Comment GenresAugust 23, 2015
Microcosmographia vi: Comment Genres
Microcosmographia is a newsletter thing about honestly trying to understand design and humanity.
Have you ever had something crappy that you made get really popular? A while back, while waiting for the bath to fill up, I made a quick video to demonstrate a problem in iOS that wasn’t present in earlier versions. It was pretty rough, but it got the point across.
For whatever reason, this video got picked up by Daring Fireball, iMore, 9to5Mac, and quite a lot of people on Twitter and Reddit. Literally the lowest-quality UX-related thing I have ever posted to the internet has become my most famous.
(The lesson here is clearly “Dance like Gruber’s watching.”)
(Not really, that’s a terrible lesson.)
It has been fun to watch the genres of comment that emerged:
- “Yeah! I have this problem too. It is annoying. I hope they fix it.”
- “Your wallpaper is cool! Where did you get it?” It’s this, by my beloved textile artist Spoken Words Project, several of whose pieces I am proud to own!
- “I do not care. You should not care. You are wasting your time. You have wasted my time. It makes me very upset that a someone has described a problem in software design.” I think these folks probably didn’t realize that I am a professional software designer, and not just a nitpicky or impatient iPhone user.
- “This goes to show that iPhones are bad, and Android phones are good.”
- “iPhones are fine, and you must be an Android apologist for making this video.”
- “Vertical videos are always bad.”
- “Vertical videos are okay only when filming vertical subjects such as iPhones.”
- “Vertical videos are still bad even when filming vertical subjects such as iPhones because you can’t see the hand movements as clearly.”
The whole experience has been amusing for me, a person without toooo much invested in an online persona. But it has reminded me of how noisy it must get for people whose lives are all about posting things online and listening to what strangers have to say about them.
My life might be more like that soon. Right now I’m working on a second UX book, one that’s web-first and fully self-published. I would like it to be much more famous than that video or any talk or post I have on the web today. It’s going to require some nation-building, as it’s called in Sarah Bray’s fabulous book Gather the People. I hope I can build it gracefully.
A Science Book For Your Consideration
I’m prelly sure that Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark is the most interesting book I have read. It advocates for the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, which is the only personally satisfying explanation I know of for why the universe exists, why it is the way it is, and why being a consciousness inside it feels so weird. The idea doesn’t just ring true, it rings MAXTRUE.
This book has also weirdly contributed more to my ability to maintain perspective and peace of mind than anything I have read that was intentionally about mindfulness or meditation. Perhaps I’ll write a letter about why, if you like.
Thank You And Be Well
Sometimes it is gonna be about UX design. Sometimes it is gonna be about YouTube comments and physical cosmology! But it’s always gonna be about trying honestly to understand humans.