Bookmark Beat: EP 1

Leadership, language and a check-in on FinTech

Welcome to the Bookmark Beat! A (mostly) weekly summary of my browser history. Along with this curated catalog of links, I've added my thoughts and tried to create some semblance of a narrative.

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An intro on leadership

So, the James Webb Space Telescope launched this week. Its pictures are absolutely incredible! But an even more incredible part of the JWST is the story behind it… the New York Time's exposé on Gregory Robinson, He Fixed NASA's Giant Space Telescope Reluctantly, tells a captivating story of one person's struggle to motivate others by building rapport and making room for mistakes.


A bit about my job

I have a new job now. It's great! I'm learning a lot about a completely new domain… Data! I've had the pleasure of running a few user interviews and shadowing many others. One of the interview participants pointed us to Uber's Databook and, since then, I've been diving into the deep end with this resource and so many like it.

But, one thing I've noticed so far is, just like many fields within computer science and technology, there's a lot of language… and it's not very consistent.

It turns out most of designing something is understanding the thing in the first place!

Words are hard. They're also the foundational elements of our shared reality. By naming things we encapsulate the thing itself into a word or phrase that allows us to recall it. If we don't get our words right, we can't think about problems correctly or even have a chance to solve them!

So, I'm coming to terms with the concept of Language/Market fit. There's lots of tools to move towards it, but I've been circling around taxonomies as a way to get there with my team. So far, there's been a bit of formal work in creating a glossary for the Data field:

but not a whole lot…

Language can help us build brands, communicate ideas to our users and name variables/components in our design systems (as we all know, naming things is hard!). Speaking of which, I'm super excited to finish reading through Superfriendly's Design System in 90 days. I think we can do it even faster at Stemma, since our team is so small 😉

Another place that language influences us is in the way that we talk about our own internal tools and processes. The folks at GraphCMS hygraph have a great article about that, actually, as they walk through how they organize their files and projects in Figma.

Coda: Hey FinTech, you OK?

I found out via Dan Hon's newsletter that, “at WWDC this week Apple announced Apple Pay Later, which is a bit like if someone decided to make a bicycle for the {bank, credit card, wallet, consumer credit financing industry}.”

A few days later, I saw this report on CNN: Red flag: Consumers are using Buy Now, Pay Later to cover everyday expenses. Which, combined with the global economic crisis that seems to be slowly creeping its head over the other terrifying news we get week-to-week, feels like a bit of validation that privatizing our economic systems might not be the best thing…

Anyway, even if you disagree with me, I highly recommend reading this Harvard Kennedy School working paper that was buried in the article. FinTech is weird since it's both a product of, and a pushback against, government regulation. So finding a balance between “innovation” and “I don't want my money to disappear / be useless” is something I'm still thinking about - despite not designing for a FinTech product anymore.

Tweet of the week

This one is a great thread to rabbit hole down…

If you could recommend one book not written by Don Norman, Alan Cooper, or Steve Krug to those new to #UX or #design, what would you recommend? Why? #uxTalk

~ @DougCollinsUX

Hope you enjoyed this! I certainly did. It's nice to take a break and actually read the bookmarks I save. If you want a running list, you can check out my 'I am' page anytime. Until next time!