Tag Archives: structure

On legacy, and building things that matter

I’m in the midst of a short leave from work to focus on personal matters (my dad is older and I am spending some time thinking about his living situation). 

As I was wrapping up projects and handing off responsibilities before Christmas, my boss half-jokingly said she was afraid that things would fall down while I was gone. I grinned, because, yeah, I’d like to think I’m that valuable…but the truth is that if things did fall apart, I would know I hadn’t done a good job of building structure.

This is something I believe in strongly. I tend to live in the present and don’t spend a lot of time considering what people will think after I’m gone, or hey, really even what they think once I’ve left the room. But I do give a lot of thought to how the things I build will enable others to learn, think, and create structures of their own.

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Men, Women, Tech: Building structure that acknowledges how things are + how they could be

I have a hard time watching women cut other women down to size.

For me it’s painful because I recognize that the hardest thing to overcome in any group of humans is when an insider or influencer calls out someone else as “not a real [line in the sand of your choosing].”

I wrote a more personal piece about this back in April when I addressed my discomfort with Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign.

In that model the very thing that’s supposed to ensure legitimacy — hey, this is someone who’s been there and done that, truly one of us — is used as a weapon against or seperator of other people in the group.

For women in American culture this is a constant problem and it’s embedded in a variety of forums, including the workplace.

As a member of the startup / tech ecosystem, I think about these things a lot. Even in a very far forward part of the economy the concepts of access + “how it’s done / what’s normal” are still strong currents, and instutionalized “isms” are at play. I won’t get into a huge discussion of how that works here, since there are other people doing it better (for a thought provoking, but NSFW [language + trigger warning] run down, check out @Shanley’s piece on how women in tech end up reinforcing patriarchy. I don’t agree with everything she has to say, but there are some indictments there that are hard to refute.

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Your life is an information design project

One of my favorite bloggers, Lauren Bacon, just posted something really smart, you should go take a look. 

A trap that’s easy to fall into is the whole “I don’t have enough time to do X even though I know it’s good for me” thing.

Since we spend so much time being regulated (job, family, bills, etc…) it’s easy to feel like there’s no time to be creative.

That attitude overlooks one crucial truth: everything in your life is information design.

This is true whether you’re talking about doing laundry, renegotiating job role with your employer, or going for a job. You are subject to structures of information all the time. And, you can impose your own structure also.

Now, I’m just as guilty as anyone else. Right now I work massive hours, don’t exercise, and am not eating as well as I should. So this doesn’t come from a place of righteousness at all. But as my own toughest critic I know that most of the structure I am working within is flexible.

The problem isn’t the things in my life, it’s the way in which I arrange them.

As Lauren points out, we have a responsibility to be conscious about the project that is our life. Everything is important, both for what we include and what we don’t include….what we get done and what we don’t get done. Those are all part of the information design that structures our life, and tells us consciously and subconsciously what is important.


What does your life look like as an information design project?

3 ideas you can steal from startups and use to hack your own life

The word “hack” has a lot of meanings.

If you’re accused of being one, it means you’re churning out poor quality content (either in a more professional environment, or just as a human being generally). The phrase was invented as a way to describe someone who’s working hard, but not adding value. A good sister/brother phrase would be “sucking at life.”

In the startup world it most often refers to anything designed for one purpose that you re-appropriate elsewhere. Think jailbreaking, which is when tech savvy users take a mobile device and make it do something that it wasn’t originally designed for. Another common variation is “growth hacking” which is about finding creative ways to add volume in production, sales, content, etc…

But you can also hack things to work in any part of your life.

Continue reading 3 ideas you can steal from startups and use to hack your own life