US banknotes under different types of light

Most people agree in 2019 that conference speakers should be paid; at a very minimum, organizers should cover the cost of travel to the conference and lodging while there. After talking about this on Twitter, I realized that new speakers might not know what to expect, not so much about amounts but about how this works, how payments happen, what outlays you might have to make, what questions are reasonable to ask. I’m going to get into alllllll the nitty-gritty ins and outs in this piece.

I’m basing this on my own and many friends’ experience. I’m a well-known speaker…


Earlier this week, I tweeted that if I could have everyone on earth adopt a single design value, it would be respect for users.

Many people agreed, but I wasn’t surprised to get some pushback. One or two people said this was silly or superfluous — caring for users is what UX is about, after all; why would it need to be stated as a design value? I will refer you to our current world for evidence of how respect being a core value of (the best part of) the UX profession isn’t enough to get us respectful products…


The civic tech community in the US is about 10 years into a 5 year project. I’m counting from the Apps for Democracy contest hosted in DC by then-city CTO Vivek Kundra in the summer of 2008. While there are arguably other catalyzing events and there are certainly previous government modernization efforts, it’s a good point to benchmark the open-source, open-data, agile-development driven version that calls itself variously, civic tech, govtech, or (less so these days) government 2.0. …


We just finished a primary election in California, and every day in the past month I’ve come home to 20 or more pieces of mail, almost none of them for me or anyone who lives in my house. That’s not entirely true — quite a few of them are addressed to members of my family, whether we recognize the sender or not; whether we consented to receive mail or not. I could just ignore the entire stack if it wasn’t the case that occasionally some birthday greeting or notice from the IRS turns up. That reality means that I have…


Yesterday, I finished a 2-year term at 18F, part of it as a strategist and strategy lead, and part of it as Chief of Staff. I’m down to one laptop and one phone today and it feels a a little strange (you can always tell a government meeting because everyone has two phones on the table).

I could reflect on the stunning, restored GSA building my desk was in; or how hard it was to make it to my desk when I started video calls by 8AM each day and often didn’t stop; or how it gave me the first…

Cyd Harrell

ux, product, civic tech, haiku. has opinions about institutions. alum of 18F, Code for America, & Bolt | Peters; now consulting for California’s judicial branch

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