Simple Methods Save Lives: Who Needs Fancy Technology?

When I saw this article over at Slate, it really struck a chord. “Endless Blood. How smart use of an old technology is saving women’s lives.” Dr. Chavi Eve Karkowsky writes about how protocols and communication between team members combine to save lives, in a way that expensive technology can fall short.

I’m a huge fan of technology. And I’m an even bigger fan of simplicity. I love the efficient, especially when it’s applied to life’s big problems.

Saving women’s lives after childbirth would qualify as one of those big problems that begs for huge, expensive solutions. But, Dr. Karkowsky demonstrates that sticking to tried and true, non-technical techniques gets wonderful results.

My work is in magazine publishing, admittedly not a life-and-death pursuit. Still, I think any project can benefit from the takeaway here. By setting aside time to coordinate efforts — to use what’s readily available, but in better, more efficient ways — we can accomplish great things. It’s not always necessary to invest in expensive hardware and software systems to get results. I’d go as far as to say that it’s a waste of resources to invest in any system if you’re not also exploring non-technical solutions to the problems your business faces.

By habitualizing the process of thinking through better processes, we may save some lives. Well, for most teams, at least we can save a project.

Empathy Over Logic

Here’s an excellent discussion of the importance of remembering how human beings work, when you design anything for humans. Megan Schwarz is a User Experience Architect in Michigan and Brian Bono is a Detroit based art director and designer. The link is a transcript and podcast from their talk at 2014 IA Summit in March 2014 in San Diego.

Slowing Down the Machine: Interrupting Process for the Greater Good

In Boxes & Productivity

Inbox-logoGmail’s Inbox has me thinking about my email as a task list, now more than ever. I’m trying out this new way of managing my messages now.

I’m having fun with the UI on my phone, and the new terminology. I can “sweep” bunches of emails into a “done” pile, now. It’s just so much more satisfying than archiving ever was, but really you are just archiving your messages like before.

I used to scroll through page after page of messages that I wasn’t quite ready to delete, but I wanted to file them … some day. Now I just sweep them away. I’m still postponing the filing/deleting, but I get all the nonsense emails out of my way, and I can deal with the important messages in no time.

Impressively, using this for a couple of days, I was able to cut my unread messages down from thousands to none. I’m actually dealing with messages as they arrive now. Unheard of.

I use the Inbox app pretty much exclusively on my phone now, but I still use the old Gmail UI on the desktop. I find it’s easier to search and select multiple emails.

There are other features of note, like bundling and pinning and being able to set alerts. But the big one for me was reducing all the message clutter. So, thank you, Google.