Using Ethics In Web Design

In the wake of the VW diesel-emissions testing scam and the effect of various Facebook impacts on the 2016 US Presidential election, I’ve seen a marked shift toward people I respect as “thought leaders” (though I hate that phrase) thinking and talking more about the ethics of the code we as developers write.

Morten is certainly a thought-leader, and this remarkably long-and-complete essay for Smashing Magazine about applying the philosophy of ethics to web design is well worth a read for someone interested in either field.

The highlight for me was the conclusion:

In the end, ethics is a practice we all need to work on every day. To borrow a quote from Robert M. Pirsig:

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”

I struggle to keep up an interest in academic philosophy of the type that Morten so ably covers. But I do know that I can and do regularly see the direct results of what I do in the world and the people I know in it. And that, more than any abstraction, is the basis from which I try to check all choices I make. After all, as I wrote over on Thoughtful Code, I believe pretty firmly that programming is about people.


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