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Tuesday, September 14 2021
10:15pm - 12:00am

BostonCHI: Dark Patterns, Ethical Engagement, and the Potential for Action

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BostonCHI September 2021, featuring Colin GrayAbstract:
The strategic goals of organizations increasingly consider the role of user experience\, impacting both the design of user interfaces as well as the relationships of humans and society to technology. But while knowledge of user needs and human psychology is generally framed as a means of generating empathy or reducing the divide between humans and technology, this knowledge also has the potential to be used for nefarious purposes. In 2010, scholar and UX practitioner Harry Brignull coined the term “dark patterns” to describe this dark side of UX practice, which I have engaged with over the past five years. In this talk, I will share findings from several studies that address practitioners’ engagement with ethics, using the concept of “dark patterns” as a point of departure. I start with a collection of examples of dark patterns and “asshole designs,” demonstrating the harmful use of manipulative patterns that are increasingly ubiquitous. I then describe the findings of multiple engagements with technology practitioners, detailing the organizational and disciplinary complexities that make it difficult for practitioners to act in ethically responsible ways. I conclude by describing potential impacts on regulations and organizational practices to respond to these threats. I use these studies to build a case for ethical engagement in the education and practice of designers and technologists, pointing towards the need for scholars and educators to address both near-term issues such as manipulation, and longer-term issues that relate to social impact, responsibility, and the potential for regulation.

Colin M. Gray is an Associate Professor at Purdue University and program lead for an undergraduate major and graduate concentration in UX Design. He holds appointments as Guest Professor at Beijing Normal University and Visiting Researcher at Newcastle University. His research focuses on the ways in which the pedagogy and practice of designers informs the development of design ability, particularly in relation to ethics, design knowledge, and professional identity formation. His work crosses multiple disciplines, including human-computer interaction, instructional design and technology, design theory and education, and engineering and technology education.

Schedule - EST (UTC-5)
6:15 - 6:30: Networking (Using Zoom breakout rooms)
6:30 - 7:30: Presentation
7:30 - 8:00: Q & A

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