Ethics – Travelling With The User – Part X

Nowadays, more and more voices are raised in defence of ethics. And not only in the real world but also in the digital one. Your work speaks for you. It is as simple as that.

In his closing plenary at the IA Summit in Vancouver this year, Dan Klyn spoke about The Truth.

“The point of information architecture is making the complex clear. But not because clarity. Because the truth. The point of clarifying complexity is for there to be more and better the truth.”

We found ourselves in dire straits where it seems that the truth does not matter anymore and alternative facts can and are applied virtually for everything. It is not only about politics or the USA. Fake news has long ago made their way through Europe before they flew over across the pond. Those of us born on this side of the Berlin wall need no elaboration.

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you have already heard of Uber’s PR nightmare and scandal after scandal. First, it was the misogyny and sexual harassments, then designed processes to overcome competition or fence off government and Apple’s guidelines in the App Store. Ethics seems to be a non-existent factor in Uber’s business decision.

Many are using Facebook to login in third-party apps and platforms, too. But few take notice of the collected data beyond the mere requirement for the app to work properly. Don’t ask for access to the user’s religious beliefs, political views or in which groups she participates!

There are so many examples where ethics were not applied fully or even a little bit. One might feel that the majority of digital properties out there are created with the sole purpose to spy, manipulate or farm the digital citizen.

First, people stopped noticing banners, now they use ad blockers, soon they will start giving away their data. And this a direct effect of designing for the digital world without putting ethics first.

Design with ethics in mind! Design for the truth! It has a direct impact not only on the systems you design, their users, but also you and your loved ones. Keep that in mind!

This post is part of a talk I gave at Bulgarian Web Summit on “Travelling With The User”. You can find the slides here.

Copyright © 2017 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.