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Ethics and IA - seven deadly sins that prevent us from building a better world

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My keynote from World IA Day, 2018
I started working with information architecture long before the term was even known. Over the past 35 years, I’ve encountered many issues that have disturbed me – from creating purposely addictive programs, sites, and apps, to the current zeitgeist for responsive design at the expense of basic usability. I have seen research that is forged, ignored, or twisted by internal company politics and by the cognitive bias of the design team. And I have seen countless dark patterns that serve to suppress accessibility and diversity, and encourage false beliefs and false security.

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Ethics and IA - seven deadly sins that prevent us from building a better world

  1. 1. The Ethics of IA Seven deadly sins that keep us from building a better world Eric Reiss @elreiss WIAD 2018 February 24, 2018 Munich, Germany
  2. 2. What are “ethics”? What are “morals”?
  3. 3. “Morals” “Ethics” “The beliefs I have accepted.” “How I practice these beliefs.”
  4. 4. “Thou shalt not kill.”
  5. 5. Internal External
  6. 6. Johann and his iPhone
  7. 7. Johann and the lost letter
  8. 8. Johann, Albert, Clara
  9. 9. Johann, Albert, Clara (and Leo)
  10. 10. Clara
  11. 11. Clara 1983 - 2018
  12. 12. “Do no evil” “Make money”
  13. 13. “Make money” “Do no evil”
  14. 14. Internal External
  15. 15. • Privacy • Security • Intellectual property rights plus • Diversity • Harassment Key ethical issues today
  16. 16. • Is this right? • Is this respectful? • Is this responsible? • Is this fair? • Is this legal? Questions we need to ask
  17. 17. Research Lies, damned lies, and statistics
  18. 18. • Asking “loaded” questions • Manipulating the results • Hiding the results • Not actually doing the research Four problems
  19. 19. • Asking “loaded” questions • Manipulating the results • Hiding the results • Not actually doing the research Four problems
  20. 20. 1. Was the product information sufficient and relevant? 6/10 2. Was the transaction cost of the products appropriate? 1/10 3. Were you satisfied with the website experience? 5/10 Interpreting interrelated questions
  21. 21. • Asking “loaded” questions • Manipulating the results • Hiding the results • Not actually doing the research Four problems
  22. 22. • Asking “loaded” questions • Manipulating the results • Hiding the results • Not actually doing the research Four problems
  23. 23. • Asking “loaded” questions • Manipulating the results • Hiding the results • Not actually doing the research Four problems
  24. 24. District heating plants in Poland
  25. 25. “Return on Investment is based on historic data. It is a backward-looking metric that yields no insights into how to improve business results in the future.” www.maxi-pedia.com
  26. 26. • Examine the research sources • Ask relevant follow-up questions • Don’t trust client research. Verify it. • Watch out for personal or political agendas • Call bullshit when you see it What you can do
  27. 27. Hiding information You can’t see or sue something invisible
  28. 28. The Apple Terms and Conditions
  29. 29. • If you are asked to hide information: – Ask yourself if this is a valid request – Make sure whatever you do is in the user’s interest • If someone unexpectedly complicates your wireframes and/or sitemap: – Find out if there is a hidden agenda – If there is, take an ethical stand to do what’s right What you can do
  30. 30. Faking information Hits and bruises
  31. 31. • Fake testimonials • Fake photos • Misleading metadata • Fake referral sites • Clueless social-media managers What to look out for
  32. 32. Products Green Blue Red Specifications Specifications Specifications Applications Applications References Testimonials Applications References Testimonials References Testimonials
  33. 33. Danske Bank
  34. 34. • Ask yourself if the content is honest • Ask yourself if this is really in the user’s best interests • Ask yourself if this is in the business’s best interests • Don’t force content providers to publish information they cannot provide • Call bullshit when you see it! What you can do
  35. 35. Addiction Digital drugs
  36. 36. • Bait-and-switch techniques – Online casinos • Peer pressure techniques – Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook • Ludomania disguised as entertainment What to look out for
  37. 37. “100 free spins…”
  38. 38. • There really is only one question you need to ask yourself: – Would I want my children to use this site or app? What you can do
  39. 39. Dark patterns Asterisks and after-risks
  40. 40. • Sites that trick you to: – Opt in to something you do not want – Buy something you do not want • Sites that require information they are not entitled to: – Telephone number – Personal details (e.g. gender) What to look out for
  41. 41. https://darkpatterns.org/
  42. 42. • People do not read very carefully • People will often accept that they have been tricked because it takes too long to put things right again Some sad facts
  43. 43. • Bait-and-switch • Disguised ads • Forced continuity • Friend spam • Hidden costs • Misdirection • Price comparison prevention • Private Zuckering • Roach motel • Sneak into basket • Trick questions The dark patterns
  44. 44. Frequently bought together…
  45. 45. Scarcity Social validation Fear of loss
  46. 46. • Make sure the behaviour of your wireframes is not misleading people • Do not trick or cheat people • Call bullshit! What you can do
  47. 47. Teamwork Design thinking or design trauma?
  48. 48. • Designs that are “flavour of the month” – WordPress – Flat design • Colleagues who do not meet their obligations • Clients and employers who are asking you to bend your personal code of ethics What to look out for
  49. 49. The Czech brothel project
  50. 50. • If you are a manager, give your team members and opportunity to opt out • If you are a team member, let your manager know if the projects makes you uncomfortable • Respect any NDAs you have signed • If you make a promise, keep it! What you can do
  51. 51. UX theatre Brainstorming and bullshit
  52. 52. https://twitter.com/i/moments/955234060 951048192
  53. 53. • So-called UX projects where no one has actually ever talked to a user • Fake personas • Projects where assumptions are given the same weight as actual research • Team members who exhibit strong cognitive bias • Civil servants and mediocre managers who just want an impressive report, but do not actually want to improve UX What to look out for
  54. 54. • Validate your assumptions • Test your prototypes, apps, and existing sites with real users • Mine the existing data for genuine insights What you can do
  55. 55. b Offensive AI Tay, Siri, Alexa, and Bixby
  56. 56. • Validate your assumptions • Test your prototypes, apps, and existing sites with real users • Mine the existing data for genuine insights What you can do
  57. 57. Clara 1983 - 2018
  58. 58. • Validate your assumptions • Test your prototypes, apps, and existing sites with real users • Mine the existing data for genuine insights • Check for cultural bias – Racist, religious, and sexist discrimination • Train your AI with unbiased data • Monitor your AI bot regularly What you can do
  59. 59. The Copenhagen Letter Taking a moral stand
  60. 60. https://copenhagenletter.org/
  61. 61. Bonus material #1
  62. 62. We didn’t invent this discipline Give credit where credit is due
  63. 63. 50-year-old wearable
  64. 64. 150-year-old infographic
  65. 65. 170-year-old sitemap
  66. 66. 220-year-old SEO project
  67. 67. 250-year-old knowledge map
  68. 68. 300-year-old taxonomy
  69. 69. A 400-year-old content inventory
  70. 70. 650-year-old personas
  71. 71. 5000-year-old wireframe
  72. 72. 15000-year-old storyboard
  73. 73. Gestural interfaces - 1935
  74. 74. Bonus material #2
  75. 75. in·no·va·tion noun 1 : the introduction of something new 2 : a new idea, method, or device
  76. 76. To differentiate your product/service To be “original” To satisfy your ego Three bad reasons to innovate
  77. 77. Experiment
  78. 78. Invention
  79. 79. Invention
  80. 80. Innovation 15 April 1912
  81. 81. RMS Carpathia
  82. 82. Invention Innovation Lifecycle Innovation Best practice Habit Innovation Best practice Fashion Old-fashioned Time Progress
  83. 83. Lesson: Invention is not innovation
  84. 84. Titanic Why did it sink? “It hit an iceberg.”
  85. 85. 1. The ship was sailing quite fast 2. The iceberg was very far to the south 3. An ice warning was not relayed to the Captain 4. The calm sea showed no wake from the berg 5. The rudder was too small to turn the ship 6. The rivets became brittle in cold water 7. The watertight bulkheads were not tall enough 8. If the Titanic had hit the berg head on it might have survived the impact The Titanic disaster – contributing factors
  86. 86. Lesson: Accidents can never be attributed to a single cause.
  87. 87. Eastland
  88. 88. Lesson: Don’t make judgements based on unique incidents.
  89. 89. • You are unique! • You can change the world! Some of you will…and thank goodness for that! A few parting words
  90. 90. Danke!
  91. 91. The FatDUX Group ApS Strandøre 15 2100 Copenhagen Denmark Office: (+45) 39 29 07 07 Mobil: (+45) 20 12 88 44 Twitter: @elreiss er@fatdux.com www.fatdux.com Eric Reiss can (usually) be found at:

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