🔖 ethicaledtech – Discussion list for ethicaledtech.info

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❤️ erinroseglass tweeted .@savasavasava makes a great point that collectively, we could opt put of exploitative educational technology the ethical edtech wiki is gathering resources for community driven edtech alternatives in the classroom help us build it! https://t.co/Pmrkk0vY4f #Domains19

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🔖 An interview with Mike Monteiro | Clearleft

Bookmarked An interview with Mike Monteiro | Clearleft by Rowena PriceRowena Price (Clearleft)
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 Designer’s Code of Ethics | Dear Design Student (Medium) | Mike Monteiro

Bookmarked A Designer’s Code of Ethics by Mike MonteiroMike Monteiro (Dear Design Student (Medium))
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.

It would appear that much of this article appears in Monteiro’s book Ruined by Design.

Annotated Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike MonteiroMike Monteiro (Mule Books, March 2019, ISBN: 978-1090532084)

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.

2:45 pm

The world is on its way to ruin and it’s happening by design.

2:44pm

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.

2:45 pm

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.

2:46 pm

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.

2:48 pm

Speaking of Victor Papanek, this book wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t read Design for the Real World as a young designer.

2:49 pm

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.

2:55 pm

Always a great quote and it reminds me of The West Wing (1999, Warner Bros.)

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.

2:56 pm

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.

2:57 pm

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.

3:00 pm

The internet is a harassment and abuse factory in part because designers implemented things they shouldn’t.

3:02 pm

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.

3:06 pm

These were part of a Medium post from 2017 entitled Dear Design Student.

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.

3:07 pm

A designer is responsible for the work they put into the world.

3:08 pm

When we ignorantly produce work that harms others because we didn’t consider the full ramifications of that work, we are doubly guilty.

3:09 pm

A designer values impact over form.

3:10 pm

A designer owes the people who hire them not just their labor, but their counsel.

3:11 pm

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.

3:13 pm

A designer welcomes criticism.

3:13 pm

A designer strives to know their audience.

3:14 pm

What about empathy? Empathy is a pretty word for exclusion.

3:15 pm

A designer does not believe in edge cases.

3:16 pm

A designer is part of a professional community.

3:17 pm

A designer seeks to build their professional community, not divide it

3:19 pm

A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field.

3:19 pm

A designer takes time for self-reflection.

3:44 pm

No one wakes up one day designing to throw their ethics out the window

3:45 pm

We are not hired hands, we are not pixelpushers, we are not order-takers. We are gatekeepers.

3:46 pm

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.

3:52 pm

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.

3:53 pm

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.

3:54 pm

Sure, everyone remembers Frankenstein’s monster, but they call it by his maker’s name.

3:55 pm

Excessive speed gets products through that gate before anyone notices what they are and how foul they smell.

3:56 pm

We need to measure more than profit. We need to slow down and measure what our work is doing out there in the world.

3:59 pm

People don’t see the things they’re rewarded for as problems to fix.

4:01 pm

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.

4:05 pm

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.

4:08 pm

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.

4:12 pm

Acquired Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro (Mule Books)

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.

book cover of Ruined by Design featuring the title and a red and black image of a mushroom cloud from a nuclear bomb

Has anyone read Mike Monteiro’s new book “Ruined by Design”? Sounds very IndieWeb in flavor… (or at least anti-silo/anti-corporate)

I just noticed he’s touring with his book and will be in my backyard later this month: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mike-monteiro-lets-destroy-silicon-valley-tickets-60958127400

I love the line for it: “This isn’t a talk, this is a union meeting.”

Got a .azw version of the book for my Kindle.

👓 The Most Measured Person in Tech Is Running the Most Chaotic Place on the Internet | New York Times

Read The Most Measured Person in Tech Is Running the Most Chaotic Place on the Internet (New York Times)
YouTube’s C.E.O. spends her days contemplating condoms and bestiality, talking advertisers off the ledge and managing a property the size of Netflix.

👓 Thousands of leaked Facebook documents show Mark Zuckerberg as ‘master of leverage’ in plan to trade user data | NBC News

Read Thousands of leaked Facebook documents show Mark Zuckerberg as ‘master of leverage’ in plan to trade user data (NBC News)
Facebook’s leaders seriously discussed selling access to user data — and privacy was an afterthought.

The story somehow just gets worse and worse and still they just apologize and continue on as usual… It’s shocking to see so many who raised ethical issues along the way are remaining silent now, ostensibly because they are still on the gravy train and are enriching themselves by staying silent.

📑 YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant

Annotated YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Letting Toxic Videos Run Rampant by Mark Bergen (Bloomberg)
When Wojcicki took over, in 2014, YouTube was a third of the way to the goal, she recalled in investor John Doerr’s 2018 book Measure What Matters.“They thought it would break the internet! But it seemed to me that such a clear and measurable objective would energize people, and I cheered them on,” Wojcicki told Doerr. “The billion hours of daily watch time gave our tech people a North Star.” By October, 2016, YouTube hit its goal.  

Obviously they took the easy route. You may need to measure what matters, but getting to that goal by any means necessary or using indefensible shortcuts is the fallacy here. They could have had that North Star, but it’s the means they used by which to reach it that were wrong.

This is another great example of tech ignoring basic ethics to get to a monetary goal. (Another good one is Marc Zuckerberg’s “connecting people” mantra when what he should be is “connecting people for good” or “creating positive connections”.

A brief reflection on Kate Bowles’ keynote at OER 19

Kate Bowles gave a great Keynote at the Open Education Resources 2019 (OER19) conference in Galway last night. In it she indicates how politicians, economists and even universities themselves measure their growth at the level of imports/exports and even compare it with mining in a cynical way to describe the movement of their educational resources and students.

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote:'What do iron ore, coal and Australia'sinternational education sector have in common? They're the top three exports for Australia, with recent international trade data showing that the international education sector contributed AUS$32.2 billion (US$24.7 billion) dollars to the economy in 2017' --ICEF Monitor, 2018

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote: '81 per cent of Australians grasp that international education makes a major contribution to national prosperity. This overwhelming public support rises again--to 85 per cent--when Australians learn exactly how much income this sector brings into the Australian economy each year.'--Universities Australia, March 2019
A slide from

“What a chilling thing to say about young people crossing the world to learn.” –Kate Bowles (in response to the slide immediately above)

The fact that businesses, governments, and even universities themselves would take such an ugly standpoint on teaching and learning is painful. It reminds me that one of the things that I think the open IndieWeb movement gets right is that it is people-centric first and foremost. If you can take care of people at the most base level, then hopefully what gets built upon that base–while still watching it carefully–will be much more ethical.

The IndieWeb is a people-focused alternative to the “corporate web”.

As a result of this people-centric vision, I’m seeing a lot less of the sort of ills, unintended consequences, and poor emergent behaviors caused by the drive toward surveillance capitalism within the giant social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

I’m reminded of a part of the thesis that Cesar Hidalgo presents in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order from Atoms to Economies of the idea of the personbyte and what that looks like at a group level, then a corporate level, and I wonder how it may grow to the next level above that. Without ultimately focusing on the person at the bottom of the pyramid however, we may be ethically losing sight of where we’re going and why. We may even be building an edifice that is far more likely to crumble with even worse unintended consequences.

Here’s her talk in full. I highly recommend it.

Quoted from email about "Policy change in regards to Social Media use for social learning from Centre for Innovation, Leiden University" by Tanja de Bie, Community Manager (Centre for Innovation, Leiden University via Coursera)

The Centre for Innovation of Leiden University has always strongly supported social or collaborative learning in online learning:  the interaction between learners facilitating learners, whether that is in discussion forums, peer review assignments or in our Facebook groups, contributes to a deeper understanding of subjects, and prepares learners to apply their knowledge.

However, the Centre for Innovation has a responsibility to our teachers, learners and volunteers, under GDPR and our own Privacy Policy. Based on this we conducted a review of different platforms that we made use of for collaborative, social learning and have decided to move away from those that do not allow us to meet our obligations and promises to those in our care.

Therefore we have decided to close all Facebook groups, Whatsapp groups and Instagram accounts currently under control of the Centre for Innovation, per the 29th of March 2019, and have adjusted our courses accordingly.

You can direct any questions or remarks in regards to this policy to MOOC@sea.leidenuniv.nl.

Kind Regards,

On behalf of Centre for Innovation, Leiden University,

Tanja de Bie, Community Manager

At least part of Leiden University is apparently making the moral and ethical call to close all their Facebook related properties. Kudos! They’ve already got a great website, perhaps they’ll move a bit more toward the IndieWeb?

🎧 The Daily: Silicon Valley’s Military Dilemma | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: Silicon Valley’s Military Dilemma from New York Times

Should Big Tech partner with the Pentagon? We examine a cautionary tale.

Some great history and questions about ethics here.

I’m surprised that for it’s share of profits that Down didn’t spin off the napalm division to some defense contractor?

Of course some tech companies are already weaponizing their own products against people. What about those ethical issues.

👓 Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company | Medium

Read Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company by Sahil Lavingia (Medium)
I left my job as the second employee at Pinterest–before I vested any of my stock–to turn Gumroad into a billion-dollar company. And…

A great little essay. We need more entrepreneurs building things like this rather than chasing the dream of being a unicorn. We need more stories like this, because this is how the world really works, not the other way around.