Boris Smus

interaction engineering

Article highlights of 2020

It's the most wonderful time of the year again! Following last year's summary, here were my top reads for 2020. Last year I vowed to read fewer articles because they felt way more junky than books do. I haven't changed my mind on this matter, but I was compelled to try to understand this especially unusual year.



Self help

  • A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier. 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice
  • When a difficulty comes your way, you should feel proud and excited, like “a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck.” How to Be a Stoic
  • Look for smart people and hard problems. Smart people tend to clump together, and if you can find such a clump, it's probably worthwhile to join it. What You'll Wish You'd Known
  • Rationality used to be this capacious concept that included reasonableness, but no longer. Is rationality overrated?
  • It now feels okay to have an ordinary life, to not make big contributions, to be an ordinary person. I never felt like that before. Narcissism
  • Leonardo da Vinci wrote: …the more minutely you describe, the more you will confuse the mind of the reader and the more you will remove him from knowledge of the thing described. Therefore it is necessary to make a drawing. The Benefits of Note-Taking by Hand
  • They offer conceptual scaffolding for answering what I consider to be the most important question of our time: How can we be good ancestors?. By 01700 most clocks had minute hands and by 01800 second hands were standard. Six Ways to Think Long-term


  • Google's new triumvirate: Mr. Pichai, Mr. Kent Walker, and Ms. Porat. Google’s problems are bigger than just the antitrust case
  • Maybe something has changed about the nature of innovation, at least in software. Silicon Valley Abandons the Culture That Made It the Envy of the World
  • People are switching from Go to Rust. I haven't switched to Go yet! Why Discord is switching from Go to Rust
  • There certainly will be $10 billion dollar companies started within segments slow to adopt technology: legal tech, construction, agriculture, and mining are all prime candidates for massive new technology entrants. When Tailwinds Vanish
  • A deep look into Clubhouse, with lots of interesting hot takes. Inside the Clubhouse
  • Proximity Chat: you have an avatar or icon that can move around a virtual space. There are two broad metaphors behind proximity chat platforms: table-based and map-based. A Mission to Make Virtual Parties Actually Fun
  • Because information is formless, the metaphors we use to describe it are particularly powerful: a highway, cyber-space, surfing. A History of Metaphors for the Internet
  • We were spoiled by the old, weird Google that did things like Books because they could, throwing it in the teeth of the publishers, or Wave, an experiment in interactivity that in many ways is still ahead of its time. They did things because they hadn’t been done. RIP Google Music
  • Should you join a big company or start a startup? This frequently debated question paints a picture of a world where the only choice is between being a cog at a giant semi-monopoly, or taking investment money in the hopes of one day growing to be head cog at a giant semi-monopoly. Small tech