seeking better questions

Winston Hearn, who is me, is a person who reads and writes and fumbles towards better questions to ask. This site is where I collect my thoughts on books I'm reading, the tech-driven world we're building, and anything else I find interesting. I currently work for Vox Media as a Sr. Front End Engineer.

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.

Wild Ones

cover of Wild Ones by Jon Mooallem

An enjoyably written book covering the depressing and yet somehow simultaneously inspiring ways that humans have worked to preserve endangered species. A meditation on the the vast ways we impact the earth and how hard it is to change course once the scope of our impact becomes obvious.

Merchants of Doubt

cover of Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway

What if the most controversial scientific issues in public policy in the past half century weren’t actually controversial? This book lays out a well-documented case that specific scientists conspired to influence issues ranging from the danger of smoking, the influence of CFC’s on the Ozone, to the ongoing denial of climate change.

A Web For Everyone

cover of A Web for Everyone by Sarah Horton and Whitney Quesenbery

A book focused on helping the reader develop accessible web experiences by applying Universal Design principles.

Climate Change: Is the Science Settled?

A lecture that is as much about how confident we are in the science of climate change as it is about the philosophy of science and how that informs the ways we gathering and understanding data.

On Political Correctness

An excellent essay from Sady Doyle about how to conceive of “political correctness” inside comedy, but with applications to all of art.

Agency in the Context of Social Media

A quick scroll through Twitter wrecked me for an evening. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon nor exactly accidental from the perspective of product-designers. Let’s talk about that.

Thursday Links: Stuff I've Enjoyed Recently

There is no over-arching theme this week, just a collection of pieces I’ve read in the past few weeks that I really enjoy. Click, read, grow in your knowledge and curiosity!

Documenting Considerations and Constraints

An idea for sharing constraints and considerations that can inform module building on the web. Inspired, somewhat, by hospitals.