There’s nothing like the post-Christmas lull for catching up with a spot of reading and reflecting on which articles from last year mattered.

Looking back, 2015 seems like a pretty pivotal year in design and tech. HBR published a special issue on Design Thinking, and McKinsey scaled up its design activities, along with other management consultancies. The shift of talent from agencies to inhouse that happened to industrial design in the nineties, clearly picked up speed in digital product design in 2015, following Capital One’s acquisition of Adaptive Path in late 2014.

Apple’s Watch took wearables mainstream, and its new TV box introduced a new interaction model and a new casual gaming platform. It was also the year that Apple and Google announced a bunch of mobile OS initiatives that will profoundly shape our phone experience over the next few years. Google Now on Tap and Siri are already hinting how AI is getting ready for prime time, with all the disruption that will bring.

So before getting down to figuring out what to do next in 2016, here’s 10 of the best articles that helped me make sense of 2015. The list starts with culture and technology, and moves onto design leadership, research and trends. Most combine a look back with some punts on what’s next.

 


 

image1_Optimism

Optimism doesn’t sell

Jeff Jarvis, Medium, May 2015
A short and punchy critique of the failure of imagination when it comes to envisioning positive futures, and the arrogance of Dystopianism as ‘the ultimate statement of hubris: “I am smarter than the rest of you”’. Here’s to more substantial cases for optimism in 2016.
#Progress #Dystopianism

 


 

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Mobile is not a neutral platform

Benedict Evans, ben-evans.com, October 2015
Incisive analysis on the emerging mobile OS landscape. To grossly simplify, our mobile experience is likely to be influenced by more AI and less by apps.
#MobileOSs

 


 

image3_The_Verge

Tastemaker: How Spotify’s Discover Weekly cracked human curation at Internet scale

Ben Popper, The Verge, September 2015
A fascinating read on music curation. It seems that combining human and machine recommendations works best.

#Music #Curation @benpopper

 


 

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Robot panic peaked in 2015 — so where will AI go next?

Charles Arthur, The Observer, December 2015
A clear-eyed assessment of 2015’s panics about Artificial Intelligence and robots, and their threat to human jobs.
#AI @charlesarthur

 


 

image5 _ Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 21.21.05

Beyond Design Thinking

Larry Keeley, dupress.com, April 2015
Wise words from the Don of innovation strategy on the gaps in Design Thinking and how to better deal with complexity.
#DesignThinking #DesignLeadership

 


 

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Design Thinking comes of age

Jon Kolko, HBR, September 2015
A level-headed appraisal of the current state of design thinking/leadership within corporations.
#DesignThinking #DesignLeadership

 


 

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The shape of things to come

Ian Parker, The New Yorker, February 2015
An in-depth few days in the life of Jony Ive from around the time of the Apple Watch launch. In between the Bentley, Gulfstream and celebrity name drops, the weight of his huge responsibility is clear.
#JonyIve #Apple

 


 

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In Design, empathy is not enough

Dan Saffer, Medium, March 2015
Empathy was one of the clichéd themes of 2015. This great piece puts the role of user research in the innovation process in perspective.
#UserResearch #Design @odannyboy

 


 

image9_simplicity

When it comes to UX Design, simplicity is overrated

Robert Hoekman JR, Wired, December 2015
Simplicity is overrated as a UX goal, shoot for Clarity instead.
#UX @rhjr

 


 

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Has visual design fallen flat?

Emmet Connolly, Intercom, January 2015
A smart and well written piece that gives some welcome perspective on how we got to the cliché of Flat design, and what could come next.
#GUI @thoughtwax