The value of creativity, designing our lives, and more

March 23, 2019

I started writing end-of-quarter life reports when I was a fledgling business school hopeful at UW. In fact, my first one was exactly three years ago as I was recounting my decision to take Winter 2016 study quarter off from school. So, without pretense, Q1 2019.

The value of creativity

It feels like there is an overwhelming amount of conversation happening around the future of work and workflows with regard to better automation, the increased development and deployment of artificial intelligence, improved application of machine learning across industries, and so forth. Honestly, I don’t even know where to start with all of it, most of the time. My one surviving take on this for now is that our innate ability to create and be creative as humans will prevail. Value in art is value in things like aesthetic emotion and there’s so much in what it means to be human that the ability to connect to others based on a shared experience isn’t going away soon—therefore, things like fine art and creative combinations will be paramount.

The future of online social spaces

First of all, let me just say that VC Twitter is a hilarious, relatively interesting, and generally insightful place. Vested takes a multi-meaning approach when VCs tweet: it’s a lot of bold takes, startup and tech commentary, and self-aware humor of Patagonia vest-wearing and Superhuman-using investors. To that effect, the knowledge becomes esoteric and humor becomes more specific. Between these and a number of additional factors such as sheer social media adoption and population growth, I think future deeply social spaces are smaller, more atomized, more personal, and more purposeful than a lot of the current products. I’m not alone in this, either, as there are several startups such as Basement tackling just this. I’m excited for the prospect of more chat-room style relationships online, since that’s what virtually all of my online interactions have become.

The design of our lives

AKA the value of good design. Design is intentionality. Our world is demanding and as we learn as a society by recognizing things like millennial burnout, it’s never been clearer to me that products that will excel beyond today must inject good beyond a customer’s use of their product. It’s happening slowly and in small ways such as iOS Screen Time, Twitter’s “While you were away,” and Instagram’s “Your Activity. Better products will tie these functions together and help people break up the monotonous reward cycle (see: Hooked by Nir Eyal. We’re at a remarkable time where we have both the technology and desire to create fully cooperative systems that allow us to focus on personal relationships and meaningful interactions. As obnoxious as those buzzwords may be, they do certainly seem to lend to people’s degree of lifetime fulfillment.

Personal (website) development

As I’ve learned by being a curious human, designer, and now product designer at a young startup focused on growth, I am constantly iterating my own life design and trying to figure things out. Recently, I launched the latest version of my personal website to serve as my main online presence. It allows me to write things like this, too! I know that I prefer for things to feel more complete than not when I ship them, but I’ve become better at just going for it. I’m doing a lot of thinking about my goals and methods—most recently looking at myself as a SaaS product and startup, which is a funny way of figuring out what matters to me, what I see the greatest ROI from in life, and my product plan for growth features. Reframing my own personal development is an ongoing hobby of sorts. I also continue my work on my secondary Instagram, @marawearsstripes, for artistic representations of other personal and emotional development.

Supporting Materials

Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. I love @karaswisher’s ability to ask people the Hard Questions™ and not shy away from some of today’s biggest social and tech issues—because these are the things that matter.

Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard. Again, I appreciate earnest and honest conversations, and @daxshepard excels at talking about funny experiences and life stories in a way that is approachable and delightfully human.

I continue to opt into getting my news from Up First from NPR and The Daily from The New York Times.

I listened to the three-part series about the history of Antitrust sentiment and legislation from Planet Moneyfrom NPR, which was an excellent refresher of AP US History and a valuable, relatively neutral base of knowledge to think about today’s antitrust considerations for companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. (Part I, Part II, Part III)

I’ve been using Libby to listen to audio books, too. I most recently completed Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond.

My coworker showed me a fascinating online publication about fringe tech speculations, Making & Breaking.

Looking Ahead

I have two additional projects (as VC Twitter would say, they’re in “stealth mode” for now), and I’m excited to be able to share more about those as they materialize. Seattle weather has been gorgeous, and I’m enjoying the rare sunny spring days!

This is my first real article! If you feel like getting notified when I post another (quasi-monthly, I’d expect), click here.