Alexandria — Issue #013: Forces That Shape The World

Adam Sadowski
6 min readOct 26, 2019


A bi-weekly newsletter dedicated to bringing you the best content related to design, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Creating a product or piece of art is always in some varying degree a reflection of current times. Cultural values, political landscapes, the economy, and personal identity all play a role throughout the creation and development process. Bringing art or products into this world is not easy. This edition features one of my favorite writers, investor Morgan Housel, as he sheds a bit of light on how large events in the 20th century have shaped modern American history.

The first half of the newsletter jumps right into a number of relevant topics that any digital designer is sure to be talking or thinking about: “UX Has Bad UX” questions the current state of the profession and how the job title chaos came to be; “The League of Evil Designers” calls for designers to be accountable for what design practices and methods they use when making products; how to develop your UX network and build connections, regardless if you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out; a fantastic article that breaks down the fundamentals of Information Architecture with “Spacing, Grids, and Layouts”; dive into a “Guide to UX Research for Startups” put together by Google Ventures; and finish with examples of “When Brand Identity Goes Wrong”.

The second half focuses more on themes and skills that apply to anyone. In the age of data and science, it seems that “gut feelings” and using intuition to make decisions have taken a backseat as of late. “How to Turn Intuition into a Practical Tool to Boost Creativity” helps you get in touch with your internal powers. We learn about a dead simple trick for making you more productive (it’s not gimmicky, either) and dip a toe into neuroscience as we learn about the impact that environment, visualizing, and affirmations have on productivity and performance.

For resources, we have an awesome collection of personal websites and portfolios for you get inspiration from, (Humans FYI), an interactive map of screen sizes to help or overwhelm you whilst designing/writing code, and a macOS widget for helping you keep track of all of your devices battery levels.

As always, thanks so much for reading!


Featured Article


Three Big Things: The Most Important Forces Shaping the
Every current event — big or small — has parents, grandparents, great grandparents, siblings, and cousins. Ignoring that family tree can muddy your understanding of events, giving a false impression of why things happened, how long they might last, and under what circumstances they might happen again. Viewing events in isolation, without an appreciation for their long roots, helps explain everything from why forecasting is hard to why politics is nasty.

More Amazing Reads

UX Has Bad UX

As an industry, it has grown in the last ten years at an amazing pace. The hourly rates skyrocketed. UX people became industry gods. Their advice cherished and worshipped. Their titles … longer and longer until they made no sense anymore. We’ve become so entangled in our processes that we forget to stop and think about how useful our design really is. Is it time to shed the extra weight and start all over?

The League of Evil Designers

It’s convenient to imagine that there is some great evil conspiracy out there, orchestrating sinister plans for world domination. Shifting blame is easy. The truth is hard. The truth is that we’re all part of the problem. Every single one of us could easily make a decision that ruins thousands of people’s lives. Hanlon’s razor states: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

How to Develop Your UX Network
No matter which camp you fit into, I think we can agree that networking is crucial to your career, and it’s not specific to the UX industry. Developing a professional network creates both community and opportunity, which will be helpful at any stage of your career. Networking does not have to mean running around to events, coffee dates, and happy hours.

How To Build Connections When You’re Just Starting Out
We know that opportunities often come our way thanks to the people we know. Unfortunately, many run into a conundrum: in order to meet people, you first need to know people. In hyper-competitive industries, access is everything, and the path to success will be much harder if you do not connect with people in your chosen field.

UX Writing Principles for Designers
Good UX writing marries design and written language; great UX writing makes them indivisible. Whether your team has a go-to UX writer or you’re a designer who owns product content, you can advocate for empowering visual and verbal flows. It’s what helps users tap, swipe, click or do whatever action they need to get to their goals.

Spacing, Grids and Layouts
The organization of space is key to every great design. Spatial systems, grids, and layouts provide rules that give your designs a consistent rhythm, constrain decision making, and help teams stay aligned. This foundational scaffolding is a requirement for all design systems. In this guide, we’ll walk through the basics of defining spatial base units, creating relationship rules with grids, and bringing it all together for modern UI layouts.

GV’s Guide to UX Research for Startups
Since 2010, we’ve helped hundreds of GV startups (like Nest, Foundation Medicine, Flatiron Health, Slack, Gusto, Lime, and Uber) use UX research to answer critical business questions and to build more successful products. We’ve shared our lessons on Medium and in the GV Library. This table of contents will help you quickly find everything you need to learn more faster about your customers, your ideas, and your designs.

When Brand Identity Goes Wrong: 5 Embarrassing Mistakes
Someone once said that marketing is like asking someone out on a date. Branding is the reason they say yes! Just like a lot goes into getting that yes, getting branding right goes through a lot: identity, promise, and signaling. All three are equally as important. These three pillars are not three sides of a triangle, they are more like the RGB components of a color. They blend into each other.

How to Turn Intuition into a Practical Tool to Boost Creativity
Regardless of how it’s defined, intuition doesn’t feel overly practical to use. To hone the skill, we’re forced to — what? — experience a whole mess of things in the world and hope that we’ve improved our intuition? And so, the business world often views conventional wisdom or trendy new tactics or expert advice as far superior to intuition, because it feels more concrete.

The Most Underrated Productivity Technique Is Also the Simplest

The real secret of this technique is that you must do it again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. Build up momentum and keep it. Author Will Durant may have said it best when he wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

How To Reprogram Your Subconscious Mind

Have you ever tried to achieve a goal and kept sabotaging yourself at every turn? Maddening, isn’t it? It’s important to know that you’re not defective or doomed to fail no matter what you do. More likely you’ve got some old programmed messages that conflict with the new conditions you want to create. This is excellent news because it means, you can achieve just about anything if you first take the time to reprogram your subconscious mind!

Resources — Discover the Most Brilliant Personal Webpages Online and the Heros that Designed Them

A curated gallery featuring the world’s best personal websites. The list consists of projects built with various technologies and services: React, Angular, Vue, WP, and even Wix or sites. Find inspiration to build your perfect personal homepage.

An Interactive Map of Screen Sizes for Responsive and Adaptive Design
An interactive map of popular screen sizes illustrating the responsive and adaptive device landscape.

Batteries Widget for Mac | Track all of your devices’ batteries from one place. Get notified when they need recharging
Track all of your devices’ batteries from one place. Get notified when they need recharging