The urgency of ethics in design is now understood. In so many ways, design creates the world we depend on; (information) architecture creates the environments we live in. We’ve seen how technology is implicated in challenges to equality, human rights, dignity, justice, government, sustainability, and health. In IA, the concepts and language we choose are embedded in code, bringing our biases and assumptions with them.
But what do I *do* about ethics at work? Do these issues apply? Where would I begin? How can I talk about it? What if I don’t have the power to change anything? What if the organization is stacked against it?
And as a professional community, what should we be doing about ethics? How can we equip our members to address ethical issues in their work?
This session combines a personal perspective with lessons learned from an online community for Ethical Technology founded two years ago at the 2017 IA Summit.
We’ll look at design ethics through a systems thinking/theory lens. Design ethics means asking whether or not I’m doing the right thing as a designer. Systems thinking means recognizing that I’m working within a complex system where I don’t have full control over the consequences of my work—the ethical problems are too complex to analyze; my organization, as a whole, operates in ways that I can’t change. Ethical practice means uniting the personal with the global, knowing yourself while also recognizing your limitations.
- A systemic analysis of the ethical challenges designers face.
- Guiding principles for ethical practice in complex environments.
- Techniques for incorporating ethics into your work—whether by adding new methods, or by deepening the methods you already use.
- Recommendations on how our professional community can move forward with ethics as a core part of our field.
About the speakers
Dan Zollman (Cambridge, MA, US) is an information architecture, UX strategy, and human-centered design practitioner with an orientation toward responsible, ethical, and systemic design. His theory and practice of IA has been shaped by more than a decade working in complex environments including finance, higher education, and state government.
Dan leads the Strategy, Information Architecture, and Research community of practice at Last Call Media, a small, internationally-distributed design and development agency that enjoys doing work with purpose.
In the IA community, Dan has organized World IA Day Boston, co-organized the IA Academics & Practitioners Roundtable, contributed a chapter to the recent book Advances in Information Architecture, and held multiple presenter and volunteer roles at the IA Summit/IA Conference.