Who treats their users better — tech or drug dealers?

Kayla J Heffernan
Jun 28 · 2 min read

It has been said that the only 2 industries who refer to their customers ‘users’ are drug dealers and tech companies.

“There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software”
- Edward Tufte

One of these…

  • Count their number of daily active users (DAU) — you have to get them back every day, not just when they need your product
  • Monitor everything these DAU are doing while using your product
  • Try to find ways to increase how much of the product they use and how long they spend doing it
  • They want to make you addicted
  • They use data to track and target you
  • They use psychological theories to nudge you into certain behaviours (that aren’t always good for you)
  • They use dark paterns to trick you into doing one thing, when you think you are doing another
  • Try to make their users ‘hooked’ on their product
  • They want their products to be ‘habit forming’
  • I mean, literally, they read the book on it

…The other are drug dealers

Budtenders at legal marijuana dispensaries work one-on-one with customers to help them find a a product that will give them the experience they want. They are encouraged to be welcoming, friendly, reassuring, provide insights, are encouraged to tell the truth rather than fake stories to get a sale.

Behaving ethically and caring about an individual’s experience with the product, rather than just pushing the same product onto the masses and tricking them into using more? So, who’s really the bad guy in this situation?

Kayla J Heffernan

Written by

UX Design Lead. PhD’ing @ The University of Melbourne. Advocating for the voice of all users. www.kaylaheffernan.com

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