What Eric and I are really advocating for, then, is for design teams to build a deep breath into their process—to say, every time they make a decision, “who might be harmed by this? In which circumstances does this feature break down for a user? How can we strengthen our work to avoid that?” There’s even an activity we talk about in the book, the “premortem”—where, instead of sitting down after a project ends to discuss how it went, you sit down beforehand and imagine all the ways it could go wrong.
We need to challenge our definitions of success and progress, and to stop considering our work in solely commercial terms. We need to radically improve our systems of compensation, to be responsible about credit and attribution, and to be generous and fair with reward and remuneration. We need to consider the impact our work has on the planet. We need to consider the impact our work has on civic and academic institutions, on artistic expression, on culture.
Discomfort with others’ burdens has no place in good design.
Drug use is an eternal human reality.
“It is the definitional activities of the state and the media, rather than the reported incidence of crime or drug use and abuse, that has shaped public concern regarding those issues,” wrote Professor Katherine Beckett of the University of Washington in 1994. Nixon’s War on Drugs, expanded and continued by his successors, is a prime example of how politicians construct emotional arguments to create a fear of lawlessness in our society, aided by effective media messaging. The American public and our institutions—and subsequently, those around the world—were duped into accepting a construct that was never about the harms of drugs but was rather a means of social control, a way to consolidate political power.
Communal belief – social reality – and the sacrednesses that it produces are precisely the powerful layers of distortion that we are likely to notice (and hence have a chance at seeing through). We are less able than normal humans to perceive social/sacredness reality in the first place, and to make matters worse, we are addicted to the insight rewards that come from trying to see through it even further. Autism is overrepresented in our community; depression, too. Autism is associated with a reduced ability to model other brains in the normal, social way; this failure carries even into modeling the mind of God, as autism is inversely linked to belief in God. The autistic person is more likely than the neurotypical to notice that social reality exists; we might say the autistic person gets a lucid dreaming reality check for the great social dream with every inscrutable (to him) human action he witnesses.
Mild depression removes pleasurable feelings from everyday life; it interferes with a mechanism for sacredness-maintenance distinct from the theory of mind path autism blocks. Meaning is deconstructed in depression; social connection is weakened. Ideas and things that for normal individuals glow with significance appear to the depressed person as empty husks. The deceptive power of social and sacredness illusions is weakened for the depressed person (as are certain other healthy illusions, such as the illusion of control). This is not necessarily a victory for him, as self-deception is strongly related to happiness; the consolation of insight may not make up for the loss of sacredness in terms of individual happiness. The characteristic that distinguishes us is not necessarily a good thing. Our overdeveloped, grotesque insight reward seeking is likely maladaptive, and is probably not even doing our individual selves any good. Extremists – those most capable of perceiving social/sacred reality – are happiest.
Native seaweeds contain more vitamin C than orange juice, more calcium than milk, and more protein than soybeans. It might surprise those of you on the hunt for Omega-3s to learn that many fish do not create these heart-healthy nutrients by themselves — they consume them. By eating the plants fish eat, we get the same benefits while reducing pressure on fish stocks. So it’s time that we eat like fish.