That is one of many tech-industry-focused takeaways from Sara Wachter-Boettcher’s 2016 book, Design for Real Life (coauthored with Ohio-based designer Eric Mayer). Now Wachter-Boettcher is turning the tables to examine, this time under a solo byline, some examples of exclusive design processes and how they end up impacting non-tech folks.
The book, published by WW Norton, went live today.
— SaraWachterBoettcher (@sara_ann_marie) October 4, 2017
“I realized there was a growing appetite for people in the not tech ecosystem to peek behind the curtain,” the author told Technical.ly.
Wachter-Boettcher, a principal at UX consulting firm Rare Union and Philly resident since 2012, can list off a few tech misfires on command: Snapchat’s “Anime” mask that amounted to a caricature of an Asian person, FaceApp’s “hotness” filter that bleached users’ skin and Apple’s health app that claimed to track major all health indicators except for menstrual cycles.
“As tech becomes central to our lives it has the power to define norms,” said the author.
The book is more diagnosis than solution due its general public focus. “I don’t pretend to tell to tell the tech industry how they can solve everything,” the writer said. “I don’t think you should be a computer scientist to understand things like why an algorithm can be biased. Those kind of things deserve to be in the public conversation more than they’ve been.”
But push the consultant to yield a diagnosis and she’ll call it like it is:
“There are profound problems in tech culture and the entire model of how people are funded,” the author said. “It keeps the same people in charge. You need a more diverse workforce and more value placed on what the consequences of decisions are.”
(Lack of inclusive policies have led to what organizer Briana Morgan calls a pervasive sexual harassment problem in the tech ecosystem, Philly included.)
A launch gathering for the book is happening tonight at HeadHouse Books.-30-
Results from a tech salary survey are in: Here’s what Philadelphia designers are making
Here’s how 3 companies designed (and deal with) their open office layouts
On-demand design startup Penji is moving from Camden to Philadelphia
How the history of Linode HQ inspires its employees
Why this dev planted roots at The Philadelphia Inquirer after starting her career abroad
The Mount Airy-based author of ‘The Daring Book for Girls’ is back to inspire a love of coding
PHL International’s new website just arrived, thanks to this Philly design agency
When it comes to diversity, Vanguard puts its money where its mouth is
Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia