Human Rights, Privacy and UX Design

Can we ever make ethical technology, and how would we do it? Is it possible or achievable? In this 6-week course taught by critical designer and artist Caroline Sinders, this class is a mixture of lectures, reading, and group exercises. we will analyze and dig into the terms and concepts Silicon valley uses in relation to equitable technology and ethics, such as consent, legibility, transparency, and trust. We’ll ideate and come up with products, and we'll unpack how to work collaboratively, and explore the role of social justice in art.
We’ll learn about design justice, emancipatory design, human rights centered design, participatory design and co-design, and what the drawbacks of those approaches are. We’ll also look at the Secure UX Checklist, and hear from some human rights activists about how we can design with, as opposed to for, communities.

Course Logistics

Dates: Every Saturday, February 13 to March 20, 2021
Times: 11am–2pm PST
Cost: $360
Experience Level: Basic UX design, or human centered design knowledge recommended.
• Computer with an internet connection
• Prototyping tools: pen and paper, Figma, Google Sketch, Illustrator, Balsamiq, or any other preferred tools for sketching and iteration.
• All book chapters and readings will be provided for students.

Course Goals

To help give students actual frameworks and ideas for how to design equitably, and design for privacy and security.

Class Outline

Week 1 - Saturday, February 13, 2021
What Are We Doing and How Did We Get Here

Nothing is perfect, but not every methodology can or should Work for You. Let’s re-think Human Centered Design. In this class we will go over how products are currently made, and identify the drawbacks often associated with Human Centered Design. We will also look at activist and internet freedom movements, as well as examples of the tech made by communities and activists.

Week 2 - Saturday, February 20, 2021:
What is Trust, Agency, Consent, Legibility and Transparency In Design?

This week we will unpack buzzwords, and different ethic software guidelines. We will start working in groups to prototype and learn how to critique and iterate while designing. Students will get familiarized with ideating by picking a technology or product and changing it. We will focus on privacy, threat modeling, and different global perspectives when learning how to design for marginalized users. In this class, we will also tentatively come up with a final project idea to work on outside of class.

Week 3 - Saturday, February 27, 2021:
Use Cases, and Personas

This week will focus on use cases, and persona building. Additionally, we will talk about harm, misinformation, surveillance, harassment, and how privacy and security play into safety. Groups will present their in-progress projects.

Week 4 - Saturday, March 6, 2021:
Figuring Out The Why and Defining Problem Statements and Learning to Co-Design: Working with Experts, Activists and Stakeholders

This lecture will challenge the conception that designers 'solve problems' without engaging on the ground research. We will be citing Design Justice to confront this misconception, and looking at 'inclusive design, accessibility and disability. We will also dig into the participatory research process, how to do a landscape analysis, and how to meaningfully work with communities. Groups will continue to iterate on their project ideas. A guest lecturer will be joining us.

Week 5 - Saturday, March 13, 2021:
Using Research Findings to Ideate

In this class, we'll learn about user research, user testing, and validating assumptions. We will do different design exercises such as: how might we's (reconfigured), crazy 8s, idea sorting, how to craft a user research script, and how to securely/safely store this information and engage with participants remotely. Students will also present their in-progress project.

Week 6 - Saturday, March 20, 2021 :
Last Class!

Students will do presentations on what their groups made. The class will have a short, final lecture on how to launch a product and take in feedback as the product continues to iterate. A guest lecture will be joining us to help give feedback to students.


Caroline Sinders

Caroline Sinders is a critical designer and artist. For the past few years, she has been examining the intersections of artificial intelligence, abuse, and politics in digital conversational spaces. She has worked with the United Nations, Amnesty International, IBM Watson, the Wikimedia Foundation and others. Sinders has held fellowships with the Harvard Kennedy School, Google's PAIR (People and Artificial Intelligence Research group), the Mozilla Foundation, Pioneer Works, Eyebeam, Ars Electronica, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Sci Art Resonances program with the European Commission, and the International Center of Photography. Currently, she is a fellow with Ars Electronica AI Lab with the Edinburgh Futures Institute and a visiting fellow with the Weizenbaum Institute looking at labor and systems in AI and platforms. Her work has been featured in the Tate Exchange in Tate Modern, Victoria and Albert Museum, MoMA PS1, LABoral, Wired, Slate, Quartz, the Channels Festival and others. Sinders holds a Masters from New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Diversity Scholarship

To help creators of all backgrounds reach their goals, we are proud to offer a diversity scholarship to sustain and advance an inclusive community at Gray Area and beyond. This full scholarship is for artists, students, and scholars from diverse backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education and the fields of art, design, and technology. To apply, enroll in this Scholarship Application form below.

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