June 5, 2015

Written by

Chris Gonzales


Thomas Brault

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Friday Quality Linkage column. Please enjoy this week’s collection of interesting and entertaining links. Brew a fresh cup of coffee, find a comfortable place, and relax.

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20 Years of »

This week, acclaimed web designer Jeffrey Zeldman celebrated the 20th birthday (!) of his site:

When I started this site I wrote in the royal “we” and cultivated an ironic distance from my material and my gentle readers, but today this is just me with all my warts and shame and tenderness—and you. Not gentle readers. People. Friends.


I’ve had two love relationships since launching this site. Lost both, but that’s okay. I started this site as a goateed chain smoker in early sobriety (7 June 1993) and continue it as a bearded, yoga practicing, single dad. Ouch. Even I hate how that sounds. (But I love how it feels.)

Huge congrats to Jeffrey on 20 years of making the web a better place.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty

Patagonia’s Anti-Growth Strategy »

J. B. Mackinnon, writing for The New Yorker, covers the anti-materialistic ethics of outdoor gear-and-apparel company Patagonia:

“We’re not afraid of growth—we’re excited about it,” Adam Fetcher, the company’s director of global P.R. and communications, told me. [Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s VP of environmental affairs] was more expansive: “There is a point out there where our own growth is going to likely create more problems than it does solutions,” he said. “But as far out on the horizon line as we can see right now, we’re continuing to produce products that allow people to live a more responsible life with the apparel that they choose. As long as there’s a lot of other people out there that don’t do that, and that are creating more problems than they are solutions, then we should be growing.”

Patagonia is one of those companies I’ve been peripherally aware of for years but haven’t had much first-hand experience with. If I’d known they were so ardently passionate about sustainability and purchasing mindfully, I would’ve done business with them sooner.

Illustration: Geri Coady

Illustration: Geri Coady

Meta-Moments: Thoughtfulness by Design »

On A List Apart, Andrew Grimes argues that when it comes to user experience design, “simpler” shouldn’t always be the main goal:

Ever had a moment on the internet when you’ve been forced to stop and think about what you’re doing? Maybe you’ve been surprised. Maybe you’ve stumbled across something new. Maybe you’ve come to see things in a different light. I call such experiences meta-moments: tiny moments of reflection that prompt us to think consciously about what we’re experiencing.


But what slows people down and makes them more thoughtful? And what is it about a particular design that makes people really invest their attention?

In my experience, there seem to be three main strategies for encouraging meta-moments.

As Jamie Lidell might say if he’d chosen a career in UX design rather than music, “A little bit of friction goes a long way.” (I’ll see myself out.)

Return to Philosophy »

In this rather short blog post, Ryan Holiday urges everyone to slow down and read a few books on philosophy:

Read something that challenges, instead of informs.

No matter how much learning or work or thinking we do, none of it matters unless it happens against the backstop of exhortative analysis. The kind rooted in the deep study of the mind and emotion, and demands that we hold ourselves to certain standards.

Click through for his recommendations. There’s also a great nugget in the comments from writer Julian Summerhayes:

I would just ask that everyone reads Osho, Living Dangerously.

“If you just sit silently and listen to your mind, you will find so many voices.” (p.53)

Freedom comes when we stop looking and just be. The moment is all we have. The future: is not yet made and who know what will happen? The past: it corrupts. We should drop becoming. And just be.

This image was actually quite difficult to put together and I'm still not 100% happy with it. I am not a designer.

This image was actually quite difficult to put together and I’m still not 100% happy with it. I am not a designer.

Art of the Luggage Label »

Graphic designer Tom Schifanella collects vintage luggage labels and other travel-related ephemera, all of which can be perused on his Flickr stream.

Luggage labels are fascinating bits of hotel history from the golden age of travel, roughly the 1900’s to 1960’s. During this time these labels were used by hotels as advertising and eagerly applied to steamer trunks, suitcases and all sorts of luggage by hotel staff, mainly bellhops.

Today, these same labels are highly desirable and sought after by collectors all over the world. Many of the designs were produced by some of the best poster designers from the golden age of travel like Roger Broders, Jan Lavies and Mario Borgoni.

Some of the photo descriptions contain background information on their respective locales and artists, while others include links to in-depth articles written by fellow label collector Joao-Manuel Mimoso.

You’ll have to discover for yourself which photos include such bonus content, but that’s part of the fun. It’s like a treasure hunt — though I would argue that exploring this gorgeous collection of vintage travel artwork is its own reward.


The Web of Alexandria »

Expanding on a thought he tweeted a year ago, Bret Victor ponders the ephemerality of the web (i.e. “link rot”):

We, as a species, are currently putting together a universal repository of knowledge and ideas, unprecedented in scope and scale. Which information-handling technology should we model it on? The one that’s worked for 4 billion years and is responsible for our existence? Or the one that’s led to the greatest intellectual tragedies in history?

He continues in a follow-up article:

The “web” is not a part of nature. It was not discovered; we don’t have to just accept it. The “web” is an infrastructural system that was built by people, and it was built very recently and very sloppily. It currently has the property that it forgets what must be remembered, and remembers what must be forgotten. It manages to screw up both the sacredness of the common record and the sacredness of private interaction.

Lots of food for thought here.

Photo: Colin Page

Photo: Colin Page

#1 Dad »

Chris Ying of Lucky Peach recently spoke with Ben Shewry — chef of Melbourne restaurant Attica — about what it means for him to be both a chef and a father:

At least twice a week, I cook for my family. One of the saddest things about chefs is that often they don’t want to cook at home. The most beautiful food you cook should be for your family. But the truth about being a chef is that the most beautiful food you cook is for other people, and that your whole life is based around trying to make other people happy, not your family. That’s something I’m aware of, and so it’s important for me to cook at home.

The Basic Truth About Broadband that Cable Companies Want to Hide »

Matthew Yglesias, writing for Vox examines why only a handful US cities are enjoying world-class internet speeds at surprisingly affordable prices:

This achievement is really impressive when you consider that Chattanooga, Kansas City, and Lafayette aren’t even remotely as dense as Seoul or Hong Kong or Tokyo, which get similar speeds. When we put our minds to it in this country, we can do great things. And what works for Chattanooga could work even better in bigger cities like Chicago or Miami.

But there’s a catch. The American cities that are delivering best-in-the-world speeds at bargain prices are precisely the cities that aren’t relying on Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time-Warner, etc. to run their infrastructure. […] Because while broadband incumbents don’t want to spend the money it would take to build state-of-the-art fiber networks, they are happy to spend money on lobbying.

Fun fact: 2/5 of the Blanc Media team (Shawn and Bradley) are lucky enough to be based in Kansas City and Chattanooga, respectively. The rest of us remain jealous of their internet connections.

Respect Metrics »

Matt Gemmell urges writers on the web to respect their readers:

I have a list of metrics that I automatically – even subconsciously – use when visiting a web site, to determine whether it’s worth my focus. Am I just a pair of eyeballs, or is this author really speaking to me? Have they given due thought to showing their work in the best light, or just thrown it up there? You can tell a lot about how a site’s author, or owning company, feels about you by how they balance the various tensions of design, content, monetisation, functionality, audience retention, and more.

Ideas for Twittering Better »

Adam Keys shares a few thoughts on how he chooses to follow people on Twitter:

Non-brilliant and happy? Probably in! Brilliant and happy? Probably in! Smart with a little bit of edge? Maybe. Just angry? No thanks.

I discovered this post via Patrick Rhone, who adds:

Increasingly, what I’m thinking I’d like from my Twitter stream is “Wow!”. That is to say, each time I open Twitter I would like to see at least one thing that makes it worth my time. Something enlightening or thought provoking or interesting or just makes me smile.

Not a bad idea.

Dreamers who changed everything.

Dreamers who changed everything.

What Steve Jobs and Walt Disney Had in Common »

Director Brad Bird spoke with Esquire about his recent film Tomorrowland (which I just saw the other day and loved), noting that his hero Walt Disney and his colleague Steve Jobs were both big dreamers.

I liked this quote about Disney’s viewpoint (emphasis mine):

People keep thinking the movie is somehow about the part of Disneyland called Tomorrowland and it has a whiff of that, but it’s nothing more than a whiff. What it’s about is the feeling that the word evokes. It tries to take off from the spirit that Walt had about the future and about the challenges of it. And he was excited by it; it wasn’t something that was an anvil waiting to drop on us. He took delight in it. The future was going to be a challenge, but it was also going to be fun and I love that viewpoint.

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Got any suggestions for articles, videos, stories, photographs, and any other links you think we should be posting in our weekly Quality Linkage? Please do let us know on Twitter.