Dear Jr Creative…Earn Your Place. You’ll Be Better For It.

and pardon any self fellatio.

Dear Jr Creative,

I’m a firm believer in earning your keep, starting from the bottom, doing the less than desirable well, before moving up.

Prove yourself on what seemingly matters little, and people will notice. I promise.

At the very least, I promise I’ll notice. Because it’s the unorthodox grind of a route I took.

I was a rich kid from the suburbs. I was embarrassed by it. I hated it. It was a 90’s thing.

In High School, and in Gen-X “rebellion” against my white collar family, I worked for the Las Vegas Water District doing underground construction.

I dug ditches and changed water lines during the Vegas Summer for 8 dollars an hour. Not desirable work. And the guys I worked with could smell the rich kid on me. They busted my balls mercilessly for it.

I dug the shit out of those ditches. I loved it. I used my hands. I used heavy machinery and pneumatic tools—I drove a dump truck (which is awesome by the way).

All I wanted was the respect of these old guys changing water lines in the desert. Dudes that worked so fucking hard. For so fucking little. To feed their families; their addictions; their gambling debts.

Eventually, I’d earned a bit of respect.

I worked hard…”for a skinny rich kid.”

One day I mentioned to the crew lead: “Fuck it. I like this. Why not full time?”.

He pulled the truck over to the shoulder of a mountain road, heading North towards Mt. Charleston, looked deep into my face, “Every single one of us would give the world NOT to be here. Stop your blue collar charade. Go to school like you’re supposed to. Get out of this shit.”

So I did.

That was my last of three summers working for the water district.

I went to school for business. Marketing & Advertising to be exact. Which, aside from teaching me some business basics, really just help develop my aptness for bullshit.

Luckily for me, somewhere along the line, I learned a real skill and about this thing called the “Internet.” It was a place I could upload the photos I was taking (and developing in a darkroom, btw). I learned some Photoshop and HTML skills because of it. Eventually, I started freelancing: horrible graphic design and web work. Whatever I could get—fucking rave fliers, man. I just wanted to learn. The beer money was the gravy on top.

My first “real” job out of college was resizing graphics for an eCommerce company. I showed up for the interview on my skateboard, handed the HR lady my resume and said, “I’ll take anything. I know Photoshop. Here’s my book.” I didn’t even know what a “designer” was. But that’s why I was there. And by no means was I a designer; Photoshop monkey…maybe.

Ninety people had been laid off a month prior to me being brought on. I was the first hire after those layoffs and in the eyes of everybody…I was “that guy…”

I was at the bottom of the totem pole. Where I belonged.

The only thing I had going for me was a fear of “sucking.” And for the record, I sucked. (Certainly compared to the kids I see today).

“…good enough to resize graphics” was what I overheard the Creative Director say, just around the corner.

So I resized graphics. I resized the shit out of graphics, learning to code HTML along the way. I unlearned what I learned in business school. And learned…business. I developed site and page concepts for fun. Always showing my boss. Wanting critique. Always trying to get better. People noticed. He noticed. I gained more and more responsibility and more importantly, trust. Never begging for more money. Just wanting to do more work, better work.

To not suck.

Eventually, I took over as Creative Lead. I redesigned both KBToys.com and eToys.com. Enterprise level eCommerce stuff. Real businesses, making real money. I thought the designs were pretty damn good for the early 00’s. Some of the first .com’s to switch to 1024x768. We won some eCom industry awards. It moved product. I thought I was hot shit.

I was far from it.

Fast forward a decade and I’m blown away by the level of talent that’s out there. Kids today come out of school with so much fucking skill it’s crazy. But with all of that skill, in so many, there is equal-to-more parts hubris. An entitled attitude that seems to expect everything for nothing.

Somewhere, along the lines, we (everyone) got sensitive. We started giving trophies for last place. People forgot how to take criticism. We started (and continue) to want to spare people from the realities of what it really takes. Close counts. Thanks for trying. Better luck next time—even worse—Fail Harder.

<tangent>
I hate this phrase more than anything.
“Fail Harder” is a manifesto for the delusional, the lazy—the lotto dreamer.
Celebrating failure is a cop out. Be pissed that you fucked up—when you lose. And know why.
Fail “Smarter” maybe. But failing hard is for losers.
</tangent>

Industry-wise, we covet the idea. Not its realization, it’s viability.

“I want to be an AD. But I don’t write and I don’t design. I’m an idea guy”
“No, no, no, i’m a UX guy. I don’t do wires and I don’t do finished design. I just explore interaction concepts.”
“I want to be a CD. But I don’t like talking with clients.”
“My new Web 3.0 business concept doesn’t have a revenue model—it’s like Instagram but with animated gifs of kittens.”

Ideation in a clientless vacuum; devoid the realities of real life (inside an agency or any company for that matter). Feasibility. Budgets. Client bureaucracies. The fact is that big ideas take time to sell. They die. They have to be reborn. And that it’s your role to breathe the life back in. But only if you really give a shit.

The “idea” is the tip of a gigantic, shit stained iceberg of work. And if you aren’t ready for what it takes, or worse, you think “that it’s someone else’s job” to push your idea from ether to reality—reconsider your profession.

My advice is simple: don’t be the entitled kid. The kid who over indexes in ambition but lacks any real passion—any real drive other than a new title at a new agency.

Be the kid who wants to learn even when he doesn’t have to—the designer who wants to learn to write, to code, to understand business because it makes the design better.

Don’t be an industry douche. They call themselves ninjas or gurus…even evangelists. They’re the ones who will tell you, to your face, that they are smarter than the other guy. They’re the ones who have stopped reading by now.

Don’t be the kid who hops around. Don’t be the kid, who, when given the chance, will opt for the bare minimum. Who scoffs at perspective. The kid who will jeopardize the team to spare his fragile ego. The kid, who, when faced with a situation that gets difficult, says “I’m too good for this kind of work. I deserve better.”

Nobody deserves shit. Until you do. And even then, never admit it.

I’m now the old guy. I get it…

I’m not saying you need to go out and work construction. But it’s good to know where you don’t want to be. And understand why.

I know I don’t want to resize graphics anymore. Why? Well…because it sucks.

But I’ll still dig the shit out of a ditch.

- Dave

I should note, that my teen “rebellion” against my Father was laughably ironic. My dad was blue collar. A cowboy who changed tires on big rigs before finishing college and becoming who he is today.

Behind my teen angst, unbeknownst to me all that time, I was trying to be just like him.

What a silly little rich kid.

Next Story — You Should Have Gone to Business School
Currently Reading - You Should Have Gone to Business School

You Should Have Gone to Business School

I’ve been asked to upload the speech I gave at the 2016 Awwwards Conference in NYC. Here she is. The first half of this speech is about me and my journey. Feel free to skip…I won’t mind. Really. I will upload the video when they are finished being edited.

All typos are mine ;-)

Preamble

The title of this speech is “You Should Have Gone to Business School” but this is really a talk about Design. Design with a capital D—I’ll get to what that means here in a bit.

The point of this talk is to deliver more uncomfortable truths about the state of our industry than comforting lies. And from that, I’m hoping you’ll be able to glean some insights on how to position yourself in a way to get your work sold through.

But first a little background on me and a bit on Firstborn. I figured some context might come in handy because:

Besides, we are at a state of peak content, you don’t need to hear from me. There is more than enough crap out there doing a decent enough job distracting you from work.

Actually, this talk, has me at the center of my own existential crisis right now. I’m not a guru. Or an Evangelist, like the guy speaking after me. I don’t want to be. I don’t even know what that means or what the appeal of being that is.

Who has that kind of time, anyway? It takes a lot of words and a metric fuck ton of time to write a 30 minute speech. Something, I’ve only just discovered. And you’re about to if you are reading this transcript now.

I’m a Designer who doesn’t get to design as much as I’d like to anymore. I turn 40 next year and I’m just trying to make sense of it all. The industry. The bloat. Tech weenies. Industry posers. And the bubble that is about to burst. I feel like a day of reckoning looms.

But before I slide off into an anxiety induced rage about the state of digital. A bit out me and firstborn.

Me, me, me…sorry, i needed to fill the time.

I started off as a freelance “web designer” in about 1998 based out of Denver, CO. I went to school for business—Marketing and advertising to be exact—and along the way I was smart enough (in hindsight) to have learned to use Photoshop and do some basic coding. At that time, I thought I was just wasting time. Turns out missing mid-terms, fucking around on my skateboard, taking photos and learning to get them online paid off.

I interned at some agencies. I freelanced for some some local companies creating their very first websites. I think it was about 1998 or 1999 at a company called LaserTech—they, not surprisingly, made lasers and laser accessories. I probably threw every photoshop filter at that site design. This is back when applying a gaussian blur would take 30 minutes to render. It sucked.

I sucked. We all did, it was the late nineties and few of us in digital had traditional design training. The interwebz were new. It was exciting. And it was just cool to be part of it.

Rookie Year: The Dot Bomb’s

The first .com bubble had recently burst. I was the first person hired on after massive layoffs at Brainplay.com, which quickly became kbkids.com, then kbtoys.com and finally etoys.com through an acquisition.

I was lucky to have a job.

Especially, if you consider, I skateboarded into the office with a resume and my book hoping to score just an interview, let alone land a job that day.

“Good enough to resize graphics” is what i heard the CD say from around the corner.

And that is what I did. I resized the shit out of graphics. I actually set up a script to do the bulk of it for me. That gave me the time to learn what Web Design was — which at the time involved knowing HTML, IA and some basic database work.

At the end of the day, I was just trying not to suck. I was at the bottom of the totem pole where I belonged. But I had drive. I wanted to learn. And I suffered from a great fear of sucking. And after a few of years I would eventually take over as the Design Lead. I remember taking the sites from 640px to 960px. A big deal back then!

Thinking I was some hot shit web designer I decided it was time to take this show on the road. And after 5+ years I left. Opting for gig at a mobile content startup over a cog in the machine type of job at Expedia.

Yeah…Ringtones Aren’t That Cool

Keep in mind we are pre-iPhone at this point in the aughts and we were trying to develop a mobile marketplace. Ringtones and wallpapers were an actual thing. Fucking flip phones and shit.

I developed the identity and positioning of the brand. Designed and coded the front-end of the market place. But it was soon clear that this wasn’t going to work. We were way to early. And I wasn’t really into the idea of spinning off a porn-centric version of the company like a couple of my friends did. And did so successfully.

I want everyone to close their eyes and imagine what porn ringtones sound like. Have a good mental model. Great work everyone.

After about 9 months I was out of a job when the owners sold the company — really the content — and shut down the office. So…yeah…I was there long enough to help position a company in a way to make someone else money. Live and learn.

Developing My Style: The FL2 Days

I ended up interviewing at this tiny studio with a guy named Ian Coyle. And, I was like, holy shit, this dude is fucking insanely talented. And in an odd bit of foreshadowing, we both talked about our favorite site at the time which was Firstborn’s (v6). Kinetic type. Helvetica. Perfect math based motion. It was rad. Still is.

That site, to this day, is still one of my all time favorites. It introduced me to grids. Swiss thinking. Typography. To motion. To Design.

Anyway, I decided to join Ian at what we’d go on to call FL2. I was the fourth employee.

Now, this was definitely a gut-based decision. It wasn’t altogether rational in the traditional sense. My other option was a much higher paying job as senior interface designer at Quark. Anyone remember Quark?!

Now, this was a fun and pivotal time in my life. Both in regards to the creativity going on within digital at that time, but also because of the team we’d go on to create and the friendships that came out of it.

All we wanted to do was make cool shit. Every single person on the team was constantly pushing each other. And it was fun.

We grew FL2 to around 20 people and in doing so went on to create some really exciting work along the way.

Some of it might look cheesy now, but we were really trying to do things that hadn’t been done before — whether that be aesthetically or programmatically.

We were passionate. We wanted to do things that other people weren’t doing. We were exploring what it meant to be a creative in digital — for right and wrong. Everything we did was super scrappy. There were no silos and we all had to do a lot more than what our titles suggested.

Because of that—because it wasn’t “someone else’s job”—all of us learned a ton. About business. About this industry. About clients. And about ourselves…which proved quite helpful later in our careers.

A lot of our work was direct with clients. We did very little production work with agencies, and if we did work with agencies, we had a seat at the table with the client. We weren’t some digital specter lurking in the background.

We were there to shape the digital strategy through design and technology.


From a revenue and new business standpoint we road the housing wave, which was awesome, until it wasn’t of course. We did a ton really cool interactive microsites and giant touchscreens for sales centers all over the US. For the most part all developed in Flash.

The real estate development companies only cared about making their property seem better than the other guy. It was about design and innovation and “coolness” seemed to move real estate.

That sector was into what we were putting out. And we did things that no one else was doing. We moved the needle forward. Which is all we can ever want to do as designers—Designers in emerging fields.

When the housing bubble burst so did a lot of that kind of work.

We had to do a lot more work with traditional advertising agencies which was not really our thing. Change was in the air. And after five years a lot of us wanted out. And being that none of us pitching, winning and creating the work had a stake in the company we all jumped in rapid succession.

  • Ian went freelance before meeting up with Duane King and embarking on that journey.
  • About a year later I headed to Firstborn. Bringing with me Kristin Keefe who now leads production and accounts at Firstborn.
  • Our close friends Matt FaJohn and Matt Wiggins joined Legwork as partners and continue to kill it.
  • Codin Pagnel, our back end dev, went on to finish CargoCollective with his brother.
  • Erin Tagg, one of the producers, left to Digitaria and now is their VP of production.
  • I was lucky enough to get to work with Chad Tafolla and James Deagle again, both former FL2’rs that joined Firstborn
  • Other notables at FL2 (and all around awesome dudes): Dave Soderberg and Matt Schreiber

Needless to say FL2 was out of business.

From hot shit local shop getting international recognition, to out of business in about 4–6 months.

This came down to a difference in vision between those of us who built the company and the owner.

He wanted to turn us into a banner shop. Clearly, that did not sit well.


When I look back on this two things stand out:

  • One. I love knowing that those of us creating the work and driving the vision went on to have success after. That we were able to create such an awesome culture that we continue to talk and work with each other in some capacity or another. That we were able to use FL2 as a launching pad for the next phase of our careers.
  • Two. And this is more of a cautionary tale to future owners and team leads out there. Just because your business card says you are the boss doesn’t mean you are the leader.

When you have a great team, one that is super tight, driven and share and work toward a common vision—not just your paycheck—when the lynchpin leaves…they all will leave.

Now that I lead a much larger team it’s something I’m always looking out for. I identify my leaders. I treat them as such. I empower them. I protect them. I listen as best I can. But, I don’t coddle them. Never coddle. I’m not much of a coddler.

I should also mention that I have a keen eye for rooting out those who want to undermine a culture.

It’s equally important, actually…it’s more important, to watch out for these people. And, I’ve definitely made mistakes here and given someone the benefit of the doubt for far too long. Maybe taking the blame for not training someone right. But training never made a lazy person great — it’s really just an excuse — “I need training”. It’s amazing how much damage one person can do.

Nowadays, I’m just as excited about what we do together as what they do next. More so the latter.


Firstborn

When I started at Firstborn 7 years ago there were only about 40 of us all crammed into a small studio in Hell’s Kitchen. We’re now a little over a hundred and have some space in TriBeCa.

If you would have asked me ten years ago if I’d ever land a gig at Firstborn the answer would have been a resounding no. Not possible. Not plausible.

It’s still a bit crazy to me. Flash was peaking in 2009. Firstborn was one of the most famous Flash shops in the world. And I was this new guy saying “Flash is, sorry, dudes, dead. The writing is on the wall.” I’m literally talking with the guys who wrote books on Flash. It was hard pill to swallow. This was a perception is reality type of thing and Steve Jobs controlled the reality.

It’s probably why I spent everyday for the first two years thinking that, “today, would be my last day at Firstborn.” That I was going to be fired.

I never thought I was good enough to be there in the first place. I was paralyzed whenever I opened photoshop in those early months.

My fear of sucking was once again alive.

This is also, likely, related to the fact that I wasn’t yet still a great designer. I was a selfish one. And I wasn’t ready for level of execution expected at Firstborn or the big brands we were working with. Or myself.

Come to think of it, I’m probably still not a great designer and that’s why I became an ECD.

What I did have was an understanding for ideas, strategy, business and how great Design plays an integral role in those.

I believe great Design is the ultimate strategic differentiator.

In 2009, Firstborn was looking to transition to more direct to client work.

This was the era of the “digital” agency being seen as little more than a production shop. An industry wide transition was happening — we wanted a seat at the table — with the client — we wanted to own the idea.

Which i liked.

I never liked the idea of winning awards for other people. I actually care very little for awards in general but understand they are a necessary evil. For your career. For my career. For new business. For our collective ego.

I was then, and still now, not overly concerned about what a client may think about a new idea or execution. That is to say, something that hasn’t been done before or on the latest best practice checklist.

Let’s discover our own best practices and make everyone else follow them.

It’s about jumping off the bridge together. That requires trust. Build some trust with your client and they’ll be willing to jump off that bridge with you.


So what is Firstborn up to now?

Well, now we do a wide range of work. We’re actually a bit hard to pin down. In all honesty, I don’t know if that is a good thing.

  • We do the occasional traditional ad campaign—we work with Audible a lot.
  • We do a lot of eCommerce work with many of brands under L’Oreal
  • VR has been hot right now. We’ve done a lot with Mountain Dew (4 projects to date) along with brands like Patron and Audible.
  • And we are doing a lot more brand and product development and business building as of late. We’re actually in the middle of helping to pivot a company and the product that drives their business.

But Design is at the core of all of this. Both Joon, our CCO, and I still design. We are very hands on and part of the actual work.

I hate management for the sake of management. I don’t know what “providing oversight” even means. Your project team doesn’t need a peeping tom—lurks.

Needless to say, the last 7 years has been a fun ride.

I got to brand, design and help publicize a mission to the Titanic…all documented in real time. Real time marketing before real time marketing was a term.
I got to create a digital staring contest with Kate Upton wearing a bikini. A completely absurd, if not totally sexist idea, realized but some NBD tech (thanks Zeh).
I got to create an eyewear brand from nothing. Kiu, you are the man.
I got to skate and snowboard with my heros…and fuck around in a hot rod with a nascar legend.

I’ve had, and continue to have, the luck of working with some of the most talented people in the world on some really awesome shit. It’s what has kept me engaged for so long.

But enough about me. I feel dirty talking about myself for that long. And that was way too long.

So, from here on out, pardon the hyperbolics.


Let’s talk about the state of interactive design.

So what the fuck does it mean to be a Designer? What should it mean? Not, sadly, what it’s become to mean in this current reality.

Design solves problems. Great design does so beautifully.

Logic would then suggest Designers solve problems.

Design isn’t just how it looks. It’s how it works, sounds, feels, etc, etc. Nothing new here.

Design is a process. It’s everything. I don’t think you can compartmentalize each phase. Or hand off parts of the process and portions of the work from one department to another. Great designers are part of the full journey.

How it looks — the aesthetics — is a only a small subset of design (and the most subjective). If you divorce meaning from design and only concern yourself with aesthetics you are doing it wrong.

But! At the same time, if you focus obsessively on functionality (the latest trend) and other people’s best practices, you too are doing it wrong.

Can you imagine how boring a purely functional world would be?

Design is allowed to have a soul. Interfaces are allowed make a user take pause. To take time to learn.

Do you think Snapchat would have ever made it through a traditional UX testing lab? Hell no. Snapchat from a user’s perspective is absurd. But, people will figure shit out if they think it’s cool. If they believe it provides value…and i guess you could make the argument that Snapchat, to some, adds some semblance of value.

UX and Design, treated as separate disciplines, that is how agencies, schools and clients treat them.

Treating Design as some fun but meaningless aesthetic layer. Where everyone’s opinion matters. No different than wallpaper.

Treating UX as little more than page after nauseating page of annotated rectangles and needlessly academic rationales.

We are creating a world of button monkeys trained to hang wallpaper on wireframes. Not good.

Somewhere along the line Designers — specifically interactive Designers — stopped thinking for themselves. Designers got dumb. We got lazy. The industry itself turned the interactive Designer — and creatives in general — into a silly meme. Easily distracted urban lumberjacks. All style. No substance.

And they did this to protect their own paper pushing, mid-level manager, “did you match the wireframe, bob?”, types of jobs.

We are losing the battle to fast talking, Mashable reading, hacks.

But…maybe the hacks have a point. I feel like SquareSpace is doing a better job than 95% of the designers; the UXrs; the devs out there today.

Why? Well i have some theories.

We built an entire process around mediocrity.

Advertising agencies needed to look like they got digital. This started in about 2010. So they scaled in a way that made it look like they had digital capabilities. They added strategists, UX teams, designers and art directors…divorced from the other half of their creative departments…which still boggles my mind. It just doesn’t make sense. Anyway…

Their digital product offering was, like advertising itself, mostly bullshit.

At the other end of the table brands and business had to scale digital too.

They needed internal teams that suggested that they too got digital. So they staffed up. They wrote RFPs requiring, as part of the project, needless documentation and a process defined by old, outdated IT departments.

Documentation, like wireframes, that the majority of stakeholders had no clue how to process. But that one digital guy or gal did…and it made them look smart and qualified. So the cycle continued.

More process equals more billable hours and shittier more expensive work.

If every ecommerce site is essentially the same (and has been so for the last 10 years) is there really a need for the traditional waterfall style wireframe process? Think about it. How is it that static wireframes are still a deliverable?

Are we really going to discover something revolutionary in the wireframe process? Something that leads to better conversion? Something innovative? I think not.

How this system still exists has really started to grate at me. We over complicate simple things for the sake of process.

I question whether or not the industry — especially giant client’s, with sluggish IT teams and the offshore dev vendors that support them — are willing to change it. It’s in their best interest to protect their silos and the needless deliverables because that is “how it is”. It’s not their job to change it. They are just a cog in the machine. Their end of year bonus doesn’t come from changing the status quo.

Look how long it took ie6 to die…thanks IT departments all over the world.

If there is one thing IT should never have a role in it is innovation.

</rant>


Don’t let my disgust for wireframes be confused with a disgust of UX.

I believe UX is critical. But Design and UX are one and the same. They can not be separated. It’s all part of one process. A process that falls under one discipline. Design.

So please, stop with these stupid diagrams

If you are retweeting these, or pinning these, or worse, designing these…please get back to fucking work.

Designers.

An understanding of UX — the user’s needs — is a fundamental part of any Design discipline: Print, digital, experiential, product or otherwise.

It’s not a separate thing. It never was until quite recently.

If you believe it is a separate thing — you are probably doing it wrong.

You are being unbelievably lazy if you believe that it’s someone else’s job…to figure it out…to understand what the user wants… to figure out the content hierarchies and site architecture .

Your designs have a reason for being and it’s your job to know it.

It’s the difference between an Architect and the dude who shows to paint the house later.


UX’rs…

You are just as bad.

Especially if you’re the type that finds it “insulting” when a designer didn’t paint your wireframe exactly to spec. Or worse, a scenario where the designer discovers a smarter way of doing something—more often the case the reality.

I’m sorry you are bitter about not having been born with aesthetic sensibilities, but are you really upset that the product is now better? Are you fucking kidding me? It boggles the mind…but i hear this shit all of the time. Even at Firstborn.

It’s always someone else’s job! It’s everyone’s fucking job you assholes.
I’m watching a new generation of designers flush the value of Design down the toilet.

This problem is only exacerbated by schools overly nuancing their curriculum. Big agencies adding layers upon layers of disciplines to further inflate their bottom line and further silo thinking—a short sighted endeavor i might add. And big tech companies, maybe the biggest culprits of needless bloat, staffing to their valuation and not what is really needed to run their product.

Now what…

Learn to think strategically

At some level all great Designers have some sense of business acumen. All the greats seemed to. Rand, Beirut, Vignelli, the list goes on.

Now, I’m not talking about Accounting or a grasp of modern financial instruments. I’m talking about strategic thought:

  • Who the fuck am I talking to?
  • Why the fuck am I?
  • And why should that consumer give a fuck?

They married that type of thinking with a strong perspective on what the designs should be. Their style.

If designers spent half as much of their time empathizing with the user; empathizing with team members; empathizing with the client’s position in the market, as they do jerking each other off on Dribbble we’d all be better off.

Find the creative gap. Exploit it. Create something that matters. Jerk yourselves off after.


I mentioned earlier that I believe design, used correctly, is a strategic differentiator.

I believe that Design, is in fact, a potent business strategy. But the client won’t see it that way unless it’s presented in a holistic way. Not as separate isolated deliverables.

So what can you do?

Designers, fight to get that seat at the table. To work through the business problem together. To write the brief together. To create together. It’s critical.

Let the client feel like they are part of the process — they are going to know a lot of things you don’t (it’s their business after all). Be interested in it or don’t take the job.

Now, I’m not saying to only do what they say. Far from it.

Just because you “hear” their words doesn’t mean you need to “listen” to them.
Interpret intelligently.

Explain what the purpose of the design or layout is. What your trying to solve and why.

Don’t address the hamburger menu or the “add to cart” button. Speak at a level above those singular elements.

Instead explain why the page exists and how it’s structure solves the business problem you, ideally, discussed with the client ahead of time.

If you position things strategically they will fight you less on the aesthetic specifics later.

Now i can hear what’s rifling around the back of a lot of your heads. “I’m not allowed at the table.” Well, this is an unfortunate reality.

But it’s only a temporary reality once if you decide you really want to be there.


In Closing

For those of you just getting started in this Designer life…I always recommend starting at a smaller agency—20 or less—before moving on to a big one.

Yes. You will make a lot less money. But you will learn so, so much more. You will make your money later. You’ve got plenty of time. Trust me.

Next Story — The Apple-Google shift
Currently Reading - The Apple-Google shift

The Apple-Google shift

In the last couple of years, two very distinct things have happened — or, to be more precise, been happening — in the world of consumer tech, in my opinion. A shift has occurred: Apple, once the definition of innovation, has become stale, content to rest on its laurels; while Google, once ugly and disparate, has continually pushed forward with new and better products that are a delight to use.

The result is two-fold: firstly, from a software perspective, Google-authored apps have all but replaced Apple’s defaults on my iPhone; secondly, for the first time ever, I find myself potentially choosing a Google phone over an Apple phone — a choice that represents not just a one-off hardware purchasing decision, but a first tentative step outside of Apple’s ecosystem and, as a result, a break in unashamed Apple fanboy-ism.

Okay, so I’m considering a switch to Android. No big deal. I’m following in the footsteps of many, many, many others. But what I find interesting outside of my own personal decision is that there seems to be a growing discontent with Apple — especially amongst former so-called fanboys/girls — and, at the same time, a growing appreciation of what Google have been doing, especially from a design perspective. In many ways it’s unwise to compare these two companies alone, but few would disagree that these days they’re the two sides of one coin.

So I thought I’d try and pick this apart. What’s actually changed?

It’s not that Apple no longer creates great products, but there’s just not that spark there anymore, is there? Remember when a new MacBook or iMac would launch? Or the iPhone? Or pretty much any new product? The buzz was palpable; the hype almost always justified. For years and years, Apple constantly innovated, whether it was with entirely new product lines or updates to existing ones, but recently everything has just felt a little… well, meh, hasn’t it?

Could this feeling because Apple is now so ubiquitous, no longer the underdog? Possibly. And could this be down to some very shrewd business decisions, with Apple deciding to refine and hone rather than experiment, as evidenced by the longer life cycles of designs for their phones and computers? Very likely.

But that doesn’t excuse recent product launches that have (again, in my opinion) fallen flat by their past standards. The MacBook? Well, it’s a lovely little machine (and I’m typing on it right now) and I even took a whole set of photos to capture its beautiful form, but time has revealed it to be irritating in many ways (the keys repeatedly get stuck, for instance, and the removal of a magnetic power connector is genuinely irritating). The Apple Watch? After the initial magic wore off, I came to the conclusion that it’s essentially useless — as did almost every other Apple Watch owner I’ve spoken to. The new Apple TV? A total lack of innovation — both from its previous version and the numerous offerings from competitors. New iPhones aren’t even exciting anymore.

In many ways, I wonder if this all started with the launch of iOS 7: although I was originally one of its supporters when it came out and enraged half the Apple-buying world, when I think about it these days, iOS still doesn’t really encourage interaction. It’s not about flat design versus skeuomorphic design; it’s more about how Apple laid the groundwork for what a great, minimal, mobile operating system could be… and then never really built upon those foundations. The same could be said of their camera technology. The iPhone camera’s noise reduction algorithm has ruined many a photo that would have benefitted from not being put through a paint-like Photoshop filter. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Apple Music. What a mess. Sure, it’s not a total failure from an interaction design point of view, but it’s a sub-par effort from a company that should really be far, far, far better than any other steaming music competitors. That Apple Music has been so successful is only down to the ecosystem they’ve cultivated — not because it offers a superior experience.

Then there’s just all the douche moves Apple has made again and again with proprietary connections — their decision to remove the headphone jack on the forthcoming new iPhone being the latest. All of this has added up to make even this most ardent of Apple fanboys start to question his allegiances.

And all the while this has been going on, Google — which, with each new product launch, whether software or hardware, has become even more of an Apple competitor — has continued to innovate; to make better versions of Apple’s own apps. (I don’t even need to mention Maps, do I? No? Good.) And from a design perspective, Google has well and truly grown up: Material Design offered a lot of promise when it was first announced, and in the time that’s passed since, it’s proven itself to be a strong framework for unifying a the company’s multiple software offerings. Sure, there are times when its incarnation feels a little templated and dry — Google Play Music, for example — and perhaps it’s easy to praise Google for their grown-up new looks when, until recent times, Google web apps were so damn ugly. (Remember how Gmail used to look? For a reminder of that less graceful era, look at the browser version of Google Calendar.) But the difficulty of creating a system that works in so many instances, both in terms of aesthetics and interaction, should not be underestimated.

Beneath all of these apps and interactions and aesthetics, there’s another layer of Google that has become so trusted: its infrastructure. Yes, I get the fears about our data being mined to show us more relevant ads, but who do I trust for reliable cloud syncing: Apple or Google? Who do I trust to backup and share my photo library: Apple or Google? Whose infrastructure do I trust for my emails, documents, calendars, and more: Apple or Google? Granted, the latter could be any service provider vs. Google, but the point is that Google’s infrastructure underpins so much of the internet and our daily lives, it often just doesn’t make sense to let someone else handle what we know Google can handle so well.

(At this point, i’m going to refrain from delving into lengthy praises of particular Google apps and services, but I do want to give a quick mention to the Google Calendar and Google Photos iOS apps. They’re so radically superior to Apple’s equivalents, I’d question anyone’s need to ever open those defaults again.)

All this is to say: if Google can be this good on a competitor’s operating system, how much better can it be in its own environment? This is the question that’s been gaining traction in my head recently.

Android used to be a poor man’s iOS, but it’s obviously grown a lot since then. Unfortunately, fragmentation is a problem that’s plagued Android from the very beginning and is probably the primary factor that’s never allowed me to take switching seriously, but here’s where it gets interesting: with Google making (via OEMs) its own Nexus hardware, it’s possible to use a vanilla version of Android, free of bloat from carrier-installed software. It also removes that weird you-can-only-use-this-particlar-version-of-Android thing that plagues Android phones made by other manufacturers, and, in doing so, puts Google on an evening playing field with Apple: control the hardware and you control the software.It just works.

So it’s this vision of Android — a Google phone in its purest form — that’s making me, and others, consider the switch. And with new Nexus phones rumoured to land (or at least be announced) very soon, the opportunity to do so might be just around the corner.

Or maybe not. The new iPhone is also due very soon. Maybe it’ll be amazing. Maybe it’ll be the best hardware and software combination that exists in the world. Maybe Apple’s core apps, services, and experiences that underpin the entire iOS / macOS / tvOS ecosystem will up their respective games and I’ll look back on this post as blasphemy.

But — sadly — I’m not sure that’s something the Apple of 2016 is capable of.

Next Story — The State Of JavaScript: Front-End Frameworks
Currently Reading - The State Of JavaScript: Front-End Frameworks

The State Of JavaScript: Front-End Frameworks

A few preliminary results

I’ve been very impressed with the success of my State Of JavaScript survey so far. After barely three days, the survey already has over 3000 responses. So I thought it’d be interesting to see what preliminary insights we can extract from that data.

I say “preliminary” because I‘m hoping a lot more developers end up filling out the survey. Not so much to get a bigger-sized sample, but to get a more representative one. After all, these kind of survey tend to reach a population of early adopters first, and that can easily skew the results.

Incidentally, this is also why I didn’t try to advertise the survey to Discover Meteor readers. If I had, Meteor might very well ended up as number one in all categories!

So with this in mind, let’s see what the data tells us!

The Contenders

In this first look, we’ll focus on front-end frameworks. The six choices were:

Obviously this list is not complete, but I decided from the start to try and keep the survey’s length down even at the cost of being less exhaustive.

I did also provide an “other” option asking people to provide any additional frameworks I might’ve missed (more on that later).

For each framework, people could pick one of the following answers:

  • I’ve never heard of it
  • I’ve heard of it, and would like to learn it
  • I’ve heard of it, and am not interested
  • I’ve used it before, and would use it again
  • I’ve used it before, and would not use it again

Awareness

The first thing I wanted to figure out was how many people were aware of their various options. I’m sure (almost) everybody had heard about React and Angular, but what about Vue and Ember?

No need for a complex chart here, awareness was above 97% for every option except Vue, which had “only” 77%.

It will be interesting to see if these results change as more people take the survey, but for now at least it seems clear that apart from newcomer Vue, front-end frameworks don’t really suffer from lack of awareness.

Interest

The second thing I wanted to figure out was what image people had of the frameworks they didn’t use: which one did they want to learn, and which ones failed to generate interest?

As expected, React takes the lead. It certainly seems like everybody and their dog wants to learn React these days (on that subject I recommend the excellent React for Beginners class, and you can get $10 off with coupon code METEOR).

The surprise for me was Vue. Not as many people might’ve heard about it, but those who have must’ve heard good things, because it’s even more popular than Angular 2.

And speaking of Angular, few people want to learn version one anymore. But I didn’t expect Ember’s percentage to be equally low. Maybe a sign that the trend is going towards lighter-weight, single-purpose libraries?

Satisfaction

Finally, I wanted to know how happy people were with the frameworks they had used.

This would seem to confirm that React and Vue are not all hype: they genuinely provide good developer experiences.

You’ll notice I didn’t ask how many people were actually using each framework. Part of it is because I wanted to cut down the survey’s length, but it’s also because I’m not sure how useful raw usage stats would be.

For example, I’m willing to bet Angular’s market share is still huge, but would that be reason enough to pick it for your next project, especially knowing that 56% of Angular developers wouldn’t want to use it again?

Other Frameworks

Like I said, my list of frameworks wasn’t intended to be exhaustive, and I was curious to see which other frameworks people would suggest.

As you can see, many people mentioned Aurelia, which took me by surprise as I know very little about it.

Quite a few people also mentioned either Meteor (or Blaze, Meteor’s built-in front-end framework), which I had left out of the front-end section since it was already included in the “Full Stack” part of the survey.

Knockout seems to still be relatively popular despite its age, as is Cycle, which I’m also pretty unfamiliar with. And I seem to remember Polymer getting a lot of hype when it came out, but it was mentioned fairly rarely.

Other observations: the Riot people generally seemed pretty positive about it (“Riot.js — Absolutely will use it again”), and Mithril’s complex spelling might be the reason it’s not higher up in the rankings.

Also there’s apparently a thing called Choo now? Protip: if you want to anticipate 2030’s hottest baby name trends, look at JavaScript frameworks!

Conclusions

My main goal with this survey was to make it easier for developers to decide which frameworks to learn and use.

Based on the current data, I think it’s safe to say that you can’t really go wrong with React, since it’s extremely widespread and has an above-90% satisfaction percentage. And although currently much smaller, Vue also seems like a good bet.

Finally, these results only represent a tiny fraction of the data I accumulated, so stay tuned for more observations and insights coming very soon!

Help Spread the Word

As I said, the more developers take the survey, the better the data will be.

So please help spread the word if you can by sharing, emailing, or retweeting. It’ll be worth it!

Next Story — Terrorizing Ourselves?
Currently Reading - Terrorizing Ourselves?

Terrorizing Ourselves?

I was in Terminal 1 at JFK, and scared at how easily we terrorized ourselves

Imagine receiving a text like this:


The Experience

I was traveling to Malmö, Sweden to give a talk at a conference on “Building an Empathetic Company” by way of Norwegian Air via Copenhagen. It was a red-eye flight scheduled to leave at 9:55 PM.

Since it was the first time I had flown Norwegian and I couldn’t check-in online, I left for the airport with plenty of time. At 7:30 PM on a Sunday night, Terminal 1 was busy but not hectic. Norwegian had a long line and a shorter one for passengers with no bags to check. I had a duffel, so I went to the short line, got my ticket, and made it through Security quickly.

I stopped at a restaurant in-between Gate 4 and Gate 6, had dinner, and read. When 9:15 came around, I paid my bill and walked to Gate 7 to board my flight. The crowd loitered, waiting for instructions, until the gate agents announced the flight would be delayed an hour. So I walked around looking for a seat that didn’t feel claustrophobic.

I’m telling you this, because where I ended up sitting made a difference.

I chose a seat to the far left of the terminal in the last aisle of Gate 8 where there was nothing but open space and a food stand. I figured I should do something productive, and started to write out goals for the upcoming week to share with my team. I was immersed thinking about the week ahead when a piercing alarm filled the terminal.


Lights above the terminal gates started blinking a long pronounced floodlight warning, and lights on the ceiling darted in a hurried blue and white whir. I realized the alarms had been going off as I typed and that they had gotten louder, or it wasn’t until others around me began to notice and react, that their message reached me.

People started to scream.

“What is happening?” I asked myself.

I watched as people darted through the terminal towards me. I put my carry-on on my back and grabbed my duffel with my free hand. Phone in the other, I tried to open the camera app as I backed up against the window a few seats away.

The screaming became deeper, and echoed through the terminal.

I remembered thinking, “Men are screaming too” as I managed to swipe to video, bent down behind a row of seats and began to film.

I did this for exactly 16 seconds, before I realized something was wrong. Very wrong.

Still from the video I shot. You can see the full one on Twitter @MsSapone

The video shows dozens running for the emergency exits. What it does not capture is the scale of what happened next.

I think so few videos were shared from that night, because people were too afraid to even think about filming


As I dropped my phone, a stream of people came at breakneck speed through the terminal.

There was another wave of piercing screams and the echo of people running.

It was a stampede of people. It was like the terminal had been lifted vertically and people were falling like checkers on a Connect Four board, slamming into a pile at the exits.

I let my duffel fall and surveyed the room. I could cross 100 feet to a door where people were crowding, or another 200 feet to either corner of the terminal where dozens more were pushing their way out.

It registered that the last two exits at the end of the terminal were better. They had bigger doors.


Another wave of screams filled the terminal. I dropped to my stomach and slid underneath the aisle of seats. To my right, many people were doing the same. To my left, I watched as a woman hid behind a waste bin. She was bigger than the square recycle/trash canister, and as she banged herself into it, it skid and reverberated.

It was the same reaction a caged animal has when a trap slams down. It wants to get out. Every cell in its body moves at an incredible speed to fulfill this desire. It cannot feel pain as it hits against metal.

I looked down at my own hands. My right hand gripped my phone and my left was shaking. “Was I afraid?” I asked myself.


Interrupting this thought a sound filled the terminal.

“POWH. POWH. POWH. POWH. POWH.”

Gunshots.

Or was it clapping for Usain Bolt’s gold-medal victory?

Or was it the sound of line separators that direct traffic at Security, falling in cacophonous succession (all the way back before the gates began)?

Or maybe the sound of joints exploding off a door?

None of these media-suggested alternatives occurred to me.

It was gunfire. To me. To many others.


My brain searched furiously for an explanation. “Where is Security? Where the F#&*! is everyone?” Lying flat on the ground under the seats, I locked eyes with a Filipino man and his young daughter. His eyes were bulging and he uttered one statement on repeat.

“Oh God. Oh God. Oh God,” as he pulled his screaming daughter beneath him.

I looked at his daughter and whispered, “Shhhh… It’s Ok…Shhhh.”

A cacophonous scream erupted in the terminal moments after the shots fired. I looked with others out onto the empty aisle of the Terminal.

We were waiting for the person that had fired to emerge, a group of people even. To make demands, or maybe no demands at all. Maybe just make a point.


People have asked me what it felt like. I think this is the first time I understood what the word “terror” means to so many people who have really experienced it.

Yes it was scary, but that’s not good enough. Imagine being in the desert and a wild animal is chasing you, hell-bent on ripping every limb off. It’s that, and the realization that this animal is not acting on basic predatory instincts. This animal is a human, and it wants to hurt you.

It’s a deeper level of fear because your mind can not comprehend it. It is in complete disbelief. A state of terror.

Your mind goes to 9/11, Orlando, Columbine, what your Military buddy must have felt in Afghanistan. In the moment, you reference these other events.


No security came. No announcement. Just chaos. I had no doubt at the time that in that moment, my life was in my own hands.


Quiet overcame the terminal for a moment. I became aware of the feeling of my stomach against the ground. I surveyed the three exits again and not consciously, but with my feet, made the decision to run for the far right doors. I ran across dropped food; a giant soda cup; ice avalanched; Coke all over the floor. There were hundreds of things everywhere, computers, bags, shoes, jackets. Things were still spinning from the wave of people that had just kicked their way out.


Why did I run? There was an overwhelming feeling of being trapped. There was a window of opportunity, and since I could not see the perpetrator, there was still ambiguity on the outcome, and maybe the opportunity to escape. We were in danger. I felt like a deer bounding across an open field, hoping the hunter was looking the other way.


I ran 150 feet, did a running jump over a row of chairs and ran other 20 feet through open doors.

I ran with others into a wide, cement stairwell. A pilot and two flight attendants crowded in the corner, staring at the running crowd in nonplussed, confusion. They grabbed their wheelie bags close, seemingly unsure what to do as people whizzed by them.

“Go down the stairs!” my brain told me.

I watched a man help another man hop down the stairs, limping and jumping down the steps as if he had sprained a ankle.

Their faces communicated fear, “We are not moving fast enough.” The exit stairwell was wide and people rushed down, toppling, getting up again and running.

Now one floor down, I had a choice. “Get out on this level? Get out here? No. Keep going. Get outside.”


I ran through the doors out onto the airport runway into a crowd of hundreds and hundreds of people. People around me darted across the tarmac. Hundreds of people huddled along the terminal walls as planes landed. I looked around for Security. “What are we doing? What is going on?”.

More people raced onto the tarmac from behind me. I watched people hide in luggage trolleys, under cars, by the wheels of planes. Most of us kept moving, some with rolling bags, many with nothing. Shoes were missing. People were running in torn tights. We made our way in fast procession to the farthest corner of the tarmac near what would have been Gate 1.

The crowd seemed to be asking the same thing, “Are we safe?”.

There were men in yellow, reflective vests who were unsure what to do — “Stay right, keep moving” — one said quietly.

Near the Arrivals door under Gate 1, Port Authority police screamed into their walkie talkies. They gestured for us to wait. I turned my face to my phone and opened Twitter. I had bad reception, but I tried to share an update.

Then the quiet. People crowded. One man near me opened a pack of cigarettes and lit one. People around him jumped at the sight of flame. I took a picture. We waited. Then the cops announced, “Ok, out these doors”.

A crowd waits on the tarmac outside Arrivals in Terminal 1

The crowd started to move forward slowly. It didn’t feel safe yet.

Security had expressly not said, “Everything is under control”. They didn’t know. And this was being communicated in what they said, and what they hadn’t. Letting children and their parent’s go first, I stood next to the man smoking a cigarette; he dropped it to the ground, darted forward, and ran to the top of the line.

Without warning, screaming erupted, and the crowd that was exiting peacefully into the airport, exploded. There was a quick shoving match between a frantic outgoing crowd and the ingoing procession and then instantly, everyone changed direction.

OUT!” People stampeded out the doors, terror on their faces. A woman fell, her knee gushed open. The crowd dispersed along the sides of the tarmac.

Security ran too.

I hid behind the back of a van in the corner. Others huddled around me. A few minutes passed. Crowds started to descend from planes 500 feet away. They were standing and sitting in orderly squares. Slowly, people started to stand up near me as two security guards emerged and told us — once again — to make a line to leave the asphalt tarmac to the ground floor of the Terminal into Arrivals and Customs.

A woman from Sweden with her son, asked the police — “How do you know it’s safe?”. She had just watched people stream out in terror.

Still behind a large Homeland Security van, I stood on the bumper to watch what was happening. People started to file into the terminal.

“Ok. I can go too.” I thought. I jumped off the bumper to the right of the van and began to make my way to the door when screaming erupted and for a second time, dozens came running out the door stampeding into the exiting crowd. I hit the floor again, and shuffled under the van.

Others would ask me why I choose to go under the van. “Was it smart? What if a cop suspected me?”All I can say is in that moment, I had watched people run for their lives in five separate waves.

There was no feeling of calm, or evacuation.

This wasn’t a fire drill.

I remember looking down and watching a large ant walk past me. I stretched my feet and lay them flat on the ground, pressed my hands against the gravel like a pose in yoga, ready to push out from under the car. It still wasn’t safe — people ran around me. It got quiet again, and I sent texts to several people including a friend who was a Navy Seal inside the terminal, who would later be quoted in the the New York Times as saying:

“I’ve been to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I’ve never been in this situation where you’re in a massive crowd and there’s nothing you can do.” -NYT

and in his own blog he wrote:

I was confident that I was in charge of my own destiny at this point. -SOFREP

Many minutes later, a cop flashed a light under the car and asked me to come out. I obliged, and sat on the curb with others.


I went to Twitter to look for any answers on what was happening. No statement issued seemed to reflect what I was experiencing. Twitter trolls were out and active.

It surprised me that as I was currently still experiencing what was happening at JFK, people continued to tweet at me that “there was was no event”. Another twenty minutes went by before we walked through the doors of Arrivals. Baggage Claim and Customs where mobbed.

Who knows how many people went through Customs without showing their passports? Passengers would later recount watching a stream of people, at least 40 people, running through Customs to the curb of Arrivals. This is significant, but not reported.

Bags and shoes were scattered throughout Baggage Claim. People started to line up again, but there was no real order, or clear direction. One guard asked me what flight I was on and led me to the front of the line at Customs. The white-faced security guard asked my name. He typed on his computer, seemed to look at a manifest, and waved me through, not making eye contact.


Inside the terminal

It seemed like we were free to leave. The Navy Seal texted me that he was already home in the city. My bag was still in the terminal, and passengers whispered to each other that flights were still leaving. Eventually a guard asked us to stand in line to go through Security.

Terminal 1 TSA stared the crowd down. They spoke amongst themselves, and cracked a joke or two to release the tension. They tried to ignore passengers asking them what was happening. An airport security guard or gate agent told us to form a line. I waited in one line or another for four hours, waiting to retrieve my bag from the terminal. I would get home from the airport at 5 AM.

Exhausted. Adrenaline. Waiting in those lines, I watched Twitter and the media form a perception of what had happened.

There was no mention of Terminal 1 — as if everything you just read was a figment of my imagination. Passengers were exhausted. I think most people were too in shock to exchange experiences. The terminal was very, very quiet.

Many of the media reports that night and in the following days used the word hysteria. I would describe the feeling differently.It was a feeling that did not end until 11:48PM for me. More than 90 minutes after this all began. Internalize that.

For 1 hour and 30 minutes, I and others in this major American airport, in 2016, were in a true state of terror.

Did We Terrorize Ourselves?

If you saw the news, the headlines and message communicated “no big deal, move along”. That was not my experience. It was a big deal to me and hundreds of fellow passengers at JFK that night.

I shared my experience because I think it’s important to put it out there. It should make people uncomfortable.

And not because it was scary, but because it’s scary how much of a discrepancy it is to what was officially reported.

At the end of the day, I went home and then got on my flight the next day — exhausted and a little shaken — but just 24 hours later, I was back to living my life.

We live in one of the greatest, safest places that’s ever been and it’s our responsibility to uphold that greatness and safety.

We do that by demanding better journalism — real stories. Reading long form. Opting out of pablum, and listicles, and puffery on blog sites. The cursory reporting that came out on this event simply wasn’t good enough, and people didn’t ask enough questions before playing Monday morning quarterback on the social sphere.

We are our own editors these days and if we only read “How to Launch a Startup in 3 Easy Steps” we start to lack empathy for the world as it really is.

In fact, I believe our reactive behaviors on social media — drowning ourselves in opinions, knee-jerk reactions, insults, and trolling even by would-be-presidents — are eroding our safety more than any single bad actor can.

We can’t let feelings, unsubstantiated by true facts, grow into into a toxic force that pulls the fabric of our society

We must learn together. We have to set a higher bar for ourselves and our institutions.

We can’t let fear stop clear and transparent communication from authorities to the public. Suppressing, downplaying, or avoiding isn’t the safe or smart move. We can be thoughtful and positive. I do not expect our institutions to be perfect, but we need to learn. Let’s make a plan to fix the clear failure in the response.

The media should not let the story fade away.

How is it possible that with so many people in the airport, no account like this has been shared outside of the New York Magazine piece?

Reporting is a noble job — I hope it continues to attract great people to take on the challenge.

Finally we have to be better humans, please.

Get off the junk food diet of cursory reporting, PR masked as news, and non fact-checked opinion threads. The people that control the news, control perception. In many ways we are more in control than we’ve ever been. The papers of yesterday may not be able to afford deep reporting, so we need to do it ourselves and demand better with our attention and wallets.

There is a raw, exposed nerve in the public from the divisiveness of our discourse. America is great, when it acts greatly.

And to take it full circle. We all need to practice a hell of a lot more empathy for others and ourselves.

We have to be active in our society. We have to vote. To stand up for what is right. Next time it could be life and death — as it easily could have been this time.

If we don’t learn from this experience, we have in fact terrorized ourselves.

You can find me on twitter @MsSapone

Sign up to continue reading what matters most to you

Great stories deserve a great audience

Continue reading