Brian Feeney


A 4.8 earthquake with an epicenter in New Jersey happened this morning around 10:23. I'm sure there isn't a person online who doesn't know about it by now. We felt it at home in Brooklyn. Lasted only long enough for Lisa to realize what it was, and for me to register that our building really was shaking. Then it was over.

Took me another hour for my nerves to calm down. I kept expecting another aftershock, which never came. Glad to hear that so far no serious damage was reported.

April 05, 2024


The Sliding Scale of Giving a Fuck

Dan Mall reminded me of Cap Watkins' great post, The Sliding Scale of Giving a Fuck. I hadn't thought of it in awhile, though it did become a fundamental aspect of my design process. The gist is that you should take into consideration how strongly another person feels about their position in an argument or discussion when deciding a way forward. It's a very useful factor to consider for maintaining healthy relationships with your coworkers.

Like I said, I had forgotten about Watkin's post, but reflecting on it now, I see I've internalized it. In meetings, I prefer to stay quiet and to watch how others stake their claims. The manner in which they take positions is often as revealing as the position they're taking. Are they annoyed? Animated? Angry? Disinterested? Confused? Understanding the moods in the room gives me extra information for how to proceed with my proposals. If most people seem lost or unsure, I feel more comfortable presenting an idea confidently. It's an opportunity to provide structure and momentum when both are lacking. Yet, if someone else in the meeting is passionately arguing for something, I'm likely to provide my opinions softly. I'll share a differing perspective, but in this situation, I'd let it sit on the table and wait for someone else to pick it up. Otherwise, the passionate colleague can have their way.

A lot of this depends on having a trustworthy team. A team that shares goals at a higher level. If we all know we're working towards the same success metrics, it's easier to relax about individual decisions. I'm lucky to be on a team like that now. There's never any doubt we're all looking to make the best products we can.

If you're on a team that's constantly skidding out when disagreements arise, maybe see if The Sliding Scale of Giving A Fuck could help smooth things out.

March 30, 2024


A bunch of really nice web and app design details being collected at Design Spells.

March 27, 2024


Fun and beautiful interactive timeline displaying the contemporaneous lifespans of notable people. Starts at 3345 BC, but really gets going around 600 BC. You can also really see why 500 to 1000 AD is called the Dark Ages; hundreds of years with almost nothing happening.

March 27, 2024


Austin & San Antonio

Lisa and I spent a lovely weekend in Austin and San Antonio. Flew into Austin where we stayed a night at The Line. Met our friend Mikey for a quick lunch and walk. Relaxed at the pool for a few hours, then dinner at Arlo Gray, hanging at the bar. 

The next morning, we went for runs along Ladybird Lake before making the short trip to San Antonio where we stayed with our ex-NYC friends, the main purpose for the trip. We miss them! Spent all day Saturday and Sunday with them and their two girls. I lost a few MarioKart races to their 7 year old, G, so I'm nursing that burn.

We then stayed a night at The Emma hotel on the canal. A treat to ourselves, as we love seeing a lux hotel. Really great bar. Super friendly staff. A+, would recommend. To cap off the trip, a morning 4 mile stroll down the canal and back.

March 26, 2024


From the Washington Post, a "mile-by mile map of the total solar eclipse" that will happen this April 8th. Nice visual for confirming its path, if you weren't sure. Lisa and I will be in Indianapolis for it. Total coverage at my parent's house!

March 15, 2024


News Orgs on the Fediverse

Ben Werdmuller:

Subsequent conversations have convinced me that I'm right about the assertions I made about the Fediverse for media organizations. There's a huge need, a huge opportunity, and the underlying technology is there.
What if we had a great experience that ties together both short-form discussion and re-sharing and long-form reading, in a way that better showcases both kinds of content and realizes that the way we consume both is different? What if it had a beautiful, commercial-level design? And what if it remained tied to the open social web at its core, and pushed the capabilities of the protocols forward as it released new features and discovered new user needs?

I'm on the same page. Media companies and newspapers everywhere could really benefit from a first-class fediverse client built for their exact needs. Posting to social media could be much more functional than sending out a small bit of text and an unfurled URL. I haven't done any exploration on this myself, but I sense in my gut that Ben's correct.

Three immediate ideas. 1) Full control over what content is pushed out to the Fediverse and direct ownership of the conversation which takes place around it. 2) Reporters for a newsroom can post from accounts on that instance, essentially bringing their official social media presence into a verified and trustworthy location. 3) A more controlled environment for publishing breaking news or simple updates.

I'm particularly intrigued by the idea of reporters and editors having their own accounts on a newsroom's fediverse instance. You can't beat the kind of legitimacy that provides. It also greatly extends a paper's reportage, piggybacking off of the personalities they employ. Because of social media, tons of reporters have higher profiles these days. It only makes sense to offer them an official place to break and discuss news related to the coverage of their paper. Of course, plenty of reporters would still prefer to have social media accounts outside of their place of employment. I'm just imagining how fruitful this kind of collaborative opportunity could be.

March 14, 2024


March 13, 2024


Zach Seward of the NYT has published as an article his 2024 SXSW talk on AI and journalism. It's very good! I'm in full agreement with his conclusions. Approved usage for AI: providing assistance with search, data organization, and other creative research methods. What it should not do: write content while pretending to be something it is not. There are legitimate ways to incorporate AI into newsrooms, and Seward has outlined great boundaries around how one might.

March 13, 2024


Ideal Process versus Reality

Matej Latin provides good advice for young designers. Namely, that the ideal process learned from books is not true to life.

[T]he double diamond design process which has been often cited as the design process doesn't reflect reality. It's the perfect ideal that designers strive for but rarely achieve. Designers simply don't have that much control over the influencing factors so a design manager reading through a perfect, cookie-cutter case study, even if it uses the double diamond process, knows immediately that it's fake.

Frankly, I sometimes see advanced designers demanding excessive adherence to process from their reports. I suspect that comes from a lack of faith in their designers, and also anxiety from not knowing every detail of the project. Delegating work means trusting that your staff can handle the job. Overemphasizing a double diamond process (or the related documentation) for every single thing creates a classroom-like environment. It feels less than professional despite being by the book.

March 12, 2024