Monthly Archives: November 2013


George WashingtonrBy the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” Continue reading

Happiness is $5 more, today only

Black Friday edition of Communications as Experience Design series.

And we have a winner! I am happy to declare Cards Against Humanity as an official winner of Black Friday on the Internet.

If you wanted an example of perfect brand alignment, this is it. If you’re familiar with Cards Against Humanity, you know that one of their main strengths is an intense, deep knowledge of their brand.

What we build is related to what we believe.

Cards Against Humanity’s success in developing a winning product, and building a strong brand narrative out of the core values speaks volumes. They built trust by being true to who they are. I watched Max Temkin’s talk on Creative Morning today on pursuit of happiness, deconstructing a popular “do whatever makes you happy” to prove that’s just a circular bad advice.

As makes and designers, we often talk a good game about building things that are going to last and help people, but how many of us can say that right now we’re working on something that is going to be around at the end of our species? […] With Cards Against Humanity, we had no idea what we were doing, but we had vision and values. We wanted to make it analogue and as funny as possible. And that helped us make really good decisions.”

Max Temkin, Founder of Cards Against Humanity.

As communicators, we have these incredible digital tools, and so we, too, should be holding ourselves to a higher standard. We should be building content directly related to what we believe in. Not just patching together infographics and other silly things, doing whatever makes clients happy. As professionals, we should be asking the right questions.



How to reconcile hope with failure

never give up

Living the life of an optimist, or one naturally filled with hope, how do you continually reconcile a seemingly never-ending barrage of disappointment? Certainly, merely choosing to live optimistically, or being hopeful, doesn’t make you immune to disappointment, nor does it mean that everything you hope for will come true.

But for an optimist, that doesn’t matter. Optimism and disappointment are not antithetical. They co-exist in perfect harmony. In truth, the relationship between hope and disappointment is symbiotic, not mutually exclusive.

Often people think that if you have “realistic” expectations, you’ll be better prepared for let downs. They think that if you are optimistic, and too hopeful, then you’ll have farther to fall. Because of this, many people don’t dare to hope, there’s too much risk.

So they hedge their dreams based on what they perceive to be the most likely outcome, and as such, they usually get what they aim for (since they don’t aim as high). The result is that when they do miss, it’s a bigger deal. They’re not as used to it.

But someone who lives in hope experiences disappointment all the time, for you very seldom get exactly what you hoped for. So “disappointment” simply becomes part of the process, and you start to view it differently. Much like a runner becomes accustomed to the pain of running. To them, running isn’t pain, running is an outlet, it’s freeing, and it’s emotional. But when you’re not a runner, running is painful.

So when the hopeful don’t realize the full extent of their desire, it’s very seldom disappointing at all. Instead, they’re usually fueled by their failure. It spurs them to try again, and again, and again.

You don’t lower your aim just because you missed. You just shoot again.



Please stop live tweeting people’s private conversations

Public shaming has gone too far.


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase


By now you’re probably familiar with Elan Gale, who became internet-famous on Thanksgiving Day for live-tweeting his interactions with Diane, a woman on his flight to Los Angeles who appeared to be cranky about a flight delay and took her anger out on a flight attendant, and was subsequently publicly shamed on Twitter without her knowledge by Elan.


Earlier this month, a man in Brooklyn overheard a couple arguing and breaking up on the rooftop of an apartment building and live tweeted the entire exchange. Another man similarly live-tweeted a conversation between two strangers on an Amtrak train with hashtag #amtrakdate, mocking their self-conscious getting-to-know-you conversations.


And of course, the most notorious example of a live-tweeted conversation overheard in public is when Tom Matzzie, on an Amtrak train from DC to New York, live-tweeted former NSA director Michael Hayden’s phone conversations with reporters, which turned into a major news story.


This is the latest social media trend: live-tweeting a private conversation that happens to take place in a public space for our own personal amusement. Each of these stories got thousands of retweets, got written up in Gawker, BuzzFeed, and New York magazine, and were gleefully laughed at, judged, and mocked by much of the internet.


In each of these cases the live-tweeter has momentarily become an internet hero, and their dutiful recording of strangers’ conversations is celebrated as hilarious, epic, “better than most movies.” BuzzFeed raved that Elan’s tweeting of his fight with his fellow passenger “wins Thanksgiving.”


Not to be the Grinch, but can we consider for a moment the fact that live-tweeting and broadcasting another person’s private conversations to the internet for our own entertainment is actually pretty creepy?





My experience signing up for Obamacare

A few days ago I added myself to the queue for Cover Oregon, the health insurance exchange for Oregon, where I live. As mandated by the Affordable Care Act, each state has it’s own marketplace where residents can sign up and then choose and buy a health care plan for themselves. The rationale for buying it through this system rather than privately (the way people do currently it) is that:

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. The government has promised that any plan on these marketplaces will cover pre-existing conditions and all that jazz
  2. You get a subsidy if you’re within certain percentages of the federal poverty line, and
  3. If you don’t purchase by December 15th (so you can get coverage by January 1st, 2014), then the government will come after you with their money-collecting, throw-your-ass-in-jail powers. (Read: You’ll get fined). Basically, it’s the law. (Unless you’re in college or your parents or employer pays for yours, in which case THEY get to go through this fun process! *sarcasm*)

I’m 19 but not covered by my parents’ plan, and my mother had been nagging me about signing up for a while now but I’d always brushed it off the way every 19 year old brushes off advice from their mother. However, I’m going to be traveling internationally for 3 months starting in January and realized it would probably be a good idea to have insurance there, so a few days ago I decided to sign up. However, since I had seen numerous articles, like this one, this one, and this one, about how the website wasn’t working, I didn’t trust it to correctly sign me up if I did it on my own. Instead, I went to an insurance agent because I figured, if anyone knew what they were doing, it would be one of them.




Teach kids programming

A collection of resources


The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1:  Fu...

The Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms (Photo credit: mrbill)


I’ve been gathering the best resources to teach children & teens programming — books, environments, apps, courseware and games.


These resources are meant for teachers and parents who want to have their children fall in love with computers and see the magic of programming.


I’m staying away from philosophical debates of whether kids should learn to program, when they should start and other such topics. I know this — I fell in love with computers in 3rd grade (a beautiful ZX Spectrum), and I want to share the joy of programming with others.


I’ve chosen in this list to be quite comprehensive in listing all resources — but also choosy to restricting this to things I found useful & of high quality.


I’ve also started this list with my own opinionated picks on what kind of material from the large list of resources may be suitable for children with different interests and at different points in their learning.






Best photos of the week (52 Photos)

photo source ->

Why I Named My Startup “Thankful”

Today is a good reminder why that word matters to my gift registry site, Thankful Registry.

Image representing Thankful Registry as depict...

Image by None via CrunchBase

This year, the word “thankful” took on a whole new meaning for me. You see, it’s the name of my 9-month old startup, and I’ve been saying and typing the word “Thankful” every single day since the company launched.

Since today is Thankful’s first Thanksgiving, I’d like to share two reasons I feel so connected to the name and how it motivates almost every decision I make as I work to grow this little company.

1) The name “Thankful” changes the conversation.

In case you didn’t know, this is how the wedding registry began:

The practice of a bridal registry was first instituted by Chicago-founded department store Marshall Field’s in 1924 at its Marshall Field and Company Building as a means for the engaged couple to indicate chosen china, silver and crystal patterns to family and friends. US-based Target stores were the first to introduce an electronic self-service gift registry in 1993.

80 years later, the department stores and big-box retailers make $10 billion each year (and growing) from domestic wedding registries. That’s a lot of KitchenAid mixers and wine glasses. And you’ve probably heard that zapping barcodes using a scanner is supposed to be the most fun part of wedding planning. I’ve tried it for research—it’s definitely more stressful than fun. (Those scanners are old as hell, by the way.)

The allure is hard to resist. Macy’s frequently describes the wedding registry as a “shopping spree.” Crate & Barrel hosts “wedding parties” in their stores so “registry experts” can help couples create a “perfect” registry. After the wedding, most retailers offer discounts as an incentive so couples buy everything their family and friends didn’t get. They call this practice “completion.”

Since wedding gifts aren’t going anywhere (and neither are baby shower gifts, graduation gifts or housewarming gifts, for that matter), I wanted to create a site that resets the registry as a meaningful and emotional experience, not just practical one.

I picked the name “Thankful” for its power to quieten the voice of the retailers and break through the noise of materialism.


Selena Gomez Wears Red Leather Bodysuit At Thanksgiving Day Halftime Show

Selena Gomez amped up the Thanksgiving Day football game halftime show with a red leather cutout bodysuit. The pop star performed at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas while the Oakland Raiders and the Dallas Cowboys played in the annual game, watched by millions.


Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys Oakland Raiders v Dallas Cowboys


Internet Comments and Behaviour.

Do you think before you press SEND?



insults (Photo credit: Kiku Medina)


You do have to love the internet. It’s a place you can explore with total anonymity. A place where you can air your views without fear of reprisal. A place where you can have a discussion or intellectual debate with others who may, or may not share your interests, have a witty banter if you like; and talk about your opinions and ideologies even if they differ, without having to resort to childish or impetuous insults used to demean another because they do not share your views. Right?


As a very opinionated person, I am sure you like to get your views out there to be heard or seen. And the easiest and quickest way to do that most of the time, is on the internet.


However; being opinionated does not mean your views are any less or any more relevant than anyone else’s. If you write a review or any kind of article, I assume you are doing it for a reason. And that reason; if like me, is because you want your story to be told, your voice to be heard and you want it out there for everyone to acknowledge that these are your thoughts, recognize them, trust them or not. So I say be prepared for, and welcome the judgement and the critique that will come.


But don’t bring yourself down to the level of a child where you have to resort to insulting an author because you do not like his work or do not agree with what they have said. Considering the way I write, I may at times reference the author of a piece of work which pokes fun at what they have produced. But I do not go so far as to blatantly insult the author. (Or at least I do not believe I do).