The week in quotes (2019W37)


danah boyd’s acceptance speech for the 28th Annual Pioneer Award is so important it is impossible to choose a key quote:

“Move fast and break things” is an abomination if your goal is to create a healthy society. Taking short-cuts may be financially profitable in the short-term, but the cost to society is too great to be justified. In a healthy society, we accommodate differently abled people through accessibility standards, not because it’s financially prudent but because it’s the right thing to do. In a healthy society, we make certain that the vulnerable amongst us are not harassed into silence because that is not the value behind free speech. In a healthy society, we strategically design to increase social cohesion because binaries are machine logic not human logic.

[…] let’s stop designing the technologies envisioned in dystopian novels. We need to heed the warnings of artists, not race head-on into their nightmares.

The goal shouldn’t be to avoid being evil; it should be to actively do good.


In a fascinating article on “Innocence lost”, Leah McLaren ponders the fact that soon there won’t be many people left who remember time before the internet.

This is what I find so amazing. That my father – like most other professionals of his generation and generations before him – was able to earn a salary and support our family with little more than a phone and a stack of papers. […] How did he sit there all day, I wonder, without the internet to keep him company?

[…] quite soon, no person on earth will remember what the world was like before the internet. There will be records, of course […], but the actual lived experience of what it was like to think and feel and be human before the emergence of big data will be gone. When that happens, what will be lost?


The EFF blog discusses the difference between dark patterns and opinionated design and calls out unethical manipulation of users:

Coercing “consent” for lucrative data bundling may satisfy a temporary metric, but public distrust of your platform will outweigh any gains from unethical design.


Rowenna Fielding in a tweet on the recent revelations about privacy invasions in period tracking apps:

The problem here is not just Facebook
It’s all the developers forgetting about ethics
It’s all their clients who ignore their responsibilities
It’s all the people who assume it’s someone else’s problem.


Jared Spool on why “testing with 5-8 users finds 85% of issues” is a fallacy:

User research, which usability testing is but one technique, isn’t about identifying all the usability problems in a design. Thinking about it that way reduces user research to being an extension of quality assurance—only finding the flaws we can fix.

Usability testing is, at best, a reactive technique. The developers build something, then we test to see what flaws they built into it. We iterate as they try to remove flaws, but we’re always reacting.


A 2015 Oxfam report draws attention to climate injustice with striking figures:

The poorest half of the global population are responsible for only around 10% of global emissions yet live overwhelmingly in the countries most vulnerable to climate change – while the richest 10% of people in the world are responsible for around 50% of global emissions.


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.