It’s an overcast day on Friday, 10 June, 2022 in Portland, Oregon. I do not have much context to set today.
I have a couple of Homepod Minis set up on my desk to listen to music while I work. They’re marginally more reliable if I just cue up music to play on them via Siri, but what I find I’d really love would be an app to control them remotely. And by remotely, I mean a tiny, lightweight app on my Mac desktop, a bit like the old-school iTunes miniplayer. There is a new old-school iTunes miniplayer by Mario Guzman, but it would just be nice to skip around on tracks etc without having to do it by voice. In theory, the iTunes successor Music.app does this, but it does it via Airplaying music from the Mac to the Homepod Mini stereo pair, and the experience is… buggy.
At WWDC Apple also launched a new Human Interface Guidelines resource, via Design Evangelist Linda Dong1. For comparison, here’s the 1987 Apple Human Interface Guidelines from archive.org, and in the manner of the time, it was a ~160 page printed book published by Addison-Wesley.
Caught my attention because: I’m sure (I know ) there are people who’ll make comparisons about what’s missing from the 2022 HIG, and my guess is that it’ll be not only along the lines of detail, but also specificity and perhaps rigor? And also perhaps that the 2022 HIG is an example of Apple’s do-what-I-say-but-not-what-I-do, for that see MJ Tsai’s collection of notes on the new System Settings in macOS Ventura and more specifically Oskar Groth (“Apple is throwing their own HIG’s out the window here”).
An aside: Stage Manager, a new window management feature in Ventura dates back to 2006, and one of the things that caught my attention there is how new hardware (retina displays) makes a feature more usable: higher pixel density means the minimized/miniature windows are more legible than they could have been 16 years ago.
Via a friend, Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, which I will liberally apply and see if it can make any sense in “digital transformation” which is the horrific phrase for “how you do tech in organizations that don’t feel or behave like they have certain behaviors related to how they work with tech”.
There’s a fantastic table, which maps approximate ages against virtues, a key psychosocial crisis, and a key existential question. Here’s a recreation of a few:
At birth to one year, there’s the virtue of hope, with a crisis of trust vs mistrust and the existential question of “Can I trust the world?” which off the top of my head might naively map to “we’re about to start on this journey of doing tech differently*, where are we supposed to begin?”
At 3-6 years, there’s a virtue of purpose (so, perhaps also: focus?), a crisis of initiative vs guilt (do we move forward, or do we feel terrible about the state of affairs we find ourselves in? If we feel terrible or guilty, what do we do with that, do we hide or ignore?) and then the existential question of “is it okay for me to do, move and act?” in which case I’d also map that to “supportive executive leadership” which would enable “trying things and building competency in tools”.
Then there comes middle childhood, of 7-10 years and a virtue of competence, a crisis of industry vs inferiority (are we making progress, or are we forever comparing ourselves agains those who have made more progress (or appear to be making more progress), or comparing ourselves against those in significantly different environments and maturity, like an organization starting out but expecting to attain competency to the degree of a Google, which at this point has had a good twenty-odd years), and then an existential question of “Can I make it in the world of people and things?” which again I guess is comparison, versus perhaps focussing on internal practice, progress, and purpose.
I like looking at these models because they’re focussed on people and “organizations that tech” are nothing if not organizations made of people, and groups of people at differing levels of development. I blame the
parents executive leadership culture.
Speaking of which, if you’re a parent of a certain age these days, then you may be familiar with the concept of a good enough parent, which is as much about dialing back exactly how guilty parents should feel (guilt is an external shaming-shoulding mechanism) and instead focussing on providing, well, good-enough environment, context, direction, reinformcent, encouragement and so on. So I wonder what good-enough leadership looks like. There is probably, and in my mind somewhat cynically and sadly, a good management book in there somewhere. Or at least a Medium essay. Oh wait, someone’s already done it: see the London Business School on good enough leadership. See also the counterpoint on how good enough is really not good enough in leadership, which honestly these days sounds just like a recipe for burnout and an argument about what parameters constitute “good enough”. I am now mildly angry at the latter article for existing, almost as if it’s somewhat clickbait.
The other (another?) way of looking at this is a sort of bizarre “minimum viable leadership” where again you get to have an argument about what “viable” and “minimum” means before you even get to figuring out what “leadership” means. These phrases are great illustrations of how boiling down a complex concept down to a short phrase is helpful to get people interested, and somewhere between very unhelpful to downright maladaptive without deeper understanding.
Okay, that’s it today!
How have you been doing? I love getting notes from readers, even when they are just “hi”. Just a hi can be the start of a wonderful relationship. Or also just a “hi”.