We don’t deserve dogs.
literally just saw a 10 year old girl wearing a shirt with sparkles that said “doing my best” fucking same bitch where’d you get that— Summer (@summerjscott) August 27, 2017
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
With the Spotify’s recent IPO, The Washington Post’s Elahel Zadi and Travis M. Andrews launched an amazing quiz challenging you discern between a failed music streaming service or Stefon recommended nightclub.
Take the quiz.. I got 22/26.
Taking this quiz brought me back to different points in my life. Remembering services like Groveshark — which was built by students at the University of Florida. (Subsequently featured on Gimlet’s Startup podcast.
Thinking back to using Rdio — and their sad retrospective when they shut down.
Which brings me back to a favorite quote on the subject of streaming services.
Selling consumer-grade headphones at professional-grade prices with endorsements from a major-celebrity musician, a high-profile charity, and an overpriced pseudoscience lawsuit-happy cable manufacturer, HD, Special Edition is a more profitable business than streaming music. — Marco Arment
Here’s a few videos that I like to watch to calm the fuck down.
10 Minutes at Nubble Light House by Hank Green
Two Minute Meditation by The School of Life
Can’t Help Falling In Love on a Kalimba by AcousticTrench
Jackson Hole Wyoming Town Square Live
Seasons greetings. Happy holidays. Winter’s wishers. Happy Hnukkah. Merry Christmas. Have a festive winter solstice. Happy New Year.
Here’s to the future. May it be beautiful, wonderful, and less on fire than the present.
As big changes occur in my life, I the first to find solace and patterns in music. Right now? Kesha’s albums are on repeat.
Continuing in tradition, and my strong belief that the opposite of “thanks” is “shanks,” here is my list for 2017.
Shanks to TNT for cancelling Major Crimes after six amazing seasons and despite strong ratings.
Shanks to those who think that being gay is fine now. I can lose my job, get kicked out of my apartment, or denied service because someone is a bigot who is spending too much time thinking about my sex life.
Shanks to California drivers who are scared of the rain.
Shanks to Florida for continuing to exist.
Shanks to Dropbox. Every part of your product is poorly designed and engineered. From Dropbox Paper to your sync engine. I literally cannot wait to be rid of you.
Shanks to the FCC for attempting to roll back Net Neutrality regulations, again.
Shanks to the Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division focusing on Transportation. How could you let Virgin America and Alaska merge with essentially no strings attached? I will miss you forever, Redwood.
This year, despite evolving from 2016’s dumpster fire to the tornado in our collective backyards, has not been entirely terrible.
Thanks to my team at Flexport. I’m so proud of the work we’ve done.
Thanks to my new friends in Chicago. ;)
Thanks to Kesha, for being strong for all of us.
Thanks to close friends and family who have been incessantly encouraging.
Thanks to The Cheesecake Factory for existing. Shout out to the Nordstrom Cafe Bistro.
Thanks to my Honda Civic for unlocking the open road.
Thanks to my favorite nonfiction show, Earlier Times But Now with Spruance Morgendörffer. I’m so happy to spend my Sundays with you.
Thanks to journalists for doing your job. Thank you ACLU, Lambda Legal and the SPLC.
Thanks to Spotify for consistently knowing what music I want next and for getting Taylor back.
This year has been just as tough as the previous one. With 2018 now in range, I’m anxiously waiting in the gate area. I hope we can all remain open-hearted.
Last night I had the chance to enjoy the new sound exhibit at SFMOMA. There I was mesmerized by Ragnar Kjartansson’s installation entitled The Visitors.
Friends are separated throughout a weathered mansion in upstate New York. For me, the juxtaposition of friends playing together and their physical separation was poignant.
Don’t miss this installation. After you go, download the album from iTunes.
“’Cause the technology is just gonna get better and better and it’s gonna get easier and easier and more and more convenient and more and more pleasurable to sit alone with images on a screen given to us by people who do not love us but want our money and that’s fine in low doses but if it’s the basic main staple of your diet you’re gonna die.”
— David Foster Wallace (1996)
And after, when We went outside to look at her finished lantern from the road, I said I liked the way her light shone through the face that flickered in the dark. —“Jack O’Lantern,” Katrina Vandenberg in Atlas
This is an except from one of my favorite poems. John Green used it in the epigraph of his novel (and my favorite book) Paper Towns.
I’d highly encourage you to read the entire piece in Katrina Vandenberg’s collection called Atlas: Poems.
It’s four-o-clock in the morning. The streetlight is a small, fuzzy sun, haunting your cul-de-sac. Toothbrush in mouth, you reach for your buzzing phone. The lock screen shows both a text message from a five-digit phone number and new email appearing across your iPhone’s lock screen: “JetBlue Flight Notification — Important Flight Information | Cancelled”. (Read More on Design For Flight)
Interactive voice response systems are fascinating. This clear touch point has the power to calm frustrated travelers or enrage those already on the brink of a meltdown. Such a system, while lacking a graphical user interface, is by no means less designed.
Due to one of the (many!) online security breaches, my Simple bank account numbers became compromised and required me to close-and-reopen my bank account. (Why can’t account numbers be re-generated on-demand?) During the process of closing, and re-opening my Simple account, I opened a backup Wells Fargo account.
I was able to set up my account by walking into an impressive, original Wells Fargo branch building. About sixty minutes later, I was all set up. This was not my first Wells Fargo account. As a child, I opened a savings account with First Union. First Union merged into Wachovia, which merged into Wells Fargo during the recent financial crisis.
However, as a “new customer” Wells Fargo did not have historical purchasing data for me. The bank was terribly nervous letting me spend my money. Instead, quietly block my debit card and let me find out when I tried to buy something next.
Wells isn’t the only bank that proactively deactivates customers cards when they suspect fraud. Anyone can get their card blocked. Just buy two tanks of gas and some shoes. Most financial institutions have evolved to text customers the minute the anti-fraud algorithms raise a flag.
For Wells Fargo customs, you should receive receive a text message or call to confirm your recent purchases. Unfortunately for me, these alerts never came through. Instead, when I swiped, and my purchase was declined, I called the number on the back of your card. Which goes something like this:
Calling is a last-result option. Relied on only when online options for managing my account have been exhausted. If I use a secret trap-door word like ‘agent,’ ‘representative,’ or ‘operator,’ I mean business.
Wells Fargo is always experiencing a huge cal volume, no matter what time of day, day of the week, or financial shitstorm is currently happening.
Companies who state that they are experiencing a higher than usual call volume are unconsciously expressing two things. First, that their products or services are unreliable, confusing, or in some state that requires their customer to regularly call in. And two, that they are chronically understaffed.
Wells Fargo makes an embarrassing, nerve-wracking experience worse by not informing anyone ahead of time that I’m calling about a declined card. They have blocked my card so often; I’m surprised their system doesn’t call to alert you (via text, email or phone call) when it happens. Many Wells Fargo bankers and phone reps have told me that I should receive alerts and ways to allow access without needing to call. Unfortunately, it has never happened.
Forcing customers to wade through 20 minutes hold times to make a purchase is criminal. If you can’t implement an automated system for clearing transactions, have a dedicated queue for those with blocked cards.
Wells Fargo is the largest bank in the world, and with it comes the expectations that they can proactively manage security and fraud concerns. IVR is just as important to design as your online banking experience. It’s another touchpoint, and should be considered carefully.
Recently, I’ve spent a good amount of time clearing notifications from my iOS lock screen and Notification Center. More email notifications and push alerts pour down every minute, covering everything from what ‘Millennials are killing next’ to a selfie a friend-of-a-friend posted on Instagram.
Much of this rift raft can be seemingly blamed on veiled attempts for companies to boost engagement numbers. Let’s look at Facebook’s Yammer knock-off, known as Facebook Workplace.
My employer tried Facebook Workplace for roughly one week before quietly abandoning it. Facebook, seemingly feeling lonely at night, began to postmark periodic emails to me containing “recent“ notifications. Again, perhaps this behavior would be acceptable if team mates were @mentioning me. One could indeed stretch the logic to include summary updates from groups I’m a member of. (Though drip notification campaigns to re-engage users seem dubious at best.)
No, no, no. The notifications Facebook emails to all our employees are their own platform’s “inactivity notifications” that they themselves generate. Facebook is inventing notifications to have a reason to notify us that we haven’t made anything notification-worthy recently.
Invented notifications are dark patterns. Inactivity reports and growth hacking type reminders that I didn’t specifically enable are dark patterns. Unless you’re a rare unicorn user, I doubt you like reminders to use a given app. I doubt any user regularly is thrilled that Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram is reminding me about another cousin— twice removed — exciting day.
Apple even has a (loosely enforced) App Store guideline around such spammy notifications. Rumor has it that the reviews team threatened to pull Tumblr multiple times over their egregious push spam. I wish they had followed through with that threat.
At least we can look to wonderful companies like Duolingo who automatically disable notifications when they aren’t effective. Though, to be completely honest, their rhetoric could be less disheartening. (Perhaps the notifications could quietly vanish, disappearing into the early hours of the morning like tertiary party guests. Popping up again to check in once you re-open the app, and only then asking you to clarify your notification tolerance levels.)
Designers and product managers working for these popular applications have the ability to interrupt millions of lives on a regular basis. Vibrate millions of pockets. Interrupt thousands of important conversations. Embarrass hundreds of users projecting their phones or laptops onto conference room screens. Escalate dozens of arguments between parents and teens when the latter becomes distracted by a notification during a particularly long lecture and breaks contact to check the alert— only to find their attempt to find a minor reprieve backfired, leaving weeks before their phone privileges are restored.
It’s a power that comes with a great responsibility. I hope you’ll take it seriously.
If you’d like to read more posts by yours truly, follow the Flexport Design blog over on Medium. I’m pretty proud of what I’ve written so far. I’d love you to check it out.
We are experiencing significant delays on your Muni line due to: Choose your own reasoning
A) We removed much of the overhead cabling to improve the views around the city for upcoming festivities.
B) Four Metro trains broke down and caught fire simultaneously blocking all traffic in and out of the Muni Metro subway system. No, we don’t have any way to move or bypass these trains. We designed our tracks without a way to bypass stalled electric trains. (Did you know electric trains can stall out? We just did!) In our defense, though, we thought Italian-made electric trains would rarely break down!
C) Someone spilled some water in one of the stations and now the power is out in the entire subway system.
D) AT&T upgraded their cellular services in the Bay Area and no longer support 2G EDGE service which we relied on for GPS tracking. Thus, we have lost track of all Muni vehicles. Yes we were told for years this would happen, but we just kept saying “Update Tomorrow” for the past few months.
E) Our tunneling project for the Central T subway is now a crime scene. It was actually a long con for several of Muni officials to steal everything in the Apple Store. They have escaped onto Caltrain. Which has hit a pedestrian and is now holding in all directions for 2-3 hours.
F) We tried to install Norton Anti-Ransomware and it bricked all of our Windows ME machines. We can’t open fare gates or turn on the trains right now.
G) We had a meeting with the General Manager of Cincinnati’s historic subway system and took some of their advice a little too close to heart.
H) We forgot to clean the trains and buses for a few days and it seems that a troupe of small animals have taken shelter. They are well armed.
We apologize for the inconvenience. We never planned for any one part of our transit system to ever stop working, so we have no alternates to suggest. Thanks for riding Muni.
The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority
In March 2016, the the election was in a mad, unhinged swing and John Oliver was blaring about the election, or he made it increasingly known: “The Holy Shit, Please Make It Stop, Trash Fire, Two-thousand Fuckteen” or “Lady liberty Convenience Store Robbery Gone Wrong Descending into a Hostage Negotiation and She’s Now Demanding a Chopper 2016.”
The cacophony of shouting heads and disappointment after disappointment culminated in a sickening feeling of despair. I felt as if I was watching every friend, family member, and news anchor devolve into talking over one another. Not listening, rather vomiting out posts, op-eds, and angry tweets. More vile scandals, more name-calling, more noise.
One night on a close friend, Alec’s couch, we lamented how objectively easy it was to talk to your governmental representatives, but how no one we knew followed through. Friends and family prefer communicating over Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and even email. Yet, these grandmothers and grandfathers devalued these media forms. It was undeniable that to be really heard you had to communicate outside of social media.
Today, you can call your congressional rep’s office with a tap. That’s simple right? Objectively yes. Unfortunately, we were resigned that almost no people our age feel comfortable talking on the phone. (An investigation for another day.)
This leaves us writing your congressmen and senators and mailing them a letter. Again, not a particularly arduous process. It also has the benefit of not requiring direct human interaction.
Thinking it through, no task outside sentence construction are truly mentally challenging tasks. Yes, you have to Google around for which address you should mail the letter to. Then, you must get that printer out of the closet. Turn it on, install 387mb of drivers, and find some paper, rattle the ink cartridge, and rummage around for an envelope. (Can you make an envelope out of paper?) Finally, printed and sealed with saliva you find yourself in line at Walgreens buying a single stamp for 47¢. Outside, your hunting down a blue post office box you vaguely remember being on that corner by the Food ’N Stuff. Dammit that’s a green one.
If last paragraph sounded draining, you aren’t alone. However, to be clear, none of those steps are truly difficult. (It was even written in a bit of a hyperbolic tone for good measure.)
It’s so much easier to do nothing. It’s easier to say “my voice doesn’t matter” or that “they won’t listen to me.” It’s a cop-out though, and you know it.
Alec and I decided, in-between episodes of Last Week Tonight and fits of calling Comcast about slow internet, that there was something that could be done. He and I could lower the barrier a bit to mailing letters.
We’ve been working in spare moments this year to bring you this website. Fitted with a cute name, pointing back to the first article of the constitution that creates the Senate and the House of Representatives, it’s designed to make it easy to send elected officials physical letters.
Log on and write your note in a text box. Do it from the comfort of anywhere: in line at the coffee shop, on a bus, after hours of watching cable news. When you’re done, we will print, stamp, and mail your letter straight to your representatives: local, state, and federal. We did the work of stringing together a few APIs so it’s digital for you, and paper for them.
Send a note to the one who isn’t fighting for net neutrality. Or send four or five letters full of facts about climate change. Send it to your Senior Senator or Governor or your local comptroller.
It’s a small step to lowering the barrier for average people to write about what they care about. If you can call your reps, call. If you are nervous to call and would otherwise not participate in our political system beyond elections, try this.
Dear Article One isn’t something disruptive, but maybe it can have a tiny hand in leaving the playing field between who gets heard most and who needs to be heard more. (I think we can all agree on that last point.)
I hope you’ll find it useful and simple to use. And if you find yourself not sure of what to say, or how to say it, just remember that these officials are humans who rely on you. Don’t worry about impressing them. They spend so much time trying to look relatable that I’m sure they will love reading your true thoughts.
After a year, and seeing how the ACLU and other services like ResistBot integrated digital-to-snail-mail services, Alec and I decided to shut down Dear Article One. Good night and thanks for all the stamps!