Books and Links: February


Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

Digital Minimalism A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.

I've been slogging at this one for a bit... the first part is basically an extended version of the same story from Deep Work, but then eventually it opens up into a compelling series of arguments to detach from screen addiction and embrace a healthy and vigorous personal leisure time. I enjoyed it, after I got through the first third.

The Web is Industrialized and I helped industrialize it

Often the concise description of the problem is the solution. It can of course be improved, but not bad for two minutes of work. But it only works if people feel they have autonomy and are a part of a cohesive team. Otherwise, they'll go rogue.

This is a great design system pulse check for where we are as an industry.


The smart phone as pacifier - Marginal REVOLUTION

In other words, in a sense, smartphones are not unlike adult pacifiers. This psychological comfort arises from a unique combination of properties that turn smartphones into a reassuring presence for their owners: the portability of the device, its personal nature, the subjective sense of privacy experienced while on the device, and the haptic gratification it affords.

Well, this is terrifying.


Being a Noob

But if the feeling of being a noob is good for us, why do we dislike it? What [...] purpose could such an aversion serve?


Architects, gardeners, and design systems

In that light, design systems take their place in a long history of dehumanising approaches to manufacturing like Taylorism. The priorities of scientific management are the same as those of design systems increasing efficiency and enforcing consistency.



Innovation Can't Keep the Web Fast | CSS-Tricks

If we're to make progress in making a faster web for everyone, we must recognize some of the impediments to that goal:

  • The relentless desire to monetize every square inch of the web, as well as the army of third party vendors which fuel the research mandated by such fevered efforts.
  • Workplace cultures that favor unrestrained feature-driven development. This practice adds to but rarely takes away from what we cram down the wire to users.
  • Developer conveniences that make the job of the developer easier, but can place an increasing cost on the client


A new technique for making responsive, JavaScript-free charts

This is pretty doggone rad. What a unique way of doing charts... I wonder how performant it is with multiple charts on the page?


Twitter Thread from @skuwamoto on the line between product manager and product designer

This is a question me and my colleagues have been wrestling over for a while... this thread has a lot of great resources and thoughts.


Building an accessible autocomplete control by Adam Silver | Designer, London, UK.

This is a great resource for building a typeahead or autocomplete. I especially like he walks you through it step by step, explaining both the reasoning and the code.

He even has a good demo here.


Git the Princess!

I love toggl and this delightful comic only makes it better.

H/T to @codinghorror


Design systems roundup

Given how many wonderful thinkers have weighed in on this topic in the past few weeks I'm sure you've seen this, but it's a great resource.

There's a big difference between having smart, reusable patterns at your disposal and creating a dictatorial culture designed to enforce conformity and swat down anyone coloring outside the lines.


Why recursion matters, part 1: proof by induction – The If Works

In Douglas Hofstadter’s classic book Gödel, Escher, Bach , the philosopher Zenointroduces his famous paradox by saying: Not the wind, not the flag—neither one…


The design systems we swim in. —

Which brings me back to my earlier question: when was the last time a design system empowered you to make a decision about the best way to proceed?


Setting Up Your Webcam, Lights, and Audio for Remote Work, Podcasting, Videos, and Streaming

Great resource for anyone with regular internet calls.

(H/T to @chevinbrown for the link)


CEO By Day. Internet Sleuth By Night.

Recently, I was up until midnight one night after I put my kids to bed, just sitting there and doing research for no reason into the origins of a particular quote.

And at the end of it, I found an answer that I don't think anyone else in the world has ever found. And that's fun.

As a rampant consumer of readily available information, this dedication to go deeper, to uncover the truth is intriguing and somewhat convicting to me.


Why I Quit Google to Work for Myself

February 28, 2018 12-minute read For the past four years, I've worked as a software developer at Google. On February 1st, I quit.

This is a good warning to those who think an 'unbiased fair system' can replace a healthy line of communication about work and how people should be rewarded.

I proudly and lovingly nursed the pipeline back to health. I fixed dozens of bugs and wrote automated tests to make sure they wouldn't reappear. I deleted thousands of lines of code that were either dead or could be replaced by modern libraries. I documented the pipeline as I learned it so that the institutional knowledge was available to my teammates instead of siloed in my head.

The problem, as I discovered at promotion time, was that none of this was quantifiable. I couldn't prove that anything I did had a positive impact on Google.



How to Take Smart Notes: A Step-by-Step Guide - Nat Eliason

The core idea of Smart Notes is that purely extracting highlights is generally a waste of time. A highlight speaks to you when you take it, but if you don't capture the idea that the highlight gave you, you're unlikely to remember the importance of that highlight later. Or even if you do feel some spark when revisiting the highlight, it might be a different interpretation.

If you've ever looked back at your book highlights and thought to yourself, "why did I highlight this?" then you know what problem we're solving here. And if you don't already take book highlights, even better! You're going to dramatically level up your reading comprehension and retention.

That's the cleanest description of the capturing part of zettelkasten I have ever encountered.


You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus

COVID-19 is already reported to have killed more than twice that number. With its potent mix of characteristics, this virus is unlike most that capture popular attention: It is deadly, but not too deadly. It makes people sick, but not in predictable, uniquely identifiable ways. Last week, 14 Americans tested positive on a cruise ship in Japan despite feeling fine the new virus may be most dangerous because, it seems, it may sometimes cause no symptoms at all.

The assertion that this virus could just be uncontained and we'd have a COVID-19 season next to flu and cold season is kind of frightening. God is in control of all things, but it is worrisome.


How to Dox Yourself on the Internet

A step-by-step guide to finding and removing your personal information from the internet.

I'm probably going to need this eventually.


  • 2022-06-08 11:31:29 -0500
    Rename articles

  • 2020-06-18 14:26:02 -0500
    Move everything to CST

    Don't know why I didn't do that before. It caused _no_ end of

  • 2020-02-29 18:56:44 -0800
    Fixing some problems

  • 2020-02-29 15:53:28 -0800
    Add quote

  • 2020-02-29 10:41:09 -0800
    Post: February