Bookmark Beat: EP 16

On blindness, respecting human vulnerabilities and designing better interactions

Hey y'all. It's been a couple months… Sorry for leaving you hanging! I've been busy giving a talk at UXPA, launching a bunch of new features and otherwise falling behind on my stack of bookmarks.

Over the last two weeks, I caught up and I'd love to share a few snippets of what I've been reading…

If you're interesting in what I'm listening to, or want an always up-to-date list of all the bookmarks I save on a regular basis, check out the “I am…” page on my website.

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An intro: On going blind

Most of you probably know this, but I've lost quite a bit of my vision. There are various versions of this story that I tell depending on how interested the person who asked me actually is in my diagnosis. But the short version is, “I lost most of my peripheral version due to an adverse reaction to a treatment of an eye disease called ‘uveitis’. Now that treatment is under control, we're just trying our best to make sure it doesn't flare up and encourage the loss of my central vision.”

What this means long term (either 10 years from now or 60) is I will likely lose my eyesight before my peers. I already have a hard time in low-contrast environments and use a screen reader often (usually after a doctor's visit, where they dilate my eyes). In this intro, I wanted to share a few articles that made me feel a bit less alone:

  • How to be blind is a comprehensive history of Blind education shared through the lens of Andrew Leland's personal experience losing his eyesight.
  • How Blind Photographers Visualize the World is a new exhibit at the Bedford gallery in Walnut Creek, CA. You can find a digital gallery of the images on CBPR's website.
  • The value of ‘crip time’ describes a very unique feeling that anyone who has settled into a disability-friendly space has felt: ease. It's usually so hard to be the only disabled person in a space. You're either trying to prove that you are capable or making sure people don't notice your disability at all. It's nice to find spaces where accommodation not only exists but is the default.

So, anyway…

Let's talk about that “seat at the table”

Designers have a way of talking about the same thing every 6-18 months. From “should designers code?” to “advocating for UX Research”, there's quite a few evergreen topics that #DesignTwitter (#DesignThreads?) likes to argue about. My personal favorite is “connecting Design to The Business".

3 months ago, a talk was published online from Eric Burman at London's Nomensa conference. In his talk, Respecting Human Vulnerabilities, the Global Director of Product Design at Nike discussed his experience trying to convince his partners in the business to go beyond easy-to-calculate metrics and connect human-centered design to “the business” - thereby connecting “the business” to humanity itself.

Sounds heady, right? Well, it turned out to be surprisingly practical. In the latter half of the talk, Eric defines “The Complexity Gap” that tends to form between what businesses can easily measure and how people actually experience their products. He leverages insights from the World Health Organization to build a bridge across this gap… a must-watch for anyone who is now expected to “represent their users” at the proverbial “seat at the table”.

This talk reminded me of a few other posts, some older than others:

  • Tomorrow & tomorrow & tomorrow is a more recent reflection on the harms that capitalized products bring on humanity, written beautifully by Erin Kissane.
  • Thinking in Triplicate is a framework proposed by Erika Hall (the amazing author of “Just Enough Research”) way back in 2018 to address the negative affects that our designs can have on the world.
  • Has design become too dogmatic? highlights how fighting against dogma can lead to more inclusive spaces that empower those who have been left out due to “best practices” - by Alba Villamil.
  • Hey, Designers: Learn to Business is a practical guide to learning how to talk to your peers outside of design. From business models to navigating difficult conversations, Matthew Oliphant recommends a number of must-reads!

Designing interactions

Speaking of practical things, I stumbled upon three fantastic resources about modern interaction design over the past few weeks:

  1. Invisible Details of Interaction Design is a gorgeous walkthrough of common interaction patterns across touch screen and desktop environments. Rauno Freiberg, a design engineer with experience at both The Browser Company and Vercel, has made an excellent resource that I will continue to refer back to time and time again.
  2. Modalz Modalz Modalz is a funny, yet genuine, diatribe against the oft-overused modal/dialog. In it, Adrian Egger argues against common uses for a modal and gives some alternatives for these situations.
  3. Building Boba AI is a retrospective on an AI prototype made by the folks at ThoughtWorks. Farooq Ali shares design patterns for interactions and code alike to build a more robust and satisfying interface for AI tools.

Now, here's some cool internet things

The internet is full of wonderful resources and experiences that really only fit into one shared category: Oh, that's cool!

Here's some cool stuff I found over the last few months:

  • The Mystery of the Dune Font: Putting a name to the typeface that defined the visual identity of the science fiction series and its author, Frank Herbert
  • APOLLO 13 IN REAL TIME: A real-time journey through the third lunar landing attempt. This multimedia project consists entirely of original historical mission material - relive the mission as it occurred in 1970
  • LoFi Air Traffic Control: Listen to live air traffic control radio with lo-fi beats. Soothing, yet satisfying. Like a coffee shop in the sky.
  • Modern Serial: Read the greatest books of all time as email newsletters in 10 minutes or less per day. I've been reading War & Peace. I'll be done by the end of next year!
  • Illustrations of the Natural Orders of Plants: A complete reproduction and restoration of Elizabeth Twining’s celebrated catalog of botanical illustrations from 1868. If you liked my ski maps link from a few Bookmark Beats ago, you're gonna love these!


Death To The Stock Photo is a weird publication. It has a TikTok presence and I get an email from them every month or so… but I never know how to actually share their content. Anyway, this Mailchimp Newsletter from them described a strange phenomenon going on right now - the amalgamation of pop culture across the decades to create an out-of-time out-of-place nostalgia. They call it “Nowstalgia”.

As trend cycles get shorter and shorter (thanks to TikTok, Instagram Stories, and other ephemeral media), it seems creatives across fashion, consumer tech, and (somehow) phone hotlines(?!) are figuring out new ways to lean into the hyper-speed-hype-cycle.

It's chaotic. It makes me feel old. And I think it's a fun way to end this beat!

Thanks for reading! I'll catch ya next beat 🥁😎🥁