The Problem with Summer Reading

So much yes to this!

The Problem With Summer Reading by Carolyn Ross (posted on The Millions, July 25, 2013)

I was a voracious reader on my own but I hated reading for school. It was never any fun when it was for school. I understand that reading is essential for childhood learning in almost every respect—but this is not the way to encourage kids to want to read.

Ironically, I never read any of the assigned books for my classes in junior & high school—but I’ve read every one of those books on my own just for fun (and because I think it’s important to be well read) since then. The mere act of assigning the book automatically made me not want to read it.

Over the years, I’ve spoken about this phenomenon with many people—friends, coworkers, classmates—and I’ve been struck by how many people had the exact same experience in school. Moreover—it tends to be the most well-read and best educated people who felt this most acutely.

When the people who love reading the most hate reading for school… that should tell us something.

Design & Ethics

I think everyone who has any role in the design of user interaction environments, no matter how peripheral or glancing (and yes – book displays and public service desks count!) should read this article.

Manipulation and Design by Jon Kolko (posted by UX Mag, July 23, 2013 – Article No. 1059)

His critiques are spot-on and his conclusion is important. Such considerations may seem overwrought in the context of public service desk or book display design, but the ethical responsibility to help is appropriate for all—and especially for libraries.

The Dangers of the Comfort Zone

As I mentioned in a post last week, I have a lot of significant anniversaries in the first half of July. I want to talk some about how I got to where I am today. But first, I want to share this blog post:

Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life by Leo Babauta (posted on Zen Habits, July 12, 2013)

This is one of the wisest and most important things I’ve read. It resonates deeply with me. And there’s a lot of history which explains why I find this post is so meaningful.
Continue reading “The Dangers of the Comfort Zone”

Microinteraction Design

Microinteractions book cover
Microinteractions: Designing with Details by Dan Saffer, published by O’Reilly Media, 2013.
I’ve been hearing about microinteraction design rather a lot in the last couple of weeks. This morning, a coworker sent me a link to an article on Fast Company about Dan Saffer’s book, Microinteractions: Designing with Details.

The Future Of UX Design: Tiny, Humanizing Details (posted on July 2, 2013)

(It’s worth reading not just for the article but for the comments, as well – they’re pretty amusing!)

I really like the philosophy of microinteraction design. It appeals to what I understand about neurology – that we’re evolved to be paleolithic hunter-gatherers and our brains are wired to take in all the little details of our surroundings (animal sign for food and danger, edible plant sign, water sign, weather sign). Our fundamental functioning of mind is based on being hyperaware of the details around us, the visceral input that informs all of our interactions with the world. It’s the details that wake up our full attention and spur our brains to engage at their fullest capacity. It’s the details that make things really real for us. Microinteractions fulfill a similar role in a digital environment as visceral input in the analog world.

In particular, I like microinteraction design as an alternative to skeuomorphism – which does have legitimate uses (particularly for people who aren’t entirely comfortable in digital environments) but tends to be inelegant, clunky, and overly relied upon as a crutch for bad designers.

As my coworker summed up microinteraction design:

Indeed, details are everything – people pay attention to their comprehensive experiences, whether it’s IRL on online. Sites that are enjoyable to navigate/explore are products of thoughtful planning and design; since users have become much more discerning about site structure/features, more sophisticated (but not overly complicated) design approaches are needed.

I love this design philosophy and I’m eager to see what we can do with microinteractions.


I feel a bit guilty that I’ve allowed this blog to languish lately. Aside from a spate of posts the other week, my frequency has dropped noticeably over the past couple of months. It’s summer, so when I’m home I want to be outside and not sitting in front of my computer writing. And we’ve been really busy here in the Kansas City Public Library’s Digital Branch so I haven’t had the kind of time I normally do to write.

  • We just launched our newly upgraded online catalog.
  • We’ve launched – and are getting ready to launch – some new online content services and databases.
  • We’ve had our Summer Reading Program going on; we’re also setting up for a major Big Read program this fall and we’re planning to make the online components more robust than we’ve ever done.
  • We’re getting close to launching our revamped dedicated local history website, The Civil War on the Western Border, which has been in development for some time now. It’s going to offer some features that are truly unique for history websites.
  • We’ve begun the first steps toward planning a complete redesign & upgrade of the Library’s website and we’ve made some initial incremental changes already.

It’s exciting times!

Today is the 5th anniversary of my first date with Julie – next Tuesday is our 4th wedding anniversary. Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of me starting my employment at KCPL. July 1st is the day we left Chicago and arrived in KC to stay.

With all these big milestone anniversaries, I’m thinking a lot about all the decisions I made, and actions I took, that have brought me to where I am now. So I’m working on a couple of personal reflection posts to go up in the next week or two.

Stay tuned…