Left unchecked, our biases can seep into how we create in ways that exclude others and cause negative and even dire outcomes. You may be thinking, “Well, pilots and surgeons are working in high-stress environments where people’s lives are at stake. I’m an artist and an entrepreneur, I’m not saving lives.” But there are countless examples of the impact of racial and gender bias in media narratives, and in the way we build technology, like self-driving cars that fail to detect dark-skinned pedestrians, which then can become a matter of life and death.
DIVERSITY is quantitative. It’s the composition of different people represented in what you make, and the decision makers on your team.
INCLUSION speaks to the quality of the experience you’ve designed for these diverse folks, so they experience themselves as leaders and decision makers.
EQUITY lives in how we design our systems and processes; the way we work, and who we work with, so we are upholding our commitment to diversity and inclusion.
MISREPRESENTED COMMUNITIES are communities that have been defined by dominant culture, denied the ability to define themselves on their own terms, and are therefore falsely or narrowly represented. We use this instead of “underrepresented” or “marginalized,” because those identifiers again center the POV of dominant culture.
In the last few years, platforms have stripped away any hint of how vast they actually are. As a result, users only get to see a tiny sliver of an entire platform. There’s been an overwhelming push to build tools specifically designed for engagement (like buttons, emoji responses, comment threading) instead of building tools that help users actually explore. This has replaced any sense of play with a bleak struggle for users attention. The marketing line for these new tools could easily be, “engage more, explore less.” I’m proposing that we begin designing with vastness in mind again. The data is already there, all we have to do as designers and engineers is to build tools that reveal how expansive these platforms really are.