What we've been reading: UX, open offices and AI

  1. what we've been reading
    Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Business Editor, UKBF & AWEB Staff Member

    Posts: 91 Likes: 18
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    Greetings UKBFers and congratulations for making it to yet another Friday.

    Throughout the week, I read all manner of weird and interesting pieces of journalism. So, every week I’ll share some of my favourites: articles that made me think, laugh, cry or just confused me. Whatever.

    Check it out, and if you’ve read anything cool this week, share it in the comments and I’ll be sure to check it out!

    What is UX writing?

    Its slightly cringey acronym might make you wince, but good UX (or user experience) design can make the world of difference. A lot of it flies under the radar since you don’t actually notice good design.

    Traditionally, our understanding of UX has largely centred on interfaces. Think drop down menus and home pages. But now there’s a new a facet of UX that has started to blossom: UX writing.

    Of course, no small business can afford the luxury of a dedicated UX writer. That’s a decadence that is reserved for software companies, but this article by Lisa Sanchez offers fantastic advice on how to communicate better.

    Too often a business’s website is scuppered by poor writing. To be clear, grammatically correct writing can still be poor. It’s not just about filling your website’s wire frame, “it’s about designing the conversation between a product and its user.”

    Overrated: open offices

    The 21st century cattle market, or as it's more commonly called: the open plan office. In a relatively short time frame we’ve shifted from cloistered cubicles to everyone having a 360 degree panorama of their office.

    The open office is often raised as a benefit. Companies brag about minimalist offices filled with underpaid Millennials. But anyone who has ever tried to take a phone call in an open office knows it sucks.

    So how did we get here? And what would be a better alternative? Overrated takes a look.

    Roko's basilisk

    Okay, just stick with me here for a second: in the future, there will exist an all powerful AI. This AI is so powerful that it could “retroactively punish those who did not help bring about its existence, including those who merely knew about the possible development of such a being”.

    This is Roko’s Basilisk, a sort-of weird futurist version of Pascal’s Wager. Do you want to risk the AI’s wrath by not helping to create it? And if you do choose to create it, thereby create an evil ultimate superintelligence?

    Beneath the initial weirdness of the quandary, you’ll discover a surprisingly deep set of philosophical questions. This Rational Wiki article runs through them all and is a great way to kill a couple of minutes (or hours) [or days].

    The repressive, authoritarian soul of “Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends”

    Hey, remember that episode of Thomas the Tank Engine where the Fat Controller cruelly punishes one of the trains for disrupting the work day?

    Me neither. But it did happen. And actually, the second you see past the nostalgic fog, you notice a simmering totalitarian soul within the show. The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino - a fantastic writer if you want to check out her other work - takes a look at how the show hid a dark message in plain sight.

    And then we wonder, what other things from the past do we misremember?