Super8: Eight intriguing articles from March.

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Oh, March. A month like no other in recent years. Marking the changing seasons, Daylight Savings Time, International Women’s Day, the anniversary of a global pandemic, St. Patrick’s Day and March Madness, it’s a busy time of year.

As the mayhem of March draws to a close, it’s only fitting that we stop and take a moment to reflect, reflect, and question everything. And this month, Matt Agar has compiled eight intriguing and insightful articles that will let you do just that.

By creating time to reflect, and then rethinking what it means to be productive, we can find opportunities to reflect, question everything, and keep it simple.

So turn on the kettle, sink into your favorite chair and put your feet up. It’s time to dive into Super8 in March.

1. What makes writing more readable?

Writing content understandable by the greatest number seems an obvious good practice. But the way we write often creates barriers as to who can read it.

Rebecca Monteleone and Jamie Brew provide an interactive example of “plain language,” a writing style that uses simplified sentences, everyday vocabulary, and clear structure to break down these barriers.

We often talk about making sure the things we create are accessible. For people with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities and limited access to education, plain language translations allow us to engage with a wider audience (and let’s not forget our multilingual friends!).

So the next time you’re at a loss for words, keep in mind that sometimes simplicity is better.

2. Should you ever NOT listen to user feedback?

Most people deal with a flood of feedback every day, whether it’s direct feature requests from customers, review websites, or social media.

User comments are always a valuable source of information. But if you’re not careful, user comments can quickly become a to-do list organized by who shouted loudest and most often.

Jessica Tenuta explores how you can separate the most important information from the sea of ​​comments. The key: look for user information, not comments.

3. On productivity at work.

The shift to remote working has required a shift in the way we think about productivity. Tracking hours isn’t what signals an individual or team’s productivity — and in fact, studies have shown that these superficial metrics can be manipulated.

If we don’t seriously consider re-evaluating how we measure – and therefore better target solutions – our productivity problem, we won’t have a productivity problem to think about.

Nicole Forsgren examines how we might rethink what it means to be productive, and how multi-dimensional metrics across a range of domains such as satisfaction, well-being, activity, communication and collaboration might play a part in this.

4. Time to reflect.

Most people think they listen well, but they rarely do – not to this level. Listening like this is a radical act. In this book, Nancy Kline describes how we can achieve this and presents a step-by-step guide that can be used in any situation.

Whether you want to have more productive meetings, solve business problems, create bold strategies, or build stronger relationships, this book opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

5. Sabotage: code added to deleted files of NPM package popular in Russia and Belarus.

The war in Ukraine has affected millions of people, including people in technical roles. However, one impact you may not be aware of is the rise of Protestware via open source libraries used by millions of people.

Recently a developer was caught adding malicious code to a popular open-source package that deleted files from computers in Russia and Belarus in a protest that raised concerns about the security of free and open-source software.

6. Don’t ask to ask, just ask.

It’s safe to say that we’ve probably all been in a meeting or conversation and heard an impromptu “can I ask you a quick question?”. No doubt we have all done this at some point ourselves.

But with a large majority of the workforce in hybrid form, it’s important to keep our lingering questions clear and concise. By asking to ask, you are asking for more than you think you are asking for.

You ask people to take responsibility and you unnecessarily alienate others.

Someone who’s idle in the channel, zoom call, or lane from time to time is watching what’s going on, and they’re unlikely to answer your “ask to ask” question. But describing your actual problem might pique someone’s interest and get you a better answer.

7. (Some) operational lessons we all learn the hard way.

Technically speaking, this isn’t a traditional post, but this Twitter thread may prove to be a tongue-in-cheek reminder of a host of lessons many of us may have experienced during an outage.

Whether it’s turning it off and on again (which is a perfectly reasonable way to fix many things) or understanding that “Old” is a very relative term when it comes to software and protocols, there’s a lot to be learned from Jan Schaumann’s 51 (more or less) tweets.

And if you can only remember one thing from this thread, just remember that one in a million is next Tuesday.

8. Eight counterintuitive marketing strategies that actually work.

Sometimes marketing is counter-intuitive. Surprise, surprise, there is nuance! Whether it’s adding eggs to ready-made cake mix or improving conversion through longer signup forms, sometimes the extra effort is better in the long run.

In this article, Amanda Natividad outlines a set of principles and examples that help demonstrate how something counterintuitive can be most effective in certain situations.

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