Writing

  • Every Day Sucks More

    Everything sucks. Everyone with power wants to keep the power but is terrified to wield it, and so we wake up every morning with new horrors to process, new fears to add to the list, new furies to fuel our helpless rage.

  • Seeing Like a Tech Company

    Seeing Like a State examines the hubris of High Modernist ideology in state schemes, but I see in it the ongoing work of the tech industry.

  • Message to Chattanooga City Council

    Defund the police

  • Bernie is not an Organizer

    I’ve struggled to make sense of the argument that Bernie will be the Organizer in Chief because I can’t find any evidence that he’s doing the work of organizing.

  • A Different Journalism

    Lewis Raven Wallace argues in The View from Somewhere that for journalists, "standing to the side of history is impossible when we are the ones writing it."

  • You Were Cool

    Marking the passage of time by thinking about John Darnielle lyrics (among other things).

  • Non-fiction reading in 2019

    In 2019 I read 73 books; the most I've read in a single year possibly in my entire life.

  • A Benediction for 2020

    My tradition is to write a small benediction for each new year. This is 2020's.

  • Vonnegut's Seasons

    A short passage on seasons from Vonnegut that is extremely helpful.

  • Programmed Inequality

    A critical examination institutional sexism that doomed the British computing industry.

  • Substantial Fiction

    N.K. Jemisin builds fictional worlds that expose the numerous substances of life.

  • Perpetuating Harm

    The things I am learning about the power of the web industry.

  • Parable of the Talents

    The second in a near-future sci-fi series about America.

  • A small benediction

    2018 was a motherfucker.

  • Climate Grief

    Holding space for grieving what we are losing because of climate change, to help us find create space for imagining the future.

  • What's best for users

    It’s important to critically examine what incentives have been in place in the past few decades that may have led to a web like we have.

  • The first half of 2018 in reading

    In the first half of this year I read 26 books, and I have a feeling I will at least double that by the end of the year so I don’t want to wait until then to record what I’ve read and call out notable books.

  • How Am I Not Myself?

    Two years ago next month I became single, although I’ve not felt like that was the truth until a few months ago. Single, after 10 years of being in a monogamous relationship; but I was only single 6 months prior to that and I’d been in a year long toxic relationship before then.

  • The hope of a livable world

    The ideologies of disruption and innovation still reign in most areas of power in the world, so I often am at a loss for hope or optimism. But many people are dismantling and critiquing these ideologies and in doing so weakening their stronghold.

  • My Year in Reading: 2017

    In 2017 I recovered from a severe depression and remembered how to read. Here's an overview of what I read, both what I loved and what I didn't finish.

  • Authors showing their work

    Two authors generously sharing the process behind their work.

  • Questioning Global Risk

    How do we make decisions that potentially create large scale risks for future generations?

  • A Disability History of the United States

    A helpful survey of American history (pre-white settlers to now) focused on how disability was understood and how people with disabilities have been treated within various periods.

  • Notes from Pat Toomey's February 16 Townhall

    On Thursday, February 16 at 1:52PM I found out that Senator Pat Toomey was holding a town hall at 2:05PM. Virtual only, via phone and web audio means. So I joined. This post consists of the notes I was able to take and links that I think are relevant to the questions he received and answers he gave.

  • The Intellect of Woman

    I am reading _A Disability History of the United States_ currently and in it Kim Nielsen, the author, briefly covers the story of Agatha Tiegel. Her story caught my eye so I did a bit further research.

  • The Master Switch

    As a history book, _The Master Switch_ is a good examination of how various communications mediums and industries (telephone, cinema, radio, tv, etc) have grown and shrunk in the past 150 years or so. But Wu claims that these histories unlock for us principles that we can use to understand these patterns; a claim I felt unsupported after finishing the book.

  • Hope in the Dark

    Solnit wonderfully explores the concept of hope by centering it in many civil rights fights from the past few decades. Hope, she argues, must be cultivated and is not something we have because we expect to win, rather it is something we fight to retain even if victory is unclear. The book is relevant, fierce, and helpful for anyone seeking a framework for staying inspired as we look forward to the next few years.

  • Networks of New York

    This small guide is an attempt to help readers see the physical infrastructure that underpins the internet. Burrington helps us step away from the strange metaphors and simplistic descriptions we use when talking about the internet to get a sense of how it functions and where all the tubes live.

  • Americanah

    A brilliant novel that spans decades and cultures and countries to tell a beautiful story. I read the entire thing in less than a week and was tempted to immediately start it over once finished.

  • Notes from Let's End Gerrymandering Meeting by Fair Districts PA

    Last night (January 25, 2017) I attended the first Philadelphia area meeting to end Gerrymandering, put on by Fair Districts PA. There were easily 300+ people in attendance. Fair Districts PA is a volunteer led organization attempting to start a citizens movement for reforming the way district maps are drawn up in Pennsylvania. This post has my notes from the fantastic presentation given by Carol Kuniholm about the topic of Gerrymandering and how Pennsylvania's system currently works.

  • The Sixth Extinction

    In the history of the world – as far as scientists have discovered – there have been five mass extinction events on earth. All have seemed to relate to sudden climate shifts. In this compelling and clearly-written book, Kolbert presents the evidence that we are in the midst of the sixth such event, and furthermore, the evidence implicates humans as the motivating force behind the event.

  • White Rage

    This short, straightforward book tells the story of America since the end of the civil war, the story of injustice after injustice being perpetrated against the black community in America by white people in America.

  • On Web Typography

    A small, incredibly informative book that gives you a simple education on the importance of typography, the language of typography, and then a great deal of practical advice for choosing and using typefaces. Jason knows his shit and knows how to teach you what he knows.

  • The Empathy Exams

    A fantastic collection of essays meditating on our humanity and the ways that we relate to others. Jamison is interested in what exactly empathy is; how we are constantly being shaped by it; how we delude ourselves into faking empathy.

  • Thinking About Winning the Next Election

    The 2004 presidential election was the first presidential election I was eligible to vote in. I proudly voted for President George W. Bush's second term. I did not vote in 2008 because I had gotten married a few weeks prior and neglected to register. If I had voted, it would have timidly been for Barack Obama. In 2012 I did register and vote and I proudly did so for President Obama's second term. Since November 9, 2016, I've been trying to remember what exactly changed my beliefs over those 8 years. Clearly there were some big shifts; what caused them?

  • Sara Hendren's eyeo Keynote

    Sara Hendren's recent eyeo keynote talk, "Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers" is well worth watching and considering.

  • Some Thoughts on Accessibility

    Recently I worked with some coworkers to write documentation on building accessibile web content (which we have since [open-sourced as the Accessibility Guidelines](http://accessibility.voxmedia.com)) and then, building on that work, I gave a talk about accessibility as a practice rather than task or checklist. This post is a written version of that talk.

  • Design for Real Life

    A book that helps one recenter the consequences of our product design decisions by building empathy and imagination for the myriad contexts people may use the things we build. A must-read for anyone creating things that other humans will use.

  • Wild Ones

    An enjoyably written book covering the depressing and yet somehow simultaneously inspiring ways that humans have worked to preserve endangered species. A meditation on the the vast ways we impact the earth and how hard it is to change course once the scope of our impact becomes obvious.

  • Merchants of Doubt

    What if the most controversial scientific issues in public policy in the past half century weren't actually controversial? This book lays out a well-documented case that specific scientists conspired to influence issues ranging from the danger of smoking, the influence of CFC's on the Ozone, to the ongoing denial of climate change.

  • A Web For Everyone

    A book focused on helping the reader develop accessible web experiences by applying Universal Design principles.

  • Climate Change: Is the Science Settled?

    A lecture that is as much about how confident we are in the science of climate change as it is about the philosophy of science and how that informs the ways we gathering and understanding data.

  • On Political Correctness

    An excellent essay from Sady Doyle about how to conceive of "political correctness" inside comedy, but with applications to all of art.

  • Agency in the Context of Social Media

    A quick scroll through Twitter wrecked me for an evening. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon nor exactly accidental from the perspective of product-designers. Let's talk about that.

  • Thursday Links: Stuff I've Enjoyed Recently

    There is no over-arching theme this week, just a collection of pieces I've read in the past few weeks that I really enjoy. Click, read, grow in your knowledge and curiosity!

  • Documenting Considerations and Constraints

    An idea for sharing constraints and considerations that can inform module building on the web. Inspired, somewhat, by hospitals.

  • I Wrote a Thing

    I wrote a thing and Racked published it and omggggg

  • Living With Complexity

  • On Immunity

    A short book that wrestles with the current controversies over vaccinations by contextualizing it in the larger history of vaccination and illness. Quick to read with plenty to think on.

  • Thoughts on a Spring Day

    Everything is coming alive and breaking out of hibernation and I want to write. I have nothing to say. I want this site to be filled with thoughts, references, ideas. Instead it sits. I guess this is ok.

  • Friday Links: Jobs

    I got a new job! Starting Feb 9 I'll be working at Vox Media as a front-end engineer. Since I'm thinking about employment and jobs today here are some essays that have shaped my thinking on the topic in the past few years.

  • Weekend Performance Optimization Notes

    I've been fighting a head cold or something this weekend and because of that I've been extremely bored. So I decided to see how much I could improve this website's loading performance. In a few hours of hacking I got it from a Speed Index of 2000+ to consistently between 600 and 800. Pretty good! Here's notes on everything I did.

  • Thirty

    Today is my birthday. My 30th birthday. It's not really that big of a deal, but I wrote some thoughts about the past decade. Also, I have a request: would you share something great with me?

  • How Buildings Learn

    Stewart Brand researches and extensively documents what happens to buildings after they are built. His research reveals patterns based on what the initial architecture enables, what building users commonly need, and ideas for embracing the unknown future with our buildings.

  • Friday Links: Lakes

    Two pieces on bodies of water and one piece on how our bodies are similar.

  • Convert Google Maps Directions to geoJSON with Node

    I'm working on building some maps to record the routes we took on our cross country road trip. In order to accomplish this, I needed geoJSON data of all the roads we drove, so I used Node and Google Maps to build the data pretty easily.

  • Listening

    The status quo must not be allowed to stand.

  • BBC Series: How Buildings Learn

    Excellent series from Stewart Brand attempting to understand buildings from a evolutionary standpoint.

  • Chattanooga Story

    Chattanooga, my new home city, is in the midst of a renaissance, but it's not helping everyone. A documentary explores the history of the improvements and the challenges facing the city.

  • Friday Links: This Land

    The first polar vortex of the new winter has descended on America, and I'm thinking about the land.

  • Bad Feminist

    Roxane Gay's book of essays challenged me, inspired me, taught me, and humbled me. What a beautiful collection of writing.

  • Friday Links: Death in America

    Six pieces that examine death in American culture - the ways we fear it, embrace it, and our ongoing struggles with its inevitability.

  • Embracing the Existing

    I like working on things that already exist, as opposed to building new things. I think this is really strange? I have no clue. But it's a truth for me, perhaps, at least for where I am now in my career.

  • The UX of Settling in

    We've moved into a little house in Chattanooga for at least a year. No more things in storage. We're looking for furniture, putting dishes in cabinets, and yes, connecting things to the internet. The concept of home is now very concrete.

  • Javascript Promises Links

    This post is meant to complement the talk I'm giving at on September 20, 2014. These are some links that I found helpful while researching the talk.

  • Missing the Prose for the Grammar

    Thinking about the way developers approach their tools.

  • Surprise, You're being Manipulated!

    This past week Facebook released (proudly!) a peer-reviewed paper about a study they conducted in 2012. This study has been covered a great deal because it's kind of creepy. What did they study? Whether or not they can manipulate the emotional state of their users!

  • Introducing Playground

    Playground is a little Sinatra app I use when I want to trying things out in code, or design in the browser, or just experiment more with development related things. I thought I'd open source it!

  • Why I Don't Have a Good Personal Site

    If you give a developer some free time...

  • On Accessibility

    Great thought from Jenn Schiffer on accessibility.

  • Sass Mixins with Logic

    Notes on a Sass mixin I created for a client project that allowed me to pass in arguments based on the view's needs.

hey I'm winston. i work as a product manager for Vox Media. i read a lot for fun and to help me better understand and interrogate our world. this web-blog is where i chronicle some of my learning. I also write a book recommendation newsletter.