Bad Culture Is Like Lead Pipes

Maybe people will look back on what we think is the really important part of the internet, all the memey stuff and the social networks and the places where people are making all this money, and they will look back on it the way we look back on the use of lead plumbing on the part of the aristocracy in ancient Rome. Which, to them this was like ‘Oh my god this is the sign you’ve arrived, this is where the action is, we have plumbing and it’s awesome!’ And it was! It was this amazing technological infrastructure. It was beautifully made, it provided them with an incredibly high standard of living and it also slowly, gradually made them irretrievably sick and insane*. It poisoned them day by day.
And we look back at it now as this thing that was simultaneously a fascinating part of how their culture worked, and the invention of a new kind of urban living but also as something that was slowly but surely making the ruling class into people who were desperately ill with terrible impulse control without ever realizing it or understanding why.

From The Last Word On Nothing

Project Woosh

When I was in high school, I went metal detecting with my dad out in this state park.  We were just looking for old homesteads.  We never realized it had been a bombing range.

From 1949 to 1951, the Naval Reserve entered into a cooperative project with the Minnesota Department of Conservation. The goal of this project, known as Operation Woosh, was to produce wallowing holes for some 5,000 moose to help them find refuge from biting insects. The military dropped more than 50 live bombs, ranging in size from 500 to 2,000 pounds. As each bomb dropped, peat sprayed high into the air, instantly opening a pond up to 30 feet deep and 100 feet wide.

From Minesota DNR.

MailChimp’s Voice 

MailChimp has a very robust writing guide focused on voice and tone in multiple situations.  I particularly like how they handle the customer’s emotion in negative situations:
Failure Message

User: What went wrong? I really need to get this campaign out.

User’s Feelings: Confusion, Stress, Anger

-Offer a solution or next step.  

-Be straightforward.  Explain what is going on right away.  

-Be calm. Don’t use exclamation points or alarming words like “alert” or “immediately.”

-Be serious. Don’t joke around with people who are frustrated.

MailChimp:  We’re experiencing a problem at one of our data centers. Our engineers are on the case, and will have things back to normal shortly.
MailChimp’s full voice and tone guide can be found here.