Now № 10

I like the weather in Amsterdam. It rains, I know. But there are such devices as umbrellas and raincoats. Overall, the winter is far more mild and pleasant than what I’m used to in Kyiv. Much to my surprise, there’s a lot more winter sun here as well.

I’m starting to feel at home in some sense. Biking around is all the fun I thought it’d be. Now that corona theater is waning, we’ve been venturing out more, going to museums and getting a feel for the place.

The Rijksmuseum was, not surprisingly, my first stop. Yes, the fancy Rembrandts and Vermeers are nice. But I enjoyed the modern art section tucked away on the top floor the most. Something about the work of Gerhard von Graevenitz struck me. I could picture creating similar generative art with some CSS and JavaScript.

Next month, I’m speaking at UX Salon WORDS. I enjoyed speaking there two years ago — as nice as in-person things are, being able to present and attend events online opens so many doors that would otherwise remain firmly shut.

Reading around the web

The mental model of folders and files doesn’t work for younger people. This is a really interesting read that devles into the heart of information architecture and mental models.

Wearing surgical masks in Japan was recognized as dependency for the anti-social:

“While some people used to feel safe or secure when going out with a mask, it has reached a stage where they cannot go out without wearing a mask. That’s how serious it is getting,” said Mr Kikumoto, who is a frequent guest on local TV talk shows and news programmes.

The reason for mask dependency, he said, is a feeling of insecurity in public, exacerbated by the proliferation of social media. Many who use social media frequently have become more self-conscious and crave the praise and approval of others. Those who lack such affirmation may then suffer from a deeper sense of inferiority, he added.

“The mask acts as a security blanket, and people with this addiction cannot talk to people without wearing a face mask. And society’s acceptance of interactions behind masks perpetuates such a dependency,” said Mr Kikumoto.

Like any addiction, treatment needs to start with recognition and admission, he added.

This was written in 2017. There’s going to be a lot of damage left over.

The Russia thing

The whole Russia thing has obviously been weighing on me a lot. Thankfully Tania and I are well away from harm’s way, but worrying about friends, family and the house we left behind takes its own toll.

The threat is very real. Then again, the threat has always been there since 2014. While 99 % of the blame lies with the country that’s amassed over 100k troops, there’s a complexity that’s lost in most of the reporting.

There’s been a rush to paint Russia and Putin as cartoonish villains rather than rational actors attempting to achieve logical goals. While I’m firmly anti-Putin, the US media’s hysteria and desire to do something aren’t helping Ukraine at all.

Some reads to consider:

Russia as the great satan in the liberal imagination. There’s an odd obsession with Russia in the West, particularly on Gay rights. This has led to Putin becoming a cartoon villain rather than a rational actor in the eyes of the US media.

It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD. Despite being debunked, there’s still a strong belief among many hawks in the US that Russia is behind a rigged 2016 election. In fact, top democrats admit being tough on Russia is payback for 2016.

Every time a tree falls in the US, it’s because of Russia. Buzzfeed collected some of the worst in this genre.

None of this is to defend the actually awful things Russia does on a daily basis. But panic and nonsense induced by the US media won’t help Ukrainians or Russians that want a non-Putin future for themselves.