Seven must-reads from a UX/UI designer.
Growing up with dyslexia meant that reading was always a tedious affair.
Thankfully, I have fantastic friends who would read the Harry Potter books aloud from start to finish as soon as they came out. We would go away for a ‘Potter weekend’ in Whangamata, accompanied by endless hot milo and butter and marmite on toast to keep us going through the night.
But to this day, I think I’ve actually read less than ten chunky books in my life, something I used to feel a bit ashamed about.
Now as an adult, discovering audio-books has opened the door to a whole range of fascinating content, interesting facts, and new ideas. It’s been nothing short of life-changing.
For the last few years, I have been getting deeper and deeper into Audiobooks and Podcasts so much, that at one point I started the now-defunct Meetup ‘Auckland Podcast & Audiobook Club’ (now closed due to an exceptional lack of interest).
Audible is my listening platform of choice and you could say I’ve been making up for lost time — I’m just 100 hours off ‘Master’ status, though I’m currently sitting comfortably at Scholar with about 17 days of listening time…
And yes, I also have the demeaning badge of ‘Watchtower’… because I’ve checked my stats over 50 times.
(Why do they even have that badge? I think Audible is negging me…)
Anyway, what I have discovered by listening to audio-books is that surprisingly, my favourite genre is non-fiction, and within that, ethics.
I really enjoy learning real-world facts, which then shape and change my opinions, bringing new perspectives to my life and my work.
Working in tech as a UX/UI designer for Sylo, ethics play on my mind every day as we try to make good decisions that offer better choices for our users. I’m always reminded of the quote:
“With great power comes great responsibility.”
- Uncle Ben, Spiderman
As tech is becoming increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, thinking about how this affects all of us — considering the ethics of it — is vitally important.
I feel that if you work in tech, it is now your duty to educate yourself on the issues prevalent, the possible solutions, and then to speak up for the greater good.
There are plenty of issues to consider. Let the news articles about tech’s short-comings outrage and motivate us to do better for everyone.
For myself, education on our ethical options has come in the form of audio-books and podcasts. So below, in no particular order, is my personally recommended book-list.
I wish you curiosity and tenacity as you embark or continue on your own journey into tech ethics!
1. Everybody Lies
By Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Christopher Ragland
Read this for what people really feel, think and worry about due to their private search history.
It made me consider how we really are most honest when googling and how maybe this information could possibly be used for good.
(Side note — People are sooo weird.)
Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes.
2. Irresistible: Why We Can’t Stop Checking, Scrolling, Clicking and Watching
A book on addressing our device addiction and how extreme things are.
Throughout history, humans have always had addictive tendencies and now that includes gaming, online vices and more.
Length: 8 hours and 17 minutes.
3. Ethics in the Real World
By Peter Singer
86 interesting ethical essays about controversial issues that make you think and may even help you save a life, or more lives, due to embracing ‘utilitarianism’.
Length: 9 hours and 5 minutes.
4. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
By Yuval Noah Harari
A fascinating overview of the history of humans and our ability to use the power of ‘make-believe’ for mass co-operation to create the world we thrive in today.
Length: 15 hours and 18 minutes.
5. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
By Yuval Noah Harari
Thoughts about the future of human-kind, cyborgs, genetic manipulation, and our journey to becoming one with computers and the ethical dilemmas that could arise…
Requires a re-listen or five.
Length: 14 hours and 53 minutes.
6. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
By Yuval Noah Harari
For me, this felt a bit like a shorter overview of his other two books. Focusing on present-day problems and reflecting on the past.
Length: 11 hours and 41 minutes.
7. Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About The World — And Why Things Are Better Than You Think
By Hans Rosling, Ola Roslin
Finally — a comforting book about the state of things!
I’ve had friends say they worry about bringing a child into a world as harsh in which we live…. But it turns out, things have actually vastly improved.
It’s still awful but it’s much, much better than it was.
So let’s do even better and act now to fight climate change, while we still can.
Length: 7 hours and 59 minutes
Please get in touch if you have something to recommend on Twitter @gretagotlieb or comment below.
Stay tuned for my next recommended reading list, coming again soon!