In my experience, everyone has a series of “go-to books”, items on the shelf that are well-worn and constantly referenced.

Big Picture

We exist in a built world. To truly understand past (and future) cultures, one must understand how technology defines the context of life.

Society is mutually-held debt. Our conceptions of morality are linked to mercantile exchange. We are socialists with our friends and capitalists with our landlords.

People are bad at statistical thinking. Low-probability events are still likely (near guaranteed over a long enough timeframe) and can be the most significant, but are frequently not planned for, as they’re unlikely to happen today.

It is critical to realize when an underlying distribution is exponential instead of normal.

How you define a problem determines how you solve it. The more complicated the problem, the more care should be taken in defining it.

Psychology

Humans are first-and-foremost, tool users. Our use of tools reshapes us.

The most ubiquitous and powerful tools are frequently overlooked.

95 – 99% of our daily lives are performed by automatic cognitive processes of which are are only vaguely aware. It is our nature to rely on these processes because our conscious, thoughtful resources are so limited in availability.

Interaction is driven by social scripts that we frequently depend on to the exclusion of all sense.

Those seeking to take advantage of you depend on social awkwardness to prevent you from saying no.

People are phenomenal at providing post-hoc justification for their actions. Between that and dividing the world into “Us” and “Them”, it is extremely easy for anyone to do the unconscionable.

Humans are creatures of habit, and you can learn much of them by understanding the marks these habits leave behind.

People shape their spaces for two primary reasons: 1.) to present themselves to others and 2.) to provide comfort to themselves. It is important to distinguish between the two.

Engineering & Design

Usable designs are driven by affordances, visibility, mapping, and feedback. Good designs should clearly communicate their uses.

Statistics & Data Communication