the weblog of Winston Hearn

Notes from Pat Toomey's February 16 Townhall

On Thursday, February 16 at 1:52PM I found out that Senator Pat Toomey was holding a town hall at 2:05PM. Virtual only, via phone and web audio means. So I joined. This post consists of the notes I was able to take and links that I think are relevant to the questions he received and answers he gave.

The Intellect of Woman

I am reading A Disability History of the United States currently and in it Kim Nielsen, the author, briefly covers the story of Agatha Tiegel. Her story caught my eye so I did a bit further research.

The Master Switch

cover of The Master Switch by Tim Wu

As a history book, The Master Switch is a good examination of how various communications mediums and industries (telephone, cinema, radio, tv, etc) have grown and shrunk in the past 150 years or so. But Wu claims that these histories unlock for us principles that we can use to understand these patterns; a claim I felt unsupported after finishing the book.

Hope in the Dark

cover of Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

Solnit wonderfully explores the concept of hope by centering it in many civil rights fights from the past few decades. Hope, she argues, must be cultivated and is not something we have because we expect to win, rather it is something we fight to retain even if victory is unclear. The book is relevant, fierce, and helpful for anyone seeking a framework for staying inspired as we look forward to the next few years.

Networks of New York

cover of Networks of New York by Ingrid Burrington

This small guide is an attempt to help readers see the physical infrastructure that underpins the internet. Burrington helps us step away from the strange metaphors and simplistic descriptions we use when talking about the internet to get a sense of how it functions and where all the tubes live.

Americanah

cover of Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A brilliant novel that spans decades and cultures and countries to tell a beautiful story. I read the entire thing in less than a week and was tempted to immediately start it over once finished.

Notes from Let's End Gerrymandering Meeting by Fair Districts PA

Last night (January 25, 2017) I attended the first Philadelphia area meeting to end Gerrymandering, put on by Fair Districts PA. There were easily 300+ people in attendance. Fair Districts PA is a volunteer led organization attempting to start a citizens movement for reforming the way district maps are drawn up in Pennsylvania. This post has my notes from the fantastic presentation given by Carol Kuniholm about the topic of Gerrymandering and how Pennsylvania’s system currently works.

The Sixth Extinction

cover of The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert

In the history of the world – as far as scientists have discovered – there have been five mass extinction events on earth. All have seemed to relate to sudden climate shifts. In this compelling and clearly-written book, Kolbert presents the evidence that we are in the midst of the sixth such event, and furthermore, the evidence implicates humans as the motivating force behind the event.

White Rage

cover of White Rage by Carol Anderson, Ph.D.

This short, straightforward book tells the story of America since the end of the civil war, the story of injustice after injustice being perpetrated against the black community in America by white people in America.

The Empathy Exams

cover of The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison

A fantastic collection of essays meditating on our humanity and the ways that we relate to others. Jamison is interested in what exactly empathy is; how we are constantly being shaped by it; how we delude ourselves into faking empathy.

On Web Typography

cover of On Web Typography by Jason Santa Maria

A small, incredibly informative book that gives you a simple education on the importance of typography, the language of typography, and then a great deal of practical advice for choosing and using typefaces. Jason knows his shit and knows how to teach you what he knows.

Thinking About Winning the Next Election

The 2004 presidential election was the first presidential election I was eligible to vote in. I proudly voted for President George W. Bush’s second term. I did not vote in 2008 because I had gotten married a few weeks prior and neglected to register. If I had voted, it would have timidly been for Barack Obama. In 2012 I did register and vote and I proudly did so for President Obama’s second term. Since November 9, 2016, I’ve been trying to remember what exactly changed my beliefs over those 8 years. Clearly there were some big shifts; what caused them?

Sara Hendren's eyeo Keynote

Sara Hendren’s recent eyeo keynote talk, “Design for Know-Nothings, Dilettantes, and Melancholy Interlopers” is well worth watching and considering.

Some Thoughts on Accessibility

Recently I worked with some coworkers to write documentation on building accessibile web content (which we have since open-sourced as the Accessibility Guidelines) and then, building on that work, I gave a talk about accessibility as a practice rather than task or checklist. This post is a written version of that talk.

Design for Real Life

cover of Design for Real Life by Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher

A book that helps one recenter the consequences of our product design decisions by building empathy and imagination for the myriad contexts people may use the things we build. A must-read for anyone creating things that other humans will use.