22 September 2010

The future of interaction design and its ethics

Matt Webb gives his vision of 'What comes after mobile' here. Paraphrasing very crudely: more nuanced, emotionally-based and sensitive interactions between people, information, things and environments, using artificial intelligence as a component of design, with apparently simple interactions often supported by heavy-duty computational resources. At the end of his talk there is an interesting question about the people who do not want to be part of the tagged, networked, tracked world that Webb envisages, and a good response from Webb on the failure, often, to question the ethical implications of design projects.

More directly, Harry Brignull, presents his thoughts on Dark Patterns (see his dedicated web site here), where design gulls users into giving information, signing up for and paying for services etc., often without intending to. Brignull comments on how some UX professionals must be allowing/enabling some of these tricks. Indeed, or pointing out that they're problematic and being ignored.

My own experience is that there can be really awkward situations where the only options is to bow out of a project when you have picked up on factors that are potentially harmful to users (for example compromising personal safety) but your concerns have fallen on deaf ears. Bound by commercial confidentiality, and assuming the intention behind the project isn't criminal, there's nothing else one can do. However you're left with the knowledge that someone else, perhaps more compliant, will take over where you've left off.

[Matt Webb talk via InfoDesign]

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