Ben Carr


Picking Favorites

What’s your favorite color? Favorite movie? Is it easy for you to pick?

The Fediverse At Work

What if, instead of sharing a Github Pull Request URL in Slack, your Slack team channel could instead be subscribed to the Github repository. Maybe new Pull Requests are broadcasted to followers, and replies from Slack users to those posts are sent as comments to the Pull Request in addition to being threaded in Slack.

A really compelling idea from Mehul Kar. Tons of work productivity tools are built from the start with integrations in mind, but those integrations aren’t bi-directional. And every tool needs to rebuild the whole ecosystem.

AI can’t make things worse than they already are

I can make up something from whole cloth and tell you that I saw it with my own eyes, or heard it from a friend, or read it in a paper, and there is absolutely no way to tell, from the text itself, that it is fake.

Kind of strange how good it felt to read this essay from Frank Lantz despite the point being we’re already living this AI doomsday scenario you’re afraid of.”

The 10 Rules of Being Human

I smiled the whole way down the list.

You will receive a body. You may love it or hate it, but it will be yours for the duration of your life on Earth.

Especially enjoyed number 6 as well:

There” is no better than here”. When your there” has become a here”, you will simply obtain a there” that will look better to you than your present here”.

Forecast Advisor

Forecast Advisor is a thing I wish existed that, in fact, does. Type in your ZIP code or city/​state, and see a historical report of how accurate different weather services have been in predicting the weather for the specific location you care most about. Pairs really nicely with my favorite app, CARROT Weather, which supports multiple data sources.

On Craft

He fixed things often and silently. Grandpa just cared about things working. He had an instinct for not just broken things but soon to be broken things.

A lovely tribute from Dr. Cat Hicks to her grandpa. I really resonate with the characterization of craft” as both action, through care and empathy, and as observation, through noticing the constraints/​tradeoffs, and weathering and anticipating their effects.

A Deep Dive Into SVG Path Commands

This guide is an interactive deep dive into the d attribute, otherwise known as the path data. It’s the post I wish I had when I first learned about SVG paths! Along the way, we’ll learn about the different types of path commands and how to use them to draw various icons.

Fantastic interactive article from Nanda Syahrasyad. I love this kind of stuff.

How QR Codes Work

Ever wondered how a QR code works? No, me neither but it’s low-key fascinating.

Very cool breakdown from Dan Hollick. I had no idea about the error correction bits baked into the format itself.

Same-ness of Modern Design

But I think that these conversations stop short of an important conclusion (it’s Twitter, of course, not Plato’s Academy): design is a radically different exercise than it was in the 18th, 13th, or 5th century. Industrialization has made the world more deeply interconnected, automated, and chaotic. The aesthetics of the things around us are not in the way they look to us, but in the way they came to be, and the way they shape the future.

Really interesting take from Matthew Ström on what beauty and necessity is behind the surface-level aesthetic differences between modern and classic industrial design.

Why an era of enthusiast programmers is coming to an end

And one reason to believe programmers won’t always be this way is that there’s plenty of evidence that the next generation of professional programmers is no longer dominated by enthusiasts. People becoming software developers today look markedly different than those who came before.

I enjoyed this essay from Justin Searls about the potential generational shift going on in tech, and especially enjoyed the examples in the final section of how we might use this framing to better understand one another and anticipate conflict.

This is what you’re nostalgic for

I believe we aren’t nostalgic for the technology, or the aesthetic, or even the open web ethos. What we’re nostalgic for is a time when outsiders were given a chance to do something fun, off to the side and left alone, because mainstream culture had no idea what the hell to do with this thing that was right in front of it.

A neat look at nostalgia from Jay Hoffmann. I definitely feel that fondness” pop up every so often for things like the early days of Twitter, or how carefree things felt in college, or how incredible I felt first learning web development.

Work is a hell of a drug

You see, the dividing line between me (a person) and my work (something I am paid to do) is tenuous at best. I’m more than just an employee, naturally. I’m also a friend, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and someone in desperate need of some hobbies. But the hard truth is that if I’m working, I’m never not fully consumed by my job. At my worst, I like it this way. I am good at work, where I can be capable and in control, and not so good at life, where things are messy and unpredictable.

I really resonated with this sentiment from Kelly Watkins, and have slowly come to understand that I’ll often pour myself into work as a safe harbor where I have some amount of agency in the face of things outside of work that are outside my control.

Are we the weirdos?

I’ll admit, for most of my early career I thought everyone obsessed over the latest and greatest HTML, CSS and JavaScript happenings, I thought it just came with the job. But it turns out, there’s just a pretty good bubble for that sort of thing

Loved this characterization from Andrew Walpole of something I’ve felt at worst ashamed of and at best uneasy about.

What to expect from your framework

I enjoy working with components as much as the next guy, but practically every mature server framework has support for a component-based workflow today. And you know what? They’ll also handle however much mundane busywork you want to throw at them: things like input validation, SQL sanitization, database access, e‑mails, authorization, timezones and dates, asset bundling, job running, the list just goes on and on and on.

I’ll be honest, it was a little cathartic reading this take from Johan Halse. That’s not to pass judgement on the quality or merits of modern front-end tooling, but just that it seems very obvious we’re using the same word to define things that are drastically different and can’t really be directly compared.


But generally, I’ve found the source of truth” often hinders more than it helps. And I think the phrase needs to be rethought, if not discarded altogether.

Really enjoyed this take from Ethan Marcotte. It especially resonated with me when thinking about things like business logic,” and requirements” which often have substantial effort put toward capture and definition, but are necessarily hard-to-impossible to canonicalize.

This is all there is

Today I want to talk to you about why I am the way that I am. And by that I mean, why I care so much about experience design; about the experiences people have with things. Why I get frustrated by things that don’t work, or don’t work well, or aren’t easy to use. Why mediocrity infuriates me so much.

What a beautifully blunt characterization from Aral Balkan of this one, short life we all have, and the ensuing responsibility we have as people who make things.

2023: The Year of Connection

Over the last few years, I’ve been feeling less “present” in the world, and more disconnected from the people and places around me. That's why in 2023, my yearly theme is “connection.”

A Mountain of Unknown

I’m really proud of this piece I wrote for Cognition. As a developer in client services, new challenges are always on the horizon, but even in the most supporting environments project challenges can feel isolating when they’re unusually complex or unfamiliar. I wrote this piece after one of those moments, hoping to remind future-me that it’s important to allow yourself to feel vulnerable, lean on those around you, and give yourself a framework to move forward.