The Ethical Responsibility for 2019: Mindfulness and Focus

“In 2019, I believe design needs to be the answer to that escape. We need to take a hard look in the mirror and hold ourselves accountable to the unintended consequences of rapid innovation. Do we need 1 million new apps a year? Do we need to design for constant engagement? Do we need to live in the corners of Dark UX? We do not. We need to be more intentional and design experiences that support cognitive sustainability for individuals, groups, and society. It’s time now for designers to take on this ethical responsibility. The biggest design trend will be a return to mindfulness and focus.” —Albert Shum, corporate VP of design, Microsoft

The quote above was featured in a 2018 blog by Fast Company. What we find interesting about this quote is that it calls into the question the underlying need for rapid innovation and technology.  Why is it important?  The overwhelming consensus in the digital space in 2018 was that everyone was overworked and unhappy. Digital platforms had sucked the last of our attention and sanity, and if you read the headlines in 2018, you would have every reason to feel pessimistic about the future.  But as top corporate designers look to the future, they all seem to agree on one thing: “The cold, corporate thinking that has defined the business world over the past several years doesn’t jive with how people want to live. In 2019, people will be more than mere data points; it’s a designer’s job to make sure of it.”

In the Social Media Magnet, a review of the critical history of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube allow students to consider the ethical responsibilities of private data beyond just information, but to consider that each follower and subscriber is in actuality a real person.  A person who has feelings, experiences, opinions, and provide value to the world and their community.  Hopefully, like these designers, we challenge college students to be mindful and to focus on their responsibility as a content provider to respond to those comments and questions not as duty, but as an opportunity.  Social media has given us the opportunity to impact those souls who may need our content in the purest of ways, which is why we challenge our college students to choose a practicum topic that is vitally important to their own well-being.  We want the practicum to not just be an assignment, but a cause that could lead to an opportunity that they never even imagined at the beginning of the course.  We want to inspire creativity that they never even knew they had in them.  Much like it is the designer’s job in 2019, it is our job to make sure that our students’ followers are more than merely data points, but contributors, advocates even, for their newly created communities.

If you are a professor and are interested in your students experiencing The Social Media Magnet, contact us for more information.

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