The beach at Port Townsend, WA, at sunset. It's a sandy beach covered in rounded stones.


Updated January 30, 2023 – Amy Jiménez Márquez After much internal debate, I’m placing the publication on indefinite hiatus. It’s a difficult decision, and if you have questions or want to talk about the future of Boxes and Arrows please contact me. Boxes and Arrows will continue as an archive freely available to readers. Thank you so much for your readership over the years. This isn’t the end of Boxes and Arrows. It’s simply a new chapter that is yet

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Trapeze artists with one performer trusting the other to catch them.

Book in brief — Trustworthy: How the Smartest Brands Beat Cynicism and Bridge the Trust Gap

Designers can empower people to make confident decisions. Empowerment goes beyond just basic functionality: we help people meet their needs and gain a sense of fulfillment and knowledge through their interactions with screens, products, and services. Empowerment is the sense of confidence people gain by making decisions and feeling good about the decisions they make. Our users take that feeling into other interactions as well. Empowerment is at the core of trust, too. Today, cynicism undermines trust in the media,

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dandelion with ones and zeroes

Designing Respectful Tech: What is your relationship with technology?

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You’ve been there before. You thought you could trust someone with a secret. You thought it would be safe, but found out later that they blabbed to everyone. Or, maybe they didn’t share it, but the way they used it felt manipulative. You gave more than you got and it didn’t feel fair. But now that it’s out there, do you even have control anymore? Ok. Now imagine that person was your supermarket.  Or your doctor.  Or your boss.

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Introduction to Ontology Concepts and Modeling

What is ontology? An ontology is a formal system for modeling concepts and their relationships. Unlike relational database systems, which are essentially interconnected tables, ontologies put a premium on the relationships between concepts by storing the information in a graph database, or triplestore. (The following examples use data derived from PLOS, which makes all of its Open Access data and content available.) Relational databases are good at representing tabular data for one-to-one relationships: However, real-life data is seldom this tidy;

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people viewing a complex systems diagram on walls

Activating Change: A Designer’s Guide to Systems Thinking

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This past year we became acutely aware of how interconnected we all are. The toilet paper shortage gave the world a glimpse at supply chains, and the pandemic as a whole was a crash course in how our healthcare system can handle crises. It can be difficult to envision how we can make a difference even if we know the systems we live in don’t function well for everyone. But what does this have to do with design? Designers make

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