Contemplations & Consumptions: Vol 4


Bookmark Project Highlights

  • Kerry Davies and Mary Phillip, who are two of the pioneering Black Lionesses featured on the bookmarks, emailed me to express their gratitude for the work I had done and requested bookmarks for themselves and their loved ones. Kerry stumbled upon the bookmark project while browsing the web in relation to Black History Month. It was an honour to send the bookmarks to these remarkable women. This stands out as a significant achievement for me, considering the time, effort, and finances I invested in the Black Lionesses project.
  • A mutual acquaintance connected me with Councillor Vanessa Boateng of Knowsley Town Council in Liverpool. She expressed interest in obtaining some bookmarks for a Black History Month event at the town council later in October. I removed the Kent Libraries content and logo and replaced them with Knowsley Town’s own, creating a personalised Black Lionesses bookmark for her event. It was a great opportunity to expand the reach of the bookmarks.
  • I was invited to exhibit the Black Lionesses’ bookmarks at a London FA + Football Beyond Borders event to celebrate Black History Month. The event took place at Wembley Stadium, and it was my first time visiting the stadium. Despite the rain showers, it was an enjoyable event. I had the opportunity to discuss the bookmark project and my previous football projects with event attendees.

Read more about the Black Lionesses bookmark project here.


I am still actively seeking freelance user research work. If you or your organisation have any upcoming projects that could benefit from my skills, please do not hesitate to reach out. I would love to learn more and explore how I can contribute. You can also check out my LinkedIn profile here.



The Continental – This three-episode limited series serves as a prequel to the John Wick film series. It delves into the origin story of Winston and Charon, set in the 1970s, and explores how Winston came to be the proprietor of the Continental Hotel. I personally enjoyed it, even though I’m aware it received mixed reviews. The series incorporates similar action sequences from the John Wick franchise. it was refreshing to see a diverse cast, particularly strong diverse female characters.

The series also employs a storytelling technique reminiscent of “Breaking Bad,” where a scene is introduced at the beginning of the episode, whether it’s a flashback or flash-forward, seemingly unrelated to the immediate scenes. However, the significance becomes clear by the end of the episode, adding depth to the narrative. As a fun fact, it’s revealed that Charon hails originally from Nigeria.

Big Vape: The Rise and Fall of Juul – This four-episode limited series on Netflix, which explores the rise and fall of Juul, will interest product development nerds. It chronicles the journey of two Stanford graduates who initially created a vaping product with noble intentions but witnessed its corruption due to pressure from investors focused on growth and profit.

Juul, an e-cigarette product, was originally conceived to provide smokers with an alternative to traditional cigarettes. It was so slickly designed that it earned the tag “the iPhone of e-cigarettes.” However, a company established to disrupt the tobacco industry eventually adopted similar youthful lifestyle marketing tactics and secured substantial investments from Big Tobacco.

Ultimately, Juul was a nicotine company masquerading as a tech company, reminiscent of the trajectory of WeWork in the real estate sector. Both companies achieved high market valuations assigned to tech companies, only to crash and burn.


Game of Edges – I’m a passionate fan of books on sports analytics, so I couldn’t resist picking up “Game of Edges” when I spotted it in the bookshop. A strength of this book is its coverage of analytics across various sports, including basketball, baseball, football, and American football. Many books in this genre tend to concentrate on one specific sport. While I was already familiar with several of the case studies, particularly those from the world of baseball and football, I was delighted to discover some new insights from basketball and American football.

Sports teams employ data analytics to identify inefficiencies within the industry to gain a competitive edge over their rivals. It has evolved into an arms race to secure the most brilliant data scientists who can create models harnessing the power of machine learning to interpret the data.

Schoenfeld contends that a negative consequence of this arms race is the erosion of sports as an entertainment spectacle for fans, as coaching and organisational decision-making become overly reliant on statistical models.

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Contemplations & Consumptions: Vol 3


On Endings and Beginnings

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end –

Semisonic (verse from the song – Closing Time)

It’s a new season and the start of Q4 – the final quarter of 2023. Q2 finished with redundancy at work (ending). While in Q3, I started and finished two new projects (beginnings/endings).

These were the Black Lionesses bookmark project and a freelance research project for the Nuffield Foundation.

I now find myself at the start of Q4 looking for a new freelance gig and a new creative side project. I have been reaching out to folks and brainstorming new ideas but no joy so far.

The challenge is avoiding getting sucked into a vortex of anxiety and uncertainty. These are the ups and downs of being a freelancer and seeking new beginnings.



The Creator – I went to see this film at the Odeon cinema with my wife. I haven’t been to the cinema in ages so it was good to watch a movie on a big screen with an audience. I enjoyed the film. It featured strong performances from John David Washington, Madeleine Yuna Voyles and Alison Janney.

The film focuses on America’s war against AI because of a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles due to an AI error. The battleground is ‘Neo Asia’, a continent, which is peacefully co-existing with AI.

The protagonist is Joshua, an AI sceptic, who bonds with an AI child (Alphie) during his quest to find his wife. He spends the film seeking redemption to atone for his betrayal. I am glad to see John David Washington doing another smart, layered sci-fi movie after his standout role in Tenet.

Best scene dialogue

Alfie: What’s heaven?

Joshua: It’s a peaceful place in the sky.

Alfie: Are you going to heaven?

Joshua: No.

Alfie: Why not?

Joshua: You gotta be a good person to go to heaven.

Alfie: Then we’re the same. We can’t go to heaven. Because you’re not good. And I’m not a person.

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Celebrating our Black Lionesses: A BHM Bookmark Project

Staplehurst Library

I mentioned in a previous post about a side project idea I was working on. This idea was developed at a summer Black Design Guild retreat. 

 I am pleased to announce that the idea is now a product available from October at all Kent Libraries to celebrate Black History Month (BHM). 

I wanted to combine my love for books and libraries with football for a Black History Month project based on this year’s theme: ‘Saluting Our Sisters.’

This summer’s Women’s World Cup was my creative inspiration. I thought of the England national team known as the ‘Lionesses’ and wondered about the identities of all the Black Lionesses that have ever played for the team.

I had the BHM bookmark idea in June, went to two nearby local libraries to discuss it with their librarians and got positive feedback. 

One librarian encouraged me to contact a Kent Libraries’ Service Development Officer with the idea; she was receptive and passed it on to senior leadership who commissioned it.

I approached a few designers for bookmark design advice. One of them said: 

“Don’t try to overthink a bookmark. These things are generally very simple designs.” 

This became my design philosophy for the rest of the project.

The first task was to research the names of all the Black Lionesses. I had to trawl through this Wikipedia page containing all England’s national female players to identify those with Black ancestry. 

This involved clicking each listed name to be directed to the player’s Wikipedia page but not all players had a Wikipedia page. I found 21 players who met my criteria. 

I then discovered a blog post on the JJHeritage website that had the names of all the Black female players from 1972 until 2021. The Football Association (FA) only started to assign official appearance caps to female national players in 1972. The blog post revealed two additional players that needed to be added to my list of 21. 

I collated these 23 Black Lionesses in a spreadsheet but was keen to ensure that I didn’t accidentally exclude anyone. This led to contacting The Football Association (FA) to verify my data. The FA team confirmed that only these 23 Black Lionesses have played for the national team so far. 

Kent Libraries had some requirements before they would be willing to issue the free bookmarks to their patrons. The inclusion of the Kent Libraries’ logo, the logo of the Black History Month charity, a QR code to a curated list of Black-authored books, a link for patrons who couldn’t access the QR code and a short text. 

I had to incorporate all these requirements with the names of the 23 Black Lionesses and a Black Stories, Black History image in a 51 x 152 mm bookmark. 

I presented the 23 players’ names as a word cloud. The biggest names in the cloud were the first players to play for England because I wanted to emphasise their pioneering legacy. 

I sent the final design version to the Kent Libraries’ team and they gave me the sign-off. I then ordered a sample of 5 printed copies from VistaPrint to see what the prototype looked like.

I shared the printed prototypes with the Kent Libraries’ team and they were still happy with it. 4900 copies are on their way to 99 Kent Libraries. 

Visit your local library in October If you live in the Kent area to get the BHM bookmark. I will suggest you do it as soon as you can because the libraries have limited copies.  

I have three goals for this bookmark:

  • It creates an awareness of the 23 Black female players who have played for the England national team.
  • It serves as a commemorative Black History Month product that lasts beyond October. 
  • It inspires some football-loving Black girls who see this bookmark to one day join this list. 

This has been a fun project to work on. I want to thank the Kent Libraries’ team and everyone who provided support throughout the project. 


I have written about some highlights and impact since the bookmarks went live in October in this post here

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Contemplations & Consumptions: Vol 2



As a user researcher, I’m in the insights business. My job is to detect the signal in the cloud of noise; make sense of the signal and communicate that signal to others to take action. 

But we are all built to seek insights in our daily lives. Our brains are wired to connect dots and pattern recognise. We see patterns in situations where no patterns exist because this is the way we process ambiguity. 

Anybody can connect the dots if we remove the non-dots. It’s the ability to discern the dots from the non-dots that allows ‘true’ connections to be made. It is so easy to see what we want to see because we see things not as they are but as we are. 

I always have to remind myself that my assumptions and frames of reference are subjective lenses of reality. It’s biased and filters every piece of information I consume. That’s the reason I enjoy collaborating with individuals of diverse backgrounds. They provide subjective points of view in contrast with mine so they spot what I miss and vice versa.



Foundation season 2 –  I got into Foundation late – a year after the first season came out but once I got into it; I was hooked. It is an intellectual sci-fi show based on a series of books by Isaac Asimov. The story was considered unfilmable given its hundreds of years time span but the show’s creators have done a marvellous job. I am consuming season 2 weekly so I have something to look forward to every Friday. I will recommend you watch this clip and hopefully your curiosity will be piqued to give the show a try.

Underrated – This Steph Curry documentary is good but not great. It does well fleshing out Curry’s pre-NBA backstory. The NBA years were tacked on at the end of the documentary as an afterthought. This is where the documentary lets itself down. Curry’s four NBA championship victories needed fleshing out. This documentary should have been a TV series and not a movie. This would have given the creators the room to let the story breathe. Hopefully, that will happen someday and I look forward to that.

Destination NBA: A G League Odyssey – I loved this basketball documentary which showcased the stories of a few G League players’ dreams to get into the NBA. I wasn’t aware of the G League until this documentary. These are basketball players betting on themselves when the odds of most of them getting into the NBA are very slim

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Contemplations & Consumptions: Vol 1



I recently got made redundant. The last time I was made redundant; I pivoted from academia to UX. The lean academic job market at the time was the reason for this decision. I am not looking to pivot again but exploring the possibility of doing freelance UX gigs.

Redundancy is a gut punch and having experienced one before doesn’t make the second one any less painful. But like Weston said to Charon in John Wick 4: “Such is life.”



  • The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist – I try to mix up my reading diet with the inclusion of graphic novels. This was an enjoyable read by Adrian Tomine. A collection of short graphic vignettes of Tomine’s life from 1982 to 2018. They cover a range of themes such as obscurity, recognition, perseverance, parenthood and insecurities. Tomine manages to illustrate the comedy in certain situations of his life.
  • How to do great work – This is a long essay by Paul Graham but it is worth your time. I generated so many Readwise highlights from this essay.

Develop a habit of working on your own projects. Don’t let “work” mean something other people tell you to do. If you do manage to do great work one day, it will probably be on a project of your own. It may be within some bigger project, but you’ll be driving your part of it.

Paul Graham


Quarterback – I am a big fan of sports documentaries particularly American Football so it was a joy to binge this limited series. The show focuses on three quarterbacks {Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins and Marcus Mariota} during the 2022 football season. It charts their ups and downs as they try to lead their teams to the playoffs and Super Bowl glory.

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Takeaways from the Black Design Guild Retreat

I was one of 10 Black professionals selected to participate in the pilot Black Design Guild {BDG} retreat at the beautiful Elmley Nature Reserve this month. The aim of the retreat was to enable junior and mid-level designers and researchers to recharge, reflect, and remerge with a fresh enthusiasm for the future.

I had a wonderful experience and hope the organisers are able to secure the required funding to run the scheme for 5 more years. Their attention to detail in terms of location choice, activities, participants, and fire chat speakers was top-notch. I will recommend checking out the BDG Medium site for blog posts and photos.

Reflections & Takeaways

  • We had a magical storytelling session led by Usifu Jalloh {the cowfoot prince} which featured music and dance. He emphasised the importance of discovering who you truly are. He said his career only took off when he discovered who he was as a storyteller. We all have several strengths and passions and but we need to know which ones constitute the point of the arrow {primary strengths} and which ones are the supporting strengths {shaft, fletching, and nock of the arrow}.
  • I was able to reflect at the retreat on past projects and passions to identify key personal themes and came up with a good-enough succinct response to the question of Who am I?

I am a multimedia storyteller who researches and curates mainly Black historical stories for a multicultural audience. I am a believer in the FUBU {For Us By Us} storytelling philosophy.

  • The goal for the rest of the year is to use the statement above as a prism to select the types of stories and passion projects I pursue. I did a number of passion projects a few years ago which I enjoyed. The Black Design Guild retreat is responsible for rekindling the motivation to start doing new side projects. I kickstarted a new Black History Month project the day after the retreat ended. I am having fruitful conversations and will be providing status updates in the coming weeks and months. Watch this space.


The Power of Delightful Features

I recently listened to an episode of Lenny’s Podcast where he interviewed Scott Belsky {Adobe product leader}. There was a bit of the conversation that resonated with me because I was conducting research on the Kano product model for a project at the time.

“And the other thing that perplexes me is that product leaders expect people to talk about a product being great. And people don’t talk about a product doing exactly what they expected it to do. They talk about a product doing what they didn’t expect. And you look at a product like Tesla. People are not going and talking about how they had a great drive today, but they’re talking about the cool new feature they discovered on the dashboard ….Why aren’t we optimising for those things that people wouldn’t expect the product to do as a way to get that surprise and delight to talk about it, to develop a relationship with our products?” {Scott Belsky}

Belsky’s observation aligns with the theory of the Kano product model which is generally used for feature prioritisation. This framework was developed by Dr Noriaki Kano, a professor of quality management from Tokyo University in the 1980s.  He came up with five different types of feature categorisation to help product teams prioritise which features they build. 

1. Must-have features

2. Performance features

3. Delight features

4. Indifferent features

5. Reverse features

Kano’s delight features exemplify the type of features described by Belsky in the quote mentioned earlier. These features pleasantly surprise users by exceeding their expectations, leading to a sense of delight. Delight features often generate word-of-mouth recommendations and positive user feedback.

Must-have features and Performance features are important and should rightly be prioritised but such features don’t excite users enough to spread the word about your product. Users expect them to be available in your product as a given for them to continue to use. 

It’s the unexpected features that delight and surprise them that will nudge them to evangelise your product. Surprise and delight are powerful emotional drivers for word-of-mouth recommendation. 

Product teams should avoid building surprising or delightful features for the sake of it. They need to build delightful features that solve user problems in functional and purposeful ways. 

Apple’s iPhone was the first mainstream smartphone to launch without a physical keyboard. The most popular phone at the time was the Blackberry which had half of its phone’s surface occupied by a keyboard. Apple wanted to maximise the entire phone screen for users and knew they had to get rid of the physical keyboard to do this. They introduced the touch screen feature to accomplish this goal.  Most smartphones today come with touchscreen functionalities. But in 2007 when Apple released the iPhone; this feature was a big talking point because nothing like it existed.

What unexpected delightful features/products have you encountered that compelled you to recommend them to others? Please share below in the comment section.

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Always Be Shipping!

DALL·E artwork

ABC – “Always Be Closing”. This is a famous line in a movie called Glengarry Glen Ross {1992}. Alec Baldwin plays the role of an aggressive salesman sent from head office to motivate a group of struggling real estate agents. He kept repeating this line as an inspirational mantra: ABC – “Always Be Closing”

Always Be Closing Alec Baldwin GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

A better mantra however for creatives is ABS“Always Be Shipping”.

You put in the work to produce a creative output you deem satisfactory and then ship it by sharing it with the world. It’s up to the world to decide how it responds to your work. 

Your job is to do the work and ship it but the audience’s reaction is out of your control. So seek to manage the only controllable thing – the creation and shipping of your work. Do that and move on to the next piece of creative work.

As Susan Kare, designer of the original Mac interface, said, “You can’t really decide to paint a masterpiece. You just have to think hard, work hard, and try to make a painting that you care about. Then, if you’re lucky, your work will find an audience for whom it’s meaningful.” {via The Practice by Seth Godin}

I like the end of Kare’s quote. “if you’re lucky, your work will find an audience for whom it’s meaningful” However, even without luck, you will still have the opportunity to develop your creative muscles through continuous shipping.

Finishing and shipping your work is a good habit to develop. Produce enough good content over time, and eventually, something will resonate with your audience.

What might be hindering you from completing and shipping your creative work? What are you doing to overcome such obstacles?

 Please provide your responses in the comments box below. 

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Navigating the Impact of Generative AI

Generative AI has dominated the 2023 news cycle. The pace of new AI products hitting the market has been nothing short of staggering. While there’s a lot of excitement around how these tools can boost productivity, there are also concerns that these tools may destroy certain white-collar jobs and exploit artists by training on their content available on the internet.

One of the most prominent AI models in this space is OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which I’ve used frequently for work. It’s been a game-changer for generating complex Google Sheets formulas and SQL queries. Before I started using ChatGPT for these tasks, I often had to turn to skilled colleagues and/or trawl through Stack Overflow forums, which was time-consuming and frustrating. I’m still experimenting with ChatGPT to see what other relevant use cases I can uncover.

While some recent tech hypes like crypto and the metaverse have come and crashed, I believe that AI is here to stay and will have a long-lasting impact on society. Most people who use AI tools regularly can find ways to make them useful for their current needs or immediate future plans. By contrast, crypto and the metaverse were too abstract for many people to grasp hence the reason for a lack of mainstream interest.

However, there’s also reason to be wary of the risks associated with the AI revolution. If AI developers are reckless with how they release these tools into the world, powerful AI models trained on biased data sets could have negative consequences and influence decision-making in harmful ways.

As someone who’s both optimistic and cautious about the impact of AI, I believe that we still have two advantages over current AI tools that will remain relevant in the foreseeable future: creativity and curiosity.

While generative AI tools can produce impressive outputs, they still need to be prompted and can only create based on what they’ve been trained on. They’re good at remixing and creating variations, but they can also be convincingly wrong or even deceptive, which the AI community refers to as hallucinations. Similarly, while AI tools excel at analysis, synthesis, and answering questions, they lack the curiosity that’s so essential to human inquiry and discovery.

Ultimately, I believe that human creativity and curiosity will continue to give us a temporary advantage over AI tools. However, as these AI models become increasingly powerful, they’ll inevitably begin to chip away at those advantages. Rather than resisting this change, I think it’s best to embrace it and explore ways to use these tools to augment our skills and abilities.

I am curious to hear how you are currently using AI or how you see us best using these tools to augment our skills. Please share in the comments below.

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Validating Risky Assumptions

Assumptions are beliefs or ideas that we take for granted without sufficient evidence. They can be conscious or unconscious and are usually based on personal biases, past experiences, or incomplete information. Assumptions have a tendency to masquerade as facts and can significantly impact user experience. When product teams make assumptions about their users, they risk creating a product that doesn’t meet their users’ needs. Unverified risky assumptions can lead to poor product decisions, missed opportunities, and wasted resources.

I watched the movie Under Siege 2 in 1996, a forgettable 90s action flick starring Steven Seagal. The only highlight of this movie was a quote repeatedly uttered by the villain: “Assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.” A revised version of this quote applies to product teams: “The unvalidated risky assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups.”

Product teams can’t test or may not have the time in a fast product build cycle to test all their assumptions. This is why it’s important to capture, identify, prioritize, and test the riskiest assumptions. There are several techniques for identifying assumptions, such as assumption mapping and hypothesis development.

(1) Assumption mapping is a process of visually representing assumptions and assessing their level of risk.

(2) Hypothesis development involves creating testable statements that can be used to validate or disprove assumptions.

While most assumptions are harmless, some can sabotage product development if left unverified.

Product teams should always ask themselves these two questions:

  • What untested/unverified assumptions are we making?
  • Are they justified?

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