The One where I Think About Tech and Society

I first heard about this conference a few months ago when a colleague brought some flyers that he got from some people he knew from other tech events and I immediately liked the idea of this conference as being focused on thinking about the impact our technology and design has on the society. I ended up going on my own which is a first for such a large conference but I figured due to the topic/idea of the conference I would probably meet a lot of nice people. I actually went to a woman sitting on her own before the first session, we were joined by another woman on her own for breakfast break and a fourth for lunch break.

But not only the social part was good, the talks were great as well. It started with a keynote by THE Linda Rising. Although I had read some of her work before and seen videos of her talks, it was still really cool to see her live on stage. In terms of topics, there were some talks I especially liked: Eriol Fox talked about Diverse Representations in Design and Awkward Discussions with Colleauges: Illustrations of families, stock photos of Kenyan people and “female-friendly” products. They also talked about not using the term Edge Cases for representing a small subset of users, but rather Stress Cases as in the people that need our attention and empathy the most. Ryn Daniels talked about CI/CD as more than just code: how to make a system more resilient by not only focussing on the software but also on the organisational culture.

My favourite talk was by Aly Blenkin about undestanding the consequences of our design choices: how can we the risk that our feature does harm? She talked about systems mapping, speculative scenarios, critical reflection and the design principles of her lates project. One of my main takeaways was to prioritise slowing down, to address the root problem instead of having a fixing mentality.

I’m excited to see what the second day brings!