The 2021 Mid-Year Review

Hard to believe, but we're already halfway through 2021. Time for an update!

Read 15 books (10/15)

My goal last year was 10 books, a total I've already surpassed this time around. I was right to increase my goal to 15! What I've read so far:

  1. Saving Capitalism by Robert B. Reich
  2. Batman: The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb
  3. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  4. Serpents of Eden by Martin Edwards
  5. This is Chance! by Jon Mooallem
  6. Word by Word by Kory Stamper
  7. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  8. Working in Public by Nadia Eghbal
  9. The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman
  10. You Look Like a Thing and I Love You by Janelle Shane

I was way ahead of schedule on this goal, but I think that's going to change with my current book, Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson. It's big.

Queued up for the rest of this year: The Making of a Manager by Julie Zhuo, Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown, Expressive Design Systems by Yesenia Perez-Cruz, and Everyday Information Architecture by Lisa Maria Martin.

A photo of Battle Cry of Freedom.

Write 10 blog posts (5/10)

Last year, I'd written most of my blog posts during the first half of the year, got burned out, and wrapped up the rest near the end of the year. This time around, I'm pacing myself.

  1. Auto-Merging Dependabot Pull Requests
  2. 10x Detective
  3. Using the Apple Music API with Next.js
  4. iOS App Settings: A Study
  5. Memes Aren't User Research

Upcoming topics include VR, machine learning, building for oneself, and LEGO Mario. The next post is due in early August!

Release the next chapter of Tiny Mystery Club

This project is in the research phase - I read a collection of short mystery stories, Serpents of Eden, along with The Long Halloween and Watchmen. 10x Detective came out of the research material for this project while I was looking into existing mystery game mechanics. More recently, I watched Sherlock Jr., the 1924 Buster Keaton film.

A photo of Serpents of Eden.

A big thank you to Ben Lundsten for recommending nearly all of these and collaborating with me on some diagrams and wireframes!


Nothing yet.

Illustrate a comic

I've been doing quite a bit of drawing in preparation for a potential comic about an art gallery gone awry. I'll continue to post progress to the linked Twitter thread.

A drawing of a sick painting.

Launch lily dex

Apple announced a bunch of amazing additions to SwiftUI this year that will benefit lily dex significantly, so I'm hesitating to work on it until I can leverage those features. Very excited about the improvements to lists (SWIPE ACTIONS!!!) and remote image loading.

In the meantime, I launched a new landing page and newsletter at Sign up there for updates!

Other stuff

A few other highlights from this year:

  • Config 2021: Figma held a remote conference this year, and it was a blast!
  • Pokémon Omega Ruby: I finally got back around to playing Ruby and beat the game for the first time earlier this year. I posted updates to my gaming Twitter account, @MKPlaysSwitch.
  • GitHub Copilot: I got access to the Copilot technical preview shortly after it was announced and am very impressed with it so far.
  • OpenAI: I also got off the waitlist for OpenAI, the “AI” that powers GitHub Copilot. It was surprisingly very easy to get started with it - I've already hooked it up to my Twitter bot, @robot_mk, to generate new tweets from my tweets. The results have been impressive.
  • This. Isn't. Sparta.: This collection of articles deserves an honorable mention - I found it super interesting. It's a deep dive into how Sparta differed from the way it's portrayed in popular media.
  • The Egg by Andy Weir: A very compelling short story by the author of The Martian that reminded me of the dialogue on Logic's album Everybody. (P.S. After grabbing that link for the Logic album, I noticed this line in the article: “This concept was inspired by the short story 'The Egg' by Andy Weir.” 😅)
  • Rabbit Hole: Binged this podcast in one weekend. All about the internet, social media algorithms, and radicalization.

At this point, I'm not 100% confident that I'll complete all of my goals for this year. What I'm discovering is that as I get access to new tools, I get sidelined by working on projects related to those things. I wonder if I should fight this instinct or design goals that are more flexible to accommodate for this. 🤔

Until next time! 👋