Category Archives: hypotheses

Time for a different solution for personal data on social networks

Many of the good ideas below came in talking about personal information with Doug Fritz, the bad parts are my own ideas. When Friendster and Flickr started getting traction (2002 and 2004 respectively), I wasn’t a huge fan of the functionality, but the social aspect was totally addictive. I got seriously into each (and even […]

Saving newspapers and books, writers of all kinds

In an article about the politics and economics of consumer choice in cable entertainment (“Bland Menu if Cable Goes à la Carte”) in the New York Times, the author talks about how it’s actually a good thing that the costs of producing niche programming are borne by all cable subscribers, as otherwise such programming would […]

storytellers vs. searchers

[see updates, below] My brother, Michael A. Clemens, is an expert on issues of economic development and was recently asked to do a book review for the pre-eminent journal of thinking on international politics, Foreign Policy. I am not able to appreciate his work fully, but I know he’s very smart and worked very hard […]

“What can design do?”

In a meeting last week, I said I wanted to try to involve some other designers in a project, but just got a blank look and the question “what can design do?” — designers can’t really help with the actual making of the product, they meant. Ugh. It’s true: Silicon Valley-type engineers and other very […]

ideal use case for tagging behavior

This screengrab is the list of tags for a Flickr photo I ran across randomly. It feels more like micro (or nano?) blogging than tagging, in fact it’s anti-social! I love casual personal revelations. It feels like there is a great deal of rich meaning in fragments of thoughts and ideas set down semiprivately (in […]


Everyone looking for a new idea or some freshness for an existing design talks about sparks. I agree: we all want sparks, inspiring ideas, glimpses of possibility, etc. But real sparks are just like the metaphorical kind: they are fleeting, hard to produce, startling, and leave a strange burning smell in the air. Making really […]

Intelligent design vs. Evolution

At my job (and in Silicon Valley in general I think), Agile development is supposed to be the best way to do things. Specifically, the Scrum method encourages an evolutionary approach, where an entire team works together in short cycles and creates a product iteratively (first a barely-functional demo, then a rough prototype, then a […]


There’s nothing quite like taking care of my daughter to blast away selfishness, bitch-slap my inner child, napalm my therapist, etc. And I’m doing just great. Right about the time I’m congratulating myself on how far I’ve come is great timing for another reminder, though. Just the other day, we had a blow out. I […]