Design, Digested 53 – The ubiquitousness of smartphones and its consequences
21 May 2024 | 6:14 pm

Of the few articles I read the past couple of months, the most memorable are about smartphones use and the ways modern tech can make us miserable.

The smartphone kids are not all right

So it’s not until 2010–2011 that you have this thing in your pocket, which is not a digital Swiss Army knife that you pull out when you need something. It is now a portal that millions—millions—of companies now can use to get to you, as a child. Without your parents’ permission or knowledge, they can get to you. They can send you notifications. They can try to get you to stop your homework and: Come—look at what someone just said about you.

Senior editor Hanna Rosin interviews social psychologist and author Jonathan Haidt about his recent book The Anxious Generation: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness. She spoke to her son Jacob, too, to juxtapose theory with lived experience.

🔗 Read or listen to The smartphone kids are not all right on The Atlantic

Smartphone pervasiveness

I stop at a red light on the way to the supermarket and notice other drivers next to me automatically reaching for their phones because they have two seconds to spare that apparently absolutely need to be spend on more distraction/addiction feeding.

I already knew everything Wouter describes – it’s difficult to spot people without phones in their hand these days. Still, reading it all in a well laid post gave me the creeps.

🔗 Read Smartphone pervasiveness on Brain Baking

Heat death of the internet

You want to watch a TV show from your youth so you check a streaming service, but it is not there, so you check a second streaming service but it is not there, so you check a third streaming service and it is not there. You search for it on Blu-ray but it doesn’t exist, so you search for it on DVD but it is out of print.

This story is tagged fiction, but I’m sure you’ll find at least one modern life fact you can relate to.

🔗 Read Heat death of the internet on Takahē Magazine

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Reasoning why verbal reasoning tests are bad
29 April 2024 | 1:44 pm

Last week I failed a Product Design / Verbal Reasoning test for a senior role. Today I wrote an email reasoning why I firmly believe that these tests exclude perfectly good professionals. Feel free to use it should you need it.

Hi [recruiter’s name],

As I failed the Product Design / Verbal Reasoning test, I don’t expect the recruiting process to continue.

I would like to offer you my feedback and opinion on the experience, as [company name] might find it useful in the future.

It was the first time I had been asked to perform such a test. My experience was negative, although I still believe I could have been a good fit for the role.

My 20+ working experience is usually enough to start a conversation and give an idea of how I approach problems. Throughout my career, whenever I didn’t know enough about something [the section with the most errors], I studied, asked my colleagues and learned.

I firmly believe that these tests exclude perfectly good professionals, whose talent cannot be reliably measured through such tests. These people might:

  • be neurodiverse
  • have some form of dyslexia (even if they don’t know it yet)
  • have been born and raised in another country and culture, therefore have English as a second/third language
  • not perform well under pressure (see the unnecessarily timed questions)

Yet they’re likely to have had successful careers during which they solved design problems creatively and in harmony with their teams.


I know how difficult it is to hire people today, and it is also very difficult to get hired. I understand that initial screenings can be important. I’m also sure that my feedback is useful, because the candidate’s experience is a crucial part of every company’s culture.

Best Wishes

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From seed to plant
10 April 2024 | 3:07 pm

One of the things I missed most of our life in Cambridge is growing vegetables and flowers. Having a garden is a lot of work, but it’s highly rewarding.

Simone and I have been busy preparing for spring during the last few weekends. We’ve found the mint we planted years ago, moved it to the other side of the garden, and are watching it thrive. From seeds, we planted:

  • the romanesco variety of courgettes, which is sweeter and tastier
  • chives
  • chillies
  • plum tomatoes
  • parsley
  • rocket salad
  • red lettuce
  • garlic
  • mixed flowers
Courgettes small plants growing from seeds
Tulips of the variety Tulipa 'Café Noir'

The next project is to reinstate grass where the lawn suffered. Having adopted a more relaxed approach, most of the moss is going to stay anyway. It looks good, it’s soft, and I like to think that it’s home to many tardigrades.

At the edges of the lawn, many wild plants are benefiting from our new approach, as we didn’t weed them out. Their flowers are going to help insects, and are beautiful to our eyes. I now see a contradiction in wanting to have a garden, and keeping it too tidy. It might be green, but it probably won’t be teeming with life.

Little yellow wildflowers from a shrub
Little white wilflowers

The previous tenants planted some gorgeous tulips, and more daffodils, which we’re now enjoying. These days, the Spanish bluebells are flowering.

Spanish bluebells
Forget me nots

Seeing life growing before my eyes makes me happy. Being in touch with nature has always been important, even more so now, this moment in time when we need hope.

🎶 Listening to

Runaway, by Aurora

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