Friday, February 14, 2020
8:15 AM to 9:30 AM
Cross Campus, 85 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA
Design consistently improves the most profitable companies and products but why do many startups fail to integrate design strategy as they grow. Learn ways to utilize design to build teams, streamline products, connect to users and acquire customers.
Robbie Nock is the Director of Entrepreneurship and Professional Practice at ArtCenter. His background spans media production, new technology and venture development and he is driven to connect design, business and engineering partners to develop new synergies for early-stage innovation. Robbie produces academic programs and provides strategic services for a global community of entrepreneurs, educators, investors and philanthropist.
We are beset by—and immersed in—apps and devices that are quietly reducing the amount of meaningful interaction we have with each other.
I came to it via an episode of the podcast The Happiness Lab.
The consumer technology I am talking about doesn’t claim or acknowledge that eliminating the need to deal with humans directly is its primary goal, but it is the outcome in a surprising number of cases. I’m sort of thinking maybe it is the primary goal, even if it was not aimed at consciously. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:35AM
Most of the tech news we get barraged with is about algorithms, AI, robots, and self-driving cars, all of which fit this pattern. I am not saying that such developments are not efficient and convenient; this is not a judgment. I am simply noticing a pattern and wondering if, in recognizing that pattern, we might realize that it is only one trajectory of many. There are other possible roads we could be going down, and the one we’re on is not inevitable or the only one; it has been (possibly unconsciously) chosen. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:36AM
What I’m seeing here is the consistent “eliminating the human” pattern. ❧
This seems as apt a name as any.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:39AM
“Social” media: This is social interaction that isn’t really social. While Facebook and others frequently claim to offer connection, and do offer the appearance of it, the fact is a lot of social media is a simulation of real connection. ❧
Perhaps this is one of the things I like most about the older blogosphere and it’s more recent renaissance with the IndieWeb idea of Webmentions, a W3C recommendation spec for online interactions? While many of the interactions I get are small nods in the vein of likes, favorites, or reposts, some of them are longer, more visceral interactions.
My favorite just this past week was a piece that I’d worked on for a few days that elicited a short burst of excitement from someone who just a few minutes later wrote a reply that was almost as long as my piece itself.
To me this was completely worth the effort and the work, not because of the many other smaller interactions, but because of the human interaction that resulted. Not to mention that I’m still thinking out a reply still several days later.
This sort of human social interaction also seems to be at the heart of what Manton Reece is doing with micro.blog. By leaving out things like reposts and traditional “likes”, he’s really creating a human connection network to fix what traditional corporate social media silos have done to us. This past week’s episode of Micro Monday underlines this for us. (#)
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:52AM
Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist at USC wrote about a patient he called Elliot, who had damage to his frontal lobe that made him unemotional. In all other respects he was fine—intelligent, healthy—but emotionally he was Spock. Elliot couldn’t make decisions. He’d waffle endlessly over details. Damasio concluded that although we think decision-making is rational and machinelike, it’s our emotions that enable us to actually decide. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:56AM
And in the meantime, if less human interaction enables us to forget how to cooperate, then we lose our advantage. ❧
It may seem odd, but I think a lot of the success of the IndieWeb movement and community is exactly this: a group of people has come together to work and interact and increase our abilities to cooperate to make something much bigger, more diverse, and more interesting than any of us could have done separately.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:58AM
Remove humans from the equation, and we are less complete as people and as a society. ❧
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 10:59AM
A version of this piece originally appeared on his website, davidbyrne.com. ❧
This piece seems so philosophical, it seems oddly trivial that I see this note here and can’t help but think about POSSE and syndication.
Annotated on January 22, 2020 at 11:01AM
The mission of the new Master’s of Learning, Design, and Technology program at Georgetown University is “to give our students a deep foundation in the tools and theory of learning design, technology innovation, learning analytics, and higher education leadership, a foundation on which they can create engaging and innovative learning experiences for all students.” Working in and with Georgetown Domains is a key part of this engagement; the students learn about and create their domains during the opening week-long foundations course, and build on it throughout the duration of the degree, ending with a final portfolio on their domain of their work. In between, the students have the option of taking a one-credit course in Domains, as well as showcasing their coursework and projects on the site. For some, their personal Domains specifically and Georgetown Domains more generally have become the subject of their research and study. What this allows is for students to engage directly with the technology, as well as questions of accessibility, privacy, surveillance, and tools. They learn about and apply these lessons as they move through the program, perform and reflect on their research, and build their sites. But most importantly, this allows for students to own their own intellectual property, as well as provide the tools to apply what they have learned in a practical and holistic way. The e-portfolio requirement at the end of the degree highlights this commitment to students’ intellectual property as well as professionalization, while also providing an experimental and reflective space for students to connect their work. This short presentation will discuss curricular examples (Intro week, Domains course, Studio and Studio Capstone) of how Domains has been integrated into the program, sharing some student sites, projects, and portfolios.
“Domains is a Trojan horse for thinking about ed-tech.”—Lee Skallerup Bessette
Randal Ellsworth uses the phrase “thinking space” to describe Domains here.
Thoughts on Mike Monteiro's 2019 polemical book, which insists in fiery terms that the design field start asserting its own, independent responsibility for the power it wields today.
ABOUT THE TALK
For the past couple of decades, the tech companies of Silicon Valley (and beyond) have run unchecked, causing havoc, destroying civil discourse, democracy, ruining personal relationships, running marketplaces of harassment and abuse, all to line their pockets. The very worst part is that they did it with our labor.
This isn’t a talk, this is a union meeting.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Mike Monteiro is a designer and co-founder of Mule Design in San Francisco. He's been talking about design responsibility and ethics since before you were ready to listen. He’s written three books, including the just-released Ruined by Design.
A small number of books will be available for sale, which Mike will be able to sign after the talk. Otherwise, buy the book on Amazon. But really, just buy it and read it beforehand. It will help make the world better.
Follow him on Twitter, despite his feelings about Twitter: @monteiro
We discuss our thoughts and some of the conflicting opinions on design thinking. It wouldn’t be a true episode though if we didn’t first veer into other directions as well. This episode includes some more talk about conspiracy theories as it relates to the Sutherland Springs church shooting and the JFK assassination.
- Quincy Jones, In Conversation (Vulture)
- A Virtual Crash Course in Design Thinking (Stanford d.school)
- Design Thinking is Kind of Like Syphilis — It’s Contagious and Rots Your Brains (Medium.com)
- Beyond Design Thinking : An Incomplete Design Taxonomy (DigitalCommons@RISD)
We caught up with award-winning speaker, author, and co-founder (with Erika Hall) of Mule Design, Mike Monteiro to discuss his background, thoughts on life and work as a designer, and why the business of design is just as important as the craft of it.
A collection of resources regarding ethics in technology and design
A designer is first and foremost a human being.
Before you are a designer, you are a human being. Like every other human being on the planet, you are part of the social contract. We share a planet. By choosing to be a designer you are choosing to impact the people who come in contact with your work, you can either help or hurt them with your actions. The effect of what you put into the fabric of society should always be a key consideration in your work.
Read Chapters: The Ethics of Design, How Designers Destroyed the World, and Moving Fast and Breaking Things
I was very reticent about this book at first, but it is way more essential than I initially thought! I knew I was going to know almost all of the examples, and I’ve generally been right on that account so far, but he’s going beyond the problems with potential solutions. I was worried it was going to be something that I would appreciate and heartily recommend to others without getting much out of it myself, but it reads quickly and easily and there’s a lot here that I want to come back and ponder about further.
Despite the fact that I don’t feel like a professional web designer by trade, what he’s talking about here are standards of human care and interaction that anyone who makes anything should be thinking about on a daily basis. Whether you’re building or creating things for others or even making your own daily life, at heart, you’re designing something.
I also find myself thinking a lot about how people are building and designing technologies in the edtech space. May of the researchers, professors, and instructional designers I know are immersed in some of the ethics and morals behind using these technologies. Generally I hear them talking about what they “wish” they had as tools, but often they seem to be stuck with things they don’t really want and are then attempting to figure out ways around these technologies after-the-fact so that they can use them in an ethical manner. They really need to stand up, refuse to use what they’re given, and demand better design from the start. Even if they’re incapable of building their own tools, they’re slowly, but surely going to loose the war if they don’t move upstream to where the actual decisions are being made. Fortunately some of the work I see in the OER space is being done at the grass roots where people have more choice and say in the design, but I worry that if they’re not careful, those tools will be siloed off with bad design choices by for-profit companies as well.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
But if you want to wade into the murky waters of the tech industry; if you’re wanting to think more deeply about the power and ethical responsibility you have in this industry; if you’re perplexed but not in despair; if you’re ready to think about the direct impact our work has on the individuals and families exposed to the experiences and products you help create; if you’re ready to turn off the faucet; rip the plug out of the sink, and put your mop to use—this book is for you.
The world is on its way to ruin and it’s happening by design.
The goal of this book is to help you do the right thing in environments designed to make it easier to do the wrong thing.
We’re going to learn how being a designer is being a gatekeeper. We’re about to become humankind’s last line of defense against monsters.
I intend to show you that design is a political act. What we choose to design and more importantly, what we choose not to design, and even more importantly, who we exclude from the design process—these are all political acts. Knowing this and ignoring it is also a political act, albeit a cowardly one. Understanding the power in our labor and how we choose to use it defines the type of people we are.
Speaking of Victor Papanek, this book wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t read Design for the Real World as a young designer.
In the words of the great Margaret Mead:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.
For years, the libertarian con artists of Silicon Valley have been telling us they want to change the world. But when the people at the top tell you they want to change the world, it’s generally because they’ve figured out how to profit even more from those below them.
Our labor is what makes us special, and what gives us power. When we turn that labor into a force for making the world better for the largest number of people possible instead of using it to make a few people even richer than they already are? Then, and only then, we may be actually able to change the world. Then we get to go home and live ordinary lives.
Most professions worth their while, and capable of inflicting harm, have ethical codes of some sort. It’s a sign of maturity and responsibility, and there’s a price paid for not following it, which may include losing your license to practice.
The internet is a harassment and abuse factory in part because designers implemented things they shouldn’t.
About a year ago, I decided to write a code of ethics. It’s open-sourced. Take it. Make it better. Treat it like a living document:
A designer is first and foremost a human being.
When you do work that depends on a need for income disparity or class distinctions to succeed, you are failing at your job as a human being, and therefore as a designer.
A designer is responsible for the work they put into the world.
When we ignorantly produce work that harms others because we didn’t consider the full ramifications of that work, we are doubly guilty.
A designer values impact over form.
A designer owes the people who hire them not just their labor, but their counsel.
A designer uses their expertise in the service of others without being a servant. Saying no is a design skill. Asking why is a design skill. Rolling your eyes and staying quiet is not. Asking ourselves why we are making something is an infinitely better question than asking ourselves whether we can make it.
A designer welcomes criticism.
A designer strives to know their audience.
What about empathy? Empathy is a pretty word for exclusion.
A designer does not believe in edge cases.
A designer is part of a professional community.
A designer seeks to build their professional community, not divide it
A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field.
A designer takes time for self-reflection.
No one wakes up one day designing to throw their ethics out the window
We are not hired hands, we are not pixelpushers, we are not order-takers. We are gatekeepers.
On November 6, 2016, Donald Trump received 2.9 million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. The Electoral College—originally designed by elite white men to entice agrarian, slave-owning states to join the union—handed the election to the candidate with fewer votes, who also happened to be a white supremacist. It was designed to work that way.
The world isn’t broken. It’s working exactly as it was designed to work. And we’re the ones who designed it. Which means we fucked up.
There are two words every designer needs to feel comfortable saying: “no” and “why.” These words are the foundation of what we do. They’re the foundation of our ethical framework. If we cannot ask “why,” we lose the ability to judge whether the work we’re doing is ethical. If we cannot say “no,” we lose the ability to stand and fight. We lose the ability to help shape the thing we’re responsible for.
Sure, everyone remembers Frankenstein’s monster, but they call it by his maker’s name.
Excessive speed gets products through that gate before anyone notices what they are and how foul they smell.
We need to measure more than profit. We need to slow down and measure what our work is doing out there in the world.
People don’t see the things they’re rewarded for as problems to fix.
A good algorithm is the equivalent of breaking up with someone over a text message and then turning your phone off. It’s cowardly. Good leaders should aspire to have their fingerprints all over hard decisions.
When you hire me as a designer, I do not work for you. I may practice my craft at your service, but you haven’t earned the right to shape how I practice that craft.
Those of us who grew up designing things online need to realize the repercussions of the work we do. We’re no longer pushing pixels around a screen. We’re building complex systems that touch people’s lives, destroy their personal relationships, broadcast words of both support and hate, and undeniably mess with their mental health. When we do our jobs well, we improve people’s lives. When we don’t, people die.
Ruined By Design
Earlier this week I saw a notice about an upcoming local event for Mike Monteiro‘s new book Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It (Mule Books, March 2019, ISBN: 978-1090532084). Given the IndieWeb’s focus on design which is built into several of their principles, I thought this looked like a good choice for kicking off such an IndieWeb Book Club.
Here’s the description of the book from the publisher:
The world is working exactly as designed. The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name. This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.
I suspect that this book will be of particular interest to those in the IndieWeb, A Domain of One’s Own, the EdTech space (and OER), and really just about anyone.
How to participate
I’m open to other potential guidelines and thoughts since this is incredibly experimental at best, but I thought I’d lay out the following broad ideas for how we can generally run the book club and everyone can keep track of the pieces online. Feel free to add your thoughts as responses to this post or add them to the IndieWeb wiki’s page https://indieweb.org/IndieWeb_Book_Club.
- Buy the book or get a copy from your local bookstore
- Read it along with the group
- Post your progress, thoughts, replies/comments, highlights, annotations, reactions, quotes, related bookmarks, podcast or microcast episodes, etc. about the book on your own website on your own domain. If your site doesn’t support any of these natively, just do your best and post simple notes that you can share. In the end, this is about the content and the discussion first and the technology second, but feel free to let it encourage you to improve your own site for doing these things along the way.
- Folks can also post on other websites and platforms if they must, but that sort of defeats some of the purpose of the Indie idea, right?
- Syndicate your thoughts to indieweb.xyz to the stub indieweb.xyz/en/bookclub/ as the primary location for keeping track of our conversation. Directions for doing this can be found at https://indieweb.xyz/howto/en.
- Optionally syndicate them to other services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
- Optionally mention this original post, and my website will also aggregate the comments via webmention to the comment section below.
- At regular intervals, check in on the conversations linked on indieweb.xyz/en/bookclub/ and post your replies and reactions about them on your own site.
If your site doesn’t support sending/receiving webmentions (a special type of open web notifications), take a look at Aaron Parecki’s post Sending your first Webmention and keep in mind that you can manually force webmentions with services like Telegraph or Mention-Tech.
I’ll also try to keep track of entries I’m aware about on my own site as read or bookmark posts which I’ll tag with #IWBCMM (ostensibly for IndieWeb Book Club Mike Monteiro), which we can also use on other social silos for keeping track of the conversation there.
Perhaps as we move along, I’ll look into creating a planet for the club as well as aggregating OPML files of those who create custom feeds for their posts. If I do this it will only be to supplement the aggregation of posts at the stub on indieweb.xyz which should serve as the primary hub for the club’s conversation.
If you don’t already have your own website or domain to participate, feel free to join in on other portions of social media, but perhaps consider jumping into the IndieWeb chat to ask about how to get started to better own your online identity and content.
If you need help putting together your own site, there are many of us out here who can help get you started. I might also recommend using micro.blog which is an inexpensive and simple way to have your own website. I know that Manton Reece has already purchased a copy of the book himself. I hope that he and the rest of the micro.blog community will participate along with us.
If you feel technically challenged, please ping me about your content and participation, and I’m happy to help aggregate your posts to the indieweb.xyz hub on your behalf. Ideally a panoply of people participating on a variety of technical levels and platforms will help us create a better book club (and a better web) for the future.
Of course, if you feel the itch to build pieces of infrastructure into your own website for improved participation, dive right in. Feel free to document what you’re doing both your own website and the IndieWeb wiki so others can take advantage of what you’ve come up with. Also feel free to join in on upcoming Homebrew Website Clubs (either local or virtual) or IndieWebCamps to continue brainstorming and iterating in those spaces as well.
Kickoff and Timeline
I’m syndicating this post to IndieNews for inclusion into next week’s IndieWeb newsletter which will serve as a kickoff notice. That will give folks time to acquire a copy of the book and start reading it. Of course this doesn’t mean that you couldn’t start today.
Share and repost this article with anyone you think might enjoy participating in the meanwhile.
I’ll start reading and take a stab at laying out a rough schedule. If you’re interested in participating, do let me know; we can try to mold the pace to those who actively want to participate.
I’ve already acquired a copy of the book and look forward to reading it along with you.