The sad truth the Harvard and Western Electric researchers discovered came to be known as The Hawthorne Effect, a form of observation bias. Simply knowing that they’re being measured changes peoples’ behavior, skewing attempts to gather actionable data.

The beauty of this hoax is that it works with any scenario limited to less than a few thousand permutations, and on any service that lets you mark posts or accounts private. Want to prove the Oscars are rigged? Your local school board election? Apple’s stock price? Go nuts!

We can produce a vision of the web that isn’t based on:






We can make a new map. Or maybe reclaim a map we misplaced a long time ago. One built on:






We can use the efficiency and power of interfaces to help people do what they already wish more quickly or enjoyably, and we can build up business structures so that it’s okay for people to put down technology and get on with their life once their job is done. We can rearrange how we think about the tools we build, so that someone putting down your tool doesn’t disprove its utility, but validates its usefulness.

“I see my role much like a small-town praire banker in the 1880’s. My job is to project an aura of calm, solvency, and permanence in an industry where none of those adjectives applies. People are justifiably risk-averse when it comes to their bookmarks, and they are looking for stability.”

The (Guardian) homepage isn’t dead

Interesting. A month before the New York Times internal digital strategy was leaked and its homepage declared dead, the Guardian were saying this:

If you have two hundred years of newspaper heritage behind you, it’s an understatement to say your front page matters. The Guardian has an exceptionally loyal readership, manifested by the high proportion of online readers that pile straight in at the top, at In contrast to a fleeting detour from Google or Facebook, their entry on our front page is their way of “buying the Guardian” - a declaration of faith in the Guardian’s world view.

And this:

The Guardian’s core competence is journalism. Our model in the digital domain is to promote our users’ instinct to head straight for the Guardian’s site – because of what it represents. The Guardian is not an algorithm - it’s a collection of humans with very strong opinions. Our site’s front page needs to convey that.

Two pre-digital institutions, two very different views.

“At Dare Conference 2013 Phil Powell closed his talk with the meme “Everybody you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” He was referring to ‘personal’ battles people cope with, but I think it can also apply to the work itself. Having done a couple digital projects for complex organisations, I know the battles of deadlines, politics, budget, priorities, people and the inevitable compromises. I think most of you do.”