The past, present and future of how we perceive time, and which units actually matter:
"The time you spend is not your own. You are, as a class of human beings, responsible for more pure raw time, broken into more units, than almost anyone else. You spent two years learning, focusing, exploring, but that was your time; now you are about to spend whole decades, whole centuries, of cumulative moments, of other people’s time. People using your systems, playing with your toys, fiddling with your abstractions. And I want you to ask yourself when you make things, when you prototype interactions, am I thinking about my own clock, or the user's? Am I going to help someone make order in his or her life, or am I going to send that person to a commune in Vermont?"
PUBLISHED: June 7, 2012
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2765 words)
100 ways to say the words to that special someone:
"(36) She stands on the unpaved road with your newborn son on her breast. Even though she can’t hear you over the sound of the helicopter, you’re screaming the words. Six months and you’ll send for her. You promise.
"On a rainy midspring morning 26 years later your son appears at the electronics store where you are senior sales. He’s been looking for you for 15 years, since his mother brought him to the States. He asks to buy a VCR. All you can see is that he’s a young guy, good-looking, but nervous. That’s normal; even at $200 it’s still a big-ticket item for a lot of people."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 14, 2012
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2277 words)
Three years of waiting. Everywhere around us there are waves of bouncing sons, bounties of daughters, stroller wheels creaking under the cheerful load. Facebook updates, email messages, and Christmas cards arrive with pictures of tots, their faces smeared with avocado or cake frosting. Babies on rugs, babies in hats. Invitations to baby showers with cursive script and cartoon storks. Over a beer an expectant father—another expectant father—gives me the news, tells me that his wife will soon have her second or third. Am I happy for him? What else can I be? Once again I put out my hand, close my eyes, and wish them joy.
PUBLISHED: July 11, 2011
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2322 words)
Why privacy mattered. "On a Sunday morning before her soccer practice, not long after my daughter's tenth birthday, she and I sat down on the couch with our tablets and I taught her to respond to lawsuits on her own. I told her to read the first message. 'It says it's in French,' she said. 'Do I translate?' 'Does it have a purple flag on it?' 'No,' she said. 'You don't actually have to worry about it unless it has a purple flag.'"
PUBLISHED: May 16, 2011
LENGTH: 8 minutes (2031 words)
The web was surprisingly good at emulating a TV, a newspaper, a book, or a radio. Which meant that people expected it to answer the questions of each medium, and with the promise of advertising revenue as incentive, web developers set out to provide those answers. As a result, people in the newspaper industry saw the web as a newspaper. People in TV saw the web as TV, and people in book publishing saw it as a weird kind of potential book. But the web is not just some kind of magic all-absorbing meta-medium. It's its own thing. And like other media it has a question that it answers better than any other. That question is: "Why wasn't I consulted?"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 6, 2011
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2603 words)
People often think that editors are there to read things and tell people "no." Saying "no" is a tiny part of the job. Editors are first and foremost there to ship the product without getting sued. They order the raw materials—words, sounds, images—mill them to approved tolerances, and ship. No one wrote a book called Editors: Get Real and Ship or suggested that publishers use agile; they don't live in a "culture" of shipping, any more than we live in a culture of breathing.
PUBLISHED: July 20, 2010
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1929 words)