Wicked Digital Problems for the Next Decade
Closing Keynote, Fri 25 Sep 17:45 CEST
In the last 30 years of web evolution, we have managed to build products and services that solve problems in novel ways, whilst also creating almost as many problems as we’ve solved. We’ve established language around the challenges our present selves face from our previous endeavours, such as “legacy tech”, “Waterfall”, “Move fast and break things”, and we’re good at seeing just how bad things are in hindsight.
You could argue that 2020 is the year where perspective came home and smacked us all in the face. We have all been humbled by a pandemic and made to confront catastrophe. With communities across the globe forced to see the world more clearly through horrific acts, many with privilege have also started to see the inequity that is tightly woven into the fabric of society. Technology does not provide us with neutral ground for these issues. If anything, it’s an active frontier.
Those of us who work within organisations that actively build and release digital services that we use everyday (even more so in the face of a pandemic), have a critical role to play. We’ve tried to de-risk how we build things by being more collaborative, we’ve tried to be more focused on the people we’re serving by being user-centred. We’ve matured as an industry so we can now have healthy conversations about ethics.
But have we fully reflected on the societal changes that our current solutions will need to respond to? Have we considered the outcomes (intended or not) we are creating and what they mean for the world we want to live in?
This is a talk about hope and a practical reminder that we have the tools to make the changes we want to see. The personal and societal lessons we take from this year should enable us to reflect on how our everyday design decisions will either create opportunities, or constraints for the Wicked problems of the next decade.