“Getting Tech Right — A Pragmatic Guide to Thinking About Tech” explores issues around how technology shapes our society and how to think about these issues better.
It’s aimed primarily at funders and policy makers in that space but is relevant to a much broader audience.
Getting Tech Right (GTR) consists of two components:
- A podcast featuring a series of interviews with leading experts in this space
- A book or similar long-form publication
This research and the podcast are both supported through my SPECIAL PROJECTS membership program.
Getting Tech Right is a series of interviews exploring issues around how technology shapes our society and how to think about these issues better. The podcast is hosted by Peter Bihr and Patrick Tanguay:
Peter Bihr explores how emerging technologies can have a positive social impact. As an independent advisor he works at the intersection of technology, governance, policy and social impact with foundations, public sector and private sector. He also co-founded ThingsCon, a community of responsible technologists. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterbihr.
Patrick Tanguay is founder, curator, and publisher of Sentiers Media, which gathers the most interesting ideas to bring context, sense, and understanding. Sentiers helps contextualize the changes in technology and the many ways in which it transforms society. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @inevernu.
Most recent on top:
Christian Villum is a designer, geek, activist, and electronic music buff. He’s just wrapping up a stint as Director of Digital & Future Thinking for Danish Design Centre; he runs an indie electronic music label, a free culture indie publishing house, and used to run a maker space.
In this podcast we talked about Nordic design values, how to strengthen the ethical muscle, and the roles that business and public sector, as well as sharing and the open source ethos all have to play to solve the world’s wicked problems.
- Follow Christian on Twitter: @villum
- Ctr+Alt+Delete Books
- Uhrlaut Records
- The Digital Ethics Compass
- Danish Design DNA
Katharina Meyer is a historian of technology, an artist, a curator, and a researcher. She examines the relationship of technology and power structures, and she’s a strong proponent of Public Interest Tech and Open Source Software — especially of maintaining both.
We talked about the importance of historical and artistic perspectives for the development of tech, about the nonsense of the “lone inventor” myth, the benefits of Technikfolgenabschätzung — that’s technology impact assessment for the non-German speakers out there — and why larger goals such as the public interest or sustainable development goals should guide more tech development.
- Follow Katharina on Twitter: @KthrnMeyer
- Protoype Fund
- Open Knowledge Foundation
- Documentary: The Cleaners (IMDB)
- Technikfolgenabschätzung (Wikipedia)
Stephanie Rieger is a designer, researcher, and an infrastructure geek at heart. She’s been working on questions surrounding futures, algorithms, tech policy, internet governance and platforms. Recently, Stephanie published a fascinating report on Web Monetization, a system to help fund creators online via a brand new protocol called Interledger. She also avidly follows internet regulation around the globe, and the tradeoffs between keeping some types of harmful content off the web while also making sure that marginalized communities don’t get shut out. You know, just the simple questions.
- Follow Stephanie on Twitter: @stephanierieger
- Website: stephanierieger.com
- Grant for the Web report: Three futures: Exploring the future of web monetization
- A presentation by Stephanie on internet regulation: Regulate the web, Free expression, harmful speech, and the future of the internet
Julia Kloiber is the co-founder of Superrr, a lab and a community that works towards more equitable futures. She also co-founded Prototype Fund, a program that funds the development of open source civic tech, and many other notable projects at the intersection of emerging tech and the common good.
In this episode we discuss equitable futures, experiences working as an outsider with public administrations, and how to get risk-averse funders to be more open to experiments.
- Follow Julia on Twitter: @j_kloiber
- Julia’s website: https://juliakloiber.com
- Superrr Lab: https://superrr.net
- Prototype Fund: https://prototypefund.de
- Code for Germany: https://codefor.de
- The New New: https://thenewnew.space
- Digitale Zivilgesellschaft: https://digitalezivilgesellschaft.org
- Future in Times of Crisis: https://www.goethe.de/prj/one/en/net/22075980.html
Michael Lenczner works at the intersection of technology and the nonprofit sector, he runs Ajah and Powered by Data, and serves on several nonprofit boards and advisory groups related to technology, democracy, and the nonprofit sector. We discuss the importance of translating between fields and their different lenses, open data, open government, managing change, the flow of information, and adapting new technologies, methods, and possibilities for nonprofits.
- Michael’s company [https://www.ajah.ca]
- Their nonprofit initiative: [https://poweredbydata.org]
- Neurotribes, The Legacy of Autism and the Future or Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman: [https://www.stevesilberman.com/books/]
- Not mentioned in the podcast but very much related to the last few minutes where we talk about temporal chauvinism and end of days: [https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/04/01/civilization-collapse-rome-angkor-harappa/] by Annalee Newitz is a great read.
Michelle Thorne is an activist for climate justice and a fossil-free internet. In this episode, we talked about the climate impact of the web, about the need for systemic approaches to tackle the climate crisis, and about how climate justice and a greener internet are directly related.
- Follow Michelle on Twitter: @thornet
- Michelle’s website
- The Green Web Foundation
- Mozilla’s Sustainability program
- Mozilla Foundation’s Fellowship program
- Branch Magazine
- Climate Action Tech
- Solar Protocol
Patrick Tanguay is a curator and thought partner, which is to say: His work is all about making sense of the world. He publishes a popular weekly newsletter, Sentiers. He’s also going to be the co-host for this podcast from now on, so we chatted about how we think about tech & society, about the inherent tensions and trade-offs we see, and about how we can work towards better, more inclusive thinking about futures.
- Sentiers, Patrick’s newsletter: https://sentiers.media/
- The Alpine Review: https://thealpinereview.com/
- Some newsletters & blogs Patrick mentioned: Dense Discovery, Kneeling Bus, Science of Fiction, City of Sound, Tom Critchlow, Urban Technology, Real Life Magazine, Logic Magazine
Anab Jain is a world-renowned designer, futurist, filmmaker and educator. She co-founded and is the Director of Superflux, a new kind of design studio that specifically responds to the challenges and opportunities of the twenty-first century. In this episode, we discuss immersive futures, diverse and inclusive sensing and sense-making, and the power of speculative evidence.
- Follow Anab on Twitter: @anabjain
- Superflux website
- Mitigation of Shock (Singapore)
- Anab’s post about “speculative evidence”
Iskander Smit is a designer, researcher and academic who explores connected systems, IoT and smart cities, and the role of connected things in design and in our environment. In this episode we discuss unintended consequences, the limits of human-centered design, and how to design the public technology stack.
- Follow Iskander on Twitter: @iskandr
- Iskander’s website and newsletter: Target is New
- Research project: Cities of Things
- Research project: Public Stack
Di Luong is a researcher, technologist and ethnographer who has been exploring issues around public interest technology, social justice and algorithmic bias. On this episode we discuss risks of algorithmic bias, how technology intersects with social justice, and the larger role of public interest technology.
- Di’s website: diluong.net
- Follow Di on Twitter: @fourthlettr
- Movement Alliance Project teamed up with MediaJustice to create Mapping Pretrial Injustice. This website serves as a tool for organizers fighting for pretrial decarceration in their communities, particularly around the use of these algorithms.
- Book recommendation: Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need (MIT Press) is an exploration of how design might be led by marginalized communities, dismantle structural inequality, and advance collective liberation and ecological survival, written by Sasha Constanza-Chock, who is Associate Professor of Civic Media at MIT.
- Book recommendation: In Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor (MacMillan), Virginia Eubanks systematically investigates the impacts of data mining, policy algorithms, and predictive risk models on poor and working-class people in America.
- AI Now Institute
- Rashida Richardson’s profile at the Berkman-Klein Center
So-called “Smart Cities” are full of wicked problems that don’t have clear solutions. So who gets to make the rules for a “Smart City”? Simon Höher heads the Hybrid City Lab, the urban & public design unit of Berlin-based innovation firm zero360. Since 2014 he also co-chairs ThingsCon, one of Europe’s leading initiatives for building a responsible Internet of Things.
Every product has a plot, and we should know what it is. Jon Rogers is a professor at the Northumbria School of Design, and a creative technologist who has been researching the intersection of trust, IoT, AI — and specifically voice assistants.
In the Getting Tech Right book, I plan to distill in the most accessible way what I’ve learned from the last decade or so of working with designers, developers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, foundations and others and give some guidance as to how to approach responsible tech.
What do I mean by that? We’ve been seeing a surge in talk about responsible tech (or ethical tech; choose your adjective as you see fit). All too often, these discussions are side tracked into the all-too-abstract by questions of definitions. Also, different groups use vastly different language: Designers, foundations and policy makers each look at different aspects of the issue, act on different stages, use different terminology and tools. Some look at the input side, all the way upstream, others at the outcomes downstream. Even the best-meaning actors in that space have a hard time navigating the bigger picture. To successfully navigate this space, we need a guide.
So, in this book I’ll distill the advice I’ve gathered over the years of working in this space. There’ll be advice in here for those who want to make more responsible tech, like companies and designers and entrepreneurs. And also for those who work with responsible tech in other roles: advocates and activists, foundations and policy makers and researchers.
It’ll be getting some of the definition issues out of the way, give some concrete advice in terms of approaches and methods, offer some clarifying language to discuss these things, some analytical lenses to work with. And also lots and lots of sources and references to the research already out there for those who choose to dig deeper.
In the end, this needs to be extremely accessible: As jargon-free as possible, and short enough for a busy professional to actually read. A classic brief primer.
I plan to release this as part of the unlocked commons, meaning that you help put this out into the world for those who could not otherwise access it; and possibly make it available in alternative formats (like print on demand, or formatted for MOBI or EPUB) for a fee, released under Creative Commons.
The SPECIAL PROJECT membership is the best way to support this.