This is for those of you that are laughing.

You might be laughing because you’ve never heard the word, “algorithm.” You might have a smidge of a smile because you think this title will never be true for you. You might just be hoping that I’m funny. Whatever your reason, I’d love your feedback on a work in progress. First, some context:

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At the d.school we are developing a suite of learning experiences designed to provide radical access to emerging technologies like machine learning and blockchain.*

We are designers and educators and we consider technology, data, and both the positive and negative, intended and unintended consequences of their use…


If you work in a Post-It-forward office environment you know that the tiny colorful squares of paper are powerful cognitive tools, but don’t underestimate the contributions of their Pale Yellow cousins.

Monologue from a Pale Yellow Post-It:

Innovation and startups my ass. I’m sick of all this banter about creative offices being covered in brightly colored Post-It notes. Collaboration! Vom. While you wait for those neon squares to Day-Glo a new meditation app, know this: I’m a Pale Yellow Post-It, and I’ll be in power way longer than Putin.

I mean, people put the things they don’t want to forget on MY body. Who do you think knows more passwords than anyone else? Moi. Having an affair? I know where you’re “working late.” I hold the keys to every indiscretion, insurgency…


On November 18th we hosted a workshop session here at the d.school to allow for the sharing of post-election feelings and to figure out a range of ways to take action as desired. We sent out a broad invitation to our students, faculty, staff, and greater community.

As the Teaching and Learning team at the d.school we were motivated by both the desire to figure out how to take action as articulated by many in our community as well as by an activity we’d run with our students on our November 3rd Pitch Night where we asked them to vote…


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photo cred: Enric Martinez on Flickr

But, before we think about design, let’s talk about cooking

When you first learn to cook something, you might follow a recipe. You are told what ingredients to use in what quantities and instructed on how to combine them. As you get better, you begin to swap out ingredients, you stop measuring, and you pre-heat the oven without looking up a specified temperature. When you’re really good, you invent recipes based on what you have on hand, a new ingredient that’s piqued your interest, the needs of those you’ll be sharing the meal with, the vegetables that are in season, et cetera.

The order and process of a recipe helps…


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Mark had a piece of strangely orange pumpkin muffin almost in his mouth when Stacey gasped, “I figured it out!”

(long pause)

“All right stop, collaborate and listen!”

It’s exactly what you think. “Vanilla Ice and design are the same thing!” Mind blown. Pumpkin muffin consumed. We went through the motions of trying to recite the rest of the lyrics. I could only remember the swim team-ified version we created as Williams College freshmen in 1997. We got some pastries to chase the muffin and Stacey told me that I should both write about her discovery and use her as my muse for everything in life.


On Wednesday I had that moment that we’ve all had when you realize you’ve left your breast pumping equipment splayed out next to the sink in the bathroom. At work. For over an hour. It was especially comforting that a good three thousand people were in the building that day and I’m sure all of them had to pee.

It’s been very glamorous, this pumping at work business. …


This morning up in Studio 3 Stacey and I sprawled out our bodies and made faux-snow angels on the queen size bed that has suddenly appeared in the space.

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“Isn’t this great!?”

“Yes, we are awesome. We are living the life. Let’s take selfies and send them to co-workers on vacation.”


That’s not what I do at all. 

Most of my favorite design friends share a perpetual angst. There’s always something more, a new project to start, a crazy product to build, an exciting class to teach. Overcome with the cornucopia of possibility, will I ever arrive?

But, I teach design. I teach college and graduate students design process, extoll the virtues of diving right into a new project by talking to people, synthesizing to their true needs, and then building quickly to continue to understand and learn as you continue to refine. I sound like I know what I’m talking about.

I’m here today to tell you…

Carissa Carter

Director of Teaching and Learning at the Stanford d.school. Designer, educator, map-maker, awkwardness enthusiast.

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