10. Further reading

Just as we hope people will share the ideas in this report, we would like to signpost the books and articles we found particularly useful in developing our thinking.  


You Are Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier

Published in 2010, this book consists of a series of essays on subjects relating to digital technology.

While readers may find some of the ideas fanciful, we feel it was ahead of its time. Most helpful to this project were Lanier’s ideas about technological lock-in and the limitations that pre-existing digital architecture place on design decisions and user experience.

iGen, Jean Twenge

Generational researcher Jene Twenge illustrates US statistics relating to the newest emerging “iGen” – those who grew up with smartphones. Twenge shows that while the amount of time young people spend watching TV or doing school or paid work has remained the same over the last few decades, other forms of screen time have increased dramatically at the cost of in person interactions, which are central to mental wellbeing. 

The book shows the correlations for the iGen between mental health, fear and anxiety. It also evidences how they grow up ‘later’ – they’re less likely to go out without parents, go on dates, have sex, get married, drive or leave home than previous generations at the same age.

For us, Twenge reinforced the importance of thinking about both the direct and indirect costs of increased smartphone use.

Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman

This book is foundational reading for anyone interested in the often over-hyped field of behavioural economics and is worth a read for that reason alone, whether you are buying or selling.

For us, it’s a healthy reminder that faster, easier and more passive consumption has a price attached to it.

Kahneman explains that there are two mental systems when it comes to considering judgement and choice. The first system is fast and automatic in comparison to the second system which is slower and more deliberate. As humans we default to intuitive, fast ‘system one’ thinking when we’re able to as it is cognitively easier to do so, but that we are much more likely to be subject to cognitive biases and mistakes in reasoning as a result.

Anti-fragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The concept of anti-fragility described by Taleb is powerful: some systems respond positively and are strengthened by physical and mental friction or stress.

Taleb makes that point that humans are anti-fragile systems. Making things too easy may be the worst thing you can do to someone.

Human Scale Development, Manfred Max-Neef

This is a set of ideas developed by a Chilean economist with contributions from Antonio Elizalde and Martin Hopenhayn.

When most people think of human needs they think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, but it’s well worth doing some reading on Max-Neef, particularly his thinking on violators, inhibitors and pseudo-satisfiers. How often are people failing to meet their needs when they feel they are met?

Max-Neef’s ideas primarily relate to the concept of illusions in Through the Looking Glass.

As we continue this project, we will be looking into how we can further test, refine and apply these ideas.

(Re)-Introducing Frictions in Design – A study on the frictionlesss cult and the idea of positive frictions, Gaelle Lgd

This series of articles explores the focus on friction in contemporary design thinking, and the potential negative consequences. If you are a designer it’s almost heretical to suggest that pain points might have a purpose in themselves, and if you aren’t it’s difficult to imagine how focused designers are on making experiences smoother and easier for all the right reasons.


‘Our minds can be hijacked’: the tech insiders who fear a smartphone dystopia Guardian, October 2017

Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good New York Times, March 2019

The Digital Gap Between Rich and Poor Kids Is Not What We Expected New York Times, October 2018

Why beating your phone addiction may come at a cost Guardian, March 2019

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? The Atlantic, September 2017

Young and Cueless: Thinking about the Big Rise in Anxiety Psychology Today, November 2017

Our society is being hijacked by technology Centre for Humane Technology

What’s the difference between apps we cherish vs. regret? Centre for Humane Technology

Infinite Scroll: The Web’s Slot Machine Psychology Today, August 2012

A Brief History of the GIF, From Earlier Internet Innovation to Ubiquitous Relic Smithsonian, June 2017

The Wired guide to emoji, Wired, January 2018