Roughly fifteen years to the day, I published the fourth blog post on Airbag. It was a quick reaction to an exciting game Super Bowl between the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots. The Rams mounted a last-minute comeback that was surely going to force the game into overtime, but with one minute and thirty seconds on the clock, Tom Brady drove the team within field goal range, and the Patriots added three points to their scorecard and one the game.
The year was 2002, and everyone was still trying to process 9/11 and the aftermath--we were still processing shock. Due to national security concerns, the NFL season was pushed by a week while the country considered what security precautions were necessary for events like football games were potential future attacks could occur. Thus, the Super Bowl XXXVI was the first NFL game to be played in February.
At the time we were collectively looking over our shoulder for another round, the next wave of attacks, all while trying to get back to routines. Before the Super Bowl, there was special news coverage on security--demonstrations of tactics and a showcase of equipment to be used to thwart any attacks. This was especially true for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. There seemed to be just as many news stories about security as there were stories about athletes and the games themselves. You had to wonder if this was going to be the new normal.
I can't recall the last time I read or watched a story about event security. And I don't remember the last time I heard what security color we're on. It's yellow or "Elevated Condition." Thankfully, I had to look it up.
Dustin Senos, former Head of Design for Medium, and all around good guy came up with a pretty cool idea after a bit of introspection.
Looking back at my early career I too had a handful of supportive mentors during school and at work (I could use one now come to think of it). More recently, I have enjoyed building up and continuing to mentor nearly one-hundred early career designers, developers, and offering managers at IBM Studios around the world.
Inspired by his career reflection, Dustin came up with Holiday Office Hoursa way to give back by arranging eight hours of time in thirty minute blocks over the holiday break to provide consultation for "people who may be in school, getting into the industry, new to design or engineering, or struggling with their first tech job."
Once I caught what Dustin was up to and why I joined up along with Noah and a growing list of industry professionals.
So, as long as you don't work for IBM (because you all already know how to find and schedule my time), sign up for a time slot and lets talk*. I'm happy to answer any questions you have and give what advice I might have after being in the industry for twenty-plus years.
* I removed the link because all slots have been taken. Given the response I'm going to consider doing this again soon, but after I get through the initial round of sixteen discussions. Follow this account and @brilliantcrank for future
As I have done many times in the past, I snatched up a new Apple product on the day of its release. This time it's the new MacBook Prothe thirteen-inch model, the one without the second screen above the keyboard. While I think it's a nifty idea, I prefer my keyboard sans an area that is sure to become a different place to put logos and convenient links to "buy more," because the laptop screen already does a great job with those things.
Before this model, I have been using the MacBook that is so thin you can almost see through it. I really like the smaller form factor, but found that I really missed having a laptop that didn't choke on things like trying to load The Verge (Had I known that the publication was going to release a new version that is 25-50% faster to load prior to my purchase I might have thought otherwise, but now it's out of the box, all the files migrated, and my scent on the keyboard so there's no going back. And Mr. Marcotte, if you're reading this then I know you just made a grimacing face. You're welcome.)
Speaking of the keyboard, as I tweeted earlier, this is by far the best and fastest keyboard I have used to dateApple or otherwise. It may have helped that I have a lot of hours clocked on the MacBook keyboard (the predecessor to this one), but I feel a lot more spring after each strike which, for me, means I can type faster with fewer mistakes. The keys feel snug and confident which makes a great writing experience.
The screen is nice, and I like that I don't have to touch it because finger prints on screens spread disease and just look super gross under any light source more powerful than a 60-watt bulb. I've never understood why people want to poke and swipe their computer screen so badly. Most people don't poke and swipe their HDTV and then try to Netflix and chill, because there would be no chill while trying to view a crystal clear image through little bits of DNA. That's like watching Netflix through a car windshield after a driving a few miles on a turnpike.
Anyway, back to this amazing device. It's small, powerful, and light just as the old white guys on stage promised. The one thing I still have not been able figure out is how to get a handful of jerks to respond to my direct messages on Twitter, but Apple Support seem pretty sure that's not the product's fault. Not satisfied with that answer, I tried to argue my point of view with Siri, but "she" is still dumb as a post. Maybe I should have waited for a different model, but somehow I don't think a "Touchbar" is going to fix that white hot mess.
In an effort to draw more attention to a story that some of you may have already heard, I have spent more time than I should have to try to put together words that will drive a response from you. I have failed to write a successful narrative that begins with a meaningful backstory, relatable to you, so that when I come to a conclusion, you, filled with empathy and emotion, feel absolutely compelled to act and share the story within your sphere of influence, but in an attempt to be clever I have wasted too much time.
So let me get to the point: Carolyn Woodsomeone you have likely never heard of beforea quiet, but important member of our community is in dire need of help from all of us.
If you make things for the digital world (World Wide Web, mobile, etc.) then you owe some part of your career to Carolyn. She has worked mostly behind the scenes, helping the community at large express, present, and distribute ideas, strategies, and tactics on building a better worlda better career path for you and I. This may come across as hyperbole but I assure you it is not. Many of the quintessential books and articles that have steered our industry in the right direction.
If you use the Internet directly through a web browser or possibly indirectly through an iPhone app, you have Carolyn Wood to thank. She has worked to support the community that creates compelling arguments and supportive statements that foster curiosity, innovation, and conversation that lead to many of the delightful experiences that you and I enjoy.
There is a hard working, very smart, important, kind woman who has been there for all of us, albeit in a small, maybe obscure but impactful way and she now needs our help and support. I hope I have held your attention enough that you'll click through and help Carolyn Woodplease contribute what you are able either financially or through sharing this story to your network. We have to get this done; we can't fail those who's hard work helped pave the way for us to enjoy better careers and experiences.
Ryan Rumsey, Anette Priest, and I will share our experiences and point of view on how to "navigate the sometimes tricky waters of enterprise organizations. The discussion will center around Culture, Career Path and Professional Development as well as Hiring."
Funsize has put together an interesting group around an interesting topic and I'm looking forward to sharing what I know--what I feels--and hearing from the experiences of Ryan and Anette. Especially Ryan, because, well, Electronic Arts!
If all goes well the session will be recorded and turned into a future program for Hustle. If you aren't subscribed to the podcast yet, make it happen now.
True fact, I am the only person on the planet who has been a Happy Cog client, contractor, and captain. As many of you know I merged my business with Happy Cog in 2009 and ran one of three studios for five years. When I went out on my own and started Airbag in 2005, I worked on several projects for Happy Cog as a freelance contractor. And long before any of that nonsense, in 2003, I convinced Jeffrey Zeldman (at the time, the sole proprietor and employee of Happy Cog) to work with me on a redesign project for my employer at the time, The Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
Our project kick-off took place in Jeffrey's flat that sat atop Murray Hill. We sat in Jeffrey's living room which featured a gorgeous, white, thick, shag-like carpet. The room was surrounded by a fantastic collection of books, music, and movies (everything classic or destined to be). I took a spot on an amazing orange leather couch and did my best not to lose my shit because I was sitting in Zeldman's living room, and we were working together on a project.
So you can imagine what it was like for me to get to work with Jeffrey for the next eleven years. Though, to be honest, we didn't work together nearly enough. If I have one regret from my time with Happy Cog, it is that I wish we could have worked on more projects together as I have always enjoyed my time with Zeldman, especially when we commiserate as designers and writers.
This morning Jeffrey announced his next endeavor, Studio.Zeldmannow open for business! I presume this means he has said goodbye to Happy Cog, the studio he founded seventeen years ago. I don't think I'm wrong to say that Zeldman is one of a select few pioneers of the digital/interactive/web/device/whatevs industry that is now available for consultation. Anyone who operates a content-based property or business should have Zeldman on retainer.
Meanwhile, I need to convince someone to give me a project and a budget to hire Studio Zeldman and start the cycle over again.
Vive la Happy Cog! Vive la Airbag! Vive la Studio.Zeldman!
Talking to users is paramount to the success of any design project. It's one of the activities I enjoy a lot because I can talk to users until they suffer from discomfort due to hunger and dehydration. The hard part of research, the part that sometimes puts me into a round room is the work that's required after having a nice chat--synthesizing the results into meaningful insights.
One of my former Design Campers, Jessica Zhang, now a UX researcher at IBM, recently shared her thoughts on the topic in an essay called "What Should I Do with My Interview Notes?"
In other words, how do you turn lines and lines of words (and snippets of your memory) into an accurate picture of what the user needs, without needing years of formal training? Moreover, how do you strike a balance between doing this collaboratively and getting it done quickly?
Please click that heart shaped icon at the end of the article. Unlike most of my designers, Jessica is one who actually listened when I said that writing is vital to early career success. More importantly, Jessica is one sharp tack so follow her on Medium and look for more productive thoughts as she navigates the world of user research in enterprise software and cognitive intelligence design.