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  • Writer's pictureJoy Zhang

Takeaways, 2 months after Georgia Tech

Updated: Jun 7

After graduating from Georgia Tech, I've had a lot of time to think, read, and readjust.

During my hiatus from school, I've had the luxury of consuming a lot of great writing and talks. Here are some of my takeaways.

Good design = + and - friction

Good design (good engineering, art, writing) is just about skillful, meaningful addition and reduction of friction. I realized this after listening to Jenny Lam's talk at MODA regarding her role as the UX director in Oracle, which has historically been notorious for poor UI.

Pain is the second arrow

When unhappy/inopportune things happen to you, they come to you in the form of two arrows. The first arrow is the actual event. It hits you, and you can't control it. The second arrow is one you shoot at yourself depending on how you react to the first arrow.

Focus on not shooting that second arrow.

On giving mercy

I recently binge-read several pieces by Terese Malhot, who aside from being a magician with words, is also an advocate for women's and indigenous rights. Here's one snippet from her piece on Guernica, "I Used to Give Men Mercy":

At the mental health facility, we have a class on humor and the benefits of laughter. A man in recovery looks at me and says, “What do you get when a hooker dies in your hotel room?”
I say, “No.”
The facilitator doesn’t speak.
The man says, “One hour free.”
The same man reaches over me at lunch to get a spoon, and I hold up my hand to guard my breasts. I could tell him that Cindy Gladue’s killer told the court that he paid her sixty dollars for services rendered the night he murdered her, and that she died alone in a bathtub from her injuries. I could tell him that I did things for money, often, and that it didn’t make me less of a human—but it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to tell him that I was raped and filmed and that I am someone different now, but the same woman. I don’t want to tell him about the beauty of the women where I’m from, and that there is a forest of trees who are women. I don’t want to tell him anything. I owe him as much as I owe the workshop facilitators, who taught me nothing of craft and everything of whiteness and men.
When the man looks at me in the hallway, he cowers, and I believe he is ashamed. I think it’s because I use words like “effusive,” and because I question the research in our handouts on the benefits of laughter. He believes I am venerable; he thinks I am beyond being cut open in a bathtub and left for dead. He thinks I am not desperate to tell someone to find my tree. He believes I am someone, and I must, too.

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