Brian Feeney

Designer & Front-End Developer

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Resident of Brooklyn, NY. Senior Product Designer at the Wall Street Journal.

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April 08, 2018

Twitterless Weekends

Second weekend in a row in which I’ve deleted Twitter from my phone. It’s working for me. No longer feel addicted to it.

April 08, 2018

RSS Revived

Wired.com, It’s Time For an RSS Revival:

For many of you, that means finding a replacement for Digg Reader, which went the way of the ghost this month. Or maybe you haven’t used RSS since five years ago, when Google Reader, the beloved firehose of news headlines got the axe. For others, it means figuring out what the heck an RSS feed is in the first place—we’ll get to that in just a minute. And some of you have already moved on to the next article in your Feedly queue. No matter what your current disposition, though, in this age of algorithmic overreach there’s something deeply satisfying about finding stories beyond what your loudest Twitter follows shared, or that Facebook’s News Feed optimized into your life. And lots of tools that can get you there.”

So many posts these days calling for a big return of RSS. I’m here for it.

March 31, 2018

Eat Real Food

So, for our health, the “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. That can be with or without seafood; with or without dairy; with or without eggs; with or without some meat; high or low in total fat.

The best foods don’t even have labels, because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

From The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right, a conversation with Mark Bittman.

I have a poor diet. Out of laziness, mostly. It helps to read articles like this occasionally to remind myself to be better.

January 26, 2018

Millennials and Capitalism

Michelle Goldberg is not the first nor the only person to make clear why my generation is so quick to balk at capitalism, but I particularly liked this quote:

After the fall of Communism, capitalism came to seem like the modern world’s natural state, like the absence of ideology rather than an ideology itself. The Trump era is radicalizing because it makes the rotten morality behind our inequalities so manifest. It’s not just the occult magic of the market that’s enriching Ivanka Trump’s children while health insurance premiums soar and public school budgets wither. It’s the raw exercise of power by a tiny unaccountable minority that believes in its own superiority. You don’t have to want to abolish capitalism to understand why the prospect is tempting to a generation that’s being robbed.

When you put out a survey to my generation asking in blunt terms, “Capitalism: yay or nay”, you’re going to get a lot of Nays. But I’d argue that nearly all of those Nays are a middle finger to the greedy people currently running things in America. Very few of us are truly anti-capitalist. Very few of us are honestly interested in socialism. Every single article I’ve read arguing that Millennials are killing capitalism comes off as fear-mongering. They read blatantly disingenuous. What we want is simple to understand: We want the Baby Boomer generation to stop stealing from our generation.

January 24, 2018

Doing More of Less

This quote from Robin Rendle struck a chord with me.

In fact, it takes a lot of time to design robust systems that can scale across every part of a UI/product and doing all that work weirdly enough doesn’t feel like work, instead it’s more akin to unnecessary hassle and stress. But I can’t help think that this is what should differentiate the work of product designers from the work of graphic or print designers—and orgs should really incentivize simple and perhaps even boring additions to a system or a product.

At the Journal, I’ve been feeling this acutely. So much of my work is just being focused on not unnecessarily doing anything new, as apposed to designing new stuff. We have a growing UI kit and our goal is to keep it tight. This means I’m constantly pumping the breaks on my designs. Is a new component too unique? Is there another UI element I should be reusing? Does this new component expand the UI kit in a way which opens us up to potential off-brand visuals? It takes a good deal of time to think this stuff through. At some point, it becomes clear that doing less is actually doing more, if that “less” is paired with extra thought.

December 14, 2017

The Music of 2017

2017 was a good year for music. I ended up listening to more tunes than I had since 2013, if I can trust the data at last.fm. Tons of great records. A few really great ones. Here are my lists.

Favorite records of 2017:

  • Mangaliso — Bongeziwe Mabandla
  • Humanz — Gorillaz
  • Damn — Kendrick Lamar###li
  • Drunk — Thundercat

Honorable Mentions:

  • La Confusion — Amadou & Miriam
  • I Tell a Fly — Benjamin Clemintine
  • Capacity — Big Thief
  • Hug of Thunder — Broken Social Scene
  • Chronology — Chronixx
  • Ash — Ibeyi
  • 4:44 — Jay Z
  • Harmony of Difference — Kamasi Washington
  • Sleep Well Beast — The National
  • Africa Express Presents The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests — The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians & Guests
  • In Mind — Real Estate
  • Ctrl — SZA
  • Antisocialites — VVaves
  • Big Fish Theory — Vince Staples

And here’s a public playlist of my favorite tracks of 2017 on Apple Music.

April 05, 2017

Humanz Plus

Albarn revealed today that he has around 40 to 45 Gorillaz tracks in various states of completion, tracks which aren’t on Humanz. And also that he hopes to continue releasing these songs over the next 18 months or so. To this Albarn fan, the idea of a new Gorillaz track nearly every week is amazing. Please let this happen. Gorillaz, more than most any other project out there, is perfectly suitable for this kind of release cycle.

August 03, 2016

Cutesy Design

I’m in total agreement with this article deriding the nature of cuteness in so much of the software and products we use today.

“We’re in the middle of a decade of post-dignity design, whose dogma is cuteness. One explanation would be geopolitical: when the perception of instability is elevated, we seek the safety of naptime aesthetics.”

Ben Chestnut pushed this esthetic with Mailchimp, and wrote a book about it. I actually happen to be smitten with Freddie, the company’s mascot, and how he is used in the overall brand. The trend caught on like wildfire, however, and now so many apps feature illustrated animals hidden among the edges.

The popularity of Tumblr, gifs, and emojis has pushed them into the world of marketing. It really does infantilize the world we live in. There are plenty of sad reasons for why my generation feels a little less like the adults we figured we’d be by now. I’d prefer brands refrain from assuming it’s all a joke worth marketing upon.