Catherine D’Ignazio and Laura F. Klein wrote about the “god trick” in their book Data Feminism in 2020. The god trick is the appearance of neutrality. It comes up when I am teaching interactive information design and when someone realizes items of content they interact with and considered information are of questionable or unknown origin, and not information at all. It extends to messages and alerts that are not from who they appear to be, or that coerce. Students come to realize that they are numb to the quantity and quality of these noninformational and worse “bits” that they are exposed to. They realize that they spend their leisure time absently managing these bits – deleting spam while watching a movie after work, and that these micro interactions can leave a quiet numbing residue.
I argue that the god trick is an information architecture problem, and that we need to expand our influence to address it.
About the speakers
Tania is a human-centered design leader, researcher, educator and author. She teaches information and interaction design at Northeastern University. Her professional experience includes leading design in the product development group at the Harvard University Institute for Quantitative Social Science, co-founding the Boston UX firm Nimble Partners and working with clients including kayak.com, Napster, MIT and Oracle and defining service offerings and leading professional service designers at web personalization software pioneer ATG. Tania has a MDes in human-centered communication design from the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology and a BFA from Boston University.