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Are Tech Companies are Culturally Irresponsible?

I think most tech companies are culturally irresponsible. They replace our cultural functions with software, and call us "users" because it is to hard to go back to our old ways because of the increased efficiency of the digital age. I think there is an abundance of emotional moments designers and developers can resurrect from the past and remold.

I wrote an article on my blog that digs deeper into emotional design. Check it out>

What do you think?

7 Replies

Matt Smith
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Matt Smith Entrepreneur
Systems Architect at Bank of America
I can say that some developers need to be reminded who they are creating for and what the true end goal should be. One of the things I strive for is to make my 'customer's life easier. This is not done through creating a web app containing a million features and 100 page manual, it's making something that does what theywant it to do and do it with a simple straightforward UI. There's truth in the old K.I.S.S. adage.

Travis Workman
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Travis Workman Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder/President at Cognisoft
Well part of this we can blame on the technical industry as a whole due to the education for software design is it always makes the user's a vanilla term. I am a big fan of keeping thing simple like Matt stated. I remember one of the best books I read was "Don't make me think" which is helpful for any techie on doing UI design.

One thing I have always done is pair my clients with a designer and a developer so that the UI can be done in a way that makes sense to my client's needs as well as making the developer understand the ease of use my client's look for. This is a very iterative, agile and interactive approach I have taken which seems to lend itself to creating the system's for my client's that are easy to use and functionally sound.
Avi Tevet
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Avi Tevet Entrepreneur
Founder of Fitlogr
The article was pretty readable but to be honest I didn't understand what you were saying... I don't really have a good sense of what are 'cultural moments.' What "deep cultural moments of the past" have we forgotten? It sounds like you are saying that we ought to "resurrect and remold" the emotions around events like throwing a newspaper in the recycling bin.

To the extent that I think I understand what you're saying, I agree that software is replacing aspects of our previous physical world routines with just plain screen time, and that this is somewhat irresponsible. But, I think the larger goal, one where maybe resurrecting some reminder of our previous "cultural moment" is an intermediate step, is to restore person-to-person contact. And not in the Skype/Facebook/FD forum sense of "I'm superficially communicating with people via text or screens," but actually talking to people in real life.

In fact I was thinking about this tonight, because I went swimming and I used to be a swim instructor in the mid-90's. When I was teaching back then, most of the parents sat on the nearby benches and watched their kids or talked to the other parents. It was the rare parent who brought some reading material. Tonight, all the parents were looking at their phones except for one who was taking care of an infant. I feel like they were missing out on two possible person-to-person connections in favor of doing something like playing Candy Crush Saga (I don't know what they were really doing). In a lot of ways smartphones are an addiction... a lot of people would rather respond to the beeps, boops, dings, and cries of their babyphones rather than talk to the people around them, even when the people around them are their friends at a dinner party. I think that this is the irresponsible aspect of software, whether it's intentional or not.

Abel Henry, SPHR
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Abel Henry, SPHR Entrepreneur
Director, Talent Management at CineMassive Displays
The holy grail of tech entrepreneurship is to be disruptive not formative. There is an expectation that something new will eventually form to replace that which has been disrupted. However, it is not perceived as the primary responsibility of the disruptive agent to also be the reformer. Furthermore, culture is the domain of elder statesman and technology is currently driven by youths. Young people are eager to move away from the world of their parents and what they perceive as generational hegemony. So do not expect much sympathy from them for what is "lost". It is as it has always been. The difference is the rate at which it is currently occurring Ultimately, I think its great.
Andrew Coyle
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Andrew Coyle Entrepreneur
Product Design Lead at Flexport
Great comments. The point that I was trying to make was that there is a lot of opportunity in making technology more human and that this can be done through understanding cultural moments. For instance, checking something off a list is a cultural moment. It occurs with cultural artifacts (pen, paper, table) which has deep meaning that has been cultivated over hundreds of years. When a screen replaces this ritual, it replaces the cultural moments associated with the task. Designers and developers can take advantage of this by bring new meaning to our digital world by taking cues from the past.

Cheers,
Andrew
designedthought.com
Varun Mehta
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Varun Mehta Entrepreneur
CEO of Disqovery
That sounds like a place to exercise caution, lest you fall down the rabbit hole of skeuomorphism...
Avi Tevet
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Avi Tevet Entrepreneur
Founder of Fitlogr
I see... cool idea. I am interested to see where you go with this.
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