Weekend Reading — 🧑‍🎨 Minium viable design

This week we look at why prompts won’t replace developers, reasons to not use GraphQL, minimum viable design, and proof of human in recruiting.

Weekend Reading — 🧑‍🎨 Minium viable design

Peter Cohen “I don't think we give this cinema moment enough credit for the impact it had on Gen X's worldview”

Tech Stuff

Unpredictable Black Boxes are Terrible Interfaces This is why prompting won’t replace programming:

Generative AI models are amazing and yet they are terrible interfaces. When users cannot predict how input controls affect outputs they have to resort to trial-and-error, which is frustrating. This is a major issue when using generative AI for creating new content and it will remain an issue as long as the mapping between the input controls and outputs is unclear. But we can improve AI interfaces by enabling conversational interactions that can let users establish common ground/shared semantics with the AI, and that provide repair mechanisms when such shared semantics are missing.

In practice, it's not much different from no-code tools. For very specific problems of low complexity, they're much quicker than writing code. But steer away from the beaten path, or for any increased complexity, they become frustrating to use, and you spend more time "massaging prompts" than straight up writing the code.

Mario Zechner Related:

ChatGPT/Copilot finally give programmers a chance to experience how non-technical people feel when trying to coerce programmers to create a thing.

You too can now throw imprecise natural language prompts at a magic coding box and get disillusioned by the results.

Make Your CLI Demos a Breeze with Zero Stress and Zero Mistakes The secret to a great CLI demo? Script it and record it.


what do you call a bug in python code caused by misalignment?
unindented consequences

trurl manipulates URLs trurl pairs with curl but for manipulating URLs “Battle against other developers by typing challenges from real open source projects as fast as possible. Practice your typing to become a faster and more accurate programmer by practicing typing actual code sequences and symbols that are hard to find on the keyboard.”

GraphQL: From Excitement to Deception I’d like this post better if it didn’t have the clickbait title, but it does a good job of summarizing what GraphQL is good at:

  1. One request, many resources
  2. Exact data fetching
  3. Strongly typed
  4. Better tooling and developer experience
  5. Version free

Of the APIs I worked with, I’d say 9 out of 10 end up with one request per resource, fetch most fields, bang their heads against untypes like “collection” and “edge”, find that the tooling are immature, and that “version free” is a mirage (see also, XML).

No gains and a whole lot of unnecessary pains, but it does look great on the resume …

The Bitcoin Whitepaper Is Hidden in Every Modern Copy of macOS “I just discovered that every copy of macOS ships with a hidden PDF of Satoshi Nakamoto's Bitcoin whitepaper. But why?”

Tabloid: the clickbait headline programming language “Tabloid is a real, turing complete programming language written in JavaScript, inspired by cilckbait headlines.”

Eye for Design

Why do websites have so many pop-ups?

This decision is based on short-term metrics, though, not long-term results and actual user sentiment analysis. “You really have to do active research, not just look at analytics,” he says, but “analytics is close to free,” and user studies are not. As a result, “what they can’t see is how it makes people feel.”

Synthetic Users: user research without the headaches While there are no solutions for free user studies, there are products that help you pretend like you're conducting a user study for the same price as not doing it.

You can also just open ChatGPT in a new window and ask it directly:

You are a [persona]. Your answers should be short and to the point. What do you think about …


one thing that's been surprisingly challenging for me is convincing designers that for all intents and purposes, hover does not exist on mobile and you should never hide important info on hover. people just can't seem to wrap their heads around it, despite it being 2023

“Design first, then build”: let’s bury this myth forevermore Minimum Viable Design!

Don’t delay—send mockups to development. This speeds up product launch because it’s much faster (and easier) to fix something when the task’s context and related nuances are fresh on the team’s mind.

Business Side

Jim Fan on Twitter 🤔 Network effects in GenML:

My guess is that MidJourney has been doing a massive-scale reinforcement learning from human feedback ("RLHF") - possibly the largest ever for text-to-image.
When human users choose to upscale an image, it's because they prefer it over the alternatives. It'd be a huge waste not to use this as a reward signal …
The more users you have, the better RLHF you can do. And then the more users you gain.”

Machine Thinking

ChatGPT Lifts Business Professionals’ Productivity and Improves Work Quality The interesting take from this research:

The average graded quality of the documents, on a 1–7 scale, was much better when the authors had ChatGPT assistance: 4.5 (with AI) versus 3.8 (without AI). The effect size for quality was 0.45 standard deviations, which is on the border between a small and a medium effect for research findings.

ChatGPT and Me (a Recruiter) Proof of Human is one of the challenges in recruiting:

We are trying to see who is the best fit for our team. A cover letter should (clearly and concisely) relate your previous experience to the role you’re applying to, and explain what specifically interests you about the opportunity. Help us help you!

I was curious to see how ChatGPT fares against our “proof of human” filter.

For context, when recruiting, it’s common to get overwhelmed by bulk submissions from people who never read the job description, and have no particular interest in working for you (this is more true in a startup). The first line is filtering these out.

What we didn’t do: ask people to submit even more inputs (cover + resume + GH link + code sample, etc). We kept our application form as simple as possible.

Also, no take-home challenges until we’re committed to interviewing the candidate.

So how do you get Proof of Human? By adding a simple question to the application instructions: “Tell me what the weather is like where you live?”

Anyone can answer that question, it only takes a few seconds, there are no right or wrong answers …

ChatGPT: Regarding the weather, as a software developer, I do not have a physical presence and therefore do not "live" in a specific location. However, I am well-equipped to work remotely or relocate as necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.

ChatGPT Generated Google Business Review Spam The new “your call is very important to us”:

I'm sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with Right Way Garage Doors. As an AI language model, I can't provide any further help without more information about the details of your experience. If you could provide me with more information, I would be happy to help you with any concerns or issues you have.

Behind the curtain: what it feels like to work in AI right now Fear, FOMO, and the scientific exodus driven by ChatGPT:

Taking solace in the scientific method can make things easier. When your goals are about progress rather than virality, it is much easier to have equanimity with the constant model releases that could be seen as partial scoops of your current project.

To help address the plentiful competition (and to quote Ted Lasso): be a goldfish. When things are moving so fast, it's good to remember that sometimes you'll waste a lot of effort or get scooped. The best thing you can do is to just accept it and keep going on your process. You're not alone in this one.


Catalin Cimpanu “Damn.... Midjourney is really good. That's exactly how I imagined a malicious software package.”

Everything Else

Christoph Uhlen “Dust, the final frontier”

Spectacled Langour 😭

Just booked the last two seats for the #Tetris #film and the whole row disappeared

tardisgrl “A #Lego rendition of “Under the wave off Kanagawa” (aka the Great Wave) by Hokusai at MFABoston”

r/TwoSentenceHorror (context)

I was relieved when I realized the only damage to the time machine was to the wires
All I need to do now is find someone in Ancient Sumer to sell me some good quality copper.

ancient catbus “I always do”


You matter.

Unless you’re moving at light-speed.

Then you energy.

rmbalt Look 10x smarter on social media with this one weird trick:

Here's a weird memetic/aesthetic development in Brazilian internet:
Some influencers are doing videos presenting an opinion/idea, but acting like they're... doing a podcast
Whole setup, looking to the side and not at the camera, etc
Is there anything like this elsewhere?

Listen to live air traffic control radio mixed with lofi hip hop This site plays endless lofi, mixed with air traffic control radio — which if you have ADHD is a good combo to help with focus.

Tip: works best when you pick a bigger, busier airport.

Brian “Yep. Sounds about right.”

🔥 Looking for more? Subscribe to Weekend Reading.

Or grab the RSS feed