Now on A List Apart: Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, we all had problems trying to figure out what the best way to set context for communications were. Then one woman noticed that we could use the format of a good old fashioned fairy tale to introduce basic storytelling skills that provide succinct and clear messages to our peers. She wrote a story about it for A List Apart, and there it garnered a reasonable amount of acclaim and interest.

Read Once Upon a Time on A List Apart.

Now on The Pastry Box: Cultures of Learning (and a tribute to Oliver Sacks)

For my September column on The Pastry Box, I wrote about learning, our role in it as designers, and Oliver Sacks.

This post was written the Sunday before my Thursday slot, not long after I learned that Dr. Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and author, had died of cancer.

It was written after a night of wild dreams regarding immortality and the quest for it – and the consequences of achieving it. (That one is going to be a wild ride of a short story some day.)

It was also written after I was up way too late watching TED talks with my husband about learning and addiction and all kinds of other things.

And all of that was after a day filled with pinball, yard work, and dinner with a close friend.

The best days are the days when my brain blends together a dozen different unrelated thoughts and knits them together into something with a little bit of meaning. I hope you find this to be one of those.

Now on The Pastry Box: Wasted Time

This month I ran into three or four occurrences of people feeling like they were wasting time at work — not because they were surfing Facebook or anything that dramatic, but because projects were canceled, people were moved around, and things they’d worked hard on were clearly not going to come to fruition the way they’d expected.

That’s not wasted time. Wasted time is when you don’t add value — to yourself, to your family, to your clients or employer, to whoever matters to you.

I provided one example in this month’s post, but there are dozens of others. You’ve probably had a few yourself.

Plus, hopefully I’ve planted this delicious ear worm.

Now on The Pastry Box: Can’t

This month’s post on The Pastry Box is about using the word “Can’t”. When we use can’t, we frequently mean “won’t” or “haven’t considered” or “don’t want to”. My argument is that we should try to reserve “can’t” for times that you actually are not able to do a thing — for example, when you can’t talk to a satellite any faster than the speed of light.

Grace Hopper illustrates what it means when you can’t do something, at 4:23 in this video. (The rest of the video is worth watching too.)

I hope the next time we say we can’t do a thing, we mean we can’t do a thing — and if we won’t or haven’t considered or do want to do it, we’ll say that instead.