In light of the uproar over Twitter's apparent plans to "curate" our feed using really awesome algorithms just like Facebook. I thought I would finish a little post that was sitting in my drafts for a while.
I've been designing user experiences for over 10 years now and since the very beginning I've struggled with balancing the ever increasing trends of simplifying (removing functionality) and personalizing our digital environments, with my desire to empower people and put them in control.
In an of themselves simplifying and personalization can be great methods for solving specific design problems but their rise to cultish like status within the digital design world has me concerned. The uproar of the possible Twitter stream changes is a perfect example of the issue. Farhad Manjoo in Fast Company explains some of the issues very well in this article and I love this quote.
"There is still too much presuming that we
want a steady diet of what we just consumed. "
I will piggy back on that quote and say these trends (business practices) bug me for another reason we are creating a culture of ignorance. Each time these magic little algorithms are applied and each time we strip down our experiences to their most basic features we are removing opportunities for people to participate fully in their own digital lives. Correction: Lives.
We are not singular.
We are not the same.
Our needs change (often).
Interface should reflect this.
We need to ask more of users.
They need to learn and grow so they can have more control.
Designers have a responsibility to make better ways to do more and get better at providing innovative filters that we control.
It's important to foster an environment of learning and achievement in service of a technology intelligent world. Interestingly video games don't dumb everything down. They seem to understand that people can learn.
Doing it for them is creating an ignorant populous, out of control of basic human activities - Consuming information. Learning. Sharing. Transacting.
Do we only get to learn what is put before us.
Just some thoughts and obviously business needs and specific use cases play a huge role in how to apply this type of thinking but it's always a good idea to put your decisions up to a test. Think about it next time.