13 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2018
    1. But addressing problematic internal culture of design teams is not enough. As an industry we must also confront the real-world socio-political outcomes of our practice. If we accept a code of conduct as necessary, we must also accept a code of outcomes as necessary. We must create ethical frameworks to evaluate our work at all stages, especially once it is alive in the world. Our lack of ongoing critical evaluation of our profession means that design continues to reinforce a harmful status quo, creating exploitable systems at the expense of societies.
    2. Design is inherently political, but it is not inherently good. With few exceptions, the motivations of a design project are constrained by the encompassing platform or system first, and the experiences and values of its designers second. The result is designers working in a user hostile world, where even seemingly harmless platforms or features are exploited for state or interpersonal surveillance and violence.As people living in societies, we cannot be separated from our political contexts. However, design practitioners research and implement systems based on a process of abstracting their audience through user stories. A user story is “a very high-level definition of a requirement, containing just enough information so that the developers can produce a reasonable estimate of the effort to implement it23.” In most cases, user are grouped through shared financial or biographical data, by their chosen devices, or by their technical or cognitive abilities.When designing for the digital world, user stories ultimately determine what is or is not an acceptable area of human variation. The practice empowers designers and engineers to communicate via a common problem-focused language. But practicing design that views users through a politically-naive lens leaves practitioners blind to the potential weaponisation of their design. User-storied design abstracts an individual user from a person of lived experience to a collection of designer-defined generalisations. In this approach, their political and interpersonal experiences are also generalised or discarded, creating a shaky foundation that allows for assumptions to form from the biases of the design team. This is at odds with the personal lived experience of each user, and the complex interpersonal interactions that occur within a designed digital platform.When a design transitions from theoretical to tangible, individual user problems and motivations become part of a larger interpersonal and highly political human network, affecting communities in ways that we do not yet fully understand. In Infrastructural Games and Societal Play, Eleanor Saitta writes of the rolling anticipated and unanticipated consequences of systems design: “All intentionally-created systems have a set of things the designers consider part of the scope of what the system manages, but any nontrivial system has a broader set of impacts. Often, emergence takes the form of externalities — changes that impact people or domains beyond the designed scope of the system^24.” These are no doubt challenges in an empathetically designed system, but in the context of design homogeny, these problems cascade.In a talk entitled From User Focus to Participation Design, Andie Nordgren advocates for how participatory design is a step to developing empathy for users:“If we can’t get beyond ourselves and our [platforms] – even if we are thinking about the users – it’s hard to transfer our focus to where we actually need to be when designing for participation which is with the people in relation to each other25.”Through inclusion, participatory design extends a design team’s focus beyond the hypothetical or ideal user, considering the interactions between users and other stakeholders over user stories. When implemented with the aim of engaging a diverse range of users during a project, participatory design becomes more political by forcing teams to address weaponised design opportunities during all stages of the process.
    3. Weaponised design – a process that allows for harm of users within the defined bounds of a designed system – is faciliated by designers who are oblivious to the politics of digital infrastructure or consider their design practice output to be apolitical.
  2. Jul 2018
  3. Jun 2018
    1. Finally, the ‘smart’ machine's presentation of itself asthe always obliging, 'labor-saving device' erases any evidence of the labor involved in itsoperation "from bank personnel to software programmers to the third-world workers whoso often make the chips" (75).
    2. Chasin poses the question (which I return to below) of how a change in our view ofobjects from passiveand outside the social could help to undo the subject/object binaryand all of its attendant orderings, including for example male/female, or mental/manua
    3. One consequence of thisposition is a more radical understanding of the sense in whichmateriality is discursive (i.e., material phenomena are inseparable from theapparatuses of bodily production: matteremerges out of and includes as part of itsbeing the ongoing reconfiguring of boundaries), just as discursive practices arealways already material (i.e., they are ongoing material (re)configurings of theworld) (2003: 822).Brought back into the world oftechnology design, this intimate co-constitution ofconfigured materialities with configuring agencies clearly implies a very differentunderstanding of the ‘human-machine interface’.
    4. The trope of configuration animates another study of surgical practices by MargunAanestad (2003), who focuses on the labors (carried out predominately by women)involved in aligning a complex sociotechnical environment for the conduct of so-called‘minimally invasive’ or ‘keyhole’ surgery. The latterrequires, among other things,displacing the direct gaze of the surgeon and attendant practitioners from the interior ofthe patient’s body– formerly achieved only through a correspondingly large incision– to aview mediated through camera and video monitors. Aanestad’s analysis follows thecourse of shifting interdependencies in the assemblage, as changes to existingarrangements necessitate further changes through what she names thein situwork of“design in configuration” (2). She emphasizes that, incontrast to views of technologydesign as the province of (predominately male) ‘inventors’ located in research anddevelopment labs, the ongoing work of design takes place in the worksite, and isaccomplished by actors rarely recognized as designers.. Moreover, her analysis makesclear again how in such a setting the capacity for action is relational, dynamic andcollective rather than inherent in specific network elements, and how the extension of thenetwork in turn intensifies network dependencies.
    5. The feminist orientations of these studies add crucial sensibilities to thereconceptions of agency under development in STS more broadly. First, feministresearchdisplaces traditional preoccupations with abstracted and decontextualized formsofknowledge in favor of particular, specifically situated practices of knowing in action.Second, feminism directs attention always to the labors (particularly those previouslyignored) that are an essential and ongoing aspect ofsociotechnical assemblages and thecapacities for action that they enable. And finally, feminist research orients us not only torelations and symmetries among persons and things, but also to the politics of difference.The boundaries that constitute things as separate and different are treated not as pre-given, but as enacted, and practices of boundary-making and the enactment of differenceare inevitably political.
    6. Medical ethics and accountability, sheargues, need to be founded not in thefigure of the rational, informed citizen but in theconditions for the maintenance of those crucial relations that configure identities andselves, and that might allow them to be reconfigured in desired ways.
    7. A rich body ofempirical studies have further specified, elaborated, and deepened the senses in whichhuman agency is always inextricably tied to the specific sociomaterial arrangements ofwhich we are part.These studies provide compelling empirical demonstration of howcapacities for action can be reconceived on foundations quite different from those of anEnlightenment, humanist preoccupation with the individual actor living in a world ofseparate things. Insofar as we see the politics of technology to be based in fundamentalassumptions about where agency is located,and whose agencies matter, these approacheshave at least the potential to work as powerful allies to feminist projects. In particular,these scholars align with feminist theorizing in their emphasis on the always relationalcharacter of our capacities for action; the constructed nature of subjects and objects,resemblances and differences; and the corporeal grounds of knowing and action.
    1. Community accountability is a community-based strategy, rather than a police/prison-based strategy, to address violence within our communities. Community accountability is a process in which a community — a group of friends, a family, a church, a workplace, an apartment complex, a neighborhood, etc — work together to do the following things:• Create and affirm values & practices that resist abuse and oppression and encourage safety, support, and accountability• Develop sustainable strategies to address community members’ abusive behavior, creating a process for them to account for their actions and transform their behavior• Commit to ongoing development of all members of the community, and the community itself, to transform the political conditions that reinforce oppression and violence• Provide safety & support to community members who are violently targeted that respects their self-determination1What would a community accountability approach to digital communities look like?
    2. Some people have called for police departments to become more knowledgeable about current technology, and for lawmakers to create harsher punishments for people who are committing violence online. But the problems with this approach mirror those that are rampant in enforcement of sexual assault laws.