Tag: books

Conrad on Work

It was a great comfort to turn from that chap to my influential friend, the battered, twisted, ruined, tin-pot steamboat. I clambered on board. She rang under my feet like an empty Huntley & Palmer biscuit-tin kicked along a gutter; she was nothing so solid in make, and rather less pretty in shape, but I had expended enough hard work on her to make me love her. No influential friend would have served me better.

She had given me a chance to come out a bit—to find out what I could do. No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not for others—what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

November Reading Roundup

Another month, another missed Reading Goal – here’s the rundown:

– I finished Drive, thanks entirely to the rare foresight I executed in buying the audiobook. November was a pretty crazy month for travel (we drove almost 1000 miles in November), so being able to listen to Drive in the car really saved me. I’m still counting it toward my reading goal!

– I only finished about a third of Antifragile, but I have discussed it with more people than any other book I’ve read in 2014. I’m excited to finish it – it’s the kind of book that I think about a lot, even when I haven’t picked it up in a while.

– These are both great recommendations, and my hat’s off to Jeremey and Ian – thank you both for such outstanding reads.

– Another factor in missing my reading goals is that I received the first four collected volumes of Hellblazer for my birthday, and like any lifelong comic wonk, I couldn’t simply let them sit there. I finished the first two, representing 604 pages of non-reading-goals reading.

– In all, in November I read 456 (.42 Infinite Jests) reading goal pages and 604 (.55 Infinite Jests) outside pages. That’s almost an Infinite Jest, so even though I missed my specific goals, I’m happy with the overall page count.

November Reading Goals

After touching base with Jeremey and Ian, I’ve decided to follow their recommendations (respectively) and read the following in November:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (272 Pages) and
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (544 Pages!)

I’ve decided to put Just Enough Research on the back burner, since these two books alone represent 0.74 Infinite Jests (versus October’s mere .574 Infinite Jests) and November involves a lot of travel for our hero.

October Reading Goals Recap

I almost made it – I finished Microinteractions, Elements of UX and Lean UX. I am only about halfway through Gamestorming. I do have an excuse – I picked up and spent some time in the excellent Just Enough Research, part of the Book Apart family. So, I’ll call it a draw.

Here are my thoughts in the order I read the books;

Microinteractions: I was concerned that my lack of professional experience with UX topics would make this one a bit out of my reach, but to the contrary I found it really interesting, and it has certainly changed the way I think about the tiny pieces of software and websites, and the way these pieces change my experience. I would recommend it to anyone who works with websites or software, regardless of your area of focus.

Elements of UX: This book, while thoughtful and certainly full of really important and structural high level thinking, was not for me. I lack the necessary grounding and experience to get the full value. It was the same experience as reading the third of fourth book in a series independent from the others – I could tell I was not getting the full story, the full impact. So, I would certainly recommend it, but probably not good if you’re just dipping a toe into design and UX.

Lean UX: Probably my favorite of the books I finished in this list, Lean UX isn’t really about UX per se, but more about approaching that sort of Work from a different angle. As a step forward in management and product development, I liked it an awful lot. This may be because it ties into the sort of thing think about already, have some work experience with already, so the lessons and thoughts are especially tangible and pertinent.

Gamestorming: Despite only getting halfway, have already started using the games and thinking in this book – my team at Automattic will be putting together our annual roadmap in January, and we’ll be using some of the creativity building games to help approach the next year with open minds. Game storming is mostly a collection of brainstorm games, with a short explanation of how to use them – if you work with other humans to make things in any capacity, you would get a a lot out of this book.

While I failed to meet my book goal in October, I did meet my page number goal, so I feel inspired. I am going to only choose three books for November, including the rest of Just Enough Research. I have reached out to my colleagues Jeremey and Ian for recommendations – stay tuned!