RSVPed Attending Mike Monteiro: "Let's Destroy Silicon Valley"

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

This was the event that touched off my idea to read Ruined by Design and start an IndieWeb Book club to discuss it.

📑 Jack Jamieson reply to IndieWeb Book Club: Ruined By Design

Replied to IndieWeb Book Club: Ruined By Design by Jack JamiesonJack Jamieson (jackjamieson.net)
I feel some apprehension about how this book might present designers’ “amazing amount of power.”  I think designers work within a profound network of constraints, and I’m curious how this will be addressed.  

I, too, share this apprehension. From what I’ve read so far, it’s a tough hill to climb, but I think he’ll suggest that designers need to have larger associations like doctors, architects, lawyers, etc. to be able to create a better “standard of care.”

As I’m thinking about bookclubs and Hypothes.is, I sort of wish that Ruined by Design was either online or in .pdf format so that I could use a Hypothes.is group to highlight/annotate my copy with their tool for my bookclub. I’m curious if there are any non-academic bookclubs using it in the wild?

Obviously it’s great for reading native digital content, material in the public domain, or Creative Commons content, but how could one work on participatory annotations for more restricted copyright material? Is there a Hypothes.is plugin for the Kindle, Kindle apps, or other e-readers that may work with copyright material?

Replied to a tweet by Dr. DeanDr. Dean (Twitter)
I’ve just started reading Mike Monteiro’s book Ruined by Design which puts a fine point on caring about design.

🔖 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.

📖 15% done with Ruined by Design by Mike Monteiro

📖 15% into reading Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro

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.

If Chuck Chugumlung hasn’t come across this book yet with respect to his Design X Pasadena group, I’ll recommend it heartily to him.

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.

Title and author on a white background at the top with a red filtered view of an atomic mushroom cloud explosion on the Bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean

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

📗 Started reading Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro

📗 Started reading Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It by Mike Monteiro

IndieWeb Book Club: Ruined By Design

Some of us have thought about doing it before, but perhaps just jumping into the water and trying it out may be the best way to begin designing, testing, and building a true online IndieWeb Book Club.

Ruined By Design

Title and author on a white background at the top with a red filtered view of an atomic mushroom cloud explosion on the Bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean

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 (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 haven’t run across it yet you can also use gRegor Morrill‘s IndieBookClub.biz tool in the process. 

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.

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.