A site for creative drawing challenges with friends

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A selection of drawings made by YDays users

Like you, I’ve been spending months stuck inside, unable to see friends and loved ones freely outside of the Zoom boxes we’ve grown so tired of. We’re all craving novel ways to connect with each other. And maybe, like me, you’ve hoped to use this time to improve yourself in some way. Could we be more creative, practice new skills, or make things?

YDays was imagined as a response to these needs: it’s a way to connect with our friends or teammates, be delighted each day, and inspire one another. Each day of a five-day YDays challenge, you’ll get a different puzzle-like drawing tool to explore and simple prompt to respond to. …

A look back at the first three months at YDays

We launched YDays in October: it’s a site where friends, colleagues, family members, and even strangers can draw together and explore unique prompts and drawing tools. Since then, we’ve seen thousands of people try it out. The new year is a natural time to look back, so we wanted to share three things we’ve learned about drawing from our community over the past few months.

🌻 [1] Even when the constraints seem limiting, people find ways to express themselves creatively.

In the YDays holiday community challenge, day 3 was a snowflake-making prompt. We heard from several people that it was their favorite drawing of the week. …

As my DNA profile changed over time, so did my concept of self

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Photo courtesy of the author

One morning in spring 2017, I spat into a tube containing a stabilizing solution, packed up the kit, and dropped it into the mail to return to 23andMe. A few weeks later, I would get a report detailing where my ancestors come from. I was not expecting any surprises, but merely a confirmation of what my parents have always told me: I am wholly Korean.

When I got the results online a month later, I was shocked. The report said I was only 58 percent Korean, with ancestry percentages from both China and Japan in the high teens. According to 23andMe, it was extremely likely that I had a full-blooded Chinese and a full-blooded Japanese grandparent, great-grandparent, or great-great-grandparent. These relatives would have been born in the later part of the 1800s or first few decades of the 1900s. They would have lived less than 100 years ago and may have been alive when I was born. This was news to me, given everything I had learned about my family. …

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Pocket users are readers. They save millions of articles every day, stories that feed and fuel the mind. In the Pocket apps, they spend time reading articles without distractions in a clean, consistent layout. Pocket is their quiet corner of the internet, where they can focus on the stories that they found useful or intriguing at first glance.

We decided to refresh the look and feel of Pocket to better suit the needs of users today. We’re 12 years out from the first Tweet, 11 years into the history of the iPhone, and four years since the introduction of Material Design. A lot of patterns have evolved in the 21st century so far: how people find the news and stories that interest them, how they focus in a world of endless feeds, and how much they rely on their mobile devices. …

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This essay is adapted from a process book summarizing my year as a student in the Type@CooperWest Extended program. It’s a collection of thoughts, projects, and sketches. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, both big and small, over three terms of studio and history classes, guest lectures, and workshops.

In no particular order, here are twelve things I’ve learned about the practice of type design, the world of type, and the creative process.

[ 1 ] My love for type

And keeping the old (Charter). Hello, Marat Sans and Noe.

We’d like to introduce you to a couple of new friends of ours here at Medium. You may have seen them lounging about.

Noe is our new Medium brand typeface. Noe made its first appearance in August, when we launched our new brand identity. Noe Display Bold is the face we used as the basis for the Medium wordmark. We’re using Noe Display Medium as the voice of Medium on marketing pages and in places where we encourage users to sign in and upgrade. …

The Department of Homeland Security created the Homeland Security Advisory System in 2002. The agency publicized what the risk of terrorist attacks was at any given moment, alternating between yellow and orange sixteen times (and red once, for a three-day period) during its nine-year history. Americans didn’t know how to respond to the threat level, other than be vaguely afraid for their safety.

Since last week, we are facing a new threat to our homeland…

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Eight days into a new administration, seeing a barrage of executive actions, we are on edge. The risk of harm to our basic human rights, to our relative peace, safety, and well-being, now, is very real, and we are feeling it.

Threat level: orange.

End-of-year recap

Many things this year have been crappy. However some, thankfully, have been delightful, beautiful, or delicious. I wanted to leave 2016 on a high point and recommend a few random things I really enjoyed this past year.

7. Stories of Your Life and Others and Arrival

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Last week we held a UX research session on Project Ara, the modular smartphone coming from Google ATAP, Advanced Technology and Projects. I asked for help with usability research from Dhvani Patel, Senior UX Researcher in Google X, and she suggested conducting a Cognitive Walkthrough (or “cog walk” for short) with four senior members of the Google X design team.

This was my first time taking part in a cog walk, and I was impressed by how helpful it was — it was like UX research on steroids.

The cognitive walkthrough is a usability inspection method where a group of experts step through tasks in a system and identify problems along the way. It’s like a one-on-one usability session, but instead of recruiting potential users, you’re using UX designers and researchers (who are new to the project) as your guinea pigs. And instead of conducting a series of time consuming one-at-a-time sessions, you get the feedback from the whole group all at once. On the other end of the spectrum, the cog walk is also similar to a design critique, but in this case the reviewers are evaluating the work from a user task point of view, rather than stepping back to look at the whole system. And unlike in a typical review, designers aren’t allowed to defend or explain their decisions. …

A conversation

In September of 2014, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a week-long online conversation with a group of designers linked together by dim sum and John Maeda. Aaron Perry-Zucker and I kicked off the discussion with a few questions about work/life trajectory:

How do you think about your career path? What was the plan when you set out and how has it changed? What roles do education and creative satisfaction play?

Many of the designers mentioned bumpy rides, wrong turns and chance when describing their paths so far. …


Peter Cho

Founder, YDays. Formerly Design at Pocket, Medium, Google Project Ara, Inkling. Early joiner, late adopter.

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