e…ng to embrace, as noted by Sergey Brin in Alphabet’s 2017 Founder’s Letter, released in early 2018: “Technology companies have historically been wide-eyed and idealistic about the opportunities that their innovations create. And for the overwhelming part, the arc of history shows that these advances, including the Internet and mobile devices, have created opportunities and dramatically improved the quality of life for billions of people. However, there are very legitimate and pertinent issues being raised, across the globe, about the implications and impacts of these advances. This is an important discussion to have. While I am optimistic about the potential to bring technology to bear on the greatest problems in the world, we are on a path that we must tread with deep responsibility, care, and humility.”
If designers, and other tech workers, want to have any chance at fixing the mess we’ve created we need to reassess who we consider our community. The homeless people whose existence we condemn in our Medium think pieces because they dare to exist close to the homes we pay too much rent for? They are our community. And it would serve us all well to understand how we are failing them. The multitudes that get harassed and abused online by the very tools we build? They are our community. They deserve our allegiance. The corner bodega that’s barely getting by because all their customers have been evicted? They deserve our business. The school system that’s suffering because teachers can no longer afford to live where they teach? They deserve your tax money.
“We are inspired by people who go beyond the norm and push the boundaries of possibility. Mediocrity, on the other hand, does not inspire. Nor does it lead to greatness. Success, however you define it, will elude you unless you are willing to push the limits you have placed on yourself and that others have placed on you.”
It turns out that it’s very valuable to check assumptions that are held by everyone. Widely held assumptions often mask decisions that haven’t actually been made, and can lead to confusion because everyone assumes something slightly different. Other times my questions point to something we haven’t thought about at all yet.
must always remind yourself that your audience i…y reason his illustrations worked was because the concept and communication needs matched the work. You must always remind yourself that your audience isn’t other designers. Designers are fickle beasts who love to judge for judgment’s sake. Trying to please them will not end well for you.
But processes and frameworks fail when they stop you from using common sense and listening to your customers. Processes and frameworks lend a false sense of safety in the dangerous waters of the real world by giving you a list of “the right things” that “should” lead to a successful product. Really, this is when we succumb to the Just World Fallacy applied to product development:
Most people think of empathy simply as understanding others (or confuse it for sympathy). But psychologists distinguish between two main types of empathy: cognitive and affective. Cognitive empathy is the capacity to understand another person’s mental state, while affective empathy is the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another person’s mental state.