Algo-free behavior

Algo-free behavior

This is the first newsletter sent from my self-hosted Ghost installation with absolutely no tracking of clicks and opens. It’s embarassing to admit how long it often takes me to put my money where my mouth is, to actually work in alignment with the responsible innovation I teach.

Sure it can be demanding in time and effort, but to give meaning to my words I need to lead the way and show how it’s possible to reduce dependencies on big tech. And how it’s possible to treat people with more respect by not normalising the abuse of integrity and personal data.

Also, I’m the one who has been making a big deal out of how friction can be a really good thing. And my decisions in recent months are not only helping my wellbeing. My behavior is changing.

When I left Twitter and LinkedIn I posted this message:

You're all special and make me a better person. But the algorithm really, really doesn't.

This sentiment was quickly evidenced by my very next piece.

Leaving bad habits

Just a few hours after leaving I wrote a blog post. This was the first post that I didn’t actively ”push” on my social media platforms. Platforms with significant followings. And algorithms.

In short, that blog post was about a piece of copywriting I came across when leaving the Revue newsletter platform. I found the writing ahistorical and unpleasant.

These were my insights about how this could have previously played out:

  1. It may not even have been a blog post had I not reduced my options of public writing to my own blog. It could have just been a nasty tweet calling out the inappropriate text.
  2. My tweet would likely have been picked up by others, retweteeted and sparked more anger and rage over the company's inability to understand how inappropriate the message was.
  3. I would have felt validated by likes and retweets that it was a good thing for me to call out the ”bad” actor.

The better choice

What happened instead was that I wrote a longer post about the issue, explaining it in more detail and with links to references. The next day I contacted Revue’s customer support with a link to the post, making them aware of my concerns.

Less than 24 hours later I received a thank you note and was told they had now changed the text. This was sent from Revue’s founder. Which he did not declare in the email, I just happen to know his name.

I also updated the blog post with their response, thus providing additional context and a good example of managing mistakes.

Done deal. A civil exchange. No outrage. Appropriate changes were made. Just briefly after leaving Twitter I was making much better choices.

On that note, I'll end on a favorite quote provided by the artifical intelligence Joshua in the 1983 movie WarGames:

A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.

Be kind to yourself,
Per

P.S. As I've mentioned before, I do not judge anyone opting in to big tech and am not on a quest to maneuver people away aginst their wishes. My writing and work is based on my own circumstances and experiences.

What I appreciate is the opportunity to explain my views on impact (personal, social, etc) and different paths possible for a digital society. People deserve autonomy and I do worry too many decisions are unknowingly being made in servitude to tech magnates.


My latest posts

News wrapup

Tooltip

URL cleaners. When you copy web addresses (known as URLs) to share with others they often contain tracking details (stuff after the question mark, known as "query string"). You can just delete all of that to remove the tracking, or use a tool that does it for you. Examples:

Research & Reports

Appearances

On August 26 I will be at the Front Conference in Zürich giving a new talk: How to Build the Good and Responsible Thing.

Speakers – Front Conference Zurich
Per Axbom

I will also be continuing my collaboration with Ambition Empower and the continuous learning program that gives you access to year-long weekly learning in manageable chunks from industry mentors. This autumn I will be expanding my track to include sessions on accessibility. Check out Digital Ethics & Universal Design and have a peek at how you can grow with others–in many topic areas–alongside your everyday work. And yes, UX Podcast has its own track too!

Books

We recently interviewed Katie Swindler on UX Podcast about her new book Life And Death Design: What Life-Saving Technology Can Teach Everyday UX Designers. The book gave me many important insights about the different stress-related circumstances that can be mitigated with good design to avoid harmful impact. I recommend both the interview and the book.

Life and Death Design - Rosenfeld Media
Apply techniques of creators of life-saving products to your work to create clear, intuitive experiences that effectively guide the behavior of your users.

For serious bookworms, also check out All Tech is Human's summer reading list on responsible tech.

Mindblowing

I really enjoyed this episode of Maintenance Phase. Not really about anything digital, we learn about how global public interventions and truths about wellbeing can be based on very questionable science.

Some things are just too good to be true. And that's important to always keep in mind when working with ethics and consequentialism.

The Worm Wars — Maintenance Phase — Overcast

Fighting the good fight

Norwegian hacker Runa Sandvik is working to protect journalists and newsrooms from powerful adversaries who want to keep wrongdoing and corruption out of the public eye.

Runa Sandvik’s new startup Granitt secures at-risk people from hackers and nation states – TechCrunch
The Norwegian hacker talks about her new venture aimed at protecting journalists and critics from powerful adversaries.

Mindful business

Biomimicry is the concept of solving complex human problems by imitating models, systems and elements found in nature. In this article we get some important insights about how to adopt a business model that is sustainable and stands for both profit and positive social impact.

Instruction Manual: How to Grow a Zebra (and not a Unicorn)
This article shares a breakdown of the zebra business model - one that is both profitable and improves society and discusses how we’re thinking about growth.

Noteworthy

A picture of the 1978 Sears Floor Model Computer for 11 1/2" Dolls (Barbie-size). No batteries needed. Works with the push of a finger. Revolving data graph, simulated flashing light panel and moving tape reels. Pictures from Worthpoint.

And while we're on the subject of how the first computer experts were women, I recommend watching the film Hidden Figures if you haven't yet.

Pictures of a vintage Floor Model Computer box (front and back) and standalone toy.

Long read

The first ever national eports tournament was won in 1980 by a transgender woman, Rebecca Heineman. Her rise to stardom allowed the Space Invaders champion to escape an abusive home, moving to Maryland to teach Atari 2600 game development at the age of 17. Today Rebecca is an icon in video game development, having designed and led the development of classic games such as The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate and Dragon Wars.

40 years on, games icon Becky Heineman found herself
Heineman became the first national gaming champion in 1980 but didn’t truly begin the process of finding self-worth until recognizing she was transgender in the 2000s.

Don't be a stranger

If you have thoughts about this newsletter, you can always just hit reply and get in touch. This newsletter is free. I welcome support for my work on your own terms.

Something I really appreciate is when you share the newsletter with others. Thank you. 🙏


På svenska / In Swedish

This is the last newsletter that will have a subsection in Swedish. A separate, new newsletter will hereafter be sent out to Swedish subscribers.

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Observera. Det här är sista nyhetsbrevet där det ligger en svensk del i botten. I stället kan du prenumerera på mitt nya nyhetsbrev som är helt på svenska, med mer innehåll från medier och organisationer i Sverige: Utkanten av digital etik.

axbom.se

  • Tillgänglig inloggning med QR-kod (film). Kontakter med myndigheter, banker och företag kräver allt oftare inloggning med QR-kod. Antingen i kombination med BankID eller Freja eID. Det finns många övergripande problem med QR-koder, men jag vill här adressera hur de visas på ett sätt som gör det oerhört svårt för människor med olika grader av synnedsättning att nå viktiga tjänster.

Integritetsskyddsmyndigheten

DIGG

  • Nu tas nästa steg i arbetet med en statlig e-legitimation. Den ökade digitaliseringen gör det allt svårare att klara sig i samhället utan tillgång till en e-legitimation. Det är därför viktigt alla ges möjlighet att skaffa en säker e-legitimation. DIGG har nu fått i uppdrag av regeringen att lämna förslag om framtagandet av en statlig e-legitimation.

Komet (Kommittén för teknologisk innovation och etik)

Rapporter

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Vill du fortsätta få sammanfattningar av läget kring mänskliga rättigheter, etik och trygghet i Sveriges digitala utveckling? Prenumerera på Utkanten av digital etik.

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