The accident at Chernobyl on April 26th, 1986 is the very button of fashion at the moment, what with the eponymous HBO miniseries. Now, I’d hate for you to think of me as a bandwagon jumper in choosing now to write something about Chernobyl, but rest assured, I was interested in Chernobyl long before the series. Admittedly, this makes me something much worse than a bandwagon jumper — a nuclear accident hipster, the worst kind of hipster — but it does mean that I recently read Adam Higgenbotham’s Midnight in Chernobyl. This is an excellent blow-by-blow account of the disaster…

Or, why process alone isn’t enough for good design.

A brief digression about cults

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to visit Tanna Island, Vanuatu. A sun-drenched speck of land in the South Pacific, the main tourist draw is its ever-rumbling volcano, Mount Yasur. Tempting as it was to use this as an excuse to share some holiday snaps, I wanted to write about one of the volcano’s supposed inhabitants: an American man named John Frum. John Frum, you see, is a man that doesn’t exist.

OK, well I just had to share one holiday snap — Mount Yasur Volcano

During the Second World War, there was an unprecedented surge of outsiders to Tanna as Allied armies passed…

Ideas grow in the public consciousness by a slow accretion. What was fringe yesterday slowly gains ground, inch by inch, until it becomes an accepted part of the mainstream. One way to understand what’s becoming mainstreamed is to extensively survey public opinion, and share what you find in the impenetrable jargon of academia. Another, quicker way is just to see whatever shit Kanye West has been tweeting recently.


Tempting as it may be to suggest that Kanye’s analogy achieves Thomas Friedman-levels of clunkiness, that’s not really the point. Kanye is far from alone in having a creeping feeling that “phones…

(This post is taken from a talk I did earlier this year at the Shanghai UI/IUX Meetup and from another blog post I wrote a couple of years ago. Lovely illustrations in the description of the poster study courtesy of Alice Colombo.)

As ever, I seem to catch up with discussions in the world of design at a glacial pace. One such example of my tardiness was that I finally sat down and watched a great talk Mike Monteiro did at Webdagene last year, entitled “This is the golden age of design! …and we’re screwed’:

As part of the…

In my previous post, I mentioned that the Quartz app experience so closely apes the experience of using chat apps that it would make more sense just to roll this functionality into a chat app like WhatsApp.

I wasn’t being entirely fair to the Quartz app — it aggregates content from multiple sites more than I initially thought, meaning the app is more of a full news digest than just a digest of Quartz’s news. …

Bold ideas have to vault a huge number of hurdles in interaction design. Novel, risky ideas end up on the cutting room floor, which is why so many apps are so similar. It was therefore exciting to see the new iPhone app from the business site Quartz.

The app is a radical departure from all other news apps. Eschewing a homescreen, hierarchy or navigation, the app instead presents users with a conversational interface á la WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. Each news story is a “message” that appears in the chat timeline, and the user can interact with the feed by…

Mark Parnell

Product designer @Atlassian. Sydney-based pedant and recovering laowai.

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