Challenging Power Through Form (Alexandria Issue #032)

The best content related to design, technology, and productivity. Sent every month.

Adam Sadowski
5 min readJan 22, 2021

Featured Article

The Observer Effect — Tobi Lü

On Learning: “When I get close to any field, I think about how far I want to go. I’m probably further along with programming. I don’t know if I want to get from 90 to 91% in programming when, with the same amount of work, I could figure out the first 60 to 70% of UX or even something like drawing. There’s a recent book about this called Range, which I really like. The book pushes in this direction and explores this topic a bit more than I do. But I just found myself nodding throughout reading it, because it turns out that very often — really, every field has fundamental wisdom that you discover when you’re learning and talking to the people who have mastered it. I find that going wide and learning the best lessons from the people who have dedicated their entire lives to a certain pursuit gets you really, really close to mastery.”

More Amazing Reads

2020 Ideas Report by WeTransfer

Insight #4: “2020 has stirred up a whole lot of feelings for everyone, but it seems (as usual) women are bearing the brunt of a year of uncertainty. Compared to male respondents, women are more likely to feel depressed and concerned about the future, and this is having an impact on their creative ideas. When getting started on a new idea, almost half of women (42%) question if they have the skills to pull it off. Only 29% of men ask themselves the same question.

Sadly this is nothing new, we already know women are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome. But COVID-19 is setting many women in the workplace back even further. How can we, as a creative industry, get on top of this before we miss out on more great ideas from more diverse voices?”

What Is “Visual Sustainability,” and How Can Designers Challenge Power Through Form?

“One thing she cautioned when we spoke was that visual sustainability wasn’t just about the environment or climate change — it also challenges and presents alternatives to dominant structures like capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. Crippa practices sustainability on her terms, which she explains below, but also encourages her students to define it for themselves. This felt like the perfect way to open the conference session, which we hoped would expand people’s thinking around ecology and design, while also showing how designers can actually use this thinking in their own work and to shape the profession. In this transcription of our conversation during the conference, Crippa offers both of these things.”

Selective Ignorance: Cultivating Intentional Knowledge in a Chaotic World

“Learning how to cultivate selective ignorance is a long-term process, where you need to find the right balance between unproductive but enjoyable activities, and useful but more tedious activities. Pruning unproductive and tedious activities such as boring conversations, negative content, irrelevant ideas, and unhealthy choices is crucial to practicing selective ignorance.”

Why Do Some People Succeed after Failing, While Others Continue to Flounder?

“Many notable success stories began in failure: Henry Ford went bankrupt before starting the Ford Motor Company; Thomas Edison and his colleagues tested thousands of materials before creating the carbon-filament lightbulb; J. K. Rowling received twelve rejections before the first Harry Potter book was published. These are inspiring examples, to be sure — but Dashun Wang didn’t think they told the whole story. Why did these individuals ultimately succeed, when so many others never manage to get past their failing phase?”

When Designers Give Each Other Books, They’re Not All Books About Design, Though Maybe They Are

“Designers of all kinds tend to have a special relationship with books. We love the covers and the typesetting, of course, but also the conveyance of knowledge and the tactility of complex ideas you can hold in your hands.

This holiday season, we decided to celebrate these wide-ranging tastes by sharing them with one another. In the time-honored tradition of office Secret Santa gift exchanges — except, you know, virtual — we each drew a name from a hat. Instead of gifting one another tchotchkes and trinkets though, we (anonymously) shipped one of our favorite books to the person we selected. Read on to see what we shared!”

The Difference Between Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Efficiency

“Efficacy, effectiveness, efficiency… These terms sound confusingly similar. Commonly used in medical research, project management, and decision science, they are often mixed up in everyday conversations. If you’re in a hurry, here’s the difference: Efficacy means getting things done; Effectiveness means doing the right things; Efficiency means doing things right.”


Game UI Database — 333 Games and 11,813

“A comprehensive screen reference Tool for game interface “designers. Explore over 320 games and 11,000 individual images, and filter by screen type, material, layout, texture, shapes, patterns, genre, and more!

Everyday — Habit Building App

“Every day, it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day, that’s the hard part! Everyday helps you break goals down into tasks we can execute on every day, colouring our beautiful board whilst forming new habits, ultimately reaching our goals.”

Pattern Generator — Create Seamless, Royalty-Free Patterns

“Generate seamless, unique, royalty-free patterns to use for free in any project. Export as SVG, JPEG, or PNG.”

Mix of the Month

Hicky & Kalo Live @ SXM Festival 2019

“Very happy to share with you the live recording of our set at SXM Festival 2019. ☀️🌴We had so much fun at this wonderful event, such a blissful experience and we highly recommend anyone to go next year! Thanks for listening.”