Good writing is more than just saying what needs to be said. It’s all in how and when you say it.
Greek rhetoricians defined kairos as saying or doing the right thing at the right time. Clues to understanding kairos lie in its dual etymological roots: Weaving and archery. In weaving, kairos occurs in the instant at which the shuttle passes through an opening in the loom’s threads; this is the moment when all the threads come together to create the fabric. Similarly, on the web, the threads of technology, design, content, culture, and user science intertwine to form the fabric—or context—that swathes the opportune moment.
But what seizes the moment? That’s where the other etymological root of kairos, archery, sheds light. Something has to act like an arrow and—ZING!—hit the mark, with enough force to stick. For Greek rhetoricians, that something was spoken language. On the web, that something is written language.
As web professionals, we craft a context for the opportune moment. But we then need to aim at that context with words that zing. To do that, I believe we have much to learn from kairos.
This is from a Malcolm Gladwell book, Blink, about how we process information and make decisions. I found this particular story a great example of how good presentation can simplify a problem down to the core issues and help with decision-making:
In the 1970s, an American cardiologist developed an algorithm for predicting heart attacks in patients coming in with chest pains. Doctors, he concluded, should combine ECG readings with 3 urgent risk factors according to his decision tree.
The point of chest pain prediction is to make sure patients who end up having major complications are assigned right away to the hospital units that can care for them.
A two year trial took place at the Cook County ED. Without the algorithm, doctors could pick out the at-risk patients between 75-89% of the time. The decision tree got it right more than 95% of the time.
“In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.”
Preaching to the choir here, but thought you might like a listen. J
Responsive web stuffessentially works by combining fluid css (eg. percentage widths) with css media queries (“are you a 320px mobile screen or a giant fuckoff BenQ?”) to make a site layout adjust and ‘optimise’ itself automagically in whatever environment. Which means you’re not up all night redoing different versions of things every time a pixel sneezes.
I’m new to this too, so if you find any interesting responsive web things, please feel free to share!
“Frequently, social media platforms don’t provide the psychological incentives and rewards that encourage users to revisit, contribute knowledge, and thus cultivate the strength and relevance of the online community.”
How a user gets from n00b to pro in an online community:
Tl;dr – Answer the questions in the flowchart to appeal to that type of visitor.
Kerning is the space between letters – “letter-spacing” for any CSS nerds.
There’s an art to getting kerning right in design. The aim is to achieve an even distribution between characters, but it’s not just about making all the spaces the same. The shape of the letter, way it’s slanted, serifs, etc. all affect the aesthetics. Maybe it’s better to say the aim is to achieve a harmonious distribution between letters.