Department of Design

Curated by Timoni West.

Primarily focused on product design, technology, cognitive psychology, and the brain. Also—pretty pictures, sometimes moving.


Posts about motivation
October 3rd, 2014
Cultural imprinting is the mechanism whereby an ad, rather than trying to change our minds individually, instead changes the landscape of cultural meanings — which in turn changes how we are perceived by others when we use a product. Whether you drink Corona or Heineken or Budweiser “says” something about you. But you aren’t in control of that message; it just sits there, out in the world, having been imprinted on the broader culture by an ad campaign. It’s then up to you to decide whether you want to align yourself with it. Do you want to be seen as a “chill” person? Then bring Corona to a party.

Ads Don’t Work That Way | Melting Asphalt

Yes, yes, yes. In the end, we’re all motivated by identity: external and internal. This article nicely illustrates how identity ties into marketing and purchasing: it’s not the emotional manipulation that gets you, but the social implications.

Identity and motivation have been my key themes of 2014, it seems.

August 19th, 2014

I study excellence, and I know that it doesn’t matter what domain a person who is excellent at what they do is in—there is always a meditative quality to their training and their performance. They may not train like you train at a monastery or at a retreat center, but certain qualities are there: right effort, wisdom, concentration, and faith or confidence.

I think we do ourselves a disservice when we predicate everything on this dualistic approach of sitting practice and then the rest of life. I think we’re limiting what meditation means. Dr. Dre says in one of his songs, “I got my mind on my money and my money on my mind”; whatever is on your mind, that’s your meditation.

June 19th, 2014
Cooking is not for people who simply “want to cook” - you can do that on your own. Cooking is something for people who have mental problems, social problems, legal troubles, or any combination of the aforementioned. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, we’ve got a spot for you. If you’re a perfectionist who hates people? Come on in. If you despise bullshit that exists in most other working environments, give it a try. If you just like cooking, then think long and hard - it’s secondary to many other things that make a good cook, well, good.

cool_hand_luke, responding to I’ve always wanted to cook, but…, on Reddit.

March 18th, 2014
People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.

Andrew Carnegie

January 24th, 2014
You know we’re constantly taking. We don’t make most of the food we eat, we don’t grow it, anyway. We wear clothes other people make, we speak a language other people developed, we use a mathematics other people evolved and spent their lives building. I mean we’re constantly taking things. It’s a wonderful ecstatic feeling to create something and put it into the pool of human experience and knowledge.

The 30-Year-Old Macintosh and a Lost Conversation With Steve Jobs -

I don’t care for Steve Jobs. His leadership style was competitive and linear to the point of irrationality. Even now, his mythos perpetrates the idea that being an asshole is the best way to execute your vision.

For that reason, I hesitate to quote him. But I appreciate that he touched on the joy of contributing to the greater human experience in this interview.

March 31st, 2013

Stop telling people you’re learning to code unless they’re technical and you want them to help you.

When you’re starting out, your goal should be to find a technical mentor or two, not impress your other non-coding friends with the fact that you’ve taken the first step.

I’m a firm believer that if you talk about what you want to do, you never actually do it. So unless you’re talking to someone you hope will be a mentor, close your mouth, put your head down, and keep building.

Want to learn to code? Start here. | Zack Shapiro

I would agree that telling people you’re going to do a thing might actually hijack your goal; there is some evidence to back up this theory.

March 28th, 2013

The studies have suggested that the phenomenology of enjoyment has eight major components. When people reflect on how it feels when their experience is most positive, they mention at least one, and often all, of the following:

1. We confront tasks we have a chance of completing;
2. We must be able to concentrate on what we are doing;
3. The task has clear goals;
4. The task provides immediate feedback;
5. One acts with deep, but effortless involvement, that
removes from awareness the worries and frustrations
of everyday life;
6. One exercises a sense of control over their actions;
7. Concern for the self disappears, yet, paradoxically
the sense of self emerges stronger after the flow
experience is over; and
8. The sense of duration of time is altered.

The combination of all these elements causes a sense of deep enjoyment that is so rewarding people feel that expending a great deal of energy is worthwhile simply to be able to feel it.

March 27th, 2013
In our industry, you’ll often hear people say things like “if someone can’t figure it out in 10 seconds then they’re gone.” Or “I checked out the site and I couldn’t figure out what they did so I left. Terrible design.” Or “if it takes more than a couple sentences to explain it then it’s not simple enough.” Or “too much to read!” Or “there are too many fields on this form!” Or “there are too many steps in this process.”
I’ve said some of these things in the past, so I understand the knee-jerk impulse that lead to these sorts of reactions.
However, something’s usually missing from these assessments of the situation: The actual customer’s motivation. How motivated is the customer to solve their problem? What are they here for?

A loose rant on motivation and evaluation by Jason Fried of 37signals

Excellent post, though I’m a bit disconcerted that Fried just realized designers have to factor in the viewer’s motivation when assessing dropoff rates.

November 5th, 2012

It’s called persistent starting. Anytime I give someone motivational advice this is the most important thing. It’s super easy and works like a charm, as you now know.

Pick something you want to do but keep putting off. It can be anything. Tell yourself you’ll spend five minutes doing it and then quit after five minutes *if* you still don’t want to do it. After five minutes if you still want to quit then quit. No tricks or mind games. You won’t want to quit. What happens is the part of our brain that plans and carries out our day to day actions takes over our bodies and we just keep doing what we’re doing. Planing the next step, executing the current one. Autopilot in a way.

It’s from a book called The Now Habit that came out in the eighties. Pretty good advice overall but this part is the best.