Beyond recognizing that your experience is shaped

A lot of bits led to this post – which is really just me asking a bunch of questions that I’m interested in pursuing from different angles.

It gets down to this: Once you recognize that your experience is partially shaped by design decisions, what next?

I come at this through the lens of how technology shapes social experiences (learning, collaboration, being). Shaping in the sense of what a designed thing affords, not what it determines. A chair affords sitting. But it’s also pretty useful as a ladder for reaching those upper-level cupboards.

I know that this design-decision shaping applies to many social experiences. Architecture and urban design, for example, nudge and shape our experience and behaviors in cities. We may or may not be consciously aware of it. Yet we’re still nudged along.

In the technology case, design decisions go into things like algorithms or features such as “like” buttons.  A recent reading pointed out the obvious there. How different would everyone’s experience be if there were also a “dislike” button? Design decisions, made for commercial purposes, nudge and shape our experience.

Critical thinking helps get us to the point of recognizing this shaping. And, I might hope, to recognizing the consequences of various forms of shaping.

Then what?

When might simple individual agency (I just don’t ever use a “like” button) turn to advocacy (I join collective action advocate a position on ethics and algorithms)?

What drives that judgment? And what are the effective tools of advocacy?

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