Student feedback following a talk on ethical design


#1

For the second time since we moved to Malmö, Laura and I spoke to American students visiting our previous offices at Media Evolution City while on an exchange programme in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The organisers just sent the feedback forms and I’ve extracted just the relevant bits of their comments. It really matters that we raise awareness about these issues and doubly so when it comes to talking to young people who are just starting out.

Their comments follow:


Aral’s talk was rather refreshing, as it provided an opposing view to those we’ve heard at other companies such as [company name removed]. The idea of ethical design and building alternatives is so important.


The talk by Aral on data and privacy invasion really intrigued me to think about the concept of ethical designing. It reminded me of how important it is as a designer of any public services to put human rights and values to the very core. Without the ethics, any designs, no matter how beautiful and delightful, would be pointless.


Aral’s talk was also really interesting and made me think about the way I use the internet and how private my personal information is.


Although Aral was a bit intense I found his presentation quite interesting and was a nice introduction to the negative side of technology. While I have been aware of cookies and tracking, I did not know the extent to which it occurred such as 70 to 80% on Google. I thought his app that manages the different trackers would be helpful.


I found Aral’s talk about surveillance capitalism very interesting. I think about government surveillance and data mining a lot (I have a piece of tape over my camera on my laptop lol) and I’m pretty freaked out about the idea that my private information is available for companies to purchase. I don’t know how I feel about the idea of humans being called cyborgs - on the one hand, I am so reliable on my phone that it IS like he said, like another organ. But on the other hand, I know that I can separate and detach from my phone when necessary.

[I probably didn’t make this as clear as I could have: of course you can detach it from your hand, it’s not an implant, it’s an explant. By detaching it from your hand, however, you don’t also detach the thoughts and information you’ve stored on it about yourself from it. They – aspects of your self – remain on the device and/or on the centralised servers that the device has communicated them to. See [The Nature of the Self in the Digital Age](https://ar.al/notes/the-nature-of-the-self-in-the-digital-age) and Encouraging Individual Sovereignty and a Healthy Commons for more. - Aral]


The ending talk was my favorite part of this visit – I can’t remember the speaker’s name, but I appreciated his perspective on our smartphones and data cloud as more personal and organic than most might consider them to be.


Aral’s talk at Media Evolution City was extremely relatable to the issue of privacy and the invasion of privacy on the internet that people encounter every day. The most common invasion of privacy I have experienced is when I go online shopping and the products that I was looking at show up on the advertisement tabs in the margins of the facebook page. It was interesting to see how he has worked to create apps that people can use to avoid tracking sites to access information. He was truly passionate about his opinions on the issue.