Naive or authentic?

I was witness to a series of presentations this week that had me spellbound. It was not because of the brilliance of their oratory, or the slides they used, which some might argue were middling to average.

These presenters weren’t industry veterans; on the contrary, they were young folks often dismissed by the corporate machinery with epithets such as “naive” or “green”. The depth of their understanding of the subject, and the fresh perspective they brought to the discussion was refreshing.

What got me hooked was their authenticity and the humility with which they made their case. They stated the problem they were tackling, where the wanted to be, and how they anticipated getting there.  I noticed this pattern after hearing change practitioner & “thinking partner” Alan Arnett articulate it in his TED Talk titled Sensemaking.

Why do Big Tech keep changing their UI?


Move a button from here to the opposite side of the screen. Change the color of that other button. Hide things when you move the mouse.  Ask users to confirm they really want to do that action they just clicked on.  Ad infinitum.

None of these are (particularly) hard for those of us who work with these modern technologies every day. For most of us anyway. A little bit of getting used to, & it’s soon second nature.

But when you are not a technologist, are in your 60’s (& I’m not being ageist here, just recounting my recent experiences), and your eyesight isn’t what it used to be, and you’re relying on your memory of how things worked yesterday with all this newfangled technology that is supposed to connect you to the world – or at least your world, these “little” or “minor” changes are deliberately, diabolically done to make you lose your mind.

I wish all these services had a user-interface specifically designed for older folks, that was enabled by default when you signed on to the service (you ask me for my Date of Birth, what on earth for?), with AN OPTION to switch to the swanky, constantly changing UI the youngsters use.  I wish the UI designer considered THEIR older relatives, & the vagaries of age & “remote help” when changing pixels around.

Video calling is a particular nightmare, if you want them to screen share so you can see what they see.  Text that is in grey that is not so different from an option that is greyed out (I remember Dave Winer ranting about the fad towards light grey text a while ago).

I can only wish.

Until then, I (& anyone else) who need to help their older relatives have to rely on a lot of patience, time, careful listening, very specific instructions & a million other things so that they can continue to remain connected.


The limits of investigative journalism – Jay Rosen [Essay]

Prof. Jay Rosen’s cover story in the American Review about the limits of investigative journalism tries to explain why some stories take on a life of their own & become purveyors of change, while others languish in the dark before dying prematurely. Worth a read.

Women: Keeping your name & identity [Article]

Jill Filipovic, writing in the Guardian, plays the feminist & wonders why should women change their names after marriage.  She recommends that men change theirs, or that the kids keep the women’s last name instead.

Your name is your identity. The reasons women give for changing their names after marrying don’t make much sense

Be prepared for a rather long read if you tackle the comments at the end of that article.