Those who do good for the Web
My last string of posts may seem to perceive me of having an outlook of the current state of the web as this (metaphorically speaking) beat up, dodgy, and gross alleyway that is populated by thieves, crooks, and bad people who would just want to do you harm. No, I don’t. I see the current state of the web as the world as we live in. There’s good, bad, and grey. It’s impressive to witness how much we can translate now our personas, activities, habits, characteristics on the web, not only as individuals but as a community and collection of communities. So, no I don’t see it that way but more specifically I see that alley as just a part of it, just like what we have in our world. And there’s more to it than that alleyway.
And that’s what I want to focus on in this post — highlighting some of the people and groups who are doing good for the online community, specifically on improving the web in the ethical sense. I’ve categorized below how many of these people do their deeds, in no order of importance.
These are the people who go at it online and offline speaking against unethical web practices. These are the ones who post and bring attention to potentially or downright harmful web implementations. Some people go file complaints, either to proper channels or authorities or even to local legal channels bringing more weight to the problem they have found and trying to solve.
Tweets with the hashtag #darkpatterns often highlight and call out designs implementing unethical/dark patterns designs.
The latest Tweets on #darkpatterns. Read what people are saying and join the conversation.
DarkPatterns.org is a website focused on giving more information about dark patterns. It also displays culprits in its Hall of Shame.
A subreddit highlighting and discussing dark patterns
Our governments do their part as well. Often their concerns are broad — covering privacy and ethics — much of the policies they pass or try to pass often help in mitigating and reducing the blatant implementation of unethical design on the web. One of the most recent and enormous implementations is the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU.
US Senators Mark Warner and Deb Fischer on the DETOUR act to fight dark patterns:
These are the organizations that have set up their identity and mission to focus on improving the ethical state of the web. They consistently and proactively do and voice out their mission in helping the community. Some of these organizations focus on key areas like accessibility and inclusivity.
The Center for Humane Technology (CHT) is an independent nonprofit organization whose aim is to drive a comprehensive shift toward humane technology by changing the way technologists think about their work and how they build products. We’re creating the conditions for a new race to the top to realign technology with humanity.
- Small Technology Foundation
- Web Accessibility In Mind
- Inclusive Design Research Center
- Contract for the Web
- World Wide Web Foundation
The World Wide Web Foundation was established in 2009 by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee to advance the open web as a public good and a basic right. We are an independent, international organisation fighting for digital equality — a world where everyone can access the web and use it to improve their lives
These are schools, companies, and individuals who contribute to disseminating information about ethical design. They teach, publish books, and share online resources that promote the good on the web.
- Ideo’s “The Little Book of Design Research Ethics”
- Simply Secure
- Smashing Magazine’s slew of ethical related articles, books, and webinars
The Corporations, Startups, and Foundations
Some companies give back and help the online community by providing free resources and tools that help them develop a better web. Some set up funds and grants that are dedicated to initiatives that help the ethical state of the web to improve. Doing good for the web does not necessarily mean they are non-profit.
Cracked Labs is an independent research institute and a creative laboratory based in Vienna, Austria. It investigates the socio-cultural impacts of information technology and develops social innovations in the field of digital culture.
- Mozilla’s Pledge for a Healthy Internet
The list above is not an exhaustive list of people or groups of people who contribute to the improvement of the web — not even close. There are so many who aren’t listed above but I hope I got my point across — there is much good on the web. I actually believe that there is much more Good on the web than Bad.