22 April 2012

Whether the digital era improves society is up to its users – that’s us

Be the first to share

Social media in particular has inexorably changed the world, driving openness and fear – but it is not beyond our control, argues Danah Boyd in a long essay for The Guardian.

“Most technology designers engage in their trade to make the world a better place. Technologists love to celebrate the amazing things that people can do with technology – bridge geography, connect communities and transform societies. Meanwhile, plenty of naysayers bemoan the changes brought on by technology, highlighting issues of distraction and attention for example. Unfortunately, this results in a battle between those with utopian and dystopian viewpoints, over who can have a more extreme perspective on technology. So where’s the middle ground?

One of my favourite maxims about the role of technology in society is called Kranzberg’s first law. He argues that “technology is neither good nor bad – nor is it neutral”. It’s irresponsible to assume that the tools being built just wander out into the world with only positive effects. Technology doesn’t determine practice, but how a system is designed does matter. How systems are used also matters, even if those uses aren’t what designers intended. For example, as social media has gone mainstream, some fascinating shifts have emerged that require reflection. Yet, even as the conversation becomes more important to have, it’s often hard to talk in a nuanced way about the role that technology is playing in shifts that are already underway.”

Read essay

Be the first to share
28 January 2016
The Power of Privacy – documentary film
In this half-hour film (commissioned by The Guardian and Silent Circle), Aleks Krotoski travels the world to undergo challenges that explore our digital life in the 21st century. Watch her be stalked and hacked, fight to …
24 January 2016
The grand illusion of empowerment
Financial times journalist/anthropologist Gillian Tett deconstructs the idea that the internet hands power to the people. In fact, she writes, in most countries power remains firmly in the hands of the elite. The bitter — and …
22 January 2016
The power of creativity from below
Anthropologist Michael Thompson believes in the power of creativity from below in solving some of the smaller and bigger problems of our time. "People generally are very creative and innovative. Many anthropological case studies have shown …
31 December 2015
[Report] Easier Said Than Done
Easier Said Than Done: Why we struggle with healthy behaviours and what to do about it By Nathalie Spencer RSA, December 2015 Many of us know what we should be doing to live healthily, yet many of us …
31 December 2015
[Book] The People’s Platform
The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age By Astra Taylor Picador, 288 pages April 2015 The Internet has been hailed as an unprecedented democratizing force, a place where all can participate equally. But how …
31 December 2015
The technophiles unhappy about the tech revolution
Joel Achenbach reports in the Washington Post on how digital dissenters say human needs are getting lost in the digital revolution and start to fight the tech establishment. Taylor is a 21st-century digital dissenter. She’s one …
31 December 2015
Ethno-writing about digital infrastructure
Data & Society is a NYC-based research institute focused on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric technological development. The institute that was founded by danah boyd, principal researcher and Microsoft Research and frequently …
16 December 2015
‘Nudging’ behaviours in healthcare: insights from behavioural economics
‘Nudging’ behaviours in healthcare: insights from behavioural economics Benjamin G. Voyer, London School of Economics Article (Accepted version) (2015) British Journal of Healthcare Management, 21 (3). pp. 130-135 Since the creation of the Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) in 2010, …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

18 January 2016
Experientia website completely reshaped

Experientia is pleased to announce that we’ve started 2016 with a brand new website. Experientia’s now officially 10 years old, and we decided that the best way to celebrate is by building a new website that showcases our growth – with new projects, new people in the staff, and two new locations in Lausanne and […]

1 January 2016
For when things get personal…
13 October 2015
Experientia report: Design for ageing gracefully

Design for Ageing Gracefully Rethinking Health and Wellness for the Elderly: Public Services Asian Insights & Design Innovation, DesignSingapore Council October 2015

29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness

As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

See all articles