Tag: ethics


Improving Our Ethical Choices: Managing the Imp of the Perverse

September 30th, 2008 — 11:06am

Design­ers inter­ested in the new chal­lenges of ubiq­ui­tous com­put­ing / ubi­comp, ethics, and the future of inte­grated expe­ri­ences will enjoy Improv­ing Our Eth­i­cal Choices: Man­ag­ing the Imp of the Per­verse, pub­lished in UXMat­ters on Sep­tem­ber 8th.
Rang­ing from Baude­laire to the Big Chill, with Edgar Allen Poe as guid­ing spirit, this fourth and final install­ment of the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series writ­ten for UXMat­ters pro­vides prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions — drawn mostly from busi­ness, psy­chol­ogy, and ethics researchers — on how to bal­ance the ten­sions of dif­fi­cult design choices. We’re not all philoso­phers, so as always the focus is on insights into how we make all types of deci­sions, not sim­ply eth­i­cal dilem­mas.
Align­ing The Deci­sion Cycle
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Here’s an excerpt:
Eth­i­cal fad­ing, the ten­sion between our Want and Should Selves, and our nat­ural ten­dency to cre­ate juicy ratio­nal­iza­tions are pow­er­ful obsta­cles to the mak­ing of eth­i­cal design choices. As UX pro­fes­sion­als, how can we bet­ter align our Want and Should Selves, ensur­ing that we cre­ate eth­i­cal expe­ri­ences?
I learned a great deal about myself and my out­look while research­ing and writ­ing this series of arti­cles. I hope read­ers find the insights and tools valu­able; either directly as a resource for deal­ing with eth­i­cal chal­lenges of the new inte­grated expe­ri­ences, or more gen­er­ally dur­ing the day to day ebb and flow of design work.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, The Working Life, User Experience (UX)

Ethics and Design Podcast: Part Deux

June 30th, 2008 — 4:30pm

The I.A. Pod­cast (by Jeff Parks of I.A. Con­sul­tants and Box­e­san­dAr­rows pod­cast fame) just pub­lished the sec­ond of two inter­views dis­cussing research on ethics, design, social media, and con­flict.
Play and down­load the sec­ond inter­view here.
Sub­scribe to the iTunes and feed­burner feeds for the I.A. Pod­cast here.
These pod­casts are based on the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series I’m writ­ing for UXMat­ters: watch for pub­li­ca­tion of the final arti­cle later this sum­mer.
Thanks again, Jeff!

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Understanding Juicy Rationalizations: How Designers Make Ethical Choices

June 23rd, 2008 — 5:35pm

Under­stand­ing Juicy Ratio­nal­iza­tions, part 3 of the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series, just went live at UXMat­ters.
Here’s the teaser:
From “The Big Chill“
Michael: “I don’t know any­one who could get through the day with­out two or three juicy ratio­nal­iza­tions.“
“They’re more impor­tant than sex.“
Sam: “Ah, come on. Nothing’s more impor­tant than sex.“
Michael: “Oh yeah? Ever gone a week with­out a ratio­nal­iza­tion?“

Design­ers ratio­nal­ize their choices just as much as every­one else. But we also play a unique role in shap­ing the human world by cre­at­ing the expres­sive and func­tional tools many peo­ple use in their daily lives. Our deci­sions about what is and is not eth­i­cal directly impact the lives of a tremen­dous num­ber of peo­ple we will never know. Bet­ter under­stand­ing of the choices we make as design­ers can help us cre­ate more eth­i­cal user expe­ri­ences for our­selves and for every­one.

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Under­stand­ing Juicy Ratio­nal­iza­tions is the first of a pair of arti­cles focused on the ways that indi­vid­ual design­ers make eth­i­cal choices, and how we can improve our choices. This sec­ond pair of arti­cles is a bit of eye-opening win­dow into how peo­ple make many of the choices in our daily lives — not just design deci­sions. Or, at least it was for me… Read­ers will see con­nec­tions much broader than sim­ply choices we explic­itly think of as ‘eth­i­cal’ and / or design related.
The final install­ment in the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series is titled Man­ag­ing the Imp of the Per­verse; watch for it some­time soon.
With the pub­li­ca­tion of these next two arti­cles, the Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences series con­sists of two sets of matched pairs of arti­cles; the first arti­cle in each pair fram­ing a prob­lem­atic real-life sit­u­a­tion design­ers will face, and the sec­ond sug­gest­ing some ways to resolve these chal­lenges eth­i­cally.
The first pair of arti­cles — Social Media and the Con­flicted Future and Some Prac­ti­cal Sug­ges­tions for Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences — looked at broad cul­tural and tech­nol­ogy trends like social media and DIY / co-creation, sug­gest­ing ways to dis­cover and man­age likely eth­i­cal con­flicts within the design process.
It’s a nice sym­met­ri­cal struc­ture, if you dig that sort of thing.  (And what archi­tect doesn’t?)
For com­muters / multi-taskers / peo­ple who pre­fer lis­ten­ing to read­ing, Jeff Parks inter­viewed me on the con­tents of this sec­ond set of arti­cles, which he will pub­lish shortly as a pod­cast.
Thanks again to the edi­to­r­ial team at UXMat­ters for sup­port­ing my explo­ration of this very impor­tant topic for the future of expe­ri­ence design. In an age when every­one can lever­age professional-grade adver­tis­ing the likes of Spo­tun­ner, the eth­i­cal­ity of the expres­sive tools and frame­works design­ers cre­ate is a ques­tion of crit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance for us all.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Social Media, User Experience (UX)

Ethics and Design Interview Live

June 13th, 2008 — 7:34pm

The I.A. Pod­cast (by Jeff Parks of I.A. Con­sul­tants and Box­e­san­dAr­rows pod­cast fame) just pub­lished the first of two inter­views we recorded recently, talk­ing about ethics, design, social media, and con­flict.
Play and down­load the inter­view here.
Sub­scribe to the iTunes and feed­burner feeds for the I.A. Pod­cast here.
Stay tuned for the sec­ond inter­view!
Thanks Jeff!

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Ideas, Social Media

Does Being Ethical Pay?

May 12th, 2008 — 11:16am

Com­pa­nies spend huge amounts of money to be ‘socially respon­si­ble.’ Do con­sumers reward them for it? And how much?’ is the leader for a short piece titled Does Being Eth­i­cal Pay? just pub­lished in Sloan Man­age­ment Review. The quick answer is “Yes”, so it’s worth read­ing fur­ther to learn the spe­cific ways that eth­i­cal­ity plays into people’s spend­ing deci­sions.
Here’s an excerpt:

In all of our tests, con­sumers were will­ing to pay a slight pre­mium for the eth­i­cally made goods. But they went much fur­ther in the other direc­tion: They would buy uneth­i­cally made prod­ucts only at a steep dis­count.


What’s more, con­sumer atti­tudes played a big part in shap­ing those results. Peo­ple with high stan­dards for cor­po­rate behav­ior rewarded the eth­i­cal com­pa­nies with big­ger pre­mi­ums and pun­ished the uneth­i­cal ones with big­ger dis­counts.

At least accord­ing to this research, being eth­i­cal is a nec­es­sary attribute for a prod­uct.
There are clear impli­ca­tions for prod­uct design: ethics should be on the table as a con­cern at all stages of prod­uct devel­op­ment, from ideation and con­cept­ing of new prod­ucts, to the mar­ket­ing and sales of fin­ished prod­ucts.
And these (lim­ited, cer­tainly not the final word) find­ings match with the idea of adding ethics to the set of impor­tant user expe­ri­ence qual­i­ties cap­tured in Peter Morville’s UX Hon­ey­comb.
The (Aug­mented) Eth­i­cal UX Hon­ey­comb
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How are user expe­ri­ence design­ers tak­ing the eth­i­cal qual­i­ties of their work into account?

Comment » | Ethics & Design, User Research

Designing Ethical Experiences: Some Practical Suggestions Live @ UXMatters

April 13th, 2008 — 11:52am

A quick anounce­ment: part two of the series on ethics and expe­ri­ence design Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences: Some Prac­ti­cal Sug­ges­tions, is just live at UXMat­ters. In this fol­lowup to the first install­ment, you’ll find a fiarly exten­sive set of sug­gested tech­niques for resolv­ing con­flicts — eth­i­cal and oth­er­wise — dur­ing the strat­egy and design phases of expe­ri­ence design efforts. If you’ve had issues with ethics or con­flict dur­ing a design effort, these sim­ple tech­niques should be a use­ful start­ing point.
Look­ing ahead, part three of the series will explore recent research on the way that peo­ple make deci­sions with eth­i­cal impli­ca­tions in busi­ness set­tings (good for design­ers who want to be aware of their own meth­ods and states of mind, and how those drive design work), and the impor­tance of neu­tral mod­els in mak­ing eth­i­cal design deci­sions.
Here’s an excerpt:
Thank­fully, suc­cess­fully address­ing eth­i­cal chal­lenges dur­ing design does not require the cre­ation of a for­mal or detailed code of ethics–or the cre­ation of a pro­fes­sional body that would sus­tain such an effort. Design­ers can use the fact that eth­i­cal ques­tions often appear first in the form of conflicts–in val­ues, goals, men­tal mod­els, or otherwise–to man­age eth­i­cal dilem­mas as sim­ply another form of con­flict. Fur­ther, we can treat con­flict as a nat­ural, though often unex­plored ele­ment of the larger con­text user expe­ri­ence always seeks to under­stand. With this fram­ing, con­flict becomes a new layer of inte­grated experiences–a layer that encom­passes eth­i­cal dilem­mas. We can prag­mat­i­cally incor­po­rate this new layer of eth­i­cal dilem­mas into our exist­ing frame­works for user experience.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, User Experience (UX)

Video of My BlogTalk Presentation

March 11th, 2008 — 2:26pm

Video of my BlogTalk pre­sen­ta­tion ‘What hap­pens when every­one designs social media? Prac­ti­cal sug­ges­tions for han­dling new eth­i­cal dilem­mas’ is avail­able from Ustream.tv. The res­o­lu­tion is low (it was shot with a web­cam) but the audio is good: fol­low along with the slides on your own for the full expe­ri­ence.

More videos of BlogTalk ses­sions here.

Comment » | Ethics & Design, Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

IA Summit Talks on Ethics, Experience Design, Social Networks

March 4th, 2008 — 6:52am

Thanks to Facebook’s pub­lic mis­takes and apol­ogy to those affected by Bea­con , as well as a num­ber of other ham-handed attempts to mon­e­tize the social graph, the inter­sec­tion of ethics, design, and social net­works is receiv­ing over­due atten­tion. Two talks at this year’s Infor­ma­tion Archi­tec­ture Sum­mit in Miami will look at ethics as it applies to the daily work of cre­at­ing social net­works, and user expe­ri­ences in gen­eral.
First is Design­ing for the social: Avoid­ing anti-social net­works, by Miles Rochford, descrip­tion below.
This pre­sen­ta­tion con­sid­ers the role of tra­di­tional social net­works and the role of IAs in address­ing the chal­lenges that arise when design­ing and using online social net­works.
The pre­sen­ta­tion dis­cusses philo­soph­i­cal approaches to shar­ing the self, how this relates to offline social net­works and human inter­ac­tions in dif­fer­ent con­texts, and pro­vides guid­ance on how online social net­work­ing tools can be designed to sup­port these rela­tion­ships.
It also cov­ers eth­i­cal issues, includ­ing pri­vacy, and how these can con­flict with busi­ness needs. A range of exam­ples illus­trate the impact of these dri­vers and how design deci­sions can lead to the cre­ation of anti-social networks.

Related: the social net­works anti-patterns list from the microformats.org wiki.
The sec­ond is The impact of social ethics on IA and inter­ac­tive design — expe­ri­ences from the Nor­we­gian woods, by Karl Yohan Saeth and Ingrid Tofte, described as fol­lows:

This pre­sen­ta­tion dis­cusses ethics in IA from a prac­ti­cal point of view. Through dif­fer­ent case stud­ies we illus­trate the impact of social ethics on IA and inter­ac­tive design, and sum up our expe­ri­ences on deal­ing with ethics in real projects.

If you’re inter­ested in ethics and the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of user expe­ri­ence (and who isn’t?), both ses­sions look good. I’ll be talk­ing about other things at the sum­mit this year. In the mean­time, stay tuned for the sec­ond arti­cle in my UXMat­ters series on design­ing eth­i­cal expe­ri­ences, due for pub­li­ca­tion very soon.

Comment » | Ideas, Information Architecture, Networks and Systems

Blogtalk 2008 slides available

March 3rd, 2008 — 7:12am

My slides from Blogtalk 2008 are avail­able online now: I went through a lot of ideas quickly, so this is a good way to fol­low along at your own pace…
FYI: This ver­sion of the deck includes pre­sen­ters notes — I’ll upload a (larger!) view-only ver­sion once I’m back from hol­i­day in lovely Éire.

Comments Off | Ideas, Networks and Systems, User Experience (UX)

'Designing Ethical Experiences: Social Media and the Conflicted Future' is live at UXMatters

February 12th, 2008 — 3:43pm

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UXMat­ters just pub­lished part 1 of a two part series I’m writ­ing on ethics and design titled, Design­ing Eth­i­cal Expe­ri­ences: Social Media and the Con­flicted Future.
Here’s an excerpt, to whet your appetites for a prac­ti­cal take on what’s often seen as a philo­soph­i­cal sub­ject.
Ques­tions of ethics and con­flict can seem far removed from the daily work of user expe­ri­ence (UX) design­ers who are try­ing to develop insight into people’s needs, under­stand their out­looks, and design with empa­thy for their con­cerns. In fact, the con­verse is true: When con­flicts between busi­nesses and customers–or any groups of stakeholders–remain unre­solved, UX prac­ti­tion­ers fre­quently find them­selves fac­ing eth­i­cal dilem­mas, search­ing for design com­pro­mises that sat­isfy com­pet­ing camps. This dynamic is the essen­tial pat­tern by which con­flicts in goals and per­spec­tives become eth­i­cal con­cerns for UX design­ers. Unchecked, it can lead to the cre­ation of uneth­i­cal expe­ri­ences that are hos­tile to users–the very peo­ple most design­ers work hard to benefit–and dam­ag­ing to the rep­u­ta­tions and brand iden­ti­ties of the busi­nesses respon­si­ble.
Stay tuned for part two, which will share a set of sug­ges­tions for how design can man­age con­flict and work toward the cre­ation of eth­i­cal inte­grated expe­ri­ences. Mean­while, let us know what you think of the ideas here, or at the UXMat­ters site.

Comment » | Ideas, User Experience (UX)

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