Hello and welcome to another installment of “Gen shares quotes from a rad thing they read,” this time with an article from 2015 called “Design Machines: How to survive the digital apocalypse“. A coworker shared this in our work slack, and it’s 100% my shit right now, and feels even more relevant now than it did in 2015. It’s a solid read, especially for people who are involved in making websites. I’m also including some screenshots because the design of this piece is also just excellent.

Everything looks the same

Con­tent on the web is not king. Half the time it’s bare­ly the jester. Unless cre­at­ed by an indi­vid­ual or one of the dwin­dling sources of legit­i­mate jour­nal­ism, it’s rarely pro­duced for noble inten­tions like edu­ca­tion or enter­tain­ment.

There’s a lot of writ­ing hap­pen­ing, but so lit­tle of it has any sub­stance. Super­fi­cial con­tent is cheap. It’s out­sourced to con­tent farms and social media con­sul­tants. We hire interns, stu­dents or project man­agers to ​“main­tain the blog.” Pub­li­ca­tions have reduced the num­ber of in-house staff and rely on armies of under­paid free­lancers who have no bud­get or sup­port for inves­ti­ga­tion, research, or any­thing more than a shal­low thought.

We design like machines, with photo of women working in a sweatshop assembly line

So much of our best inde­pen­dent writ­ing is con­tribut­ing to a sin­gle mono­lith­ic plat­form under the pre­tence of con­ve­nience, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and free­dom.

Call me naïve, but I refuse to sit back and let our dig­i­tal cul­ture fade to cor­po­rate beige. That’s not a dig­i­tal world I want to be a part of, and I’m going to fight every step of the way to fuck up the plan.
I believe there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for those of us who are will­ing to stick our necks out. Noth­ing makes a drop of colour brighter than when it’s set against a wall of grey.

Designing from the heart of our messages out means we fully acknowledge that they will not speak the same way to every person. We’re no longer chasing numbers. Instead, we’re thinking about how we should treat each piece of content, designing to reflect its subtle personality. The content should speak to the few people who can identify with this personality because this is the only audience that matters. No machine will ever A/B test its way to a more meaningful relationship.

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