31 July 19 -

Super8: Eight intriguing articles from July.

Fun fact: July is named after Julius Caesar, who helped found the Roman Empire and one of the most successful civilisations of all time.

July’s also kind of like hump day for the entire year. We’re just past the midway point of 2019, so it seems like the perfect time for a motivational pep talk.

Who better to provide it than the man-of-the-month himself? Caesar—and all Rome—upheld the Roman Virtues, guiding behaviours that helped them conquer the world.

Turns out they’re as useful today as they were back in 30 BC. ‘Prudentia’? Perfect for visual design. ‘Firmitas’? Makes for more effective creative concepts. And that’s just the start.

I explain the virtues and how they still apply for Super8 in July!

1. We read 150 privacy policies. They were an incomprehensible disaster.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Kevin Litman-Navarro.
  • Contributor: Bridget Noonan.

Levity can play a key role in powerful leadership. Even when you’re running the most dominant civilization in the known world, as the Romans were, sometimes the playbook calls for being playful.

That’s where the value of ‘comitas’ comes from; an ‘ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness’.

In this piece, Kevin Litman-Navarro looks at privacy policies. Or rather, how prohibitive they are.

Too wordy, too complicated, too long, too boring. Privacy is an important concept—FaceApp, anyone?—and there’s huge value in making sophisticated concepts fun and accessible, while retaining their meaning.

The data market has become the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we agree to but don’t fully understand help fuel it.

There may not have been much comedy at the Colosseum, but the point remains: a little bit of levity goes a long way.

2. Counteracting the sea of sameness in marketing.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Brian Honigman.
  • Contributor: Aziza Mohamed.

Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but all marketing becomes infinitely less powerful when there’s a chorus of copycats. Uniformity is undesirable for everyone.

For marketers, it becomes harder to establish any real point of differentiation; for audiences, it’s harder to make a choice.

The Roman gladiators might not have been great content marketers, but their virtue of ‘firmitas’—strength, tenacity, and the ability to stick to purpose—is a valuable lesson for any storyteller, copywriter, or designer.

While cost and product quality are top considerations, the distinctiveness of a company’s messaging can simplify the consumer’s decision-making process.

Pinpoint the unique value of your product, service, or idea, and stick to it. Although it’s tempting to emulate success, it’s hard to pioneer when you’re following someone else’s plan.

3. Six timeless business lessons we can all learn from Drake.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Jack Martin.
  • Contributor: Elliott Grigg.

Auctoritas’ is the Roman Virtue of ‘spiritual authority’. Loosely translated from the original Latin, it refers to ‘the sense of one’s social standing built up through experience’.

Admittedly, spiritual authority is probably not the sort of concept you associate with rappers, but here, Jack Martin identifies six key behaviours from the ‘six God’ himself—Drake—to help you build valuable experience and improve your entrepreneurial standing.

From collaborative networking through to using vulnerability to your advantage, turns out there’s lots to reap from rap.

4. A Harvard psychologist says people judge you based on two criteria when they first meet you.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Jenna Goudreau.
  • Contributor: Sarah El-Atm. 

Conventional wisdom says you only get one shot at a first impression. But this recent psychological study suggests people evaluate you in relation to two specific criteria throughout that first meeting.

It’s not the firmness of your handshake, but rather, whether you exude ‘veritas’—trust or truthfulness—and once that’s established, whether you’re competent.

From an evolutionary perspective, in cave man days, it was more important to figure out if your fellow man was going to kill you than if he could build a good fire.

When the stakes are high, veritas counts.

5. 25 words that are their own opposites.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Judith Herman.
  • Contributor: Daniel Banik.

The English language is challenging, even for native speakers.

For example, ‘left’ can mean either remaining or departed. If everyone left, there’s no one left.

How about ‘off’? I turned off the alarm so that it won’t go off unexpectedly. They’re just two of 25 (and, let’s be honest, probably many more) ‘contronyms’ in the English language—words that are their own opposite.

The whole situation requires a decent amount of ‘industria’: hard work. Maybe that’s why I’m taking a break to brush up on my Latin…

6. Accessibility considerations in Data visualisation design.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Keen.
  • Contributor: Rowan Barnes.

Accessible design involves taking steps to ensure the maximum number of people can meaningfully interact with the product, idea, information, or service you’re articulating.

If you think that makes clear and perfect sense—congrats!—you’ve mastered the virtue of ‘prudentia’, or wisdom.

The thing to remember is that UX should prioritise the user over a designer’s need to impress.

This piece focuses on accessibility considerations for data visualisation, with some practical insights into creating more equitable narratives with your numbers.

Whatever your industry or field, it always makes sense to create so that everyone can connect with ideas.

7. Did you fail at something? Good—do something else.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Darius Foroux.
  • Contributor: James Otter.

We’ve all heard that every cloud has a silver lining. What many people don’t know is there’s a golden rule to help you spot those silver linings in any and every situation.

Whenever something bad happens, find a way to say ‘good’. Didn’t get promoted? Good, more time to hone your craft before you take the next step. Got a problem? Good, you’ve got an opportunity to apply yourself and find a solution. Lost the game? Good, you learned from a superior opponent.

It may take some ‘severitas’—gravity and self-control—to implement, but it’s a technique worth mastering.

8. The end of the celebrity designer.

  • Read the full article here.
  • Written by Tim Van Damme.
  • Contributor: Mel Bruning.

Dignitas’—a sense of self-worth or personal pride—is clearly a critical virtue.

It’s always worth remembering, though, that there’s also huge value in taking pride in other peoples’ perspectives, opinions, and experience.

This piece describes the concept of ‘open design’ and how you can achieve it: setting up tools and systems to enable other people to contribute in the design process.

A more inclusive, open, and egalitarian approach can help us build better products, grow personally and professionally, and help junior team members upskill much faster than they could before.

Regardless of what the virtues may say, ideas and outcomes are usually better when we craft them together.

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it certainly wasn’t built by just one person.