No, designers don’t *have* to code.

Over at Wired, Liz Stintson responds to John Maeda’s new Design in Tech Report:

But design’s role in this world is constantly shifting. In his 2017 report Maeda makes the case that the most successful designers will be those who can work with intangible materials—code, words, and voice. These are the designers who craft experiences for the chatbots and voice interfaces people are increasingly interacting with. Maeda cites a blog post from last spring, in which UX designer Susan Stuart makes the case that writing and UX design aren’t so different. “Here’s where I’d like to draw the parallel with writing — because a core skill of the interaction designer is imagining users (characters), motivations, actions, reactions, obstacles, successes, and a complete set of ‘what if’ scenarios,” she said. “These are the skills of a writer.”

This year, Maeda goes deep on this idea of skills, focusing his own on the growing field of computational design (a field he’s pioneered since the mid-1990s). In the report Maeda makes the distinction between “classic” designer, the makers of finite objects for a select group of people (think graphic designer, industrial designer, furniture designer) and “computational” designers, who deal mostly in code and build constantly evolving products that impact millions of people’s lives.

This piece has a deliberately threatening and clickbait-y headline: ‘John Maeda: If You Want to Survive in Design, You Better Learn to Code.’

Maeda’s report doesn’t say designers have to learn to code in order to survive. What he focuses on is the importance of ‘computational design’ in the worlds of technology and business and about how we need to evolve the way we solve problems.

The never-ending question “should designers know how to code” is vague and moot because if you’re someone who makes money as a digital designer (website, mobile app, user interface), you already know something about code.

There’s a wide spectrum of ‘understanding code’ and a digital designer can lay at any point along that spectrum. You could be fluent in PHP and know how to hand code custom WordPress themes, or you might only have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS. Both scenarios can lead to you being a valuable designer.

The most important thing designers need to know is what technologies exist and are emerging, how those technologies work, so that they can apply that knowledge to their problem-solving.

“a garbage bill that can’t pay for itself”

Friend and DE contributor Bryan Larrick on his experience with Obamacare:

Obamacare has faced regular attacks from the Republican Party, since before it was even passed. It was victim to such rhetorical fantasies as death panels and the like. The act fit in nicely with all of the other fevered conspiracy theories surrounding the Obama administration, and like all those others, none of the dastardly things said about Obamacare were true. And these false narratives about the act still hold sway among members of Congress as they pander to the extreme members of the party’s base. When he announced the AHCA, House Speaker Paul Ryan, one of the most craven men ever to serve in Congress, said, “This unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare.”

Did I write that Paul Ryan was craven? Because it actually takes some stones to stand in front of a bank of microphones and say something so utterly, completely untrue. Suffering? Suffering?! Tens of millions of Americans who did not have health insurance before Obamacare now have it. These are people who no longer have to worry about financial destruction should they get seriously ill. Also, because they have insurance, these millions are now more likely to seek out preventive care, which leads to a healthier and longer life, and lowers the overall cost of healthcare in the long run. I am one of those people.

Bryan admits the ACA is not perfect, but what Republicans are proposing with the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is straight up hostile to the people of the United States.

The term ‘Obamacare’ was a nickname Republicans came up with to place blame on Obama for creating what they saw as a horrible healthcare system. The negative connotations — and ignorance — towards ‘Obamacare’ are so strong in certain parts of the US that people will say they agree with the goals of The Affordable Care Act but don’t like Obamacare. Jimmy Kimmel was nice enough to do a multi-part series to show this in action.

I find it ironic that in hindsight, ‘Obamacare’ could end up having positive connotations in light of the shit sandwich Paul Ryan has presented with the AHCA and what many of his fellow Republicans are rejecting.

No, you shouldn’t always listen to your elders.

Noam N. Levey on the losers in Trump’s victory:

Americans who swept President Trump to victory — lower-income, older voters in conservative, rural parts of the country — stand to lose the most in federal healthcare aid under a Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, according to a Times analysis of county voting and tax credit data.

Among those hit the hardest under the current House bill are 60-year-olds with annual incomes of $30,000, particularly in rural areas where healthcare costs are higher and Obamacare subsidies are greater.

In nearly 1,500 counties nationwide, such a person stands to lose more than $6,000 a year in federal insurance subsidies. Ninety percent of those counties backed Trump, the analysis shows.

And 68 of the 70 counties where these consumers would suffer the largest losses supported Trump in November.

We’re seeing a scary scenario unfolding.

Oh, and the irony:

Meanwhile, higher-income, younger Americans — many of whom live in urban areas won by Democrat Hillary Clinton — stand to get more assistance in the Republican legislation.

Is this what Trump voters think “Make America Great Again” looks like?

Pass the Heinz

50 Years Later, Heinz Approves Don Draper’s ‘Pass the Heinz’ Ads and Is Actually Running Them:

In a meta union of advertising’s real and fictional worlds, Heinz just greenlighted the ads—and will run them almost exactly as Draper intended, beginning today, in print and out-of-home executions in New York City.

So great. Mad Men is one of my favorite shows of all time (Breaking Bad is still in the #1 spot).

The ads really are clever too. This is why Mad Men was such a great show: it was well-written and Matthew Weiner’s attention to the details of the ’50s and ’60s was fanatical.

Google’s Slackalike

Google Hangouts is getting a major overhaul to take on Slack:

If you know anything about Google’s messaging strategy in the last few years, you know that it’s been a bit of a mess. Allo, the consumer app, launched without the cross-platform features users expect. Text messaging on mobile is mired in inter-carrier warfare. And Hangouts has become a punchline.

On two of those fronts, Google has been making progress. And today, in a bit of a surprise, Google has signaled that it finally decided Hangouts is supposed to be: a business communication tool to complement its consumer apps. We’re now getting a glimpse of what that means — and if the early demo I saw is any indication, it might be time to stop making fun of Hangouts.

That’s because Hangouts is turning into a group chat system that looks a hell of a lot like Slack. Like Microsoft, Google is launching a Slackalike — and like Microsoft, it’s betting that deep integration with the rest of its office suite is going to be catnip for IT managers and cost-conscious CFOs.

I’ve used Slack at different companies and projects over the last three years and I’ve never understood what all the hype was about. To me it was just the newest kid on the messaging block. Then about two weeks ago I started a new job and the company I work for uses Hipchat. I immediately became aware of how inferior Hipchat is to Slack. There is zero delight, personality, and thoughtfulness to it. Sometimes you don’t miss something until it’s gone.

For all the great thinking that went into the design and usability of Slack, I’ve always found it to be where people waste a lot of time sharing links, videos, animated GIFs, and chatting about things unrelated to their work.

If I ran a company, I’d be willing to try offsetting time wasted on Slack by eliminating email.

Tarkovsky

Frank Chimero on Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky:

When the world is brash, fast, and stupid, we must seek out what is quiet, slow, and intelligent to brace ourselves against the world’s madness. I have been under the influence of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s movies for the last few weeks, finding them to be a source of the comfort and beauty which the world seems not equipped to provide right now. Tarkovsky’s movies could be interpreted as sad, but it is a typical American trait to mistake slowness for sadness.

America’s dysfunction is now wed to its antagonistic relationship with Russia, and I take comfort that the Russian powers that be did not care much for Tarkovsky either. They found his spirituality, ambiguity, and grandiosity dangerous, so they embargoed and delayed all of his films. But I adore well-earned spirituality, ambiguity, and grandiosity, so of course I like Tarkovsky too. Everything his countrymen found dangerous about his work I find essential.

It was only last year that I saw my first Tarkovsky film, Solaris. I’ve heard it described as a ‘Russian 2001: A Space Oddyssey‘, but that’s an inaccurate oversimplification.

I enjoyed it, and I agree with Chimero: it required patience (it clocks in at 2h 49m) and engagement to watch, but it was worth it.

I’m confused. Is this a plan or a plan?

Trump on the ACA replacement Republicans in the House of Representatives are proposing:

“We’re going to do something that’s great, and I am proud to support the replacement plan released by the House of Representatives,” Mr. Trump said. “This will be a plan where you can choose your doctor, and this will be a plan where you can choose your plan. And you know what the plan is. This is the plan. It’s a complicated process, but actually it’s very simple, it’s called good health care.”

Boy Trump has a way with words, doesn’t he?

It sounds like there are a number of Republicans who are not happy with it:

“This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we’ve been waiting for,” said Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, who was joined by a constellation of conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, Heritage Action for America and Charles G. and David H. Koch’s Americans for Prosperity. “It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction. We promised the American people we would drain the swamp and end business as usual in Washington. This bill does not do that.”

Since the introduction of the ACA in 2010, Republicans have been more focused on dismantling it, than conceiving of an alternative.

“There’s a glitch, and we are in it.”

Did the Oscars Just Prove That We Are Living in a Computer Simulation?:

This wasn’t just a minor kerfuffle. This was a major malfunction. Trump cannot be President; forgetting all the bounds of ideology, no one vaguely like him has ever existed in the long list of Presidents, good, bad, and indifferent; no one remotely as oafish or as crude or as obviously unfit. People don’t say “Grab ’em by the pussy” and get elected President. Can’t happen. In the same way, while there have been Oscar controversies before—tie votes and rejected trophies—never before has there been an occasion when the entirely wrong movie was given the award, the speeches delivered, and then another movie put in its place. That doesn’t happen. Ever.

And so both of these bizarre events put one in mind of a simple but arresting thesis: that we are living in the Matrix, and something has gone wrong with the controllers. This idea was, I’m told, put forward first and most forcibly by the N.Y.U. philosopher David Chalmers: what is happening lately, he says, is support for the hypothesis that we are living in a computer simulation and that something has recently gone haywire within it. The people or machines or aliens who are supposed to be running our lives are having some kind of breakdown. There’s a glitch, and we are in it.

Conan is right. Cut old Warren Beatty some slack.

It was the simulation’s fault, not his.

Greyball

How Uber Deceives the Authorities Worldwide:

At the time, Uber had just started its ride-hailing service in Portland without seeking permission from the city, which later declared the service illegal. To build a case against the company, officers like Mr. England posed as riders, opening the Uber app to hail a car and watching as miniature vehicles on the screen made their way toward the potential fares.

But unknown to Mr. England and other authorities, some of the digital cars they saw in the app did not represent actual vehicles. And the Uber drivers they were able to hail also quickly canceled. That was because Uber had tagged Mr. England and his colleagues — essentially Greyballing them as city officials — based on data collected from the app and in other ways. The company then served up a fake version of the app, populated with ghost cars, to evade capture.

It seems every aspect of Uber is shady as hell. From Greyball, to their toxic work culture filled with cases of sexual harassment, to not wanting to pay drivers as employees with benefits.

In 2015, I linked up to an interesting story of a journalist who went undercover as an Uber driver to find out if it was possible, as Uber claimed, to earn $90K a year driving for them. Spoiler: it is not possible.