for being human (week of apr 4 2016)

Michael Sippey
3 min readApr 8, 2016

It’s been a while! Let’s see if we can start again. A few things got caught in the filter this week that are worth sharing, though I’m sure as smart, educated and above average internet* people you’ve already seen them. But hey, blogging! Why not.

This week’s theme: humans! They’re awesome.

Human Centered” isn’t: closing the people gap. In which (old and long lost friend) Marc Rettig argues that organizations are lacking “people literacy” and imagines a Humans 101 course.

When I first sat down to write this, I made a list. I asked myself, “If I was going to package basic literacy in human beings, the way others try to provide literacy in computing, business, physics, design or whatever, what would need to be in that package?”

Spoiler: it’s a long list.

Tom Coates and Matt Biddulph launch Thington. So happy to see their product come to market. (And I love how weirdly fortuitous their timing is given the disastrous way that Nest has apparently shuttered their line of hummus products.) “Putting people before things,” they write, acknowledging that:

all homes and offices are social and shared spaces. [Thington] makes it easy for you to give access to everyone who lives with you — giving them control over all your devices, and letting them set up new things.

Despite all appearances to the contrary, our home isn’t terribly connected, save an Echo in the kitchen. One of the (many) things Amazon got right with that product is how well the voice recognition works, which means anyone in the house can use it, without training. Out of the box it’s a social device, and lives in the most social space in the house. (“Alex, add Oreos to the grocery list.”)

Morten Just doomed mankind with a free text editor. His app Cleartext limits you to the most frequently used 1,000 words in the English language, and this made people very upset.

A bunch of people sent him tweets about how his open source text editor will lead to the decline and fall of western civilization, saying things like “Actually using precise language is much more clear. Just include a link to a dictionary for dumb people.” (Note to self: “actually” and “just” are trigger words; they make you angry. Avoid them because I bet they make other people angry. Notes to self probably do, to, though.)

Just (actually the actual Just) says this in his post:

What if we had to write as simple as we talk to a six-year-old? What if our emails could be as easy and fun to read as Randall Munroe’s descriptions of the Red World space car and the Upgoer Five?

I’d have a lot of work to do.

The footnote:

I have a deep belief that the most human thing we do is to figure out how to communicate with each other: that expressing ideas and emotions and actions and consequences in words is the thing that makes us most human. And, furthermore, that the evolution of language and how we use it is closely tied to our evolution as humans. Which is why at the beginning of this post I lowercased the word internet.

As Dante D’Orazio put it in his story:

The idea of treating internet as a proper noun came about from the beginning of internet communications. As some argue, the distinction is that the internet we know and use today is just one internet out of many possible internets.

There are many possible internets. This is the one we have; treat it well! Have a great weekend.