Doubleshot · · 3 min read

☕️ Doubleshot • Tension

The most interesting explorations are those that show something unexpected: a constellation of system features that creates a slight unbalance or a new focal point in the composition.

☕️ Doubleshot • Tension
Doubleshot 04

Welcome to the fourth Doubleshot newsletter! Thanks to everyone who read the last one, and welcome to the new subscribers we’ve gained since then. I’m still testing out the best approach for sharing these, so let me know what you think.

And if you like it, forward it to a friend 😀

🧑‍💻 Tension

When I lived in New York, a trainer once told me, “where there’s tension, there’s life.” Something more poetic than I was expecting to hear at the gym. But that line stuck with me, especially as I tried other things to push and expand my abilities. For example, I took vocal lessons for a while. Tension cropped up there in the form of where I was comfortable going with my voice. But, knowing that where I felt tension, I had a task: I could at least explore (if not expand) what my coach called the “house” of my vocal range rather than living in just one or two rooms.

At work, we also talk a lot about “tension” during the design process. Working on a design system, we have a certain duty to a sense—if not a reality—of objectivity: people across the company (and beyond) look to us for guidance on what they “should” do with their design. So, as we work to create a system for the whole company that transports usability, appeal, brand identity, and aesthetic flexibility in one package, we end up drawing and validating tons of ideas. The most interesting ones—and this is where “tension” gets said a lot—are those that show something unexpected: a constellation of systematic features that creates a slight unbalance or a new focal point in the composition.

Here, too, there is life. The capacity of the design system to expand, breathe, and evolve is shown when we run into tension, either by flexing system capabilities to find their breaking point or when we run into new use cases with partners that call for a new approach.

Another way of thinking about it is by replacing tension with contrast. Creating contrast, whether it’s through color, texture, size, placement, or visual weight, can take us in an interesting direction and spark new ideas.

📚 One thing Google+ got right

It’s no secret that I really enjoyed Google’s foray into social media while it lasted. At the height of Google+, I was writing for Android Police, and many Android dev, customization, and fan community members were hanging out there.

I won’t get into the whole narrative arc of Google+, its missteps, and how it eventually ended up closing, but suffice it to say it didn’t stick around long.

Since then, a lot has changed about social media. As I’ve written on the site, the whole concept of how social networks work is being deconstructed right before us. Maybe it’s a reaction to years of context collapse, where social sites and their associated algorithms place all kinds of content together with no way to consider or account for the emotional or discursive tenor of the whole picture. Decentralized platforms are picking up steam, and one reason I’m excited for that comes back to Google+.

Specifically, the “circles” and “channels” concepts from G+. Circles were essentially self-constructed lists of people you followed. Some circles could be shared, letting you tap into a given community or set of news sites. But most circles were personal, allowing you to tailor who saw your content whenever you posted. Content made for a certain group, community, or location could be shared specifically with a given circle.

Channels were essentially a way to subdivide the content you posted into topics, letting people follow or unfollow specific topics from your feed. So if, for example, you wanted to follow me for Material Design info, you could follow that topic without following my whole account.

I think this subdivision of content made the site calmer than it may have been otherwise, combatting context collapse and helping users carry out their intention (both for their content and their scrolling experience) rather than imposing an intention on them algorithmically.

This is part of the reason I’m excited for decentralized platforms, and excited to see that Ghost (the CMS powering this site) is working on their own integration there, too.

That’s it for now. If you’re not already signed up and want to get the Doubleshot in your inbox with members-only content, just hit the “subscribe” button to sign up!

See you next time ✌️

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