These days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The tech industry is facing a veritable raft of ethical, moral, and political crises. Automation and industrialization are reshaping our world. And sitting in the middle of all that? You and me. We’re digital designers, we’re developers, we’re product owners. But each day, our work is changing—more quickly than it ever has before.
Here’s the question we have to ask ourselves: what do we want that change to be? In this talk, we’ll look at some of the challenges facing our industry, and ask ourselves: what kind of work do we want to do?
Here’s the opening of the talk:
In this talk, I want to look at some ways the Web is changing, and how our work is changing alongside it. I want to talk about web design as an agent of power, and about its potential to do harm. I want to suggest that web design has, as a practice, become industrialized, and I want to look at how that will change the nature of our work in the months and years to come. I want to talk about how the web has excelled at creating new kinds of work, and then rendering that work—and its workers—invisible.
And then I want to talk a little bit about hope.
As you might’ve guessed, it was a very, very different kind of talk for me, which was
thoroughly terrifying a bit scary. That aside, I’m told video of the talk will be online at some point, and I’m debating whether or not to write up the full transcript.
But in the meantime, I’ve been inspired by Jeremy, and pulled together a list of materials that were cited in the talk:
Articles, reports, and essays
- “Inferring individual rules from collective behavior”, a research paper published by Ryan Lukeman, Yue-Xian Li, and Leah Edelstein-Keshet on flocking behaviors in nature. (Among many, many other things.)
- “Deep dive CSS: font metrics, line-height and
vertical-align”, by Vincent De Oliveira.
- Inclusively hidden”, by Scott O’Hara.
- “The lingering effects of NYC’s racist city planning”, by Daniel Kolitz.
- “Report Shows AT&T Ignores Poor Neighborhoods in Cleveland”, by Libby Watson.
- “AT&T’s Digital Redlining Of Cleveland”, a report by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance.
- “Amazon’s Face Recognition Falsely Matched 28 Members of Congress With Mugshots”, by Jacob Snow.
- “Who’s Afraid of Amazon’s Video Doorbell?”, by Tavni Misra.
- “How a Pentagon Contract Became an Identity Crisis for Google”, by Scott Shane, Cade Metz, and Daisuke Wakabayashi.
- “Google employees push to cancel Chinese search engine in new letter”, by Adi Robertson.
- “Response to Google on Project Dragonfly, China, and Human Rights”, an open letter from Human Rights Watch and associated organizations.
- “Literally Just A Big List Of Facebook’s 2018 Scandals”, by Ryan Mac.
- “Report of the independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar” (443KB PDF), by United Nations Human Rights.
- “Google Duplex: An AI System for Accomplishing Real-World Tasks Over the Phone”, by Yaniv Leviathan and Yossi Matias.
- “The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed”, by Adrian Chen.
- “The Impossible Job: Inside Facebook’s Struggle to Moderate Two Billion People”, by Jason Koebler and Joseph Cox.
- “Artwork Personalization at Netflix”, by Ashok Chandrashekar, Fernando Amat, Justin Basilico, and Tony Jebara.
- “AVA: The Art and Science of Image Discovery at Netflix”, by Madeline Riley, Lauren Machado, Boris Roussabrov, Tim Branyen, Parth Bhawalkar, Eugene Jin, and Apurva Kansara.
- “Sketching Interfaces: Generating code from low fidelity wireframes”, by Benjamin Wilkins.
- “The Automation Charade”, by Astra Taylor.
- “How Google Protected Andy Rubin, the ‘Father of Android’”, by Daisuke Wakabayashi and Katie Benner.
- “Google’s giant employee walkouts are one of the strongest showings of tech worker activism yet”, by Shirin Ghaffary.
- “The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding”, by Clive Thompson.
- “Tech Workers Versus the Pentagon”, by Ben Tarnoff.
- The Real World of Technology, by Ursula Franklin. (And as I’ve said before, the (freely-available!) audio lectures are excellent.)
- The Power Broker: Robert Moses & the Fall of New York, by Robert Caro.
- The Life and Death of American Labor, by Stanley Aronowitz.
- The Complete London 2012 Opening Ceremony, from the London 2012 Olympic Games.
- “Race Matters”, a lecture by Cornel West.
- “Why Big Tech pays poor Kenyans to teach self-driving cars”, by Dave Lee.
- Some videos of starling murmurations:
I’m currently available for hire. Here’s some of the work I’ve done. If you’d like to talk to me about your upcoming project, feel free to get in touch.