I finished "The Power" by Naomi Alderman today.
I didn't enjoy the read, but it was thought provoking. The central thesis of the book seemed to be, "our society is based on power, and if women were stronger than men we would see the same oppressive dynamics we see now, reversed."
That's a grim thought.
Next book is The Entrepreneurial State, by Mariana Mazzucato.
I'm going to try not to overdo it with the social notes. It's a library book due back soon, and I'm not sure writing down everything helps me absorb the content.
Still, I'm excited to dive into another #NewConsensus book.
I didn't realize when i bought it that the book was written 2006, but I'm still pretty interested to read "Producing Open Source Software," by Karl Fogel.
I just joined an #opensource software company and I have a lot to learn.
The book starts with a story of how the author, a #trans*, femme-presenting non-binary person, is typically stopped and searched at the airport because her body "deviates" from the pattern expected by the millimeter scan.
This is an example how "larger systems - including norms, values, and assumptions - are encoded in and reproduced through the design of sociotechnical systems."
"People experience and resort #oppression on three levels: the level of personal biography; the group or community level of the cultural context created by race, class, and gender; and the systemic level of social institutions. Black #feminist thoughts emphasizes all three levels as sites of domination and as potential sites of #resistance." - Patricia Hill Collins
"Yet [#CRMs] remain niche services, used by ony a relatively tiny group of professionalized campaigners. They typcially cost money to use, often based on the number of ocntacts in the campaign database, and they require a significant investment of time and energy to learn. They will in all likelihood never be widely adopted by the vast majority of people who participate in social movements."
"Instead, most people, including social movement #activists, organizers, and participants, use the most popular corporate social network sites and hosted services as tools to advance our goals. We work within the addordances of these sites and work around their limitations. We do this even when these tools are a poor fit for the specific task at hand, and even when their use exposes movement participants to a range of real harms."
#WhatsApp in a nutshell.
"Why do the most popular #socialmedia platforms provide such limited affordances for the important work of community organizing and movement building? Why is the time, energy, and brilliance of so many designers, software devlopers, product managers, and others who work on platforms focused on optimizing our digital world to capture and monetize our attention, over other potential goals (e.g. maximizing civic engagement, making environmentally sustainable choices, buiding empathy ... ?)"
"Put another way, why do we continue to design technologies that reporduce existing systems of power #inequality when it is so clear to so many that we urgently need to dismantle those systems?"
"'The Design of Everyday Things' is a canonical #design text. It's full of useful insights and compelling examples. However, it almost entirely ignores race, class, gender, disability, and other axes of #inequ. Norman very briefly states that capialism has shaped the design of objects, but says it in passing and never relates it to the key concepts of the book. Race and racism appear nowehere. He uses the term "women" only once..."
"He thus firmly subscribes to the individual/medical model of disability that locates #disability in 'defective' bodies and as a problem' to be solved, rather than the social/relational model (that recognizes how society actively disables people with physical or psychological differencces, functional limitations, or impairments through unnecessary exclusion, rather than taking action to meet their access needs)..."
"..., let alone the disability justice model, created by Disabled B/I/PoC as they fight to dismante able-bodied supremacy as a key axis of power within the #MatrixOfDomination."
"In other words, the book is a compendium of designed objects that are difficult to use that provides key principes for better design, but it almost entirely ignores questions of how #race, #class, #gender, #disability, and other aspects of the matrix of domination shape and constrain access to affordances. #DesignJustice is an approach that asks us to focus sustained attention on thes questions, benning with "how does the matrix of domination shape afforance perceptibility and availability?"
"An object's affordances are never equally *perceptible* to all, and never equally *availabe* to all; a given affordance is always more perceptible, more available, or both, to some kinds of people. #DesignJustice brings this insight to the fore and calls for designers' ongoing attention to the ways these differences are shaped by the matrix of domination."
"Most designers, most of the time, do not think of themselves as sexists, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, ableist, or settler-colonialist. Some may consider themselves to be capitalist, but few identify as part of the ruling class. Many feel themselves to be in tension with #capitalism, and many even identify as socialist. However, #DesignJustice is not about intentionality; it is about process and outcomes."
"#DesignJustice asks whether the affordances of a designed object or system disproportionately reduce opportunities for already oppressed groups of people while enhancing the life opportunities of dominant groups, independently of whether designers intend this outcome."
"As Chemaly notes: 'The underlying design assumption behind many of these errors is that girls and women are not 'normal' human beings in their own right. Rather, they are perceived as defective, sick, more needy, or 'wrong sized,' versions of men and boys. When it comes to #healthcare, male-centeredness isn't just annoying --- it results in very real needs being ignored, erased, or classified as 'extra' or unecessary...'"
"'...To give another, more tangible example, one advance artificaial heart was design to fit 86% of men's chest cavities, but only 20% of women's... the device's French maniifacturer Carmat explained that the company had no plans to develop a more female-friendly model as it 'would entaill significant investment and resources over multiple years.'"
"What's more, although design that discriminates based on race and/or gender is often seen as problematic, social norms under #capitalism do support systems design that intentionaly reproduces class-based discrimination. For example, the intended purpose of a predictive algorithm used by the credit industry to determine home loan eligibility is to afford the loan officer a heightened ability to descriminate between those who are likely to be able to make loan payments..."
"...Such a tool, by definition, promotes class-based discrimination, and when it does so, it is seen to be doing its job. However, when it disiriminates based on a single-axis characteristic (race OR gender OR disability) that is explicitly protected by the law, then it is said to be biased."
"In preexisting bias, bias that exists in a broader society, culture, and/or institutions is reproduced in the computer system, either intentionally or unintentionally, by systems developers. For example, graphical user interfaces typically embody a preexisting bias against vision-impaired people because the designers do not consider their existence at all, not because they consciously decide to exlude them."
"[Value-sensitive design] does not believe that most designers are intentionally racist, sexist, or malicious. Instead, this approach emphasizes that many mechanisms that introduce unintentional bias are at play. These include "unmarked" end users, biased assumptions, universalist benchmarks, lack of bias testing, limited feedback loops, and, most recently, the used of systematically biased data sets to train #algorithms using #MachineLearning techniques.
"In the 1990s, the Center for #UniversalDesign at North Carolina State University defined UD as 'the design of products and environments to be usable by all people to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.'"
"UD discourse emphasizes that we should try to design for everybody and that by including those who are often excluded from design considerations, we can make objects, places, and systems that ultimately function better for all people. #DesignJustice shares that goal, but also acknowledges both that some people are always advantaged and other disadvantaged by any given design, and that this distribution is influenced by intersecting structures of race, gender, and disability."
"Instead of masking this reality, design justice practicioners seek to make it explicit: we prioritize design work that shifts advantages to those who are currently systematically disadvantaged within the matrix of domination."
"One group that has worked steadily to advance design practice that is not univeralizing is the Inclusive Design Resarch Centre (IDRC). IDRC defines #InclusiveDesign as follows: "design that considers the ful range of human diversity with respect ot ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference."
"...this group also sees disability as socially constructed and relational, rather than as a binary property (disabled or not) that adheres to an individual. Disabiity is 'a mismatch between the needs of the individual and the design of the product, system, or service. With this framing, disability can be experienced by anyone excluded by the design... Accessibility is therefore the ability of the design or system to match thre requirements of the individual."
I like this way of thinking about disability. A person is abled or disabled in relation to the thing they interact with. In "The Overstory", a character in a wheelchair designs a virtual world that hundreds of thousands live in, and in that world he's treated as a god. In relation to #cyberspace he is not disabled, it's only when he interacts with the rest of the world that he experiences disability.
"[#InclusiveDesign-ers] call for "one size fits one" solutions over "one size fits all" [but] acknowledge that "segregated solutions" are technically and economically unsustainable. They argue that, at least in the digital domain, adaptive design that enables personalization and flexible configuration of shared core objects, tools, platforms, and systems provides a path out of the tension between the diverse needs of individual users and the economic advantages of the large-scale user base."
"Yet the idea that we need to retool is sure to meet with great resistance. Physicist and philosopher of sciece Thomas #Kuhn famousy described how each scientific paradigm develops along with a widely deployed and highly specialized apparatus of experimentation, testing, and observation. These fixed costs reduce the likelihood of paradigm shift, absent a growing crisis where the current paradigm is unable to effectively account for discrepancies with the observed world."
"As Kuhn remarks: 'As in manufacture, so in science - retooling is an extravagance to be reserved for the occasion that demands it.' As in manufacturing and science, so in #design: an intersectional critique of the ways that current... practices systematically reproduce the matrix of domination ultimately requires not only more diverse design teams, community accountability, and control... but also a retooling of the methods that shape so many... domains under the current universalist paradigm."
"Is it always (or ever) possible to reduce #CognitiveLoad for all users simultaneously? Perhaps not. Instead, designers constantly make choices about which users to privilege and which will have to do more work. #UI decisions distribute higher and lower cognitive loads among different kinds of people. The point is not htat it's wrong to privilege some users over others; the point is that those decisions need to be made explicit."
"Empirical studeis support a strong critique of the ideas that the same design is "best" for all users. For example, Reinecke and Bernstein found that most users preferred a user nterface customized according to cultural differences. They note that it is not possible to design a single interface that appeals to all users; they argue instead for the design of 'culturally adaptive systems'."
"Racial hierarchies can only be dismantled by actively #antiracist systems design, not by pretending they don't exist."
"Beyond inclusion and fairness in #AI, we need to consider justice, autonomy, and sovereignty. For example, how does AI reproduce colonial ontology and epistimology? What would algorithmic decision making look like if it were design to support, extend, and amplify #indigenous knowledge and/or practices? In this direction, there is a growing set of scholars interested in #decolonizing technologies, including AI systems."
"In this direction, there is a growing set of scholars interested in #decolonizing technologies, including AI systems. For example, designers Lewis, Arista, Pechawis, and Kite draw from #Hawaiian, #Cree, and #Lakota knowledge to argue that #indigenous epistemologies, which tend to emphasize relationality and 'are much better at respectfully accomodating the non-human' should ground the development of #AI."
"[Arturo Escobar] insists on attention to what he calls the ontological dimension of #design: all design reproduces certain ways of being, knowing, and doing. He's interested in the #Zapatista concept of creating "a world where many worlds fit," rather than the "one world" project of #neoliberal globalization."
"Happily, research centers, think tanks, and initiaves that focus on questions of #justice, fairness, bias, discrimination, and even decolonization of data, algorithmic decision support systems, and computing systems are now popping up like mushrooms all over the world. As I mention in this book's introduction, these include Data and Society, the AI Now Institutte, and the Digital Equity Lab in New York City, the New Data Justice Lab in Cardiff, and the Public Data Lab."
"Coding Rights leb by hacker, lawyer, and feminist Joana Varon, works across Latin America to make complex issues of data and human rights much more accessible for broader publics, engage in policy debates, and help produce consent culture for the digital environment. They do this through projects like Chupadados ("the data sucker")."
@Argus i think about this constantly. thank you so much for sharing, a lot of extremely valuable insight here.
@Argus i'd like to read this because i'd love to see more thought and examples along these lines. i think a lot about making software where as much of it can be thrown out and rebuilt as possible - but i imagine there are a lot of variables that i haven't even considered as axes of difference/ability that i would love to be made aware of
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