Category: Link

NYT: “‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: The Oral History of a Modern Action Classic”

This retelling of the Fury Road production has been making the rounds in my various friend circles; has it really been five years? It’s wild to hear how the film almost didn’t have the Citadel scenes:

He [Jeff Robinov] said, “The camera will stop on Dec. 8, no matter what you’ve got, and that’s the end of it.” We hadn’t shot any of the scenes in the Citadel yet, where the opening and closing book ends of the film are set, and we had to go into postproduction without them. It was almost incomprehensible.

I’m not sure how I feel about the just-announced prequel plans — it sounds like they’re recasting the Furiosa role, and I feel like that’s an even tougher casting choice than Tom Hardy stepping into Mel Gibson’s role.

Emily VanDerWerff: “On editing”

I really enjoyed this piece from Emily VanDerWerff’s Episodes newsletter, describing the editing process from her experiences as a writer. This bit, especially, echoes my own feelings every time I sit down to write a blog post, an article, a talk — anything, really:

The trick of rewriting isn’t really about writing, actually. It’s about emotion. The second you realize something doesn’t work in your writing, it’s tempting to fall down a spiral of self-loathing — if your writing isn’t good enough, does that mean you aren’t good enough? The best writers are the people who’ve brute forced their way through this natural emotional process to realize that their work isn’t them. But even they will have that brief twinge of, “Am I worthless??” that so often strikes when somebody says, “So, I have some notes…”

After starting out with that common writer’s struggle, however, Emily then proceeds to discuss/review Susan Choi’s recent novel Trust Exercise, and how it deals with the malleability of memory. Emily connects that to her own experiences coming out as trans and how that has provided a very different lens through which to view her childhood memories.

I loved this essay — it starts out with a common writer’s lament, rushes headlong into a book that I’d read but only vaguely remember, and connects it to a deeply personal story of understanding, accepting, and celebrating one’s self. It’s not neat or tidy in any way, but you can feel the life and heat coming off of it.

Ethan Marcotte: “Through a design system, darkly.”

I appreciated this post by Ethan Marcotte, with his observations on the emergence and usage of design systems:

Users of a design system frequently uncover new needs that weren’t originally anticipated. The result is that there’s now a gap: between the standard and the use. The design system falls out of sync with real-world application. And we’re back dealing with a fancier version of the old problem we used to have: our interfaces are no longer consistent.

This is an incomplete thought, but: the work that goes into making artifacts, deliverables — and, yes, patterns — is where the value lies, more than in the artifact itself. In other words, the process-led approach that Ethan advocates for here could be a way to recognize that the design system is less of a fixed entity, and more of an evolving organism:

Rather than starting with design patterns, we need to looking at the ways our teams currently work, and then identifying how a design system would function within that broader organizational context.

The process-led approach strikes me as descriptivist, the pattern-led approach as prescriptivist. That’s too simplistic, perhaps — you need a bit of both — but identifying those two overlapping approaches would serve all of us well.

The Verge: “Emotional Baggage”

Wow, did this article by Zoe Schiffer about the work culture inside Away bring up so many traumatic memories from my first startup job. It’s simultaneously shocking in its details, and yet completely unsurprising in the larger context of tech startup labor exploitation.

This Slack message from co-founder Steph Korey to the customer experience team (denying upcoming PTO requests) is, well, something else:

“I know this group is hungry for career development opportunities, and in an effort to support you in developing your skills, I am going to help you learn the career skill of accountability. To hold you accountable…no more [paid time off] or [work from home] requests will be considered from the 6 of you…I hope everyone in this group appreciates the thoughtfulness I’ve put into creating this career development opportunity and that you’re all excited to operate consistently with our core values.”

I’ve worked in tech for over twenty years. It’s struck me, over and over, how so much of our industry’s “innovation” is often about coercing additional, unhealthy labor out of its workforce. That’s not innovative or groundbreaking at all, it’s just the age-old capitalist playbook — hidden behind better branding and marketing communications.