Rian van der Merwe

Product manager • Designer • Speaker

I think Anastasia Basil makes an extremely valid point about parenting and social media usage in this post:

Kids don’t belong to parents. Their childhood is on loan to us. It’s our job to raise the kid part the best we can, and then they’re supposed to take it from there. It’s an extraordinary responsibility, isn’t it? To be entrusted with another person’s handful of childhood years.

We want to raise our kids to be self-directed, strong, independent thinkers. Social media prompts them to over-examine the lives of their friends, enemies, celebrities, YouTubers, and an endless parade of strangers and porn bots. The result of this constant “examining” can leave a child feeling empty, or worse: not pretty or funny or talented or well-liked enough. Social media isn’t a game kids play, it’s an online identity they cultivate.

Sobering book excerpt on why we need more transparency about how AI “thinks”:

In the absence of codified humanistic values, what happens when AI is optimized for someone who isn’t anything like you?

I’m a little bit freaked out by this idea that autonomous pricing algorithms might figure out — by themselves and without specifically being instructed to do so — that if they want the highest profit, they should collude to avoid price wars.

Interesting essay about Netflix’s focus on bringing international ideas to a global audience:

Its algorithms are tuned toward expanding your interests rather than narrowing them.

This is Tomorrow Records — currently my favorite record store in Portland. Beautiful space, well-curated collection.

Excellent essay on how design can work better for people, services, and cities together, and not simply individuals. This quote sums it up perfectly:

“Individually-focused interaction design can produce Uber, but not a good city with Uber in it.”

“Stay Tuned!” by Dominique Fils-Aimé is out today! One of my absolute favorite jazz/vocal artists. Play this one loud. It’s subtle and sparse and deserves all the attention you’ve got.

I really like this description of the “flipped workplace” as a model for productive remote-first companies. In short: productive work should happen outside the office, and the office should be used for connection time and collaboration.

📖 Just finished An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. I don’t know if it just caught me at the right time or what, but it’s been a while since I’ve read a book this entertaining and moving. This one is going to stay with me for a good while.

Fascinating article that argues “user-centred design works for individuals, but not for people living together in cities.” It then proposes a more sustainable design framework with some great real-life examples.