How can we best help the CHT Staff? / Fleshing out the Ledger of Harms

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#1

Hi Everyone,

I’ve recently discovered this forum, and long cared about the cause. Has anybody asked the staff how we might help them?

From experience, I know that when doing something mission oriented it’s hard to pull away from everything that seems super urgent. And while I’ve read some of the other posts on the relationship between CHT/HTC, I haven’t seen anyone directly ask the staff how we might help.

@tristanh, @lydialaurenson, @Mamie, @randy, and other staff –

I’d like your feedback on the first proposal below, about creating true narratives of people’s relationships to technology to complement the ledger of harms. Any and all feedback is welcome, whether it’s a simple public thumbs-up/thumbs-down, or a sentence in a private message, or a list of concerns or milestones you want to see, etc.

If you have the time, I think we’d all love to know what you envision needing in the future, or what obstacles you face that we might be able to help out with. In an attempt to save you time, I’ve taken the liberty of trying to figure out what you all might need from this community. If anything below fits, feel free to let me/us know; I know I speak for all of us when I say we will be glad to help you further your work. Thank you for doing it, by the way; I for one am heartened that the CHT exists, and I can only imagine that getting the CHT off the ground has been stressful.


Off the top of my head, here are some ways this forum might help the CHT:

1. Creating well-articulated, first-person accounts corresponding with each Harm in the Ledger.

I think it’s fantastic that the CHT is dedicated to surfacing empirical research on the harms of technology. It’s especially important for any sort of policy work, and I imagine it’s very helpful to be able to refer the media to the facts laid out in the Ledger.

Am I alone in thinking that the Ledger could be made more relatable, and the harms made more concrete, if each harm linked to a separate page with a related few first-person accounts of how technology affected their life?

My vision is that such writing would not necessarily consist of blanket statements like “I used my phone and now my life is completely ruined; I’m stuck signing loyalty oaths and censoring letters on a remote European island.”

The challenge that digital technology poses is that in some or many ways, it is beneficial! But these benefits come at a cost. By embracing this complexity, we could create honest accounts of how people relate to digital tools, devices, and software. People tend to connect with authenticity, and this would be a great way to really drive home the message that the Ledger of Harms is intending to communicate.

I know we here on this forum could organize a process for drafting and editing these things.

2. Feedback on Specific Policy Recommendations.

I don’t know how the CHT staff are going to be approaching the creation of policy. But assuming that something about policy is going to be in the cards, I imagine that the tech insiders who participate on this forum might be able to think of edge-cases, having seen how the sausage is made, so to speak. All of us who are willing could help with research, too. (Here is an example of what I mean.)

3, 4. Message Amplification & Moral Support

These speak for themselves. If the CHT has a campaign or a survey, etc., they want signal boosted, it’s an easy thing for all of us to do.

5. Volunteering to staff events
This one is more theoretical, but should the CHT elect to run events, be they semi-self-organizing monthly discussion groups in major cities or something else, we could help staff those. Something similar goes for if the CHT is planning on hosting an annual conference.

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This is far from an exclusive list; feel free to reply with your thoughts. What have I missed?

Even if the staff doesn’t get back to us right away, I vote we self-organize into doing the aforementioned ledger of harms project. I have a background in writing, I’m down to edit.

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#2

With respect to #1:
I like this!

Next to the personal account (via interviews?) I would like to match this with scientific evidence related to the ‘harm’ at play.

And in light of storytelling, it would be great to be able to describe ‘hero’s journeys’, where people have become aware of the harm and found some way of effectively curing it for themselves.

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#3

Interviews are a great idea. I envision the goal being for the interviewer(s) to develop an understanding of how the individual in question perceives and internally experiences their relationship to technology. Accounts of overcoming screen addiction would be pretty valuable, too.

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#4

Hi @hmswaffles,

You’ve laid out some great points in your first post in this topic. Thank you very much.

There are a lot of input we as HTC members could add to to the Ledger of Harms to make it more complete. There is one important thing to consider though. The Ledger of Harms is a Center for Humane Technology (CHT) project and not a community-driven project that is part of HTC.

Why this is important is that I had a lot of similar feedback and improvements that I suggested for the Ledger, after @lydialaurenson presented it here. Spend hours on providing feedback. Unfortunately due to - I presume - a mountain of other more important work at CHT there never was any follow-up nor answer to this. This is why at the time I decided that the Ledger of Harms is a CHT project (presumably used as a kind of pamphlet in talks with politicians and tech board room members).

A community-driven project was needed. And even better: a project that focuses on solutions, not just a project that iterates Harms of Technology. So I created the Harms of Technology Fixes project, or HOTFIX. The intent is to set this project up as a pattern library.

Here is the Github repository issue detailing how it could be set up:

For the previous discussions on the forum see:

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Reflections on new Mission and Vision: Pyramids of Humane Technology