New Adventures 2019 - Ethan Marcotte The World-Wide Work

Published on

Did anyone at New Adventures read the blurbs for each talk? I didn't. I hadn't even noticed that until the last talk... Ethan Marcotte, who everyone knows for Responsive Web Design was surely going to talk about making websites right? Wrong. Well, right but in a different way. Ethan showed everyone the right way of using privilege. In this talk Ethan used his influence in the web industry to get people thinking about how technology gets abused and how it is our responsibility to ensure the web is on the right path. I cannot attempt to put into words Ethan's remarkable talk so do watch the video when it comes out. One takeaway I have is that the sewing machine was marketed as being able to liberate women and very quickly afterwards became marketed as improving efficiency... the web has the same issue, it was meant to change the world (and it did) but it is being misused in many ways at the moment. Here are a few notes I made before my phone ran out of battery. But seriously, watch the video.

  • Robert Moses made a bridge that was at such a height you have to use a car not a bus, to prevent lower income getting to nice area
  • “Design can encode racist and classist biases”
  • Showed a map where the overlap between low income and high speed fibre connection is almost non-existent
  • Design can “cement inequalities”
  • “The web feels a little bit darker now”
  • “The way we talked about the medium was rooted in techno optimism”
  • “I stood up and cheered when Sir Tim Berners-Lee claimed in front of the entire planet that this is for everyone” at the Olympics 2012 (So did I!)
  • “Feels like something has shifted”
  • “The web's growth is following another kind of pattern-a historical pattern”
  • The sewing machine was advertised to liberate women and end poverty
  • Messaging moved from personal liberation to efficiency
  • The sewing cutting and pressing became increasingly automated
  • “Captures and exploits”
  • “The web is coming industrialised in the same way the sewing way did”
  • “I do not want to deny the web's potential” “but I think it’s worth asking us if that was the promise of the web where do we stand, has that promise been fulfilled”
  • “When I heard duplex recording the first thing I heard of was Jade” Jade is Ethan’s sister who wants to work in tech and has a job at a startup doing customer service
  • “Employees at Brenda’s company make about $9 dollars a day” and yet their work powers the biggest AI in the world
  • Excused because paying them more would change the economy in that area
  • Our industry is responsible for exploiting workers
  • Dr Cornell West speaking about hope not being optimism, hope cutting against the grain and is participatory

Feel free to read the rest of my notes from New Adventures.