Darrien "Shawn" Wilkins
Writing Samples!
All writing samples are published works written by Darrien
"Shawn" Wilkins!
We Disagree and That's Okay
" Ashly Lorenzana put it best when she said, “It’s okay to disagree with the
thoughts or opinions expressed by other people. That doesn’t give you the right to
deny any sense they might make.” A lot of times in the design and development related
communities, you see people who disagree with what other people are doing and
some become very vocal and crass about it. The majority of these arguments come to
surface when they go from disagreement, to hatred, to vitriol. However, we rarely see
proper conversation, thought, and any sort of agreement once you’ve gotten to the
point of pure hatred for one’s opinion. One person can prefer a flat design to a
skeumorphic one and another will spend their entire day arguing against whatever it
may be that they’re trying to explain or have a civilized conversation about. While it’s
perfectly fine to hash out ideas to each other and discuss why you think one thought
process, idea, design technique or scheme is better than others, it’s ridiculous to sit
around and forget that discussion can lead to new ideas. Taking someone’s idea,
saying it’s horrible and bypassing any kind of discussion that may come from it is not
the way things should work—especially within a community as close as ours.!
" When looking at the way the communities have grown over the past few years,
you see these sorts of egos only existed on a higher level. You expected these types of
egos from people who didn’t have a Twitter account or simply didn’t care about the
public opinion. A good majority of people who exist on higher levels in the respective
fields (literature, gaming, etc.) don’t spend their time and hours talking about their plans
for their new album, new movie, or new book. They simply put their all into it and let
the ideas they have do the necessary talking. If people disagree, that’s okay, because
someone will love it and cherish it—and that’s their goal. When you protrude into their
area of expertise with your opinion on a personal level, that’s when they’ll decide to
talk. However, nowadays, you see people (who will remain nameless) go on these
tangents, these abashed rants about how one person is wrong and another is right. It’s
all because of egos."!
" Not long ago, one developer of an app was on a podcast talking about his app.
His app was new, fresh, had a decent design, and practically revolutionized the way his
genre of app was being created. He went on to compare his app to various others and,
out of respect for their respective developers, didn’t drop any names. However, one
developer took this comparison as a public attack even though his name or app was
never mentioned. He attacked and berated the developer on Twitter for his opinions
and claimed he did it out of malice. Knowing the former developer on a semi-personal
level, I knew he’d never attack anyone for any reason. He simply went on to talk about
how excited he was for his app and the ideas that lead him to create what he and
many others deemed an incredible app. However, when one person’s ego decides that
the light is no longer being shed directly on them, they take oense. They take oense
that you aren’t kneeling at their feet and praising them for every decision they have
made up until that point.!
" The point of discussion isn’t to try and shove your peers down and seem like
you’re right 100% of the time. Building these relationships, helping out people, pushing
the envelope in new and exciting ways always makes people see your thought
process. If you create an innovation and someone doesn’t like it, roll with it. The
problem comes when people have to put themselves before all others mentally.!
" You see, the disagreement is fine there. What’s not fine is the method of making
everyone else wrong and establishing yourself as right. No matter the situation, you
shouldn’t be able to hold your light over someone’s head and make them feel worse
about their opinion because you have more followers on Twitter or because you have
this preconceived notion that you’re a better person than them. You can disagree with
something—that’s fine. What’s not is letting that disagreement evolve into hatred.!
" Another fitting example is when someone requests help or wants to state a
thought they’ve had. It will usually result in people giving their opinion or something to
the contrary of what they believe and it will simply grow and grow until it reaches that
point of boiling anger and frustration. Let discussion happen and don’t sideline it for
the sake of aggression. They’re too prideful to admit their mistakes. They’re too caught
up in themselves to care about this person who has less followers than them. They
simply don’t view that person as worth their time or any respect at all. It’s sad to see
great designers lose respect from fellow designers simply because they’re being jerks
or, better put, being assholes.!
" The entire design community is supposed to help on another. It’s the pure
definition of community. You’re supposed to help the little guy up. You’re supposed to
bounce ideas o of each other. I don’t know why people need to walk right passed the
idea of thought, progression, and mind-bending discussion for the sake of always
being right. Learning is something we all have to do. Regardless of our positions,
disagreements will arise, but we have to collectively tell ourselves we’re no better than
the next guy and his ideas are just as relevant as ours. To push someone aside
because you think they’re not knowledgeable in the field is flat-out denying that you’ve
grown at all in your area of expertise. Don’t let big people knock little people over. Help
the little guy up.!
Design to Non-Designers
" I’m not a designer, nor have I ever been. I used to dabble in Fireworks to create
forum signatures, and that’s the height of my expertise. However, when it comes to
design, I’m one who can safely say I have a good eye for design. Design isn’t
necessarily all about looks; it’s more about the entire package. If you were to think
about design being a person, design would be someone who is pleasing to look at,
overall smart, and a joy to talk to. Design needs to blend well in all facets and not just
approach something to make it look better.!
" The majority of what I see in design is great and pleasing, but the problem
behind it is its UX. When UX started to become a factor, many companies and sites
decided to take a route that made it brain dead simple by going for an extra
minimalistic look, but this doesn’t work most of the time. When companies (namely
Microsoft) take this route, it shows a lack of trial, a lack of adventure, a lack of eort.
Branding things with glyphs, making text the main factor, and putting things in
locations and justifying it by saying “it makes sense” doesn’t mean it’s a good design.
I’m not a designer. This is what I notice.!
" You have to take your design, put it first, and figure out how you’re going to
make it work. You can’t simply brand something that has squares evenly spaced above
a large square as good design. That’s common sense. You can’t say that text being on
top of the squares to label it is good design. Again, that’s common sense. There is so
much wrong in the idea of minimalistic design now that we’re forgetting what made
minimalism what it is. The simple tone background, the beautiful font, the placement of
words themselves, the use of glyphs and their sizes, the spacing between things and
how they blend together, the whole idea is either lost of being overlooked.!
" To someone who isn’t a designer, the lack of design speaks more than the
product itself. A designer will look at something, notice its flaws in kerning, its lacking
feature-set incorporation, or how poorly the app was put together. However, someone
who isn’t a designer will notice the simplicity and not familiarize themselves with it. The
reasons we have glyphs to label things is because they’re relatable to real life objects.
The floppy disc (we’re all old now) for saving, the printer for printing, the open folder for
opening files, the blank document for new documents; it’s all relatable. The problem
with this new absence of design is that it doesn’t speak to anyone other than those
who understand the lack of it. When you replace meaningful design with squares and
rectangles, no one can feel any emotion for it or label it as good and beautiful.!
" On the opposite side, there are things that are designed beautifully, but take the
idea of simplicity and put it first. OS X has been known for catering to those who don’t
know much about computers, but know exactly what they want to do. Apple has
gained this identity because the world of PCs before them had been so dicult and
required you to be “good at computers” to function within it. The gap was
subsequently closed when Apple started to prevail as the leader and Windows slowly
started to transform into something reminiscent of a grandmother who is stuck in her
ways. If we bridge the gap between useful design and lacking design, we’ll have a
great product. Some thing’s are over designed and confusing, yet some are painless
and easy to remember. Creating a simple design in squares, rectangles, and blocks
doesn’t mean you’re doing something minimalistic — it means you’re doing something
lazy.!
Twitterrific 5 - Changing the Game. Again.
" Twitterrific is old; Twitterrific is new. Twitterrific is traditional; Twitterrific is
innovative. Remarkably, Twitterrific 5 is all of these things. As one of the original
groundbreaking apps that pushed Twitter into the realm of popularity, the Iconfactory
has decided that it’s time to recreate their Twitter client, and they’ve got something new
and exciting in store. Twitterrific — with its refreshed look and improved way of
showing the simplest of actions — has evolved from being too empty to feature rich.
Twitterrific 5 is a new start.!
" Twitterrific 5 is something that’s new to all of us. Personally, I’ve never been a
fan of Twitterrific’s past incarnations because the app seemed to prefer simplicity and
traditional conventions in lieu of trends such as pull-to-refresh. Some of the things that
we’ve come to rely on thanks to other Twitter clients were missing from Twitterrific 4.
Albeit, when creating something new and introducing a massive amount of changes to
an app, you’re better o releasing an entirely new version instead of a simple update. In
comes Twitterrific 5, rebuilt from the ground up.!
" At first glance, you may assume that Twitterrific 5 is just a bare bones app. You
may also assume that the Iconfactory is taking a leap of faith without caring what’s
awaiting them on the other side. That’s almost what they’re doing, but this time, they
know what’s ahead. They know that users are being subjected to an excess of
identical, unimaginative arrangements of tweets. They know that users want more than
gimmicky features they’ll use once a week. They know that users want new ways that
allow them to take control of how their apps work instead of contorting their habits and
preferences to work with their apps.!
" The Iconfactory takes cues from Windows 8 and introduces a very text-heavy
interface in Twitterrific 5. However, the designers don’t let the app dwindle there.
Windows 8 has its own idea of design that relies on using the Segoe typeface for
everything and increasing or decreasing the font to show which areas have more
dominance over others. The new Twitterrific doesn’t settle for that. It presents the
important information in a larger font (the same information that other apps would
display in a smaller bold font), accompanied by the avatars of those who have tweeted.
On top of that, users are allowed to customize how it looks. You now have full control
over how you want to display your tweets, gaining the ability to fine-tune every aspect
of it. You’re allowed to choose the font, the line spacing in tweets, and the size of
avatars. You’re even given the opportunity to change brightness from within the app
itself if you find yourself squinting from the backlight. There is an array of customizable
features in this version of Twitterrific, and you have 100% control over all of it.!
" In addition to the multitude of customization options, Twitterrific 5 is adopting a
trend before many other developers even have the chance to experiment with it: sliding
gestures. Tweetbot was one of the first Twitter apps to properly integrate gestures, but
upon execution, they still felt undefined. Upon triple tapping a tweet, you’re instantly
greeted with the reply screen. That’s a nice place to start, but it needs to be improved;
it needs to be done correctly. The Iconfactory spotted the potential and took the
gesture where it needed to be. They tested it and saw that two main actions were
occurring: replying and viewing conversations. There are also two natural directions in
which to slide or swipe things. One is to the right (as if unlocking an iPhone) and
another is to the left. Sliding to the right is the most natural of the two, and with that,
Twitterrific 5 has chosen that direction for replying to tweets. The other direction is
seemingly less natural, so it’s been designated to viewing conversations.!
" Despite all the praise, Twitterrific 5 won’t be everyone’s favorite Twitter client.
Some people are accustomed to the typical timeline view with narrow-spaced text and
tapping on a tweet to access its full information. These tasks are all very indoctrinated
into a user’s workflow when it comes to Twitter apps. Twitterrific 5 gives up on the
viewing of a tweet’s information since it’s highly unnecessary. The only occasion you
would find it useful is when you need to retweet someone, share the tweet, or reply.
You now do all of this from the comfort of your timeline. A single tap on a tweet, for
instance, shows the glyphs for the necessary actions and lets you execute them
quickly and without hassle.!
" The problem for most users arises in change since many Twitter users are
opposed to it. The idea of unfamiliarity plagues most people, but it’s easy to overcome.
After a few hours with the new Twitterrific, the gestures feel natural. Everything in the
app seems like it should’ve been this way from the start. The problem with Twitter
clients is that most of them should’ve taken a simplistic route instead of heading down
a road filled with gaudy design and useless features. The route that Twitterrific 5 takes
is the one that makes the most sense. You don’t just tweet from the app, you fine-tune
it for yourself. The app gives you the options to make reading your tweets easier for
you. You don’t have to have an app that looks like everyone else’s: you can enable the
light theme, choose Proxima Nova, and have wider line spacing. It’s all there in the app
if you want it.!
" The only way Twitterrific can fail is if the Iconfactory holds out on great things in
the name of their app’s newfound simplicity in innovation. What made Twitterrific 4
unpopular with many users was its lack of basic features present in newer Twitter apps
that were hitting the App Store like pull-to-refresh and streaming. Mismatching colors
and an overall discomfort in the app’s scheme were also subjects of complaint.!
" Arguably, Twitterrific is responsible for Twitter being as popular as it is today. As
such, the app should evolve with the platform, which is changing constantly for better
or worse. However, it’s the users that the Iconfactory needs to zone in on. It’s obvious
that many Twitter users are more interested in new trends brought to the table by other
clients. Now, Twitterrific 5 is bringing new, exciting, and grander strategies to the world
of Twitter apps. The things that people want from Tweetbot are here in Twitterrific 5,
and the new things that Twitterrific 5 has introduced are undoubtedly going to be
expected in future apps. However, the full information view of tweets will probably die.
The nameless features that go hidden will probably die. The absence of elegance
through the eyes of simplicity will definitely die. Now it’s all about what the users want,
and the Iconfactory has caught on.!
" Twitterrific 5 changes the game. Again. People look to Iconfactory apps for
creativity and innovation, and this time, the Iconfactory team has looked at their own
app and asked themselves how they can improve upon it. The result is outstanding,
and Twitterrific 5 navigates on a new plane of artistry. Some users may find it too
simple or too dierent. Some may find it just right. Some may even find it too right to fit
into their lives since habit calls for needless flipping and tinkering and scrolling through
options and tabs.!
" I find the app to be easy to adjust and perfect for what it is. It’s a Twitter client
that works well, looks gorgeous, and lets me do exactly what I need to without hassle.
The gestures are smooth, and the way the app feels to open up and start tweeting is
astounding. If you’re looking for something new, something exciting, but still something
that sticks to the very early concepts of fluid, ecient, function, you should support the
new Twitterrific. The hard work and attention to detail that was put in by the Iconfactory
team is obvious, and Twitterrific 5 shows o something that hasn’t been done for many
years: a reinvention of the wheel.!
Nintendo and IAP (In-App Purchases)
" DeNA taking Nintendo into the mobile arena is something that blindsided many.
It was a move that was at the bottom of a growing list of things Nintendo might never
do. The problem with it is that Nintendo’s allowing one company to produce its mobile
games may have downsides that are more than visible to the everyday gamer. The
casual player, the one with a smartphone filled with games, will love this to no end.
That alone may bring success, but the irony is that gamers who grew up with Nintendo
controllers glued to their hands typically do not enjoy mobile platforms.!
" The bare idea for why mobile gaming is not well received by people who call
themselves either “hardcore” or “purist” gamers is that the mobile market is so
saturated by DLC, IAP (in-app purchases), and poor design. Gaming was founded on
an idea that separates itself from these three things. DLC may have existed in other
forms through other mediums, but you were never prompted to buy more lives in Super
Mario Bros. or to pay a premium to access the warp zones. Now, with a mobile market
shedding its light on the land of Mario, we may see these very things exist.!
" With mobile games, you are expected to bring out the instant gratification part in
gaming. You’re not supposed to typically work up to a boss, but more work over a few
short obstacles, and then defeat the boss (if there is one) in a matter of seconds.
Taking Angry Birds, one of, if not the biggest franchises on the iOS and Android
platforms, a mimicry of that same formula is put to use; knock over a couple of pigs for
five or so levels, beat the boss, do it again. It finds its IAP crevasse in using a lives
strategy. If you’re a perfectionist, attempting to beat a level with three stars, but only
getting two will cost you a life to try again. That’s just one example. The idea that leads
gamers to despising this method of gameplay is placing their favorite plumber in the
shoes of these shoeless birds. Dying in Mario is almost par for the course, but imagine
if dying five times, getting a game over (or whatever the criteria may be) can result in
paying those 99 cents to get another set of lives. While this is purely a what-if scenario,
this is the line of thinking that puts a bad taste in the mouths of those who grew up
with the series.!
" DeNA will probably produce a league of games that go far left from the classic
Mario games that are loved and come up with a new idea that will put Mario up against
new challenges and diculties that are too far o to imagine. The disparity in this line
of thinking is that Mario games, for the most part, have been something of a pure
lineage. Sure, there have been sports games made by other developers, and even RPG
titles that don’t even try to be canonical, but the series, as a whole, has always had a
perfectly wrapped up idea behind it. Allowing another company to deal with the games
outside of ones people have become accustomed to is another thing to worry about,
but to also tackle a new medium that Nintendo has never fully flourished in is an
entirely dierent battle. !
" IAP is something to expect with Nintendo and DeNA. I don’t expect it to be as
bad as some of the western oerings where IAP is the main source of income, but I do
imagine IAP being something that is held onto throughout gameplay. We may see
something new and exciting from DeNA, and with Nintendo having a final say, we may
get something truly revolutionary. But after eight years of mobile games invading our
phones, it would have to honestly break barriers we didn’t know fully existed.
Nintendo’s done it before, but the real worry is if it has ever done it eight years after the
competition and came out successful.!
" Mobile gaming has moved its way to an almost purely IAP-based environment.
It’s almost as if finding a game that takes the opportunity to not include IAP is like
finding a diamond among a sea of rocks covered in grime. Nintendo and mobile
gaming were once on opposite sides of the gaming spectrum. They never truly met or
understood what the other was trying to say. Nintendo has always put mobile in its
own little pocket for experimentation, but when the company signed a deal with the
biggest mobile developer in Japan, it knew exactly what it was going to get into. Let’s
just hope that Nintendo magic is still able to shine through in a new gaming
environment.!
Reading
" Why read? The simple answer to this question is because I enjoy it. I enjoy being
able to sit down, be silent, and have an entire world unfold in my mind. How I decide to
give these characters faces, personalities, lives, and above all, give these words life is
all up to my imagination. However, the reason I read now as opposed to why I didn’t
read before is dierent. It’s honestly a lifestyle change that I think is worth sharing.!
" I started reading with the intent I do now in the middle of 2012. During that time,
a lot of my life had changed, and the events that transpired made me realize that the
things I used to get enjoyment from weren’t bringing me joy anymore. There were the
TV shows I watched, the games I played, and Twitter. All of these things didn’t
negatively impact me in the slightest, but I wanted to explore what else I could do and
how I could prolong the excitement that I felt when watching a movie based in a
dierent world or reading a blog post about new science leading to unexplored
possibilities.%Suddenly, books began to play a part.!
" Books have, for the most part, recently replaced a large part of wasted time.
They’ve taken me from saying “I don’t know what to do now” to “I should finish
Coraline!” With a medium like books that allows a story to fully evolve within your own
mind, you can’t let them fall by the wayside. Movies manage to capture that feeling of a
“new world” and let you lose yourself in them, but they completely remove the self-
created originality%that occurs when reading books. The words on the page of any
novel will correlate to a thought in your mind, and you end up creating the scene for
yourself, seeing it play out. Reading is more or less an adventure of your own
imagination where the script is given to you, but you’re the director. You control how it
looks in the end even though the writer has already given you the needed components.!
" With books, I feel as if my time is used pushing the possibilities of my
imagination. It’s not something I do because I’m bored, but rather something I do that
keeps me from becoming bored. Before, it was all about how I needed to fill time with a
task. Be it YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, Digg, I wasn’t satisfied with how my time was
being spent. When I pick up a new book, I fall into the pages. I fall into a world that’s
foreign to my own, and I get to experience it. My mind changes, and my creativity falls
in line not with how I can spend time but what I’ll spend time with. Seeing the places,
people, and ideas that these authors have crafted lets my creative process breathe.!
" Reading is something that was once considered to be worse than the plague to
me. Literary reading always seemed like a bore without much to gain, but it wasn’t until
I had the choice of what to read (and when) that I started to enjoy it. I started enjoying
that movie that played in my head, and I started enjoying that time I had in pure
silence. In the end, reading has become something that lets my mind wander into areas
unknown. It lets my imagination and my life align.!
" With my writing here and reading there, I know what I am doing and what I could
potentially be doing. I could be doing something new, reimagining something, or
exploring fields I’ve never previously ventured to. These writers create new worlds and
play God in them. As a writer, I play myself, yet the world bends and molds in my own
hands when it comes to ideas that I give birth to.!
©2018 Darrien "Shawn" Wilkins. All Rights Reserved!