Jordan Koschei jordan koschei

Thoughts on product design, code, and remote work from a product person in the Hudson Valley.

I want to be bored more.

I want to be the person on the train who notices things and remembers faces and wasn’t glued to his phone the whole time.

I want to be present, even in the liminal moments throughout the day. Waiting in line, waiting for my coffee, waiting for the page to load.

I want to feel embodied as I walk my dog. I want to hear birds and feel sunshine and feel like part of the environment, rather than being stuck in my headphones.

I don’t want my day to be subdivided into podcast episodes.

I don’t want to find myself thinking in tweets.

I don’t want the most memorable parts of my day to be something I saw on a screen.

I can’t remember most of this stuff afterwards anyway.

There used to be so much more space to be bored, to be alone with my thoughts. The internet was someplace you went deliberately, not an ambient part of the environment. My hand didn’t twitch towards my phone if I forgot the name of an actor or something. I didn’t feel the need to check my email while pooping. My hand didn’t compulsively reach for my phone, because I wasn’t afraid of being alone with my thoughts for more than 30 seconds.

The web is built around hyperlinks, and yet I was so much better at making connections between disparate ideas before I carried the whole internet around in my pocket. Maybe having those connections constantly, instantly available has made my brain offload that function, just as it’s made me offload my memory. I’m 29, but I can’t remember things like I used to.

I’m scared of being remade in the image of the devices I carry.

Time feels disjointed to me now, smeared across the devices and websites and the services in which I’ve fragmented my identity.

The valuable things in life come with lots of friction. They take work and the capacity for deep, deliberate, concentrated focus. If we lose the ability for that, how can we muse? Savor? Pray? How can we Be, rather than Do?

Meditating using a smartphone app is like hosting an AA meeting at a bar.

Constant stimulation is a drug. The more content we consume, the more content we need to consume to feel satiated. Eventually we find ourselves on a treadmill and the only way our brains feel stimulated is by constantly consuming more and more. We have to check our phones while watching Netflix. We have to flit back and forth between Facebook and Twitter and Instagram while watching Netflix. Even that starts to feel boring. Eventually we’re bored all the time, because the world doesn’t hold enough interest for our gluttinous, addicted brains. The more stimulation we feed ourselves, the more boring everything becomes. Eventually we can’t even be in the world without listening to a podcast or checking the latest on our phones because all of Creation isn’t enough for us.

Sunshine and birdsong may reflect the glory of God, but have you seen this article on Buzzfeed?

I didn’t know what to write after that last sentence, and suddenly I realized I’d opened up Chrome and hit CMD-T and T and return and suddenly I was on Twitter. It was a reflex. I didn’t even know I was doing it.

Slow is good. Boring is good. The more we allow ourselves to be bored — the more we allow ourselves to be alone with our thoughts — the less boring that boredom will seem. The world has infinite stimuli and infinite depth, but we can’t appreciate depth if we’re constantly training ourselves to prefer breadth. We’re skimming when we could be luxuriating. All because our monkey brains crave stimulation and the internet is the world’s greatest Skinner Box.

I want my brain back.

I want to be bored more.

My Interview on Interface Lovers

Jordan Koschei on Interface Lovers

Interface Lovers is an online publication that interviews product designers about who they are and what they do. It’s enlightening to hear how other designers got into their roles and learn about how they work, and I was flattered when they reached out to interview me.

I’ve changed jobs since I gave this interview, so a lot has changed, but this will give you some insight into my design philosophy and outlook.

Bonus: They ask every designer for some music recommendations, so I’m happy to say that you can now find some sweet worktunes at Designer Mix #140 — Jordan Koschei on Spotify.

Joining Spoke

My Spoke onboarding swag
New role = new swag!

I’ve spent the last two weeks in San Francisco, onboarding at Spoke, where I’ve joined as Senior Product Designer.

Spoke is an AI-powered ticketing and knowledge management tool for IT, HR, and any other team you can think of. Rather than directing your requests to a person, it figures out if it already knows the answer and surfaces the relevant knowledge. It’s impressively smart, and getting moreso all the time.

I’ll be continuing to work remotely from the Hudson Valley, traveling to the SF office a few times a year. It’s not a bad place to spend some time:

The view from Spoke's rooftop
The view from the roof.
The Spoke office
I got in early one day and thought I'd take a picture of the office.
Spoke's office kitchen
Spoke's office dog

More to come!

My Interview on User League

Jordan Koschei on User League

I was interviewed for User League, a new online publication from Dave Martin, principal designer at Automattic.

This quote sums up what I believe about design:

I like to think of design as a form of hospitality — we’re creating digital environments in which our users will live for a time. Those environments should make our users feel comfortable and confident, and enable them to do things they couldn’t otherwise do. A good product gives the user superpowers without drawing too much attention to itself. It’s better to leave the user thinking, “Hey, I’m awesome” than “Hey, that product’s awesome.”

Thanks, Dave! Head over to User League to read the full interview.

An Anecdote on the Importance of UX Research

“Can you make sure they add sounds to the next version?”

I’m standing in an aisle of a Wal-Mart in suburban Florida, scrambling to open up my notebook as the rest of my team walks out the door onto the bus. I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on, but the guy in front of me looks frustrated, so I’m pretty sure he’s about to tell me something valuable.

It’s the end of 2015; I’m doing UX work at a small agency, mostly for Fortune 500s who are trying to make their internal tools a little less horrible to use. On this project, I’m traveling around the country with a small team, shadowing merchandisers from a brand-name consumer-goods company as they drive to different stores and stock the shelves with their product. It’s just me, my project manager, and three consultants from a gigantic consulting company.

We’ve just finished shadowing this particular merchandiser and are getting ready to leave for our next stop. I’m the last one out of the aisle, and the merchandiser we’ve been observing pulls me aside.

“I’m not sure if you can do anything about this, but I’m having an issue with our new app, and I think other people have been having an issue too.”

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