Dan Zollman

Information architecture, design, and strategy

Ethical Design, Part 2: Topics for discussion on ethics in design and technology

In Part 1, I explained some of what I mean by “ethics” in design practice and why I think our communities of practice—communities of designers, technologists, and particularly my own communities, the UX and IA communities—need a more expansive, practical framework for applied ethics. You can skip that part if this makes sense to you already.

My next question is: In order to build systems of applied ethics in design and technology, what do we need to talk about?

To restate some ideas from Part 1, I think an agenda for applied design ethics would include at least these questions:

  • How can design and technical practices account for a more expansive view of the benefits and consequences of technology in our world?
  • How can practitioners act as change agents in their own organizations, communities, and nations?
  • How can whole institutions engage in ethical technical practice?
  • How can our professional communities (or communities of practice) work together to enact these approaches?

This quick & dirty concept diagram (below) outlines possible topics in a discussion of design ethics. It’s incomplete—so I’m looking for your feedback on this. What’s missing? What’s wrong? Do you think about this differently?

I intended to write a longer post with an elaboration of each box below, but since I’m strapped for time this week, I’ll have to save that for a future version. This is also a good time to mention the Slack group on technology and design ethics I’ve started with a group of fellow IA Summit attendees. While you’re welcome to comment directly on this article, I’d love to continue the conversation over there.

Large diagram with nested boxes describing possible topics for a system of applied design ethics.


Leave a Reply