March 29 we had Dan Tulloh, Director of UX at Asurion come speak to us about “The Unintended Consequences of the Rise of UX.”
Dan went to school for graphic design in Richmond, VA. In school everyone talked about what companies they wanted work for post-graduation. Everyone talked about working for advertising agencies and hip brands.
The company that makes Marlboro, Philip Morris has a large presence there. (Fun fact Dan went on a field trip to the cigarette factory in third grade). His focus in college was on advertising and he didn’t want to convince people to smoke.
Compared with what he’s doing now which is all about making the products. A big part of Dan’s focus is on digital products and how they affect people.
Facebook allowed Dan and his wife to re-connect and eventually get married. There are so many good things that can come out of technology. However, Facebook’s original intention was about consuming people’s time and attention. They used ‘likes’ to create Dopamine hits, which in turn prompts you to submit more content. They exploited human psychology to make a product that got people to use it more.
As designers, we think about interactions typically in 2 steps. Facebook thought about interactions as this loop of consuming content, and creating content, but it’s not just a 1–2 interaction. There are consequences to Facebooks interaction loop. People are finding themselves looking at our phones when they are with their families at the dinner table.
What are the implications of this on children?
Dan quoted Sherry Turkle:
“Children often contend with parents who are physically close, tantalizngly so, but mentally elsewhere”
People have started seeing their devices are extensions of their brain, which leads to lower analytical thinking. There are negative effects of UX “best practices” on the brain.
Auto play=time theft.
Endless scroll=fear of missing out.
Interruptive messaging = false urgency.
Dan talked about engineer Eric Meyer. His Year in review on Facebook showed a picture of his daughter in front of an image of confetti and balloons, which sounds innocent enough, but his daughter passed away that year. Eric’s point is that designers didn’t take enough care, and he said it was cruel for them to show him that. He believes they could have at least changed the background to something a little less party-esqe. The algorithm did it’s job but led to unfortunate outcome for this dad mourning his daughter.
Our motivations reveal themselves in our work. People are becoming super aware of Facebook’s actual motivation these days, even though publically they say their intentions were just to connect people.
When we are designing for people we don’t necessarily think about people who are having bad days. What is our responsibility? Are we responsible for people not paying attention to their kids? When does our responsibility end? Would you stay at a company that drives addiction in people? What part of it is free will?
A good designer questions all of these things, but most of all they question business requirements.
When thinking through where you are in your career Dan instructs us to ask ourselves:
Do you feel like you’re in a position to question goals?
Is your voice heard?
You take care of your family first and it’s not black and white. You have to ask yourself how can I make this better than before?
Do you place the intellectual challenge above ethics?
We finished the evening with a spirited conversation ranging in topic from bank ethical practices to automating jobs. Come out and join us for our next meetup April 18!
Thank you to our Sponsors:
Bridgestone + Nossi College