I am participating in the University of Edinburgh digital skills course ‘23 things for digital knowledge‘. Thing 5 is about diversity.
As well as being one of the ISG change themes through which we are looking at our organisation and changing it to be fit for the future, equality and diversity is part of a larger consideration of digital transformation going on in the university, being championed by our CIO.
Our CIO challenges us to think about the ‘internet of me’, where each of us is at the centre of a web of services tailored to what the internet knows about us and what it anticipates our wants and desires to be as a result. Examples given of Uber, Airbnb etc certainly seem to make life easier for some.
I’d suggest that we cannot think about digital transformation without considering privilege and bias. For some people, their experience of the internet is not as positive as it may seem to be for white, wealthy, north american or british men. For some it is toxic, biased and perpetuates unhelpful stereotypes. It is up to us as tech professionals to consider all our users and ensure that we create an internet for all. It is up to us not only to consider our unconscious bias but also to check and recheck that the services we build are inclusive.
The best way we can do that it to have diverse teams working on every project and provide safe working environments for colleagues to share their experiences which can inform our thinking. The risk if we don’t is that the more our services become personalised, the less we are able to empathise with the experience of others.
Some articles worth reading:
Airbnb’s ‘belong anywhere’ undercut by bias complaints
Can computers be racist? Big data, inequality, and discrimination
Research reveals huge scale of social media misogyny