The week in quotes (2019W19)

Sebastian Greger

Vicky Boykis advocates for “a move to leisure as a modus operandi”:

The ability to have room for leisure has always also been an upper-class pursuit. Just ask anyone at Downton Abbey. What did people do there all day? Breakfast, chat, read, take walks, and by then it was time for dinner on large, quiet estates.

Today, the true signal of privilege and choice means not only the ability to block out physical distractions, but digital ones, as well.

What I think will be great is when not only Jack Dorsey can afford to be away from Twitter for a long time - when the average person (and especially woman) can, and take a long, nice, digital hibernation without worrying about the consequences.

Charlie Warzel frames the despair many feel over the difficulty to control their data not as defeat, but as a sign of the urgency to address these issues:

Just as it’s easy for critics to suggest that those overwhelmed by the current privacy landscape are alarmists or doomsayers. I see it as something more productive and empowering; that sinking feeling isn’t an admission of defeat but an acknowledgment that taking control of our data matters. It’s the first step in a true digital privacy reckoning

Summarizing his empirical research, Joseph Turow suggests to retire the phrase “privacy policy”:

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the term “privacy policy” benefits data collectors over the public. The label’s phrasing was not a result of research or agency deliberation. In fact, back in 1998 the F.T.C. used the phrase “information practice statement” for the data-disclosure document it wanted. It didn’t take hold, possibly because companies realized that “privacy policy” embodied the ambiguity they wanted.

In her latest talk “Disruptive Design: Harmful Patterns and Bad Practice”, Laura Kalbag asks:

Why does every app use the similar interactions? Why does every homepage look so similar? Often we find ourselves using particular design patterns because other organisations use them. We assume they’ve done the research, and these patterns can be our shortcut to success. But what if those patterns actually cause harm? What if they have a negative effect on the inclusivity and accessibility of our designs?

Erika Hall on Twitter:

“Why don’t people in charge want to do research?”Because once you start dabbling in the social sciences you lose plausible deniability about some uncomfortable truths.

In a long post - at the same time a love declaration to the open web and a thorough 101 on personal publishing - Matthias Ott points out why a personal website is such a valuable asset:

It’s, of course, safe to assume that a web of personal websites will never be an equivalent substitute for a social network like Twitter. But that’s also not the goal. Personal websites are called personal websites because they are just that: personal. Thus, the primary objective still is to have a place to express ourselves, to explore ourselves, a place that lasts while the daily storms pass by. A place of consideration, and yes, a place of proudly sharing what we do, what we think, and what we care about. A place to contribute your voice and help others. A home on the internet. A place to tell your story.

Building and maintaining your personal website is an investment that is challenging and can feel laborious at times. Be prepared for that. But what you will learn along the way does easily make up for all the effort and makes the journey more than worthwhile. But most importantly, having a website makes you part of an amazing community of creators, forming new friendships, new connections, and new opportunities. This is invaluable.

In “You don’t have a right to cheap flights abroad”, Leonid Bershidsky reminds that flying on an airplane is not a right, but a privilege - and that the destructive impact of mass aviation does not only harm our planet’s future at large but local communities today:

Curbing air travel wouldn’t just have climate benefits. The incredible ease of travel in recent years has made cities, especially popular tourist destinations, more similar than they used to be. The growing uniformity and locals’ unhappiness with the tourist hordes are direct consequences of cheap flights.

A (more or less) weekly collection of inspiring, surprising or otherwise noteworthy texts, talks and podcasts. Usually around my core topics of usability, ethics, and digital society. Previous issues in the archive.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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