Books and Links: August

This has been a big month for us. Some new little feet walked through our door, and we are greatly blessed. I have small quiet projects rolling on all my hobbies: hammerspoon, keyboards, and zettelkasten automation… but I’ve been trying to give my best to my family. This blog is moth and rust ultimately.

I did write some of my favorite things I’ve ever posted to the site this August, so I guess the extra time spent rocking the cradle jogged my brain as well. 🤷


Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg

I borrowed the book from the library, so I hand drew some copies of all the diagrams from the book.

I wound up just buying a physical copy.

I finally finished Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg. I’ll probably re-read it with my wife at some point.

I think Tiny Habits will make a difference in my life. The idea of designing for behavior change by making small changes that build over time is also common to Atomic Habits… But the behavior model that Fogg talks about seems to be easier to get into and could build up change after change in all areas of life.

I’m also excited about the possibilities of creating positive change in my family or in my office. The story about the father helping create behavior change for his teenage son by requiring less and celebrating more seems plausible and useful.

After finally getting through that many pages of self-help, I blew through at least four light fiction which was wonderful.

As has been the case for a little bit, my formerly smooth automation for generating these posts has been utterly destroyed by my transitions between plaintext note systems, so here’s some cherry-picked items.

The onion for Design Systems: atomic design and pace layering | by Leslie Mu | Aug, 2020 | UX Collective

Keeping Pace Layering in mind, the design team should be more careful when expanding and iterating the atoms and molecules than organisms and templates, since the lower level the component is on, the more it’s applied to higher-level components, which means the changes are more impactful. On the contrary, the team should have more flexibility and freedom iterating organisms and templates. It’s a mental thing.

The onion for Design Systems: atomic design and pace layering | by Leslie Mu | Aug, 2020 | UX Collective

Should you be interested in the links that I’ll be bombarding the attendees with, I’ve gathered them here in one place (and they’re also on the website of An Event Apart). The narrative structure of the talk might not be clear from scanning down a list of links, but there’s some good stuff here that you can dive into if you want to know what the inside of my head is like.

The links in this article are a very good reading list for anyone who develops or designs for the web.

Adactio: Journal—Design Principles For The Web—the links

A clean start for the web -

An interesting perspective about the web’s problems… carefully dissecting the two major use cases: delivering documents, and delivering applications.

The web has gotten much harder to develop for.

The web has had about 25 years to grow, few opportunities to shrink, and is now surrounded by an extremely short-sighted culture that is an outgrowth of economic and career short-termism. There are lots of ways to do anything, and some of the most popular ways of building applications on the web are - in my opinion - usually ghoulish overkill.

The best way for folks to enter web development in 2020 is to choose a niche, like Vue.js or React, and hope that there’s a CSS and accessibility expert on their team.

For folks who just want to create a web page, who don’t want to enter an industry, there’s a baffling array of techniques, but all the simplest, probably-best ones are stigmatized. It’s easier to stumble into building your resume in React with GraphQL than it is to type some HTML in Notepad.

There’s a reasonable take on the “web is too hard” conversation, pointing out that it’s mostly from one perspective judging another.

When I read blog posts from ‘traditional web developers’ who are mad that HTML & CSS aren’t enough anymore and that everything is complicated – I think this is largely that the application stack for building websites has replaced the document stack in a lot of places. Where we would use Jekyll or server-side rendering, we now use React or Vue.js. There are advantages to that, but for a lot of minimally-interactive websites, it’s throwing away decades worth of knowledge in exchange for certain performance perks that might not even matter.

Wright goes on to propose two different webs… one for applications and a leaner, accessible one for documents. It’s an interesting take.

A clean start for the web -

The Hiring Post — Quarrelsome

Very good post on building a system that identifies excellent talent… no more good old boy systems or confusing patterns.

There are people who have the social skills to actively listen to someone else’s technical points, to guide a discussion with questions of their own, or to spot opportunities to redirect a tough question back to familiar territory. Those people build impressive resumes. They effortlessly pass “culture fit” tests. And a lot of them can’t code.

The Hiring Post — Quarrelsome