Nest Founder: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?”

For my friends who work in design, a powerful question posed by Tony Fadell, Nest founder and co-designer of the iPod and iPhone. His question is powerful not just because design affects us deeply and we ought to think deeply about it, but also because it shows that great designers are so often people with strong consciences, who are guided as much by their moral compasses as aesthetics.

“I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, what did we bring to the world?” he says. “Did we really bring a nuclear bomb with information that can–like we see with fake news–blow up people’s brains and reprogram them? Or did we bring light to people who never had information, who can now be empowered?”

The answer is clearly both.

Former Google product manager and Design Ethicist (Google has those—although surprisingly Chrome just told me “ethicist” isn’t in Google’s dictionary) Tristan Harris wrote a widely-read Medium post about how apps are designed to be addictive and play our brains to keep us hooked to our phones to an unhealthy degree. He was later interviewed on 60 Minutes about it.

But it’s not just phones and newer tech. Former Fox News contributor Tobin Smith wrote a long essay in May, “FEAR & UNbalanced: Confessions of a 14-Year Fox News Hitman” about how Fox’s programming was designed, right down to the length and structure of each segment, to affect the dopamine levels of its older target audience. It was never designed to report news or even to make logical sense, but to stimulate the brain and keep people watching. Now that is sophisticated design.

Any design innovation will unleash new power and capability and often that capability will be amoral. How people use it, of course, will depend on their motives. That suggests that anyone designing anything, whether it’s a political message or a new app or device, should think about more than the “user experience” of the people using it, while they are using it.

We should think about what happens in their lives when they’re not using the new thing we’ve so brilliantly designed and gotten them to buy: how their lives are going after they’ve finished voting for your candidate and agenda, when they are trying to turn off the device and get some sleep, when they are trying to focus on a conversation instead of a notification. UX could stand for more than the user’s experience of the product. We could decide that UX means their overall experience of life now that the product is part of it.

Source: Nest Founder: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?”

By | 2017-07-11T02:19:30+00:00 July 11th, 2017|Happiness|0 Comments