Dear reader,

A caveat.

Everything posted here is worth thinking about. On the other hand, the ideas and opinions put forth may not be right.

Curated and annotated by Timoni West.

April 17th, 2014

Nobody lives here: The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population. By mapsbynik

Paul Hellquist was fired on his first day at Irrational Games. “It was a running gag that Ken Levine had at the time just to freak out the new guys,” he recalls. “It worked.” It’s an unusual way to welcome a new staff member to any company, the sort of mild hazing usually meted out in college fraternities.

Rapture leaked: The true story behind the making of BioShock , by Simon Parkin.

I haven’t finished the article yet, but this section jumped out at me. This would be a classic behavior that is probably not gender biased (women were likely fake-fired, too), but that indicates a level of aggression and disregard for emotions that is a bad working environment for anyone, but more typical in male-dominated industries—men are more used to it, whether or not they prefer it, and thus can get more done.

This reminds me of the dog/lizard/temperature metaphor: a good example of how someone can find an environment quite normal and perhaps even ideal, and someone else will find it intolerable.

April 16th, 2014

…In the decades that followed, Maltz’s work influenced nearly every major “self-help” professional from Zig Ziglar to Brian Tracy to Tony Robbins. And as more people recited Maltz’s story…people began to forget that he said “a minimum of about 21 days” and shortened it to, “It takes 21 days to form a new habit.”

…On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.

(51) How Long Does it Actually Take to Form a New Habit, by James Clear

Good thing to keep in mind if you’re actively trying to change your behavior right now, and feel frustrated.

April 14th, 2014
At the end of the day, that’s why I feel it’s so important to call Frozen on its bullshit. Whether you loved or hated Frozen, it should be impossible to deny that it is preceded by a rich history of animated films that champion bravery, intelligence, strength and agency in their heroines far more effectively than it does. Yet denying it we are, in droves, and sometime since Frozen’s release the praise heaped upon it reached such a critical mass that it somehow has made us forget that Belle left both home and the Beast’s castle to save her father’s life; that Mulan risked death on the battlefield and execution for treason to protect her family; that Esmeralda chose immolation rather than give herself to a man she despised; that the archetypal Prince Charming hasn’t been seen in a Disney film since The Little Mermaid; and that no Disney heroine except Anna — even Ariel — has begun her story with love as her goal since 1959: all in favour of vapid, brainless, impulsive and flighty characters whose agency is stolen from them for the sake of comedy and wafer-thin plot contrivances. This is Disney’s good enough.

Dani Colman,

I just watched Frozen tonight, and am gobsmacked that it was ever described to me by another woman as “feminist”. It is not. If viewed through the lens of female agency, it is embarrassing.

I may write more, but Colman’s thorough essay on the subject is required reading—especially if you liked the film and thought it was a good step in the right direction for Disney.

April 13th, 2014
I wanted to make a children’s movie like some of the ones I grew up with,” he told me. “And that went with the idea of how you didn’t have to wear helmets when you rode bicycles. I never wore a helmet riding a bicycle, and, in a way, the movie is for children who don’t wear helmets when they ride bicycles. Maybe that sounds terrible. I support children wearing helmets on their bicycles—there’s just a certain nostalgia for when they didn’t. For when we didn’t.
April 12th, 2014
We don’t give other people credit for the same interior complexity we take for granted in ourselves, the same capacity for holding contradictory feelings in balance, for complexly alloyed affections, for bottomless generosity of heart and petty, capricious malice. We can’t believe that anyone could be unkind to us and still be genuinely fond of us, although we do it all the time.

I Know What You Think of Me, by Tim Krieder.

April 7th, 2014
If you feel defensive when talking about race with a woman of color or reading about race in a piece written by a woman of color, assume the other person is saying something especially true. That is: use your defensiveness as a Bat Signal, alerting you to your own biases. Sure, yes, of course, the other person may have said something insensitive or unreasonable. But if you want to change the dynamics of the world (reminder: you’re a feminist, so you do), assume your discomfort is telling you something about you, not about the other person. Then use those moments to listen more carefully.

Five Ways White Feminists Can Address Our Own Racism, by Sarah Milstein

Lovely piece full of practical advice. What Milstein’s talking about here is the confirmation bias, something that everyone has. The more aware you are that it exists, the easier it is to combat.

April 3rd, 2014

Neo-Hellenism, by Kris Kuksi

April 2nd, 2014

(Source: ju1io, via 2087)

March 30th, 2014
To marry an American is to accept the word “woo!” into your life. The word is not in any dictionary, but is written deep inside an American’s heart and soul.
March 28th, 2014
But the bigger picture issue is that we can’t trust you. You lied to us and said you were a social network but you’re totally not a social network. At least not anymore. When we log in to Facebook, we want to see what Aunt Judy is doing next weekend (hopefully baking us cupcakes) and read hilarious headlines from The Onion and see pictures of a cat who got his head stuck in the couch cushions. Instead, we get this: [ads]

A Breakup Letter to Facebook from Eat24 | Bacon Sriracha Unicorn Diaries

Funny article, but excellent point made about how Facebook’s algorithms, by deciding what we see, overwrite what our friends *want* us to see.

Theoretically, Facebook’s algorithms should function like a good party host: arranging introductions, inspiring better conversations, and carefully guiding new guests away from the rude overtalker.

In reality, they have become the rude overtalker themselves; hiding small bids for conversation, steering away into unrelated topics.

March 27th, 2014

Better laws, better world.

The Past.

About four years go, a monthly event called Mission Street Food was incredibly popular in San Francisco. After a while, the organizers decided they wanted to open a permanent, charitable restaurant called Commonwealth, and get members of the community to invest in it.

I was a huge fan of the idea. One share was $500, you got .08% of the profit as an annual dividend, and you got some gift certificates to boot. I signed up right away.

A few weeks later, I got a follow up email from Anthony Myint—that’s right, of Mission Chinese fame:

Poor dude. Accreditation is a thing that any wealthy investor type knows about, but for the layperson, it’s news: the USA has banned middle-class Americans from investing in higher-risk investments since the Depression.

In the end, Commonwealth opened anyway and is a wonderful, thriving restaurant. But I never forgot about the enchanting idea that I could back local businesses in my area, and really be invested, literally, in my community.

The Future.

Almost exactly four years later, Nick Chirls tells me about a new company he’s starting over coffee. He told me about new legislation being passed, the JOBS act, which includes a crowd funding provision, Title III.

Title III effectively lets anyone, poor or rich, put a percentage of their salary into investing in businesses. In anticipation of the bill, Nick founded Alphaworks, a new kind of funding platform aimed directly to support newly empowered communities find businesses and make investments.

There’s an incredible amount of work to be done: education, support, financial guidance, and compliance work. But as Nick described his vision, I knew I had to be on board. So I’m happy to announce I’ve joined as VP of Design at Alphaworks, alongside an amazing crew: Kristian Kristensen, Nick Barr, Rachel Troy, and Jennifer Patrick.

Crowdfunding has been popular for years, but as the Oculus Rift acquisition yesterday indicates, we need a new way for people to champion and invest in amazing products. I’m thrilled to be part of the progress.

If you’re new to the JOBS Act, or Title III, here’s some great intro articles on the subject.

We’ve only just begun: follow along with Alphaworks on Twitter or our blog as we build out the product. And if you’re an engineer interested in joining the team, please get in touch.


Dynamic animation is strengthened by a foundation of good timing to drive it. Springs can be beautifully simulated, but if the underlying animation driving them is poorly timed, the whole thing falls apart. It’s a little too close to implementation than it is to design, and can be a trap to spend time towards early on. As designers fumble around with dynamic tools, I’m seeing too much simulation, and less opinionated articulation that is designed. The result is a clumsy interface with over-animated action that’s distracting. Signal Flow is powerful, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

The state of Interaction Design tools, by Pasql

Pasql nails the current state of ux animation tools. This part, about the difficulty of ‘designing’ in a node-based environment, is particularly spot-on.

March 26th, 2014
But if marriage isn’t a big deal, why…does the right wing fight so hard — and spend so much of their hard-earned money — to keep it a privilege available only to heterosexuals? Their behavior shows that it is a very big deal. The freedom to marry is part of what it means to be an adult in Western culture.

tim | Against Tolerance

Wonderful essay by a Mozilla engineer about Mozilla’s new CEO, who supported the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8.

March 25th, 2014