design machines

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.

the tranarchist manifesto

Just came across this manifesto from and some parts of this really resonate with me:

[Y]ou cannot, in good conscience, support a transhumanist ideology that challenges the very idea of humanity, while holding onto such outdated and conservative ideas like binary sex and gender.

Anarchists, who seek to abolish all systems of control and oppression, should pour their effort into the fight for trans rights, for the system of binary sex and gender roles are the oldest and most evil of these institutions.

Humanity had always coexisted and coevolved with technologies: the idea that we’ll be able to stop doing so is not only foolish, it’s inherently transphobic and ableist.

So long as centralized power exists in the form of state or capital, technological progress will always serve as a tool of oppression and exploitation for the establishment first and foremost, before it eventually trickles down to the masses…if ever. The kind of technological wonder promised by transhumanism is nothing short of nightmarish for the people if wielded by an authoritarian establishment.

This reminds me, in parts, of the Xenofeminist Manifesto, which I think I should reread soon.

2020 liberation list

Since the beginning of 2018, I’ve been writing a liberation list for the new year, instead of resolutions. Inspired by Cate Huston, it’s a list of things I want to free myself from in the upcoming year. These are things I’m going to leave behind in 2019, things that I’m absolutely over. At the end of each year, I do a little private review of how successful I was, and every year I’ve done a damn good job, considering I also don’t usually revisit the list throughout the year. Here’s the list for 2020:

I’m liberating myself from…

  • Finding/telling narratives about other people’s behavior and thoughts without talking to them.
  • The idea that I have to keep my body at factory settings.
  • All the things I own that belonged to [deadname] that don’t belong to Fen.
  • Fear of editing my work and asking for feedback.
  • The hourly retail worker mindset of needing to be visibly productive every moment of the work day.
  • Fear of getting caught by authority while doing something weird or abnormal.-
  • Unethical companies that are really just a Rube Goldberg machine of human suffering.
  • Being scared to just start things.

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