How to Be a Good Digital Citizen

Modern citizens interact with an astonishing number of online communities. But how often do we consider other users as our neighbors? How might this influence our behavior? Below is a brief list of ways to engage in your digital community that will transform you from foreigner to citizen and from observer to participant.

Ways to Engage

  • Write thoughtful product reviews. Include as many details as you can to help other users feel confident purchasing something you both care about.
  • Share what you know. “Because as we move from the information age to the knowledge era, the more ideas you command, the more you will be able to guide the course of your own life and positively impact the lives of those around you.” [1]
  • Consider avoiding anonymity. Using your real name online can make it easier to build relationships across networks.
  • Give to Wikipedia. Yes, money, but also knowledge. It’s not as hard as you think to write or edit articles. “Did you know that many of Wikipedia’s articles on the British aristocracy are written by a sixteen-year-old boy in New Jersey known as Lord Emsworth?” [2]
  • Petition on We the People. The idea of petitioning the government isn’t new, but this online platform is. We the People provides a new way to take action on a range of important issues facing our country.
  • Send feedback to software developers. Grumbling to yourself won’t fix anything. It’s easy to get in contact with the people who make your favorite apps, and they welcome your feedback.
  • Type only if it improves upon the silence. — Modern Gandhi.
  • Memento mori. Digital artifacts are bound to outlive us all. Will you be proud of what your grandkids find when they Google your name?
  • Educate yourself. Not feeling confident? Fear not, you’re more powerful than you think! Plus, your fellow digital citizens are here to help. You can learn almost anything online with services like Lynda.com99u, and of course YouTube to name a few.

By no means is this list exhaustive. Please share your own ideas in the comment section and I’ll consider adding them to the list!

  1. “About Us.” Big Think. Web. ↩︎

  2. Isaacson, Walter. The Innovators. iBooks. ↩︎

Hot Dogs, Rocket Ships, and Elon Musk

What do hot dogs and rocket ships have in common? Nothing without Takeru Kobayashi and Elon Musk. The Elon Musk biography reminded me of “A Better Way to Eat,” a Freakonomics podcast about how Kobayashi revolutionized the sport of competitive eating. Kobayashi attributes his success to ignoring the existing record and conventional way of eating.

Doubt Your Limits

While reading about Elon Musk I was continually struck by a similar theme: ignoring boundaries and limits is key to exceeding them. Like a tight rope walker, he avoids looking down and stays focused on the goal ahead.

During a trip to Moscow in the winter of 2012, Musk and his team received disheartening news that the Russians would not supply rockets to SpaceX at their target price. At one point, one of the Russian’s chief designers actually spat on them. A gesture crossing any language barrier. 

Not long after boarding their plane home, Musk turned to his despondent crew and said “Hey, guys, I think we can build this rocket ourselves.” To their astonishment, he presented them with a spreadsheet detailing his plan, backed by knowledge acquired by veraciously studying the aerospace industry several months prior. Musk took his team from disappointment to game plan before they reached home. His strategy seemed insane, but lo and behold SpaceX is the first private company to reach orbit, doc with the International Space Station, and reinvigorate a nation’s passion for exploring space.

Kobayashi sees the world in a similar way:

I think the thing about human beings is that they make a limit in their mind of what their potential is. They decide, “I’ve been told this,” or “this is what society tells me,” or they’ve been made to believe something. If every human being actually threw away those thoughts and they actually did use that method of thinking [about] everything — the potential of human beings is great, it’s huge, compared to what they actually think of themselves.

Know Your Raison D’êTre

Want to know how Musk inspires people? Clarity. “While the ‘putting man on Mars’ talk can strike some people as loopy, it gave Musk a unique rallying cry for his companies.” His goal is unabashedly turning humans into an interplanetary species. Anyone with similar convictions knows exactly where to look.

Pick Your Passions

While I’m inspired by Musk, I’m also disheartened when I read about innovators who loose relationships with their loved ones because of their endeavors. Balance never seems to be a leading indicator of what makes a successful innovator. I’m continually in pursuit of more balanced individuals making a dent in the universe.

There Is No Growth in Comfort

South Africa was not an easy place to grow up. However, Musk feels his experience was “part of an atypical upbringing—just this insane set of experiences that changes how you view risk.” No one likes suffering, but if you choose to find meaning in it, it certainly eases the pain.

Possibility Thinking

Kobayashi’s ability to look beyond an existing record, and Musk’s ability to look beyond our own atmosphere help us see past our perceived boundaries and limits in order to realize new possibilities.

Episode 4 - Apple Watch

Robby and I continue our conversation about the September Apple Keynote by reflecting on our experience using Apple Watch, discussing how it works now, how we wish it would work, and what might change when watchOS 2 is released.

Listen in on Robby's site.

That's Why We Do What We Do

After the Airstrip demo of Sense4Baby, a maternal-fetal monitoring system, Jeff Williams walked back on stage to discuss new Apple Watch styles. Before he continued he complimented the previous presenter and took a moment to say something heartfelt and seemingly unscripted: "That's why we do what we do. That's why we do what we do."

The fact that he said it twice sticks out in my mind. Even amidst one of the largest crowds in recent Apple event history Williams took a moment to ruminate on what he saw and consider its impact on the world and what it means about Apple.

We would all do well to consider why we do what we do more often. How does our work connect to people's welfare, and what does it mean about the person or place we work for? These are the moments we need to pause and think about, even at unexpected moments like this one.

Creating, Building, and Scaling Your UX Process

Collaboration between UX designers and product designers is crucial when building new products. That’s why we hosted a webinar with Nick Kroetz and Courtney Starr from Prolific Interactive about the good, the bad, and the ugly of UX design; how UX impacts projects; and how to scale the process at a growing company.

Watch the full recording, or read a short recap on the InVision blog.

Writing for Apple Watch

Apple Watch is “the most personal device Apple has ever designed,” and it communicates with its wearers in more human ways than usual. The iOS Human Interface Guidelines state that “every word you display in an app is part of a conversation you have with users.” Let’s take a look at how this conversation has changed with Watch OS by observing a few Activity notifications.

Continue reading on the Prolific Interactive blog.