‘Nothing Special’: Rohan Gunatillake on Mindfulness In Design

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Photo by Ashley Baxter

I don’t know how it works but there are moments in life when someone says something which stays with you forever. All of us will have our own different examples of this: wise advice from a friend, an inspiring phrase from a book, or even something from a political speech full of hope. Words which have that magical quality of our hearing them at what feels like the perfect time so that they resonate both in that moment and also when we remember them again and again in the future. Read More

Jules Walter on Diversity in Tech: The Unspoken Empathy Gap

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Photo by Scott Schiller

Ken Norton recently published a great piece about the importance of authenticity and psychological safety in order to help teams succeed. In his article, he cites research from Google that suggests psychological safety is the most predictive characteristic of successful teams. As a minority working in tech, this article brought to mind a pressing question: given the lack of diversity in tech, how can tech workers foster a psychologically safe environment for minorities, many of whom struggle just to be their true selves at work? For me, it starts with empathy. Read More

Tammie Lister: Design for Humans, Not Robots

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Before I begin this article, let me set something straight. I am not saying robots aren’t awesome — they totally are. Robots are amazing. However, beyond comic book robots, there is this discourse between humans and robots. Robots are ‘near human’. We as humans have this fascination with robots. We play with them as toys, we make them in our own image. We have even developed robots with emotional states, that mimic, that care for us. Read More

Saron Yitbarek: ‘I Don’t Belong in Tech’

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When I was at NPR years ago, I did a story on public education in California. I don’t remember the angle, but I remember looking up a stat to use in the script. I used that stat in a few places, and after fact-checking, I realized there was an updated number available. I went back and changed the references to the new number, relieved that I’d caught this mistake before handing over my script to the host. But I missed one. I heard it over the speakers when Michelle Martin, the host, read it out loud during the interview, and my heart stopped. I knew it was my duty to report it, so I went up to my editor and told her. She didn’t say anything, but I could feel her disappointment in me. I melted into a pool of shame. Read More

John Palfrey on The Paradox of Tolerance

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Photo by Dave White.

Co-Editor’s Note: Two weeks ago, I was lucky to be introduced to John Palfrey’s open note to his campus. It has stayed with me as the clearest piece of creative writing on the vital topic of inclusion. —JM

We teach more than just mathematics, science, writing and reading, languages, the arts, and other academic topics in our schools. We also teach character and moral development. Many schools do so explicitly, through the lessons that we choose; all schools do so implicitly, through the personal examples that teachers, coaches, and principals set for our students. Whether parents like it or not, there is no way for teachers to avoid teaching character to some extent; after all, our students are watching us as they learn. Read More

Alisha Ramos: Embracing My Mixed Race, Hybrid Identity

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This piece was originally published in my weekly newsletter on mixed race, Mixed Feelings.


In high school I was president of the Asia Club for two years. The club had members from various Asian backgrounds such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian. We were the crown jewel of every international/cultural event or competition at our public high school in suburban North Carolina. We would really bring it—from colorful dance performances to amazingly delicious, aromatic foods. Everyone knew the Asia Club was a force to be reckoned with, and I was damn proud of that little club for those two years. Read More

Sarah Cooper on 9 Tricks to Appear Smart in Brainstorming Meetings

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The following is an excerpt from Sarah Cooper’s new book, 100 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings (Andrews McMeel)

In a brainstorming meeting, the pressure of coming up with incredible new ideas can be debilitating. Luckily, the last thing most corporations want is new ideas.

Here are 9 tricks to make you look like you’re the creative force on your team. Read More

Dom Goodrum on Why Measuring Design Isn’t a Terrible Idea

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Embracing measurement puts yourself and your team out there. It openly says that we aren’t perfect and perhaps we could do our job better.

Through my experience of building the design team at Percolate, my perspective on measurement has changed. I’ve gone from thinking measurement is all about understanding the performance of a solution to measurement being a tool that can be used to improve our teams, our design process, and the business we are building.

Measuring design hasn’t come naturally to me, though. There have been many occasions where I brushed requests for measurement under the carpet. This was partly due to my natural instinct to focus on the work, and partly because I didn’t want to expose our imperfections.

As disciplines like marketing, engineering, sales, and finance have evolved at our company, I’ve been exposed to the measurement methods they use to understand their impact on our business. Because of this, I started looking more critically at how we could measure the contribution of design. Read More

Carl & Elena Schrónez: Things We’ve Learned From Telling Others’ Stories

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Back in 2009, I discovered that the world wasn’t all the same. Surprise! Yes, this was a realization for me. Sadly, but truthfully, I believed that race and socioeconomic status were the only things that gave the world its organization. I am African-American, so I knew diversity was a good thing, but I only understood it on a topical level. Partially, this belief is a result of growing up in a small town with my entire, insanely large family living blocks away from each other. I had no reason to think that people lived outside of this perspective. The other cause for my belief is that mainstream media often reinforces this same idea. Nevertheless, it may have taken me a while, but I got it — the world is diverse. Also sad but true, there are many people that still haven’t had this “epiphany” yet. The capacity for infinite variation in humans is what made me start to tell their stories, especially those of people who were creatively using their unique perspectives and passions to construct new opportunities and new lives for themselves. Read More

Angela Kyle on Why Blocks Matter: Designing the Future of Design Education at Street Level

angelakyle2.jpgOne week ago I sat at a community dinner table in a church kitchen in Central City, New Orleans surrounded by a group of African-American kids ranging in age from four to ten. I know them well through their involvement with PlayBuild, a neighborhood play space and design education program that I co-founded in November 2012. Read More