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robertogreco : nicolefenton   13

Nicole Fenton | Words as Material
"These are some of the questions that have come up for me along the way:

What does writing contribute to the design process?
How can designers use words to articulate what they’re making?
How can we, as humans, benefit from clear language?
How can writing make products easier to adopt and understand?
How can I broaden the definition of “writing” for designers?"



"I believe that writing is part of every design. If you can clearly define what you’re making and articulate its value, the steps to bring it out into the world will go much faster. It’s easy to put pixels together when you’ve already made decisions. And since we work across systems and borders, there’s no better way to articulate design than with writing."



"Language makes it possible for us to navigate places and relationships; to express needs and requirements; to name and categorize things; and to understand our place in the universe."



"Without words, we wouldn’t be able to plan or effect change.

As a technology, writing has many merits. It complements verbal and visual communication. It’s sturdy and can stay put. It’s cheap. It’s easy to change or reproduce. And it moves faster than ships or airplanes. Writing makes it possible to propel knowledge and intent forward through time.

Historically, writing has served us as a force of stability. It gave us a way to record history, exchange information, and establish legal systems. We wrote to preserve knowledge, transmit ideas, and pass on traditions. And of course, we still do those things, even with hypertext. We still treat writing as a product of the editorial process."
nicolefenton  writing  2015  design  words  language  howwewrite  whywewrite  learning  communication  annegalloway  mattjones  frankchimero  abbycovert  clarity  annelamott  thichnhathanh  collaboration  jean-paulsartre  sartre 
june 2015 by robertogreco
nicoleslaw: Reading List
"Working through a stack of wonderful books from women of color and I just want to say thank you. (Finished several of these already and I bought Ms. Angelou’s entire collection for Kindle before getting my library card, but I want to wait before reading the next one.)

• Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay
• Redefining Realness, Janet Mock
• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
• Sister Outsider, Audre Lorde
• The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, Audre Lorde
• Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks
• All About Love, bell hooks
• Trauma Queen, Lovemme Corazón
• The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse, Louise Erdrich
• Women Reading Women Writing, Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Audre Lorde
• Lost in Language & Sound, Or, How I Found My Way to the Arts, Ntozake Shange
• Some of Us Did Not Die, June Jordan

Relatedly, Roxane posted a long list of writers of color on the Rumpus in 2012. Just found this, but it’s quite a gift. [http://therumpus.net/2012/08/we-are-many-we-are-everywhere/ ]"
nicolefenton  booklists  2015  roxanegay  janetmock  mayaangelou  audrelorde  bellhooks  lovemmecorazón  louiseerdrich  paulagunnallen  gloriaanzaldúa  ntozakeshange  junejordan 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Interface Writing: Code for Humans | Nicole Fenton
"What actions can people take? What are you asking them to do?
What are you allowing them to do? What are the rules and dead-ends?
What sort of language do you use to guide people?"

Whatever you’re building, you need to think about the content in the database and the instructions around it. I call those things interface writing. Some people call them microcopy since they’re usually short."



"With clear instructions and a warm tone, you can help them find what they need quickly, without having to ask someone for help."



"When you’re writing for the web, you’re having the same sort of conversation with your readers. You’re telling them to do something or asking them a question. Above all, you want it to make sense and feel natural to them.

Our strings have to be useful—not funny—so we need to do the extra work of figuring out what our readers need. That makes it easier to show people around, ask for more of their time, or get them to take a particular action."



"From a high level, these are my goals when I’m writing strings:

• Be clear.
• Be kind.
• Be careful.
• Be honest.

Focus on the reader’s needs. Think about the implications of what you’re asking for. Be honest about what you’re doing with the data. That’s extremely important."



"Talk to them, not at them. Use positive language and avoid yammering on about your company or your interface. The system isn’t the point."



"Don’t assume you’re the core audience. Most of the time, we’re not designing for ourselves. Think about the universe of people out there. Word choice is extremely important when you’re trying to grow.

Avoid jargon and catchphrases. Cut the bullshit. You don’t have to be hip or clever, but you do have to be nice.

Don’t assume dichotomies or binaries will do the trick. Not everything will fit into a boolean. Real life is complicated. As an example, some people are neither male nor female. They’re still people and they deserve our consideration.

Don’t interrupt. Keep things focused and make sure this is the best time to deliver this message."

[video here: https://vimeo.com/103526258 ]
interface  writing  nicolefenton  2014  tone  instruction  conversation  listening  howweteach  teaching  howto  tutorials  microcopy  interfacewriting  writingfortheweb 
august 2014 by robertogreco
18. Webstock 2014 Talk Notes and References - postarchitectural
[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/91957759 ]
[See also: http://www.webstock.org.nz/talks/the-future-happens-so-much/ ]

"I was honored to be invited to Webstock 2014 to speak, and decided to use it as an opportunity to talk about startups and growth in general.

I prepared for this talk by collecting links, notes, and references in a flat text file, like I did for Eyeo and Visualized. These references are vaguely sorted into the structure of the talk. Roughly, I tried to talk about the future happening all around us, the startup ecosystem and the pressures for growth that got us there, and the dangerous sides of it both at an individual and a corporate level. I ended by talking about ways for us as a community to intervene in these systems of growth.

The framework of finding places to intervene comes from Leverage Points by Donella Meadows, and I was trying to apply the idea of 'monstrous thoughts' from Just Asking by David Foster Wallace. And though what I was trying to get across is much better said and felt through books like Seeing like a State, Debt, or Arctic Dreams, here's what was in my head."
shahwang  2014  webstock  donellameadows  jamescscott  seeinglikeastate  davidgraeber  debt  economics  barrylopez  trevorpaglen  google  technology  prism  robotics  robots  surveillance  systemsthinking  growth  finance  venturecapital  maciejceglowski  millsbaker  mandybrown  danhon  advertising  meritocracy  democracy  snapchat  capitalism  infrastructure  internet  web  future  irrationalexuberance  github  geopffmanaugh  corproratism  shareholders  oligopoly  oligarchy  fredscharmen  kenmcleod  ianbanks  eleanorsaitta  quinnorton  adamgreenfield  marshallbrain  politics  edwardsnowden  davidsimon  georgepacker  nicolefenton  power  responsibility  davidfosterwallace  christinaxu  money  adamcurtis  dmytrikleiner  charlieloyd  wealth  risk  sarahkendxior  markjacobson  anildash  rebeccasolnit  russellbrand  louisck  caseygollan  alexpayne  judsontrue  jamesdarling  jenlowe  wilsonminer  kierkegaard  readinglist  startups  kiev  systems  control  data  resistance  obligation  care  cynicism  snark  change  changetheory  neoliberalism  intervention  leveragepoints  engagement  nonprofit  changemaki 
april 2014 by robertogreco
nicoleslaw: The Old Poems In My Closet
"I used to write poetry. I used to call myself a poet.

The evidence is packed away in my closet. Dozens of journals of juvenilia are sandwiched in an air-tight plastic container between a box of black and white prints and a tub of steel film reels.

I think about going through the old poems in my closet to revisit the memories or turn the metaphors into something useful.

The thing about a poem is that I cannot change it after the fact. I can’t edit my past. And I can’t force the last decade of my life into a poem, or even a phrase, that I scribbled down with fourteen-year-old hands. So I don’t.

I just keep moving them, from house to house, to remind myself that I used to write poetry—and I will again."
nicolefenton  2010  poetry  adolescence  poems  writing  archives  memories 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Writing on Writing and Other Resources ∙ An A List Apart Blog Post
"Some of you asked for further writing resources after reading Sally Kerrigan’s article, “Writing is Thinking,” in last week’s issue of the magazine. Word nerds that we are, we’re more than happy to oblige.

For new writers, or those looking to get back in the habit, we recommend William Zinsser’s On Writing Well. Strunk and White’s Elements of Style also holds a special place in our hearts. Of course, no set of writing resources would be complete without mentioning The Chicago Manual of Style, but Words into Type, Fowler’s Modern English Usage, and Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace are all reference resources our editors find helpful to have on hand as well.

If you enjoyed “Writing is Thinking,” you may also wish to add Draft, from The New York Times, and STET, from Editorially, to your regular reading lists. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and Betty Edwards’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain are also great reads.

Nicole Fenton’s talk from Build 2013 offers great advice for beginning writers, and Mandy Brown’s “Babies and the Bathwater” in Contents is a great piece to read as you begin thinking of your writing in the larger context of publishing and the web.

If you’re looking to make writing a habit this year, you might also consider Relly Annett-Baker’s online course Write On, which begins February 1st.

Please continue sharing your favorite reads and resources on writing with us in the comments. Whenever you’re ready to share your writing, we’d love to hear from you."
writing  resources  via:nicolefenton  annelamott  williamzinsser  sallykerrigan  marieconnelly  rellyannett-baker  mandybrown  nicolefenton  stet 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Power and Responsibility | Nicole Fenton
"When I think about the responsibility we have to each other, this is where I start:

Every kind of user information relates to privacy.

You never know where a trail leads. We are connected in unbelievable ways.

People have the right to know how information is used.

If you ask someone to share information about themselves, help them understand where it’s going and how it benefits other people.

Pain is hard to express.

Abusive situations and topics are extremely difficult to talk about, especially when they’re still happening. Simple words like “no” and “stop” aren’t always enough.

Because my mom supported me with love and asked me open-ended questions, I eventually found a way to express myself and stop the abuse. When we talk about boundaries in our own lives, we help others find the courage and the words to do the same.

We have laws for a reason, but this stuff is complicated.

We build systems that talk to each other. We have to think about good and bad behaviors. We have to use our brains and our hearts. We should be sensitive to difficult situations in everything we make."
abuse  data  databases  privacy  writing  nicolefenton  2013  systems  power  responsibility  metadata  interfaces  search  ethics  history 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Writing for Beginners | Nicole Fenton
"Just to be clear, when I say writing, these are the things I’m talking about:

alerts
blog posts
emails
errors
forms
instructions
labels
names
policies
promotions / ads / marketing
strings
tours

Individually, these are all bits of text. Together, they’re your communications and your interface with readers. They make up your voice and tone. They give your product personality."



"Our writing should have that same flexibility and fluidity. We shouldn’t talk about things as if they’re final, as if they live in their own individual universes. And when we put something into the world, we shouldn’t use words like postmortem that make us feel like we’re no longer responsible for those things. Everything we build depends on us. We have to nurture our work and know it’s going to continually change."



"I used to try to write the beginning of something before I knew where we were going as a team. I would try to introduce the ideas I needed to cover and organize them, even though I didn’t fully understand those ideas yet. And that doesn’t give me a lot of room to change my mind, which I do very often.

So now I start in the middle. I get the most basic thing I know down on the page or the whiteboard, and work my way out, showing my client or my friends, whoever that set of beta readers is for the project, and making it better as I go."
nicolefenton  design  writing  curiosity  2013  neoteny  beginner'smind  shoshin  howwewrite  learning  learningallthetime  voice  flexibility  fluidity 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Editing the Past | Swell Content
"I’m looking into ways of making my posts living, breathing things. I don’t feel like I have any of the answers yet, so I’m compiling some questions about the effects of editing the past.

Looking at the archive…

**As an evolution of feelings**

What’s the best way to update old blog posts? Does my audience care if I’ve changed the meaning of something from 2011 [http://www.swellcontent.com/2011/05/scratching-the-greatest-itch/ ] or simply removed the harshness of my tone? What about the fact that I often write to get it halfway there (or even 5% there), just to help myself understand my feelings?

What if my feelings turn inside out? What if I want to delete something, because it’s just plain bad?

Do I get to decide what’s important as the author? Why? Or do my readers get to decide with traffic, comments, or attention?

Is frequency important, or is all of this an exhaustive attempt at making order out of chaos? [https://readmill.com/nicoleslaw/reads/the-library-at-night/highlights/0i9t9g ] Maybe I should stop right now.

**As a written record**

What are the ethics of deleting something? Or hiding it? What if I just shove it in a corner or an armpit, only to be found by Google or someone with a link? Why bother keeping it there, if it’s not worth sharing openly?

Is it an archive if I don’t preserve my words as they were originally posted? Or does it break the web to think anything should be static for more than a month or two? Do we breathe here in minutes, months, or milliseconds?

**As a resource**

Is this helpful if it’s not updated? Should I announce every change I make, or put notes within each article? Do I get to summarize my own summaries, or is there a more programmatic way of showing changes, like a differential or commit?

Should I notify anyone of anything? Or is it annoying and uninteresting to know about teeny changes on a personal site? But isn’t everything connected? Even if my opinions are small and unsharpened, isn’t that the point of sharing them and working on them over a lifetime?"

[Recorded here ;]
archives  archiving  nicolejones  2013  addendums  changes  history  longnow  past  future  writing  sharing  web  digital  internet  personalarchives  evolution  recordkeeping  time  memory  persistence  change  nicolefenton 
february 2013 by robertogreco
A Tiny Message Strategy Framework | Swell Content
"My favorite part of content work is getting the message right. I love hearing the stories behind people’s ideas and helping them move forward. And doing this work means I get to ask tons of questions like a certain caterpillar.

I think communication is ridiculously powerful. If you can articulate who you are and what you want, you’re more than halfway there. So here are some of the tools I use for message strategy and branding. These are tools, not checkboxes. The hard part goes on inside the noggin.

I’d love to hear what you think. Enjoy."

[Tools are here: https://gist.github.com/2155621 ]

[Related: http://thingsthatarebrown.com/blog/2010/06/making-things-hard/ ]
frameworks  writing  webdev  onlinetoolkit  tools  branding  contentstrategy  content  tcsnmy  communication  nicolejones  2012  nicolefenton  webdesign 
december 2012 by robertogreco
I Want a World | Swell Content - Swell Content
"I want a world where “killing it” and “crushing it” aren’t seen as positives.

Where my daughter is always invited to product meetings and my son can marry his boyfriend, no matter where they live.

Where my sister doesn’t have to pretend she’s a man to feel comfortable online.

Where I don’t have to make jokes about how many white dudes are speaking at a conference or sitting in a board room.

Where nobody has to defend their right to participate.

Where we don’t embrace violence and silencing others in our vernacular.

Where we work together and take the time to understand each other.

Where we listen and ask questions.

Where everyone’s welcome."

[See also: https://twitter.com/nicoleslaw/status/270937047055859712 ]
violence  acceptance  sexulaity  women  workplace  conferences  sexuality  gender  2012  participation  betterworld  inclusiveness  inclusion  nicolejones  nicolefenton  feminism  inclusivity  inlcusivity 
november 2012 by robertogreco

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