Abstract

In recent times, the design of technology platforms has been largely driven by the optimization of data flows in large-scale urban initiatives. Even though many platforms have good intentions, rising expectations for data efficiency and reliability, the configuration of users and user’s interactions inevitably have ethical consequences. It has become increasingly difficult to foresee how a wide diversity of users fares against a spatially complex and materially incomplete management and distribution of data flows. Through the logic of platformization, we explore how this plays out in the context of open mapping platforms - in the case of an individual elderly street-mapper, Stig. Drawing from design anthropology, we present an anecdotal account of Stig’s experiences of street mapping, showcasing his attempts to adapt to the demands of the mapping platform sometimes at the expense of his own well- being. Opening up to the complexity of the situation, we discuss the ethical dissonances of platforms, hence questioning the role of design in such complex modes of data production and consumption.

Keywords:

ethics; technology; platforms, design anthropology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 25th, 12:00 AM

Platform Ethics in Technology: What Happens to the User?

In recent times, the design of technology platforms has been largely driven by the optimization of data flows in large-scale urban initiatives. Even though many platforms have good intentions, rising expectations for data efficiency and reliability, the configuration of users and user’s interactions inevitably have ethical consequences. It has become increasingly difficult to foresee how a wide diversity of users fares against a spatially complex and materially incomplete management and distribution of data flows. Through the logic of platformization, we explore how this plays out in the context of open mapping platforms - in the case of an individual elderly street-mapper, Stig. Drawing from design anthropology, we present an anecdotal account of Stig’s experiences of street mapping, showcasing his attempts to adapt to the demands of the mapping platform sometimes at the expense of his own well- being. Opening up to the complexity of the situation, we discuss the ethical dissonances of platforms, hence questioning the role of design in such complex modes of data production and consumption.

 

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