DJ Jim Q's Playlist: Ethics
I have always been interested in the ethics of design. As visual communicators, we have the power to manipulate people with emotional imagery, visual tricks and illusions. Marketers in particular have really latched onto these practices, like the concept of nudge theory, where subtle suggestions steer people unwittingly towards a desired behavior, or gamification, which can quickly become addictification by encouraging engagement with micro rewards or the appearance of progress. These methods tap into something subconscious within us and maybe something that is not all that healthy.
What are our responsibilities as designers of these systems? One topic I’m particularly fascinated with right now is the evolving discussion and examination of dark patterns in UX design, these are designed experiences meant to trick or manipulate people through UI and design, usually to achieve some business goal, sometimes innocuous, but often nefarious. There is a great video by video by Harry Brignull exploring the topic. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility. And we have a lot of power as architects of these experiences. Do designers need a Hippocratic Oath? There are some interesting thoughts on the topic here.
These ethical considerations are of course not unique to the field of design, the music industry is fraught with questionable ethics and there are certainly no shortage of artists wrestling with moral dilemmas both personally and through their art. This month I collected a group of songs related to ethics and morality. The Ethics Playlist is filled with songs of personal struggle, moral decisions and integrity. Speaking of integrity, the world has lost one of it’s greatest artists, and it seems only right that I open this months playlist with a track from the Thin White Duke himself. Heroes, from Bowie’s Berlin period, is one of the most iconic and powerful songs in Bowie’s catalog. Although a bit lyrically ambiguous, the song is clearly about struggle and a defiance to do what’s right, in the face of opposing challenges. The lyrics even reference the Berlin wall, which Bowie could see from the recording studio as he wrote the words to Heroes. The song is special, a team of musical wizards helped craft the magical track, including Tony Visconti, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp. Visconti breaks down the process of recording song in this BBC interview. We will always have Bowie’s music, but the world is a little less creative without him.
Thanks for listening. Please share the playlist if you enjoy it and give me a shout out on Twitter @jiquin. See you next month!