As software products becomes more advanced and more pervasive, we must handle them with more care.
We often end up spending a lot of time with these things. They are close to us. They can make us feel happy and in-control or they can make us feel sad and frustrated.
In fact it might be a good idea to start thinking of them more like people than tools. With that little mind-shift we can start to use millions of years of self-protective good sense in the digitial world.
We invite these things into our lives and, as with people, the results aren’t always good.
This could be by design or by accident, but the results are the same.
When we pick up a shiny new toy we need to also look at the people behind it. Are they supportive? Are they kind? Is my success important to them?
Are they self-serving? Are they a menace?
As Corey Doctrow puts it:
“the important thing about tech isn’t what it does, it’s who it does it to, and who it does it for”
The intentions of the people behind a product carry through into what the product does, and how it does it.
Our apps should aspire to be supportive friends and trusted advisors to those that use them. If they behave like sneaky self serving buillies, we should be very quick to boot them out of our lives.
It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. They’ll learn soon enough.
For those of us who make this stuff, this is a challenge, but one that is important to take on. We need to think about what we are asked to do and ask ourselves - is that a kind thing to do to another human being?
If it’s not we need to think seriously about wether we want any part of it.
Rule 1: Our app should always be kind to our users.