Introduce Yourself

welcome
introductions
#1

This thread is for new members to introduce themselves.

Tell us a bit about who you are and your interest in the Humane Tech movement here! :slight_smile:

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#2

Hi All! My name is Max Stossel, I spent about 5 years doing social strategy for brands like Budweiser back in the early days of social media paying very close attention to the algorithms that shaped the information we consume. I went on to work on a social media startup where I was designing notification structures to take people out of their world and bring them into mine. At the time I didn’t feel I was doing anything wrong, but came to realize that there’s really a difference between what we look back on with satisfaction and what our unconscious brains will click on or watch. I’ve since teamed up with the Time Well Spent movement, and now the Center for Humane Technology as Head of Content and Storytelling. Also I’m a poet and filmmaker who made this: and some other short poetic films :slight_smile:

This movement is deeply important to me, and I feel the most urgent issue we face as humans. Grateful that you’re here and interested in it too,

Max

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#3

I’m SJ Klein, often found in Boston but currently fighting to reclaim my own attention in a small town. I’ve worked on projects like Wikipedia and TVTropes aiming to help make the Internet not suck, by building sites and environments focused on information-dense summaries without spam, advertising, or hype — and hope to one day have helped people focus more than I’ve distracted them online. !

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#4

Hi everyone, my name is Harinda. I’m a former United Nations employee that continues consulting in the tech realm. I love the initiative and would also love to be part of the conversation.

More recently (and I realize this isn’t the place to pitch for a startup), I created a business model that does not rely on ads at all… And is a win-win-win for platform users. It was fueled by these recent conversations and criticisms. I’d love to see if someone in this forum has a few minutes to test whether my thinking is correct. I think the internet needs to evolve beyond online ads, and I think that it’s driving unwanted behaviors.

Great initiative! Please let me know if I can help, even by getting UN partners on board!

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#5

Hi all. I’m Greg. I have a pretty long Silicon Valley tech history (I actually worked on the first website in the U.S.) and was one of the first wave of San Francisco’s dot-com tech workers in the mid-1990s. Since then I’ve head technology and product leadership roles in a variety of consumer-facing tech startups – some that have grown immensely and several that flamed out.

One such flameout included a startup over a decade ago that bet the farm that Facebook adoption wouldn’t grow beyond a youth/college audience and that a social network needed to cater to the adults that creeped-out youth wanted to keep at arm’s length from their Facebook family. We all know how that played out.

I also have a long history in humanitarian causes and am currently a board advisor at a global organization that better attempts to define humanity in an age ever more dominated by machines.

Wanted to listen a lot and occasionally contribute here, as the Center’s focus is a subject that is dear to my heart and thinking.

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#7

Hello there. My name is Ryan. I noticed tech and especially social media having a negative effect on my life a few years back and have cut back significantly since then. So the more recent uprising of research showing how it’s affecting us have not come as a huge surprise.

I’m a software engineer currently living in NYC. My focus is more on the fintech scene but I have some experience working at one of the large social networks as well. Looking forward to getting involved however I can!

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#8

Hello, I live in Canada and am I psychologist in private practice. I work primarily with all types of anxiety and more specifically trauma. I do not work with tech but my 19 year old son is currently starting in Computer Engineering and I want to support him learning to work ethically and in a humane fashion. As a psychologist working with anxiety, I am deeply aware of the impact of social media perpetuating the insecurities, extremist points of view and severe bullying behaviour that comes from faceless anonymity. I watch the impact of parents pretending to parent their little ones when they are actually not listening, making any eye contact, or being attentive to their children. The polyvagal theory of Porges makes it very clear that in order for humans to be socially aware, attuned, empathetic and capable of bonding - children need to develop their ventral vagus nerve starting around 3-6 months old. To develop the ventral vagal system, infants need eye-to-eye contact, playfulness, talking, cooing, and emotional attunement. I rarely see this when I am in the world; instead I see babies being pushed in strollers as moms and dads have their faces in their phones. I see 2-year olds playing by themselves as mom/dad is gaping at their phones. I see 3-year olds out for dinner with their parents with their faces glues to ipads. Tech is devastating the potential of our children’s emotional and social capacity since the actual neurons that are meant to develop in infancy through social contact will simply be underdeveloped and thus inaccessible to these children’s physiology as they grow. On a more severe end of the spectrum - remember the Romanian orphans - that is the severe impact of neglect, lack of facetime (old fashioned) and lack of emotional attunement. Imagine this with less severity but entirely pervasive across a whole society. God help us. All of this is to describe why I want to stay abreast of how these addictive techs can be reduced, altered, and limited. Thank you, Maija

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#9

Hi , I’m a web developer at an insurance company. I have been a user of various social Services’s. I was an undergraduate researcher at UICs computational biology lab which showed me the horrors of what Facebook can do. I attempted to make a system that would tell you if it has peanuts in it but instead of releasing it I realized that if the system failed it could hurt people so I pivoted the project .

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#10

Hi, I’m Chris, and I’ve been in mobile and social media marketing and development for around 10 years. I’ve been in a constant paradox with it for most of the time, between promoting methods, potential and technology for national brands, and cautioning against misuse and advising in lawsuit/violations for about as long. My first tech-ethical dilemma was prior to this, in a capacity of developing behavioral profile systems of employees to identify similar groups at a large company, which were then used as additional information on who didn’t fit in, and then red flagged towards the layoff pile, so very familiar with the tech’s direct effects on people. But the long term psychological health of the public, exposed to social media as it is, I feel is just as damaging, if not more.

As I’ve been moving towards AI and automated solutions and their own ethical landmines, I’ve been encountering much the same attitude of dismissal of concerns, where ethical questions have barely any weight behind them in environments where people are just looking for the next lightning in a bottle. And now with research on long term effects, attention, influencing psychological development, and blatant manipulation of people, I feel strongly something must be done to make tech a responsible field. Too many other industries rely on ‘what works’ with social, in the context of attention, not health. If we wait until a company decides to self regulate themselves with warning labels, I feel it would be too late to do any good. I hope groups like this can start to make a difference, and hope I get an opportunity to contribute.

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#11

Hey everyone!

My name is Alex Beattie (Doreen Kibblesmith on Friends of TWS) and I’m a writer and PhD student who is researching how people disconnect from the internet using technology.

I’m interested in the Humane Tech movement on two levels. The first is as a general user - a public conversation about addictive design/constant connection is so desperately needed, and I’m excited to see what will come from this organisation.

The second is as a academic. If ‘data is the new oil’, then movements like this are a new type of environmentalism. TWS, Tristan, Max et al., have popularised this idea that our attention is scarce and needs protection. This has huge implications on academic fields of media, design or technology studies, among others. So I would love to contribute by providing some insights into how this movement is transforming how we think and study technology.

I look forward to having some discussions with you all!

Alex

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#12

Hi there! :wave:

My name is Santiago Archila. I’m a former neuroscientist / current software engineer in the SF bay area. As a software engineer, I worked at Change.org leading the growth/engagement team, so have seen the efforts used at a high-profile tech company to drive return user-ship/engagement.

I’m very interested in this topic, because I experience first-hand the difficult choices involved in curbing ‘screen-time’ especially in a world where our social interactions are increasingly occurring online.

Look forward to getting involved in any way I can!

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#13

Hello all,

My name is Nathan Kuik, and I’m a former clinical social worker from Seattle that now lives in Berlin doing software development to (hopefully) build empathetic chatbots.

In my endeavours outside of work, I’m doing some work for organizations like Open Sourcing Mental Illness and getting involved with other topics around attention, mindfulness, and empathy.

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#14

Hi, my name is Arnold Schrijver. I’ve worked for 20 years in IT as architect, tech lead, product owner and manager mostly in the fields of print, marketing, content management and experience management.

Edit: Humane technology has become my new passion and introducing it whereever I can is my professional purpose. I have served as your moderator, admin, facilitator, and finally Community Lead for over a year, but decided to step down and thereby effectively leaving the community as a self-governing democratic organism - a true grassroots movement. See my resignation message for more info: Help Wanted: This community is leaderless! 😃

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#15

Hi there.

My name is Aaron Greenspan. I created a non-addictive student portal called houseSYSTEM in 2003, which included a feature called The Facebook. It’s a long story. You can read more about it here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/71uva5/iama_classmate_of_mark_zuckerberg_who_created_the/

I’ve been concerned about the direction of social media for a very long time, and I’m glad to see some of the real problems getting more media attention. I’d be glad to help out however I can.

Aaron

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#16

Hi there,

My name is Rebecca. I did my undergraduate in Business Information Systems. Currently, I’m finishing my MBA in Decision Sciences.

I’m interested in this campaign for a few reasons; one of my professors in my undergraduate education highlighted the value of tech for good - shared his work with One Laptop per child in India. The other reason is I’d like to learn more about others that see this same value in technology - while acknowledging the fall outs.

I’ve done previous work in political fundraising. Now, I’m interested in the opportunities surrounding the policies that are shaped by political action committees, lobbyists, and politicians. Especially, in the world of tech.

I look forward to learning more! Thanks for the inspiring introductions.

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#17

Hello,

I am very interested in the interplay between the structures of online spaces and ideology formation in the users of those spaces. There is a concept in Marxist Spatial Analysis called the “Socio-Spacial Dialectic” which basically says that societies generate space, but at the same time space generates and reinforces the ideologies of the society. There is a synthesis. I believe this is occurring online.

As many have noted there is a great dehumanization of humanity going on online. between porn, gore, piracy, and the weaponization and the gamification of social interaction art and our the value of being human is becoming devalued.

If you are reaching out to someone, is it rude not to check on their news feed? If you check on their news feed you may be prevented from reaching out to ask how someone is doing - you already know - but in making that time-efficient decision, suddenly that person misses out on the knowledge that you are thinking of them.

You can like, or sad face, or mad face, etc. a post. But that itself turns social interaction into a points based validation system. And if you comment on a post, that must be preened for social consumption of future friends, family and employees. It must be tailored to political and social norms lest it be blasted in a buzzfeed article or lambasted as an example of the sins of the loony left or racist right. An incalculable number of beings may view and judge your comments ostensibly to a friend.

But beyond the impact on the individual moments of social interaction, what happens then to our seeking or searching for purpose and validation? Do we tailor our behavior, our choices and our desires around such validation as we receive through these specific constraints of various social media services?

I have spent an entire decade of my life on facebook, posting statuses, poking, debating politics, posting photos, starting relationships, planning events, messaging old friends, sharing news stories, posturing, and generally creeping on social contacts near and far who in any other age of society would be limited to moments of time in my life rather than a breathing and complex organ of my social network that requires gardening ‘friends’ en masse.

There are clear benefits of reducing time and distance and ease of communication and contact. But there is a loss of quality in this process. And frighteningly, we have freely given tens of thousands of data points to folks with the means to weaponize this to advance their, or their clients, interests.

Emerson’s essay on friendship strikes me as very important for recovering our humanness within these constraints:

“. . .But I find this law of one to one peremptory for conversation . . . Do not mix waters too much. The best mix as ill as good and bad. You shall have very useful and cheering discourse at several times with two several men, but let all three of you come together, and you shall not have one new and hearty word. Two may talk and one may hear, but three cannot take part in a conversation of the most sincere and searching sort. In good company there is never such discourse between two, across the table, as takes place when you leave them alone. In good company, the individuals merge their egotism into a social soul exactly co-extensive with the several consciousnesses there present . . . Only he may then speak who can sail on the common thought of the party, and not poorly limited to his own. Now this convention, which good sense demands, destroys the high freedom of great conversation, which requires an absolute running of two souls into one.”

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#18

Hello Harinda!

I worked at UN Women for a time, I would love to talk with you about your startup, and your general ideas regarding how working at/for the UN has influened your thoughts on technology and society.

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#19

Hello friends - I am Keith, a technologist who has worked in the K-12 and higher education fields for over 20 yeas. As a champion of tech in schools, I believed in the power of technology to make teaching more effective. My confidence began to weaken when the movement to put computers into the hands of younger and younger children began in the 1990s. I remember many conversations with teachers and librarians concerned with the lack of evidence that technology improved student learning. My time in higher education included witnessing an increasing reliance on digital social marketing for recruiting and “messaging” within the university community. Reading “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr was a game-changer for me and while still working the field, I have become increasingly skeptical of the idea that technology is only a tool. I have come to think of it more as a Genie on the loose, with the few controls in the hands of a few corporations with less-than altruistic motives. I’m very glad for this initiative and look forward to learning and contributing more.

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#20

Hi all,

I’m an occupational therapist working in a first nations community in Canada. I have no tech background, but have recently become very interested in the possibility for a kind of decentralization revolution, where our digital identities, our social media, our web applications, and even perhaps our online banking and finance, can be taken out of the hands of centralized powers and be given back to us as sovereign individuals.

Recently I’ve been particularly interested in a technology called Holochain, which is an alternative to blockchain that is designed to be “agent-centric” rather than “data-centric.” The main reason why I joined the humanetech community discussion was because it seemed likely to be that I might find others who would be interested in this technology, and/or be able to criticize it in a thoughtful way that could be helpful for me in continuing my journey of discovering how to contribute to improving the digital world. I’ll likely start a separate thread just to talk about Holochain, so keep an eye out for that if you’re interested. Glad to be here!

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#21

Hi, I’m Matti Schneider.

Where I come from

From founding a social impact startup on sustainable mobility to coaching a dozen at the French Prime minister task force for open data and state modernisation, I have always worked on building digital tools to drive action and social change.
For the last three years, I have run the public incubator beta.gouv.fr that initiated over 30 startups, delivering public digital services used as digital transformation vehicles.
Before that, I wrote an MS thesis in cognitive anthropology describing how agile teams share representations of information. I know how to study human-human and human-machine interactions.
I organise sponsorless community events and work for diversity through AgileFrance to decorrelate money from technical expertise.
I recently moved to Aotearoa New Zealand and work with Enspiral, a network / community / cooperative of cooperative ventures.
I published a whitepaper on how to build digital commons so communities stay in control of their digital tools (in French): communs.mattischneider.fr.

What I already did

  • I built and coached public digital services by using all methods and practices of the private sector startups, but focused on efficient interactions rather than claiming attention. I wrote about how to use pirate metrics and conversion tunnels for the benefit of your users, which illustrates how we can use standard attention retention practices and just reverse their optimisation function (minimise rather than maximise).
  • I explored solutions to preserve my own attention, and had independently discovered 5 out of 7 practices listed on the Take control page, and recommended them to others around me.

What I can bring

  • I can contribute to the movement by promoting it in NZ and EU, writing for the French-speaking community, and mobilising both public actors and community on specific actions in France.
  • I can advise on how to engage policy- and decision-makers.
  • I can do public speaking on the topic.
  • I can explore how to teach the topic in developer bootcamps.
  • I could join research on the topic.
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