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Camp Digital 2017 “on the right side of history” on ethics and equality

By Finoula Mountford

Project Manager


Camp Digital 2017 laid on a host of engaging talks promoting collaborative conversation, dialogues on diversity and inclusive innovation. Now in its sixth year and bigger than ever, the conference brought together over 300 members of the digital, design and UX communities for a successful event!

One theme seemed prevalent in most of the talks: ethics in design, and our shared responsibility for challenging unethical practices.

Emer Coleman, Technology Engagement Lead at Co-op Digital, asked us to consider why we “don’t ask the same ethical questions about technology as we do everywhere else?”. It’s a difficult question to answer, and one that holds us accountable for the some of the shady behaviours that exist in the dark underbelly of the technology world.

As a regular user of some of worst offenders – including Facebook, Uber and Airbnb – I wondered if I was enabling, or even perpetuating their violation of privacy and exploitation of data to create capital. I don’t want to be a “digital drone in a digital economy.”

Emer’s message certainly sent a buzz through the audience at Camp Digital 2017: we were galvanised, we wanted to be “on the right side of history”!

camp digital 2017The importance of honesty, openness and caring for others was echoed later in the day by Kate Greenstock, Design Director at Maido, as she discussed what makes happy design teams and effective leadership.

Kate identified honesty, empathy and communication as the top three qualities of a great leader, and who can disagree?

Continuing the theme of honest and ethical design, Stefanie Posavec, a data-related designer, showed us how the subjectivity of data communication gives credibility to a message. Stefanie doesn’t manipulate the data she uses to create her work because the “honesty and truth” upholds the integrity of what it communicates. My favourite projects from her portfolio include the visual representation of air pollution in a necklace and a dance created from the interactions between a couple on social media.

Honesty and integrity are key principles in the UXPA Code of Professional Conduct. It’s something we take very seriously when recruiting participants for user testing/research. We provide clear instructions to ensure participants understand what they are being asked to take part in, and they can give informed consent.

camp digital 2017As if Camp Digital 2017 wasn’t great enough already, this year it became an #upfront event. Keynote speaker and founder Lauren Currie created #upfront to encourage new voices on and off stage.

Lauren argues that confidence is “broken and male-focused” – the ideology of confidence as male centric was truly challenged at Camp Digital 2017 with three fantastic female keynote speakers, and most of my personal highlights of the day coming from interesting inspirational women.

Big thanks to the team at Sigma for a fantastic day – I’m already looking forward to next year!

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finoula mountfordAbout the author: Finoula Mountford is a Project Manager at People for Research, she specialises in customer data recruitment and manages some of our key consumer research accounts. As well as working hard, she loves a good chat – set up a meeting to discuss your recruitment need in more detail!

About People for Research: We recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner with a number of end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.

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