Ethical Design: More than just decoration

Nov 6, 2015

When you think of design greats you think of the likes of James Dyson, Dieter Rems or Jonathan Ive. Creators of beautiful products designed with the end user at heart. But design should be more than this. The truth is it’s our organizations that should be applauded for great design, not solely the products they sell.

The Ethical Design Manifesto outlines this perfectly. The concept by, a small social enterprise making big waves in the Open Source world, is that design without ethics is mere decoration. And decoration makes inequality palatable, whereas design challenges it.inflatable games

Why keep with the status quo, when you can overthrow it?

Challenging the status quo is something that individuals, businesses and governments should strive for. As Henry Ford once said: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” Which is why, in this fast-paced technologically-advanced society, we need to take a step back and decide exactly what it is that we stand for and what we want for our futures.

And this starts with technology.

Surveillance Capitalism

Shoshana Zuboff, author, professor and expert in “the information age”, describes the world we live in as “Surveillance Capitalism”. A state where big data and technology are used to monitor and monetize everything we do. It’s the idea that if the service is free, then you’re the product. But as the “Internet of Things” slowly takes over, everything we do and use from our phones to cars, fitness trackers to fridges are becoming literal and figural goldmines for Internet giants. And there comes a time when we need to start questioning the ethics of this. Disrupt this design. Disrupt this status quo. And, as these concepts start to gather momentum, and are increasingly translated into policy, that time is now.

Sell products. Not people.

An organization should be designed so that its core values have respect for human rights, respect for human effort, and respect for human experience. One of the key rights being challenged by governments and organizations across the globe is our right to privacy. Over the past decade or so it’s been chipped away at with bills and legislation passed which ultimately serve to only impact our liberties and freedoms.

As every other day yet another large-scale data breach is discovered, individuals need to question where their data is, what it is being used for and what they can do to ensure their privacy. Bills like the Investigatory Powers Bill aim to reduce our freedoms, with government backdoors, bulk collection of personal communication data and and new rules for Internet Service Providers on keeping that data. And we say, no. Encryption is a fundamental right in the online world and is not something that should be tampered with, by governments or organizations.

We at Open-Xchange live and breathe open source. It’s the basis of all our offerings, and its importance resonates through everything we do. Our business has been designed with this value at its core. Open infrastructures and transparency in governance is a key pillar of democracy and right now, the design of democracy is being challenged on multiple fronts.

Stayed glued to this blog because as we roll into 2016, the topic of one’s privacy, and the companies developing the products and solutions that assure we all can remain in control of how our online information and how it is used remains our choice. Aral and team are one such partner driving this point passionately to the hearts of the masses and consolidating the voice on privacy’s mandate.

Join us, Challenge the status quo. Our freedom depends upon IT.

About the author

Rafael Laguna

Rafael Laguna

Co-founder and former CEO of Open-Xchange


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