Reblog

Excerpt: A Prayer for Owen Meany

The quotes of Owen Meany throughout the book are written in ALL CAPS, which is an effective technique in print to encapsulate the character’s voice, attitude, and other deeper aspects of who Owen is. I’ve “translated” the CAPS into regular case letters so that it’s not as jarring when reading the excerpt. The Audible narrated version is perfectly done, too. I think he really captures such a unique character.

A Prayer for Owen Meany was a moving book in so many ways, but in an unexpected dimension, the political commentary (mostly against the Vietnam War) still rings so true for our contemporary situation.

What’s wrong with this country?” he wrote. “There is such a stupid ‘get even’ mentality—there is such a sadistic anger.” He turned on the tv, keeping the volume off; when I woke up, much later, he was still writing in the diary and watching one of those television evangelists—without the sound. “It’s better when you don’t have to listen to what they’re saying,” he said.

In the diary, he wrote: “is this country just so huge that it needs to oversimplify everything? Look at the war: either we have a strategy to ‘win’ it, which makes us—in the world’s view—murderers; or else we are dying, without fighting to win. Look at what we call ‘Foreign Policy’: our ‘Foreign Policy’ is a euphemism for Public Relations, and our Public Relations get worse and worse. We’re being defeated and we’re not good losers.

“selling old Jesus-stories like junk food”

and look at what we call ‘Religion’: turn on any television on any Sunday morning! See the choirs of the poor and uneducated—and these terrible preachers, selling old Jesus-stories like junk food. Soon there’ll be an evangelist in the white house; soon there’ll be a cardinal on the Supreme Court. One day there will come an epidemic—I’ll bet on some humdinger of a sexual disease. And what will our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state … what will they say to us? How will they help us? You can be sure they won’t cure us—but how will they comfort us? Just turn on the tv—and here’s what our peerless leaders, our heads of church and state will say: they’ll say, ‘I told you so!’ They’ll say, ‘that’s what you get for fucking around—I told you not to do it until you got married.’ Doesn’t anyone see what these simpletons are up to? These self-righteous fanatics are not ‘religious’—their homey wisdom is not ‘morality.’

“What’s wrong with both of them is that they’re so sure they’re right!”

That is where this country is headed—it is headed toward oversimplification.You want to see a president of the future? Turn on any television on any Sunday morning—find one of those holy rollers: that’s him, that’s the new Mister President! And do you want to see the future of all those kids who are going to fall in the cracks of this great, big, sloppy society of ours? I just met him; he’s a tall, skinny, fifteen-year-old boy named ‘Dick.’ He’s pretty scary. what’s wrong with him is not unlike what’s wrong with the tv evangelist—our future president. What’s wrong with both of them is that they’re so sure they’re right! That’s pretty scary—the future, I think, is pretty scary.

A Prayer for Owen Meany
by John Irving

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Musings, Reblog

Letters Podcast — Episode 02: Life

It has been a while but I finally got around to posting the second episode for my little side project!


Letters podcast artwork

In this episode, I received four letters in response to a letter of mine that was part statement and part question. Picking up where Habiba concluded the previous episode, I thought about the connection or disconnection of work and life. I asked Habiba to respond and invited three others to contribute their thoughts as well.

Note: This is episode will be released in two parts. In this first part, you’ll hear from Habiba and Mike. In Episode 02B, you’ll hear Nick and Crystal.

Podcast Players:

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Reblog, writing

I just created a TinyLetter to dispense the occasional links I’m dying to share with other designers. For a while, it might exist as blog posts too. I might phase that out, though.


Hello You

This first email is a bit of a story, and then some links. I promised links.

When I first thought about making this newsletter – still wondering if I’ll just make blog posts instead, I do hate email clutter – I had a bunch of great articles floating around my head that I wanted to share. Now I have no idea what those were, so I’m now getting lost in the blogosphere that, for 2016, is Medium.com.

I hate ending sentences with URLs.

 

What these Link Drops are for:

“Beginner’s Mind” comes from Buddhism, but I think it works just great for the attitude required when sharing information about any field of practice, especially design:

It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. [wiki]

 

I consider job experience as a vague measurement or ranking of how many mistakes you’ve made so far. In this light, I can never imagine experience as a limiting factor on learning – yes, even learning the same thing twice.

 

Great stuff on the internet is usually doing one of two things for me:

  1. Showing me something really different, or something ordinary in a different way
  2. Reflecting my own way of thinking about things

It’s healthy to get a mix of both. I know, the second one seems very insulating, but I have found that reading what a like-minded person writes gives you the benefit of learning how to better articulate your own thoughts.

 

Feedback

Yeah, that would be super helpful. Left to my own devices, I will go down tangents about philosophy, freedom on the internet, and such. I’m going to try and stick to articles and resources for learning about design, and specifically about UX Design. If you really want to see “more like this” or “less of that” then feel free to reply directly to this. It goes to my inbox.


Link Drop #1

In my quest for links today I started digging through Medium and found one, two, three, whoa tons of great articles from UX Launchpad. So it’s safe to say that clicking any of those will be interesting and informative.

Design Explosions #3

Start here! It looks like an article, but really it’s a video. This serious called “Design Explosions” takes a deep look at a finished product and breaks it down to see what’s going on. I appreciate the diagrams.

Design Explosions #1

Craaaazy long, plenty of good diagrams though. Okay so this is a really long one and I don’t blame you if you can’t get through the whole thing in one sitting. What’s most important here is: there are multiple ways to design anything.

Junior Designers vs. Senior Designers

Oldie, but excellent. Another person’s idea of experience conveyed in squiggly line sketches.

A Faster FT.com

Last week, Nico gave an excellent talk about how people perceive time/waiting. Here’s an article giving us a very tangible, and yes, monetary case for an efficient web”

We wanted to understand how much the speed of our website affected user engagement, specifically, the quantity of articles read, one of our key measures of success. Using that data we then wanted to quantify the impact on our revenue.

Designing complex products

I’ll finish off on a strong note. This hits both #1 (something new to me) and #2 (reflects a lot back at me).
For example: I’m a big fan of the progressive reveal strategy and that’s reflected in a lot of my designs. To each their own, but I enjoyed seeing another designer explain it.

Sincerely,
Rob

Addendum

Some of these were long articles talking about real world examples of a design process in action. I could also include some things in the genre of listicles, like Typography Tips for a Better User Experience, or just general repositories of info and tools. If that’s more your speed, let me know.

deep thoughts kitty

I hope you like cats

 

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Musings

Rilke

A friend sent me this book with the note that it’s one of his favorites and still picks it up again once in a while. That last part is most impressive to me, since I never read anything twice – there’s too many books in the world! I could immediately see why this one might be so re-readable.

I won’t give much background – descriptions and summaries you can find online – but I think I first heard of Rilke from the podcast Entitled Opinions. He was some German poet that left a lasting mark on his era, but I didn’t know much more than that. I know it’s sad, but I never pick up books of poetry. I guess I don’t know how to read it. Maybe it’s because poetry is work, and unless you sit and think and feel for a few days with the words in your mind, it never goes deeper than the surface. A story however will do the work for me, and I have a character to follow down deeper into some other experience. I would completely recommend this book to anyone that feels the same about poetry. This is Rilke’s only novel, and it holds my hand (somewhat) to where I need to go – as novels do – but along the way I can get an idea of some of the beautiful poetry out there that I’m missing.

Here’s my favorite paragraph so far. The only context that you need is that there’s a bit of fog in Paris.

“What such a small moon can achieve. There are days when everything about one is luminous, light, scarcely defined in the bright air, and nonetheless distinct. Even the nearest of things have the shades of distance upon them; they are remote, merely sketched in rather than bodied forth; and all things that do indeed partake of the distance—the river, the bridges, the long streets and the prodigal squares—have absorbed the distance within themselves and are painted on to it as upon silk. Who can say what a slight green vehicle on the Pont Neuf might be at such times, or some red bursting forth, or even a mere poster on the fire wall of a pearly-grey group of buildings. Everything is simplified, rendered into a few exact, bright planes like the face in a portrait by Manet. And nothing is of slight importance or irrelevance. The booksellers along the Quai open up their stalls, and the fresh or faded yellow of the books, the violet brown of the bindings, the more commanding green of an album: all of it is just right and has its worth and is a part of the whole and adds up into a fullness where nothing is lacking.”

Rilke

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Musings, writing

Design Career Inspiration

I recently watched a documentary about Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli called The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness1. It’s a beautiful movie, and I recommend everyone who has a career of “making things” watch this. No, you don’t have to be familiar with his films, but it may be more interesting if you watch The Wind Rises2 beforehand.

I found myself pausing this movie to write down a few quotes that really struck me. This also happened within the context of a weekend where I happened to be reading a design publication that got me thinking about my own work. The design magazine was, of course, more explicitly focused on my own industry and happened to call out one of my major qualms with working at design agencies in general: they exist to serve big corporations, but the employees within are always dreaming about smaller, more beautiful things they could build.

A photo posted by Rob Brogan (@robrogan) on

As seems to be the theme for me this last year, I find myself in an adolescence of design where I’m of course working (I’m an Interaction Designer) but I feel there’s little control over what I work on (projects come from the company of course), and I don’t exactly know what I’d ideally work on. Some inspiration that came out of this documentary was that (1) doing good work, work that you want to be a part of is of utmost importance, and (2) the people you do this with are very important.

Toshio Suzuki, Producer, Studio Ghibli —

I’ll say this, based on my experience. In your work, obviously, you’ll meet many people. But ultimately, it’s about who you work with. Only those who choose the right people to work with will be able to do the work they want.

I understand they go hand-in-hand, but thus far I haven’t found the two to overlap in one place. I guess that’s what I need to be more aware of, and always seeking out.

Hayao Miyazaki, Establishing Studio Ghibli —

We’re going to build a three-story studio […] Basically, our foremost objective here is making good films. No guarantees of lifetime employment here.
But companies are just conduits for money. Its success isn’t our priority. What’s important is that you’re doing what you want, and that you’re gaining skills.
If Ghibli ceases to appeal to you, then just quit. Because I’ll do the same.


1. The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness IMDB | Trailer
2. The Wind Rises IMDB | Trailer
Bonus: The Wind Rises Soundtrack: Stream

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Reblog

Most interesting (recent) read

I haven’t posted here much, and that’s basically because I’m lazy. I’m still here, though!

Quickly now, I’d like to share an article that – in my opinion – has a lot of meat, and all of it is interesting, if you’re a designer.

Chinese Mobile App UI Trends

By Dan Grover

Some highlights include:
Chinese culture doesn’t make a big deal of meeting strangers nearby through social apps.
CAPTCHA utilized on login screens (not just signup flows).
People really do use QR codes!
Moments – Just scroll to this part. I really dig the philosophy.

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