Posts Tagged ‘dylan wilbanks’

Unicorny

Sunday, February 16th, 2014
CSSquirrel #108: Unicorny

Unicorn has become something of a loaded term, especially when “UX” joins forces with it, creating a web design Ubermensch that rivals the Jackalopian ‘designelopers’ of yore.

For me, the UX Unicorn has been the phrase used to refer to a rare combination of coding, design, and UX skills that somehow creates a generalist whom also possesses deep knowledge in each of these fields, a sort of super expert that the rest of us can only look at with sunglasses and despair.

In short, its a myth. It’s up there with “social media expert”, “seo expert”, and “real estate salesman” on the list of job titles that seem to attract the kind of people that aren’t afraid to sell you a jar of snake piss, claim it’s actually a curative tonic devised originally by Solomon, complete with instructions to rub it into your scalp nightly to cure your psoriasis and raise your IQ by 20 points.

So we’re clear: I’m not harping on the field of UX, and legitimate practitioners of that science. I am, in fact, down with the UX, do my best to learn its ways, and have a coworker I hold in high esteem whom is entirely embedded deep in that field of research.

But when it comes to self-declared snooty “unicorns”, there’s been a high noise to signal ratio that is muddying up the airwaves.

Along with Dylan Wilbanks, who is a real life person in the UX field, I had some misgivings about the Unicorn Institute that’s been making the rounds with its Kickstarter Campaign. We took to our mighty podcast, Squirrel and Moose, to discuss the whole “UX Unicorn” mythos in full detail on not only one, but two long episodes.

We had feels. We had opinions.

Opinions I stand by.

…but, we just might have had an incorrect understanding of the Unicorn Institute’s true nature, created in part by a sparsity of details on the Unicorn Institute’s site at the time of our recording, and in part due to a lack of… well… asking those involved directly.

My high school journalism teacher would be mortified. My apologies, Ms. Bickley.

Last week, none other than Jared Spool himself contacted Dylan and I, mentioned that he’d listened to our podcasts about the topic, and asked if he could come onto our next episode to talk about the project.

After I finished dancing around and squeeing like a fanboi at a [insert applicable current Disney teen heartthrob here] concert, I of course said “YES PLEASE”.

What resulted was the longest podcast in Squoose history, where Spool corrected our misunderstandings and offered some deep, detailed information about what the Unicorn Institute, actually called the Center Centre, really is.

Short version: It’s amazing. A trade school for UX professionals that’s built in a fashion entirely different from any other institution of higher learning that I’ve seen.

I’m jealous of those entering the field in the years ahead, to have an institution like this to attend. They didn’t have them in my day.

It clocks in at over an hour, but I think everyone should take the time to listen to Jared’s discussion about the genesis of the Unicorn Institute, and the research and thought that went behind it. I learned a lot talking with him.

Imagine how much more you’d learn actually attending it.

If you like what he says, please consider taking the time to back the institute on Kickstarter. They’ve got five days left, and the hope is that they do well enough with the Kickstarter to offer scholarships for those that couldn’t normally afford an opportunity like this.

I still don’t believe in the UX Unicorn, instead seeing us all as variations of Dylan’s chimeras. But the Unicorn Institute isn’t trying to make those unicorns. They’re making something different.

And I am a big fan of that.

Podcast #24: Weeping Angels

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Dylan and I talked about Blink last night, as well as discussing our experiences at the Squeetup event we had that coincided with AEA’s opening night party.

Here’s Dylan’s recap of the podcast:

Kyle and Dylan talk through the implications of Google’s new Blink browser engine and what it means for the future of web standards. Also, a review of the Squeetup, a Joel Spolsky reference, and Dylan’s exhaustion causing a few too many pregnant pauses.

You can go listen to it now at 3rdaverad.io.

Podcast #22: Of Google And Men

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Last night I performed my normal Thursday ritual, carefully keeping the seals that hold the ancient ones in their slumber in the deepest trenches of the sea…

Er, I mean, joining co-host Dylan Wilbanks for another episode of Squirrel and Moose.

I’d like to think we’re hitting our stride at this point. We discuss Donglegate with an enforced 10-minute limit and what I think constitutes a fairly balanced, nuanced view. We then dive into a talk about Google Reader which nicely spins into a discussion about Google’s behaviors in general these days.

Here’s the synopsis, as cleverly put by Dylan:

Kyle and Dylan delve yet again into Yet Another Sexist Incident that ended with (almost) every party looking terrible, and then a long, rambling talk about the end of Google Reader and the Twilight Of The Web. Also, why there will never be another Jeffrey Zeldman, TV stations owned by flour mills, making AR-15 parts with 3D printers, raising girls to be programmers in a brogrammer world, and their inability to properly close out the episode.

Check it out: Squirrel and Moose: Episode 23 – Of Google And Men

Podcast Episode #2: Skags Alpha Beta, or The Stephanie Hobson Appreciation Society

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Last night Dylan Wilbanks and I recorded episode 2 of our weekly podcast for people that make websites.

In which we discussed video games.

I swear it connects.

We open up with a new feature where we give corrections for any incorrect statements in the first episode, then dig right in. Our first topic was Borderlands 2. Specifically we discussed the experience of digital downloads versus getting a disc in the mail, consoles versus PCs, and several of the user experience issues that come to light when playing (such as the overwhelming information from the game’s millions of guns that drowns the user in too much data to be useful at times).

Just so we’re clear, I love the game. I’m a big Axton fan. Dylan is all about Salvador. (Janae, my co-pilot in split-screen co-op at home, is enjoying Maya quite a bit but looking forward to the Mechromancer in October). But seriously, it’s hard to tell if a gun is good before you shoot it, and considering how often guns drop, that can get a bit aggravating.

We then transitioned into discussing Anna Debenham’s A List Apart article about testing websites in game consoles (which I previously discussed in a comic and post earlier), and the implications that has for website creators in how we design. It reinforces the issues of needing to test on multiple devices, but the danger of building for specific ones.

We keep it all under the 40 minute mark for Stephanie Hobson’s sake. Because between 20 and 40 is her limit.

Although we have less sound problems than before, there’s some issues with my sound levels jumping around on my microphone. So there’s going to be some spikiness there. I’m looking into getting a new mic and some better recording software (any suggestions out there for either? Please let me know!)

We’d love it if you go listen to us. The podcast is hosted exclusively through 3rdaverad.io, who make it available via iTunes and RSS. If you’ve heard what we said and want to share your opinions, please feel free to tweet at @dylanw and @cssquirrel with the hashtag #squoose.

Podcast Episode #1: It’s An Alpha, or We’ll Do It Live

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Last night Dylan Wilbanks and I sat down at our respective computers in Seattle and Bellingham and made the first episode of our podcast: Squirrel and Moose.

It wasn’t quite a disaster, but it came pretty close at times. My desktop seems to have an allergic reaction to microphones, so my connection cut out several times before swapping to a laptop seems to have fixed up the problem.

Between tech problems (and Dylan’s heroic efforts to fix them) we decide to piss everyone off. Our first topic is to pick fun at the strangely uninspiring iOS6 (especially its new Maps app) and Dylan gets into a monologue about skeumorphism (the worst of all morphs). After that we dive straight into the kind of territory only two white men can possibly do the worst, and discuss the topic of sexism by taking about a tweet by user experience superstar Whitney Hess wherein she takes men to task for calling women girls (and the conversation of tweets that followed).

Dylan kept it professional while I blindly forged through the minefield while describing my own experiences with the terminology.

You can listen to the show via 3rd Avenue Radio, which will make every episode of ours available via RSS and iTunes.

Squirrel and Moose Episode #1: It’s An Alpha, or We’ll Do It Live

When you’re done listening, tell me what you think via any of the response options below! I love feedback (except the loud microphone kind). Feel free to use the hashtag #squoose to discuss it as well.