04 -quarantine diaries (march 29, 2020)

A few good reading materials and a word on supporting local businesses

Hello all!

Here’s a quick, digestible pieces of content regarding what I’m currently consuming, and pondering.

What I’m up to

I’ve recently started a new part-time job as a co-instructor at General Assembly-New York campus in the UXD department. I feel like transitioning to a full-remote class structure from an in-person one deserves its own post but needless to say, it’s been challenging. Despite that, however, I’ve never felt more certain about my chosen profession. At least once in my life, during one of the most difficult periods in recent history, I dipped my toes on teaching. This crisis, more than anything, is forcing all of us to be the most innovative, resourceful and truly compassion versions of ourselves for others. For that observation alone, I have not yet lost my faith on humans. I hope I never will and trust me, I’ll do my hardest not to.

What I’m reading

Long form

I’m a little bit behind on my reading (vs last year) but the constant ones on rotation so far, and ones I highly recommend: The Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Skin in the Game and I have just finished: Creativity, Inc. One of the things I’ve quickly learned about surviving and thriving in the UX field is that your mindset will go a long way if you read more than just design and technology books. Seeing as how a designer’s primary tool is their mind (how they think, how they work around a problem), it pays to keep it well-rounded.

Aside from picking up mental models, expanding your thinking into other subjects helps you empathize more with others and really carve a versatile mind which you can adapt into your workflow. I wrote more about this here as part of the things that are shaping me to become a better designer.

Short form

I’ve been helping out a few fellow designers develop and build a more UI-focused skillset. In case you are curious, here are a few nuggets of content I’ve found around the web that I think are interesting reads on the subject.

For UI thinking

A comprehensive guide to UI Design
Emotional Interfaces
Great use case

Product Strategy

Story First by InVision
Minimum Desirable Product by John Maeda
Two Georges’ Thinking by John Maeda 

What I’m listening to

Being a self-proclaimed loner, introvert and contrarian thinker, I have an appetite for a good conversation that challenges my thinking. It’s not always easy to fulfill that but I found my solace in the most unusual places: Podcasts.

Here are a few that I would highly recommend listening to:

If you want to know more about Covid-19 and: How to support healthcare workers now by Tim Ferriss
If you’re curious about car design and innovation: https://fs.blog/knowledge-project/frank-stephenson/
If you’re pondering about design maturity and a review of the state of design last year: Leah Buley and the New Frontier of Design Maturity

What I’m paying attention to

I have a soft spot for local businesses doing good things and stepping up. You guys are the heart and soul of a neighborhood, and by extension, a city. As much as I can, I do shop local and with everything that’s happening, it breaks my heart to see them in this state. A few standouts: It is why I would like to give a shoutout to what Ani Ramen and co are doing in Jersey city. Please go on their Instagram for updates and how you can help out as well. Word Bookstores (with locations in JC and Greenpoint) are delivering books on your doorstep and is accepting gift cards as well. This amazing Bangladesh restaurant near Journal Square Path is also accepting gift cards and lastly, if you are craving for some authentic Filipino food, Philippine Bread House is currently available for delivery and takeout. Just give them a call (201) 659-1753 and ask about their hours.

These are a few of the things that are keeping me occupied, absorbed and productive during this difficult and crazy time. I hope you all are safe, and well. Now more than ever, we need to protect ourselves and each other, physically and mentally, to survive.

As always, please give me a feedback through my email: nikkiespartinez@gmail.com and on twitter: @nikkiespartinez. I always welcome a good conversation.