4 min read

You Should Read - Feb 27

You Should Read - Feb 27

Just One Thing

I don't read a lot of fiction. Which is strange for an English Lit major, I know. But after hearing a couple of interviews with Kim Stanley Robinson on the Everyday Anarchism podcast, I picked up a used copy of his recent novel The Ministry for the Future (and the classic, Red Mars) assuming it'd go on one of my ever-growing "to read/collect dust" piles. Instead, I absolutely devoured Ministry for the Future, all 560 pages of teeny tiny type, in just a couple of weeks.

It's a bizarre book. I hadn't read any of Robinson's prior work, so I don't know if this one' style is his typical approach. In so many ways, it breaks every rule of creative writing there is. There's a lot of "tell" rather than "show". Dialog is scant and terse. There are whole chapters that read more as scientific journal articles than something part of a novel. Time jumps back and forth over the course of decades. It's frequently difficult to tell who is speaking or what character's perspective is being used. And yet, I was drawn into it immediately. This may have to do with the harrowing chapter that kicks off the book.

Without getting into spoilers, the vast majority of the book is a rapid fire catalog of the full spectrum of actions all of humanity is going to have to take in order to reverse the growing climate catastrophe and come to a way of living that allows for there to be a future at all. Geoengineering, social media, finance, international migration, degrowth, regenerative agriculture, and on and on. It's a dizzying list.

Most interesting to me, is the role of violence in all of this. Robinson indulges in a fair amount of wishful thinking as to how well we will navigate large scale warfare as powerful people are forced to relinquish their grip on the world's economy. And how neatly and nicely violence will be able to be applied to open these people's fingers.

The book was written prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and released just as the pandemic exploded across the globe. Here's a lecture Robinson gave about how the world dealt with the pandemic reflects on how we will handle increasingly frequent and intense climate emergencies:

Jacobin Imagining the End of Capitalism With Kim Stanley Robinson: Kim Stanley Robinson is the author of more than twenty books, including New York 2140, Red Moon, and the Mars trilogy. He talked to Jacobin about his latest work, his vision of socialism, and why we must fight to imagine the end of capitalism rather than the end of the world.

Collected Ephemera

UX Collective Cultivating a Design Culture: How can you nurture an inspiring design culture within an organization for UXers—and any group of designers, really?
One of the suggestions is “Encourage Everyone to Share Their Passions”. When I was head of brand experience at Techstars, I ran a monthly internal "Design Roundtable". There wasn't a formal "Design-with-a-capital D" department, but there were a handful of designers scattered about and, delightfully, a larger group of design-interested employees. The Design Roundtable was a forum to share work, discuss processes, and make personal connections (super important in a mostly remote company). One of the tools we used was a presentation format I called "Four Things". Basically, you just shared four design artifacts - that you really liked and talked about why you liked them. It was a great conversation starter, with a low threshold for jargon and design knowledge that let anyone participate and generate discussion.

Atlassian How to Honor What Makes You Unique With Your Career: From concert posters to Big Tech, our Executive Creative Director Josh Higgins shares his uncommon path to creative leadership.

 If you can, leaning into your individuality can yield lots of benefits. Here are some questions to ponder as you think about what makes you unique:
1) What was your favorite hobby as a child or teen? How can you incorporate that into your work?
2) What was a talent that somebody called out in you at an early age? Are you making use of it at work today?
3) What was your life like when you last felt the most “alive”? What were you doing, and what made it so special for you?
4) Think of a time when you stuck up for your beliefs or passions. What does that reveal about what you truly care about?
5) What is something you love doing now?

Fast Company The Big Design Freak-Out: A generation of design leaders grapple with their future. Did business really break up with design, or did it just break up with a generation of design leadership?

Vox The Philosophy of Anarchism, Explained: Why it isn’t the same as chaos.

New York Times When Your Technical Skills Are Eclipsed, Your Humanity Will Matter More Than Ever

BuiltIn The Importance of Workplace Ethics: Small breaches can create bigger problems if left unchecked.

Better Strangers advocates for practical mutual aid by looking at historical movements that successfully affected change, at philosophies and ideas for coping with the modern moment, and at realistic utopian visions of the future.

Swiss historian Jean-Loup Gassend's YouTube channel CrocodileTear is an example of those rare instances where the YouTube algorithm bubbles up something unexpectedly amazing. Gassend is a spellbinding storyteller as well as an impressive researcher.

Left Voice One Way Out: The Revolutionary Hero of Andor: Not just another Star Wars story set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Andor is a mature science fiction series about radicalization and rebellion against fascism and imperialism.

The AI Juggernaut

The Guardian Is AI Really the Biggest Threat When Our World Is Guided More by Human Stupidity?: There is both hope and hype for what artificial intelligence can do for growth – if politicians can tame its destructive potential

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics ChatGPT Has Revived Interest in Ethics. The Irony Is That We Haven’t Been Holding Humans to the Same Standard: The response, thus far, seems to be finding humans to hold accountable when the machines do something we find inherently repulsive.

Aalto University Why Can’t AI Say ‘I Don’t Know’?: Overconfident AI systems can be dangerous, so researchers are teaching them humility

Nature Generative AI’s Environmental Costs Are Soaring — and Mostly Secret: First-of-its-kind US bill would address the environmental costs of the technology, but there’s a long way to go.

MIT Technology Review Making an Image With Generative AI Uses as Much Energy as Charging Your Phone: This is the first time the carbon emissions caused by using an AI model for different tasks have been calculated.

The Wabbit Hole

Hitchen's Razor | captain | Raoul Wallenberg | Ur-Fascism | useful idiot | The Leftovers (TV series) | LVMH | Gentō Sokuchū | Schweinfurt–Regensburg mission | vespers | The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas | Tinian Naval Base | cribbage | skiffle