knows a lot less than you, and see where they’re coming from. You have to imagine the reasons why they want what they want. Seeing that causation, seeing the connection between what someone’s doing now and all the causation that went before it, is empathy. It’s a little like reverse engineering; you’re trying to unlock the DRM that’s stopping them from getting what they need. Which is a really cool hack, actually.

We need to to exercise a disciplined empathy. It’s an empathy that includes qualitative thinking, like interviews and watching people use stuff to see where the snags are, and quantitative thinking, like A/B testing and heatmaps.

But the tech industry is pretty crappy at empathy. And I’m speaking from my experience here – I know library tech is its own field – but in my experience of our industry, we just drop the ball on empathy and hospitality, a lot.”

Read the entire talk here.

My mother gave birth to twins: myself and fear.

Thomas Hobbes

Big Data & Big Mistakes


Great read by Tim Harford on FT:

Recall big data’s four articles of faith. Uncanny accuracy is easy to overrate if we simply ignore false positives, as with Target’s pregnancy predictor. The claim that causation has been “knocked off its pedestal” is fine if we are making predictions in a stable environment but not if the world is changing (as with Flu Trends) or if we ourselves hope to change it. The promise that “N = All”, and therefore that sampling bias does not matter, is simply not true in most cases that count. As for the idea that “with enough data, the numbers speak for themselves” – that seems hopelessly naive in data sets where spurious patterns vastly outnumber genuine discoveries.
“Big data” has arrived, but big insights have not. The challenge now is to solve new problems and gain new answers – without making the same old statistical mistakes on a grander scale than ever.

Darwin’s Children Added Illustrations to Origin of the Species


More at The Appendix.


New Yorker: Libertarian Police Department

Made me laugh:

I was losing him. “Listen, I’ll pay you to stop!” I yelled. “What would you consider an appropriate price point for stopping? I’ll offer you a thirteenth of an ounce of gold and a gently worn ‘Bob Barr ‘08’ extra-large long-sleeved men’s T-shirt!”

He turned. In his hand was a revolver that the Constitution said he had every right to own. He fired at me and missed. I pulled my own gun, put a quarter in it, and fired back. The bullet lodged in a U.S.P.S. mailbox less than a foot from his head. I shot the mailbox again, on purpose.

New Yorker: L.P.D. Libertarian Police Department

Patches of Cortical Layers Disrupted During Early Brain Development in Autism

Animals Made From Beach Trash


I absolutely love these animals made from beach trash.

Video: A Lie Agreed Upon – David Milch’s Deadwood



Rothschild Illuminati Ball 1972




Simmons on Feeds

“RSS is at its most interesting and useful when big companies ignore it.” –Brent Simmons

Frank Horvat’s 80s NYC Street Photography

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I’m incredibly in love with all of these Horvat photos from NYC in the 1980s, “New York Up and Down”.

The Importance of W.H. Auden


Auden is probably my favorite poet next to Wallace Stevens. My older son’s middle name is Auden. I come back to his work several times a year, perhaps more frequently than any other writer, because his voice is perennially perfect. My favorite work is Age of Anxiety. Two wonderful things to spend time with if you’re interested in getting to know him better: “Tell Me the Truth About Love“, a documentary about Auden on YouTube, and this wonderful piece “The Secret Auden” which reveals some incredible private stories about the man, who he was in private, and how hard he worked to hold some of that back from the public. My favorite story involves him quietly gifting a manuscript to a friend in need of medical care he couldn’t afford. The manuscript was sold to the University of Texas and the friend received the treatment he needed. Lots more wonderful stories in that piece.

And of course you should listen to him recite “As I Walked Out One Evening“.

Thug Life Consider This Diem Carped Tee


Love this.

Instagram Gem: Julian Calverley

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I stumbled upon these amazing iPhone photos from Scotland on Behance, and now know I must follow on Instagram as well. Absolutely stunning.


What Theme is This?


I’ll use the shit out of this: What Theme? helps users discover which themes are being used for their favorite sites, not unlike Shazam for themes. Brought to you by the smart and thoughtful team at Inspired Mag.

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