1. Invisible tools

    A good tool is an invisible tool. By invisible, we mean that the tool does not intrude on your consciousness; you focus on the task, not the tool…Good tools enhance invisibility.
    …Unfortunately, our common metaphors for computer interaction lead us away from the invisible tool, and towards making the tool the center of attention.
    …magic is about psychology and salesmanship, and I believe a dangerous model for good design and productive technology. The proof is in the details—magic ignores them. Furthermore magic continues to glorify itself

    — Mark Weiser, The World Is Not A Desktop, ACM Interactions, January 1994

    See also: Not invented here

  2. Tech fashion

    …because tech is a pop culture, it will apply techniques and approaches because they are fashionable even when the outcomes are worse.

    — Baldur Bjarnason https://www.baldurbjarnason.com/2023/book-production-ai-spa/ (commenting on the computational limits of photography and the ‘fashion’ for software processing in phone cameras)

    I have been thinking a lot lately about applying pace layers to technology, particularly in the current climate of hype, where everything is declared a breakthrough (probably because slow, incremental progress toward stable, usable platforms is too ‘boring’)

    Bjarnsason provides another example of software moving at the speed of fashion when its users need it to move slower, be more reliable, to learn from fashion (and either adopt or reject as appropriate) rather than to be fashion.

  3. Stop and simply be

    When was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are.

    — Ursula K. Le Guin, The Farthest Shore
  4. Writing for humans, by humans

    In truth, one reason I enjoy writing these newsletter so much is because they land in your email inbox, sorted by date and time, with my name as the sender. This takes enormous pressure off writing a damned title that is SEO friendly and clicky…Sure, writers must hustle relentlessly to promote their newsletter to potential subscribers, but they do not have to play the exhausting game of ‘can I make you click’ for each post…

    — Anne Trubeck, Notes from a Small Press - Amazon Is Changing How We Write

    A ‘captive’ audience of willing—paying, even!—subscribers means there is less pressure to play the SEO game. This doesn’t mean titles, subject lines, and headings don’t have to be well written, just that they don’t have to be keyword-stuffed—written for humans, not The Algorithm.

  5. Plausible impossibilities

    Literary fantasy is the result of a vivid, powerful, coherent imagination drawing plausible impossibilities together into a vivid, powerful and coherent story…

    — Ursula K. Le Guin, “Are they going to say this is fantasy?”

    “plausible impossibilities”…what a wonderfully chewy turn of phrase to describe fantasy.

More entries can be found in the archive.