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Yes, And – How to be effective in the theatre of work (tomcritchlow.com)
358 points by jger15 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 102 comments

Author here - thanks for all the comments and feedback. Lovely surprise to wake up to this on the HN homepage.

Some light additional context - this is part of my ongoing series "The Strategic Independent" which will eventually become a book sometime next year. All the posts in that series are catalogued here: https://www.are.na/tom-critchlow/the-strategic-independent

This post (and the whole series) is designed for independent consultants, free-agents and freelancers who have to navigate entering and exiting client environments often faster than full-time employees. Hopefully there's something useful in that context but many of these ideas could be applicable beyond that also.

Anyway - thanks for the love. If you have topic suggestions for future posts in this series would love to hear them! Thanks, Tom.

> Hopefully there's something useful in that context but many of these ideas could be applicable beyond that also.

They’re very applicable outside the context of consulting - they’re fundamental for any leader joining a new organization to integrate well and get things done. Consultants transition more often than most; the principles you’ve shared are a great reference for the rest of us on how to be effective in a new environment.

Also - thank you Github pages & Cloudflare for keeping my site up through a HN bump.

As someone who has studied improv for three years, and read both of Keith Johnstone's books numerous times, I highly recommend reading Johnstone's books specifically, rather than this. It's true that improv is immensely useful in the workplace. However, this article has very little that references Johnstone; it seems to be taking the high level, general understanding of improv as a jumping off point for their own advice. Their chapters to follow do reflect some of the topics Johnstone covers, but again, I highly recommend just reading Impro and/or taking a couple improv classes at your local school if you can. Getting it straight from the source will be incredibly helpful in your work and personal life.

Author here - Yes I would definitely recommend reading Impro over reading my blog post.

The basic premise for this series is inspired by the book and I definitely borrow more directly and heavily for chapters 3 and 4 (which aren't quite ready to publish yet!).

« Many people aspire to “silent success” at work - to do work that “speaks for itself”. Unfortunately this is the wrong move in the theatre of work. Instead we should aspire to the opposite - for knowledge work, the performance of the work is the work. »

Not sure what the author means by “knowledge work”, but I find this very true, for any type of work.

I think the author's usage fits with this definition:


Furthermore, work doesn’t speak so you’ll have to speak for it. And defend it. And sell it.

While writing embedded code I realized a major problem with code relative to the rest of the product. You can't see it, can't touch it, and it doesnt appear on the bill of material. To most people it doesnt even exist. This would be somewhat different if your product IS software, but the same still applies to the actual code - the author is the only one who will ever see what they wrote.

Count your blessings. My job involves typically big pieces that are visible to anybody who looks under the hood. And they are often expensive custom pieces, so it's painful to add or modify one.

When stuff is visible and tactile, folks assume that they should intuitively understand it. So my work is subjected to endless critique and brainstorming from everybody, including managers.

Sometimes I envy the embedded systems people because nobody ever looks at the innards of their designs.

>> Sometimes I envy the embedded systems people because nobody ever looks at the innards of their designs.

True, but the flip side is that nobody understands the complexity. Some will assume it must be easy, especially if you keep quiet about the challenges and just deliver mostly good stuff.

To your point, I was working on a hybrid system and one meeting dragged on because marketing was upset that the font was changed on the inverter. It was machined into the case, and they couldn't make the sharp interior angles needed. So yeah, even when you can see it, there may be hidden complexity.

> it doesnt appear on the bill of material

I've actually seen a few customers listing it as such (based on some sales estimate), but it doesn't seem common. Which is a bit weird, especially in cases where you can trade software cost for hardware cost.

One very good reason for putting firmware/software on the BOM is to ensure that the correct version is used in production. Whenever we do a firmware release, part of our process is to update the BOM of whatever product it's for with the firmware revision number.

Interesting! I don't really see that stage of the process as a software dev, but makes total sense that the production-stage BOM contains that.

Yes, once some workers start using social tools to advantage themselves and their work, it does become mandatory to use them too. The incentive is then to escalate and invest more in social machinations.

And be endlessly positive about everyone and their ideas so that only positive feelings are associated with you. Choose your favorites by directing attention and investment. Ignore the unkept promises or implications since they will be to the less popular people and projects which are inherently less powerful.

May all bullets be directed to backs and all knifes sheathed likewise.

There is some importance to keeping a pleasant and encouraging workplace but some of us value honesty and straightforwardness as well as the efficiencies that go with these practices. These require real work however.

Hard pass but have at it.

The "Yes, And" technique is best when presenting as a team, e.g. for sales meeting or investment pitch. It supports what your colleague is saying even while you may need to make a correction. I've been automatically using this technique for years, since I have a performance and improv background.

The rest of improv may not be as applicable, but performance sure does! The show must go on (despite unexpected setbacks or illness or personal feelings), how to speak in front of crowds (even while being ridiculed or ignored), being fully prepared through scripts and rehearsals until you embody the story you are trying to tell... Is an integral part of leading startups and I credit much of my success to that experience.

If everyone on your team is fully embedded in the purpose and ethos of your story, than you can fill in for each other if someone drops a line or needs a stand-in. In a startup everyone is selling! And it will be much more authentic with this level of camaraderie and committment.

I agree this is a useful tactic when presenting if everyone is clear when to use it. However, I’ve seen the downside of this where a person answers the question then everyone else “yes, ands” until the answer is muddled or the team looks unprepared.

I always go with the rule of thumb that unless the person who answered is so far off base that it materially changes the outcome it’s often better letting the answer go and moving on to the next.

Completely agree. If everyone is "yes, and"-ing then it's clear the team is unprepared -- this would never happen in a professional performance! Better to cut losses and not come back out until better rehearsed. Anyone experienced with performing or speaking can immediately tell when the speaker doesn't know their lines/story.

I see its value when mostly in agreement. Keeps the flow going.

But how does one do "yes, and ...", when the previous statement is clearly wrong? You either sound sarcastic or like a patronising twat.

"It is snowing." "Yes, and I'll leave my sweater at home since it's rather warm outside."

In an actual scene, you also have an underlying set of game rules guiding it which the actors are negotiating through.

It is possible for the characters to disagree with each other if it's not blocking - it allows the scene to continue to develop instead of shutting it down. In this case, disagreement over the weather would become the focus of the action.

"It is snowing."

"Oh, what a kidder you are, Smith! Just look at the shorts I'm wearing, it's fun in the sun time."

"Jones, my breath is visible. You are clearly on a different planet from me."

"Well, as it so happens, I AM an alien!" pause for laughter


And yes, there's a limit to the method when in a business setting. Business machinery is set up to grind out ugly, practical compromises and can't inject fantasy into the equation like that very often in the lower branches of the org, but it often benefits from this creativity when we're talking about executive leadership figuring out what the org needs to look like to succeed in the future.

> "It is snowing." > "Oh, what a kidder you are, Smith! Just look at the shorts I'm wearing, it's fun in the sun time."

That’s almost a textbook example of the opposite of Yes And philosophy. Contradicting the reality established by another performer is called Negation.

Disagreement within the YesAnd framework can be tricky to describe. A better example:

“This sucks. It’s snowing” “Yes, and now we can finally go skiing. I’m so excited!”

In improv, "Yes, and..." is kind of just the basics. It's to stop beginners from putting up a brick wall that kills the scene or forces someone to invent a whole new premise from whole cloth. That shit takes work on somebody's part and adds a ton of friction. You're supposed to add value, and not destroy value. ("Yes" stands for not-destroying; "and" stands for adding.) That doesn't necessarily mean agreeing all the time; in fact any half-decent dramatic scene had better involve conflict of some kind or it'll be boring. But you're supposed to find ways to do it within the reality of the scene, i.e. without negating the underlying premise.

If the analogy is applicable to business at all, it's about accepting the "reality" of the place you've parachuted into. Part of that might be to start with the assumption that people are grownups who have real honest-to-god reasons for saying things. That level of respect for strangers seems appropriate, and a lost art in these days of the online echo chamber. Then your job stops being about "being right" and more about listening. This whole viewpoint seems to say it's more important to keep the "scene" going than to be right.

Whereas in theatre you have the luxury of just declaring that yes indeed it IS snowing; in business it sounds like it would be more about figuring out why this person thinks it's snowing. After enough time immersed in their company culture you might see why, and you might even reluctantly agree with it. But you can "disagree without negating" by saying for example "Well I know it's probably not snowing in Cancún." In other words "When I worked at Blablacorp they had an excellent anti-snow system." Seems like maybe caution would be in order before saying anything like that though, as an outsider, because the obvious response is gonna be "Well this is YADDATRON, NOT BLABLACORP! At Yaddatron, it's goddamn snowing!!"

Anyway, point is, you don't necessarily have to accept that it is snowing; sometimes just accepting that the person thinks it's snowing is enough to keep things moving along. I dunno, don't mind me, this is new to me (improv isn't, but this way of using it is), so to some degree I'm thinking by writing.

A lesson I found helpful is with regards to the need to build a network of mentors, supporters and followers. This won’t apply to all fields but maybe some people will find it helpful.

Mentors are people who you can go to when you’re stuck on a topic, regardless of what it is. They help you navigate through your org (politics, context behind decisions, etc). These people can be in your team/department or could just be someone you’ve met by the water cooler and developed a relationship with.

Supporters are similar to mentors, but more committed. These people will take their own initiative and go out of their way to create opportunities for you. They consider your success as a part of their own success and therefore will do what they can to help you grow and develop.

Followers are people who you’ve either worked side by side with, or who have worked for you. You may take on the mentor or supporter role for them. If you switched teams or departments, these people would want to come with you.

Do you know of a good guide to building a single relationship with a mentor? It is something I have been trying to do for the past 8 years.

I suspect that the advice I need is “obvious”.

I think there's one case where saying a plan won't work is the right thing to do, and trying to "get to yes" will often be a mistake: when you understand what needs to be done, and the (time or money) budget is too small.

If you try to "get to yes", it will often happen that the person in the position of the client will respond by cutting scope, saying "well, we don't really need that part just now".

And then it will usually turn out that they really did want what they originally said they wanted, and maybe try to sneak the features back in in disguise, and the whole thing overruns or else you end up saying no in a position where everyone is worse off than if you'd said no to start with.

I think they should teach Bridge in management school. Often not being in a contract is the right answer!

Chapter 2 is also available:

"Optimism as an Operating System"


I'm really looking forward to chapter 4, "Status Switching", as it's a skill I'm very keen to further develop.

I wish I could get an email as soon as it's posted.

I think you can - there is a link to sign up for the newsletter at the bottom of the page

Author here: yes I have an email list here (infrequent) that I'll post a message to once chapters 3 and 4 are ready: https://tinyletter.com/tomcritchlow

Lots of comments here come off as very resistant to accepting the ideas presented here: that success at work is as much about the quality of your work as the effort made to connect with the humans in an organization evaluating the work. Improv is a perfect frame for this: entertaining but doing deep preparation for that entertainment.

What I'm really fascinated by is how this can be translated to remote working. I don't think water-cooler talk is possible in Slack. I would be really surprised to find anyone at the top of performance in any organization that isn't fully remote without resorting to Machiavellian tactics. I wonder if the stresses you saw at GitHub during their period of centralizing management in SF after really marketing themselves as remote first were evidence of this.

> I would be really surprised to find anyone at the top of performance in any organization that isn't fully remote without resorting to Machiavellian tactics.

Can confirm. Switching to a fully remote company was eye-opening. The politics are much worse than my office jobs.

Everything is back-channeled. So many secret private Slack channels and exclusive in-person meetups where actual decisions are made.

At least in the office you could get a sense of the political landscape after a few weeks of meetings — I was unaware of how my remote organization actually worked for over a year until I raised some concerns and a co-worker clued me in.

The shocking thing wasn’t that a remote company has politics, but that the entire company ethos was based on how much more transparent and less political fully remote organizations are.

This says it. Yikes.

FWIW it hasn't been my experience.

I've spent about 9 years working with a fully remote company. The back channels exist, mostly as video calls in slack, but to me that's no different than a conversation in a quiet corner of the office. You can usually sniff out who talks to who and what the relationships are like.

I find you do have to call people though, if you isolate yourself in a remote company it's probably even more, well, isolating. No one's going to accidentally bump into you.

> I don't think water-cooler talk is possible in Slack.

Probably not quite to the same level as in-person conversation, but nearly every place I've worked had a variety of off-topic channels (both for specific topics, and totally random discussion), and plenty of my 1:1 slack conversations end up evolving into personal discussions (e.g., "Hey, btw, I saw a cool-looking book on your shelf when you dialed into the meeting - what is that?")

After I wrote that, I thought: maybe lots of people think that slack is for that. I think you are right.

But, I do also think that a crucial distinction is that most people assume water cooler talk isn't recorded. I have several co-workers who have said something in slack, then noted this is probably available to the boss, and then deleted the comment (who really knows if it is actually deleted and not available to the boss as a paid upgrade!). The point is water cooler talk is risk free, and I think at least an important part of those conversations with your coworkers should be experimental and searching, and having a surveillance layer over there prohibits (or inhibits) that.

Well, I wouldn't say "risk-free", but I hear what you mean - HR isn't going to pull up a print-out of your exact words at the watercooler, with certain words and phrases circled in red sharpie.

You're right - there are definitely things I've explicitly not said in Slack and saved for in-person discussions. I forgot about that aspect of it. :/

This is why 2-party consent to record laws will become increasingly important in the future. Eventually, AR virtual presence software with chatting avatars will proliferate in the corporate world. It would be stifling if you can’t be sure that the other party isn’t recording you. Unless you specifically agreed to allow your company to record all interactions, you should be afforded a reasonable degree of privacy: merely the same amount that you get around the watercooler in an office setting. Companies that record every utterance would face pressure from the labor market, though I’d prefer a law against that too, for the sanity of the populace.

>who really knows if it is actually deleted and not available to the boss as a paid upgrade!

It's very much available, as someone who works in a highly regulated industry, it would be absurd from a compliance perspective to allow modifying past electronic communication.

Are Slack private messages accessible to anyone? I've never heard this before.

It must be for compliance. It's called "corporate export".


You only have that if you are on the Plus plan, and only after you upgrade.

Is that upgrade retroactive?

No, you can only access messages after the upgrade.

They're still in the system and can at a minimum be subpoenaed.

If they're available to your local Slack admin, I don't know.

> Lots of comments here come off as very resistant to accepting the ideas presented here: that success at work is as much about the quality of your work as the effort made to connect with the humans in an organization evaluating the work.

It's not just a case of making an effort to connect with the individuals evaluating the work - it's that siloing your individual contribution, however strong, actually makes you more difficult to work with and your contributions less impactful.

I think the "resistance" is partially based on the fact [1] we all did see an introvert, quiet, bright engineer promoted to an influential and senior (s.a "principal engineer" or "system architect", and less often CTO) position - solely based on her technical expertise.

Nonsense. At least 30% of the chat I do on Slack is "water cooler talk" of one sort or another. Music, games, city happenings, a smattering of politics, random Internet cuteness, the all-important channel devoted to mechanical keyboards, etc. etc. Haven't started up a channel on D&D podcasts yet but it's probably not far behind. ;-)

The real issue is the definition of "success". Climbing to the top of ladders by spoofing utility may work for their career advancement but to any whose paycheck doesn't depend upon it is clearly a pathology.

The jumping from sinking ship to sinking ship after gnawing at the baseboards success model is success for them and useless sociopaths like them only and actively bad for everyone else. Their fuck ups are /why/ they need to pay consultants in the first place!

Their methods are a plague on society which makes it abundantly clear why the status quo is fucked up and also why big players even can lose vs garage start ups despite their decades of experience and massive funds difference. While the start ups may be good and smart the vested interest's outright failures despite their advantages are more because they are frankly stupid than their rival's vast skill or genius.

If remote working stops the spread of this virulence (I suspect they will need to mutate their playbooks) then it explains the resistance among current management to not having to pay for office space.

An interview with D'Arcy Carden (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm3639013/) about her stand out performance on The Good Place (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4955642/) was the first I'd heard about "Yes, And...". Got me curious about improv. Previously, I equated it to standup comedy.

D'Arcy Carden: The goal is to make the other person(s) look awesome.

I wish I could tell younger me to study improv, to hear this nugget of wisdom, before joining the work force. Might have saved myself and everyone else a lot of heart ache.

> they’re asking for people to take positions and have opinions.

Yes only positions and opinions that make them look good.

For example, in a tech all hands. "Ask" questions like these

1. How did the upper management react to cost savings from initiative X.

2. How did vendor feel about us canceling their contract by building a cheaper home grown system that is saving us X million $ every year.

3. What is the strategy for filling out open positions faster. ( we are doing so good that we have way too many open positions)

4. "joke questions" , did CEO actually finish 50 pies in pie eating contest at the management retreat ,like he claims he did.

also, consultants rarely get invited to these all hands in the first place.

And what exactly did you / would you think to accomplish with these questions? Besides attempting to publicly humiliate people who're paying you and stroking your own ego?

"Questions" like these put other people on defensive (which means they won't listen to you anymore) and mark you out as an a*hole (which means they won't listen to you at all). It's counterproductive.

I'm always baffled how engineers don't get that: they can understand that you need to write "printf()" and not "abort()" to achieve printout, but can't understand simple rules on how to achieve results when interacting with other people?

> attempting to publicly humiliate people who're paying you

No it's the opposite.

How does highlighting millions of cost savings from CTO's initiative humiliate him?

I am confused how you got that impression from my comment. what did i miss.

Not the commenter, and I understood what you were getting at, however, your original post doesn’t specify who is being asked the questions. It’s implied you’re asking the CTO, but it’s never clearly stated.

That said, this is a good reminder for everyone to “read generously”: If you read something that seems absurd, take a minute to make sure you’re not just misunderstanding the post. Posts often gloss over context, and so you should try to rebuild that context.

Many of those questions could be percieved as hostile when asked on all-hands and non-hostile when asked in smaller setting. But perhaps your all-hands are smaller than mine.

But I concede that I have read the post in a non generous way and I apologise to the author.

Second City, a well-known improv club/school offers workshops to teams focused on exactly these concepts. My team went to one of their workshops in Chicago a few years back, and while it was not world-changing, at was eye-opening.


It is rather interesting that this is on the front page with "Authenticity promotes well-being in life and at work" [1]. I don't believe they are opposite, but it is difficult to achieve both. However, publicizing individual work is absolutely crucial for promotion or even keeping one's job. My personal take is to build something concrete, something other people find useful.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21666569

Thanks for a great article. I want to share this with some stressed colleagues, but I doubt they'd appreciate it. Many people in America take the theatre seriously, and thinking of it as such would be detrimental to their self-image.

In my opinion just look around and see what the successful people are doing. Putting your head down and working is what I’d do for developing my own technical or something else skills. I.e. studying. Nobody I’ve met who gets high success in an office job does that.

I wonder if there’s not something to read into this a bit beyond my current abilities. Many people work on things that they consider somewhat boring, or at least not at the boundary of their skill set. People above you in the organization spent a lot of time building “synergies” and organizing a team of people frankly (in most cases) somewhat overqualified for the task. It seems like throwing all that out by not integrating enough into the social group is a terrible idea.

Except those people aren’t actually doing any work. Eventually the house of cards collapses on itself. The political system in the country is this philosophy carried to its logical, and extreme end. And what do politicians do nowadays? Mostly nothing.

Imho, if you're successful without working hard, you have "hacked" the system, and like any form of hacking this should be punishable, in this case e.g. by degradation.

If only we had a system where (special) judges were able to determine who works hard and who doesn't and from there decide who gets what amount of pay, and who deserves a promotion. We could actually have a fair society.

Working out what constitutes "working hard" would produce all sorts of bizarre situations; a number of disabled or chronically ill people would be richly rewarded for simply showing up at all.

Then there's the arbitrage possibilities; are the judges globally uniform? (How are you going to achieve that?)

Then there's the classic Keynsian "usefulness" problem; you can have a whole load of people working hard digging holes and another group of people filling them in, and that constitutes hard work?

All of us would of course be out of jobs and toiling in the fields, as there is nothing so dangerous in this environment as a process improvement. Making the work easier would reduce compensation, so there's a really strong incentive not to improve the process and to sabotage anyone who attempts to do so.

No, I think we have to have the humility to understand as humans that we can't know the answers to this with any kind of precision, and to be more humble in the judgements that we must make,

> Imho, if you're successful without working hard, you have "hacked" the system, and like any form of hacking this should be punishable, in this case e.g. by degradation.

> If only we had a system where (special) judges were able to determine who works hard and who doesn't and from there decide who gets what amount of pay, and who deserves a promotion. We could actually have a fair society.

Why should pay be based on how hard one works? I know when I started my career I had to work _much_ harder, because I had not yet been around the block so to speak. As time went on I became much more efficient with my time, experience makes it easier to see patterns, etc.

So if the metric is how hard one works, as I get better at my job I'd actually get paid less?

Well, if you like you can replace "works hard" by "is efficient". Or something in between, depending on what you think is fair.

There is no "if you like." It's your statement, justify it.

So a highly skilled person who finds their job easy should be paid less than a low skilled person who struggles to do basic tasks? I don't think that would turn out well.

This sounds like much more of a hell than sometimes having to chat with a coworker you don’t like (judges monitoring you and punishing you if you don’t work hard enough).

Why? Your boss is judging you and your coworkers all the time. A real judge would at least make it a fair judgement.

Where to start... You know this site is called Hacker News, right?

Right :) except that hacking into people's minds is typically frowned upon here, which is partly the kind of hacking my comment refers to.

This is the same impulse behind many disasters of history. It's a classic "who watches the watchmen?" problem. You can't perfect human society, and attempting to do so through the blunt centralization of power into the hands of a supposedly enlightened elite has rarely worked out the way it was intended.

Remove value and determine pay based on effort? Overtime people would take on unsuitable roles and productivity would go down.

We would be better off paying people more for easy work. People would target what they exceled at. Productivity increases. Our quality of life would increase but some jobs wouldn't get filled.

From another thread I saw the recommendation for "Getting to Yes, and... The art of business improv"[1]. It just arrived yesterday. This blog post looks eerily similar.


[1] https://www.amazon.com/-/de/dp/0804795800/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?key...

I unfortunately recognize several of these as being true from my five years at BigCo. Is this advice true of a (tiny) startup as well? Work should speak for itself when the survival of a company depends on it, right? I'd like to know if it's the same on the other side.

The larger a company is, the higher its inertia. The more sales-heavy a company is, the longer it can stay alive by bullshitting. Both of these factors mean increased decoupling between doing the work and survival of the company. And if a company is large enough that it has multiple complex streams of revenue, inefficiencies in some parts get hidden by the overall success.

I've only worked at tiny startups; I would say in the majority of cases, work speaks for itself. One thing to consider though, if you're producing good code... why would you be promoted to a position of mostly managing others? The company would no longer benefit from you as an IC. At tiny startups, even the CTO is spending a lot of time coding.

You can only code so much as you can - your output is limited to your skill, ability to learn, work ethic or determination, and time. There are all kinds of things that can waste your time - programming something that wasn’t required, programming something in a way that becomes a problem later on, oversights and other mistakes, but hopefully with experience you waste less of your own time by learning from all these previous less than optimal decisions. Now if there is more work to do than you personally want to do - it would just consume your life - maybe it is time to get some help, and then you are managing your helper in some way by guiding what they work on to help you out in the way that helps you get more work done than you could have by yourself. And then you get another helper, and another, and soon enough the team of programmers you are managing can produce more than you could have ever done by yourself. You don’t write much code anymore but You help your team solve problems with the building blocks you have, and keep them on the right path when customers and other forces will try to benefit themselves at your teams expense.

It's the same there too as soon as employee count is in the double digits.

Too true. Survival of the company = the show must go on!

This article is about as insufferable as most improv groups.

Yes! And about as annoying as a manager whose job is to talk about work without actually doing any.

The job of a manger is to differentiate work from talk about work. That is why there are managers at different levels, and that is their core function.

If someone can talk their way into a promotion, that is either a sales organization, or a great sign of a failing company. Or a strategy group.

A version of this is available every day: commercial journalism is the act of promoting good writing over good thinking. Usually for the same reasons as most bad plans: ideas structured by analogy, visualization, and context free approximation.

Anyway, this is a good article, and because it is often true, one worth pushing back against.

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that thought so. It was written as smug fact and man that rubs me the wrong way for some reason.

True. And the corrupt morals beneath that facade of optimism are depressing. What a world are we creating!

Do consultants know (or care) what workers think of them?

I’m disappointed with articles like this. If I wanted to be in sales, I wouldn’t be in engineering. Not everything is about marketing. Some people need to, and daresay, enjoy building things, otherwise nothing would ever get built. This salesification of all business strata is strictly an American phenomenon, and will eventually be the death of American industry. Already our major exports are media and pop culture that exemplify this phenomenon. Now engineers are supposed to market themselves? No wonder we don’t manufacture anything worth exporting anymore.

Sincere plea to everyone who does frontend: please knock it off with the on-select rich media shit. I am a compulsive selecter (and I know there are others like me). I like to select text as I read and it's jarring to have annotations pop up on the side as I do it.

Huge +1 to this. Selecting text is how I visually and mentally keep track of where I am. I've found the Firefox Reader mode (or various equivalents) work around this 80% of the time, but I rage-close websites that have this and have somehow managed to defeat reader mode.

As someone who's been doing frontend for 15+ years: I hear you. I wish the designers and PO's would hear you too. I am doing what I can to push back on these things, and so are every other frontender in my team. Keep giving this kind of feedback to websites if they ask for it. It's the best ammunition we have.

Author here - yeah I hear you. I love the hypothesis interactions when they happen on my site but the UI is a little aggressive (especially on mobile). All about tradeoffs unfortunately.

FWIW I posted a little UX teardown of the different annotation platforms here if you're interested: https://tomcritchlow.com/2019/02/12/annotations/

Are you a double-clicker or just selector?

I'm a double-clicker and I know of many others. I don't know many "selectors". In that spirit, they should just ignore double-clicking in whatever they wanna present for selections.

Both. I do this up-and-down selection where I select from above and then from below big chunks of text, and then occasionally (I think when I'm concentrating on a specific sentence) I'll doubleclick a word a bunch to select the word and then the paragraph back and forth.

(not to disagree...) It's hypothes.is integration.


Very interesting to see this at the top of HN literally just after reading "Human Capital: a Horror Story"


Good lord, what a schlocky piece of propaganda this is.

The person responsible desperately needs to be happy, but is far more invested in their own supremacy to actually enjoy human contact.

Before reading that article, I was intrigued by the hyperbolic title of the platform: American Greatness. My alt-right BS alarm was immediately triggered. So, I opened another article to get a feel for what it was about. A wave of unsubstantiated lies and storytelling that rivals anything published under Political Fiction.

Stopped reading after Monday when it took a strong turn into weird racist shit, but Monday is accurate and it would be great if someone could tell me how to get out of office hell rather than encouraging me to become a “Gee Bob, great idea!” office improv guy

That piece is really bizarre and poorly written. It feels like they're trying to shoehorn a bunch of right-wing talking points into a piece about corporate boringness. This quote is laughably bad:

> The male toilet has disappeared overnight. Now there is an “All-Gender Toilet” and the door is decorated in rainbow hearts.

> You go through three stalls before you find one that hasn’t got a used tampon floating in the basin or discarded on the floor.

With you on the first sentence, it is written poorly. It came off as smug and trying to be a scientific explanation for an opinion.

On your second sentence, I have no idea what you are talking about. Right wing talking points? Leave your politics at the door sometimes.

It's not like the author is shy of his views and agenda. If you truly don't see the right wing talking points, well maybe you just perceive as normal the views of a far-right political writer, no need to be shy about it.

This is gold

This is hilarious. Very good satire of common day office culture.

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