The Miscellany of Stewart McCoy


Why diversity actually matters…

Well, leaving the system unchecked actively harms marginalized people. Inaction does all kinds of damage:

From a fantastic post by Allison House, Why diversity actually matters (examining women and people of color in the Net Awards).

We often talk about empathy for the user, but standing between your empathy for the user is a long line of co-workers whom you need to empathize with first. Being a good designer means mastering lots of soft skills. It’s difficult to detach yourself from the great solutions you come up with on your own. But your job isn’t to advocate for your solution, it’s to advocate for the best solution to the problem. Keep the problem foremost in your mind as you generate ideas and process feedback, and you will quickly one-up your previous designs. Your co-workers are a well-spring of insight, inspiration, and guidance. And you are the filter for the off-the-mark ideas, and the sculptor for the good ones. 

“The UX team is constantly interviewing and interacting with our users, so they generate a lot of hypotheses which we investigate using our data. The UX team, because their insight is built quickly from human interactions, can flit from thought to thought and project to project; when they think they’re onto something good, they kick the research idea to the lumbering beast that is the data science team. We can comb through our billions of records of sends, clicks, opens, http requests, user and campaign metadata, purchase data, etc. to quantitatively back or dismiss their new thinking.”

Data Story: John Foreman of MailChimp on the Data Science Behind Emails

The single largest difference I’ve noticed between successful founders and failed ones is hidden between the lines of Graham’s response: it’s knowing how to think. Most people don’t know how to strategize. Most people don’t know how to take what they see in the world and use it to invent something new. Most people don’t take everything they learn, and think “Why?”, “How?”, and “What does this mean for the future?”. But to be a successful executive, you have to ask those questions about everything you read and see, because, if you don’t, you’ll build the wrong thing. Or focus on the wrong thing. Or your competitor will out-innovate you.

There is an insanely huge difference between, “We’re making a site for connecting to your friends” and, “Privacy is a relic of the past, so we’re going to push people to open up their lives and share, connecting them together.”

Most people see Facebook and extrapolate backwards to the first sentence above. But the genius behind Facebook, and why it has been continually successful, is actually in the second sentence. Facebook isn’t about connecting; it’s about sharing. MySpace failed because it focused on the connections, not the interactions between those connections. Facebook had the Wall and the News Feed.

– Dustin Curtis, Learning how to think

“If you want to make it within what I rather helplessly call the system(s), it’s not recommended to ask fundamental questions. What you should do is ask questions that can be answered. And then you answer them. Especially when you’re socialized in the IT world, you’re prone to solutionism: If there’s a problem, a privately funded company will come up with a (technical) solution to solve it and make people’s lives better. You don’t ask why, you just do.”

Gabriel Yoran, If you question something, people will question you