New CHT Project & Feedback Request: The Ledger of Harms

Hi everyone! Lydia here (you can read my self-introduction over here). Today CHT is releasing the Alpha version of the Ledger of Harms, which collects the impacts and externalities of technology that don’t show up on tech companies’ balance sheets.

This project is a work in progress – and we need your help. We are currently evaluating a lot more information to be included. Please suggest additions or updates using the submissions form on the site, and/or send us broader feedback in this feedback form.

We hope that the Ledger of Harms can inform the public; guide the research agenda around these topics; and help designers, companies, politicians, and journalists get the information they need for their work.

Here’s the Ledger:

And here’s a survey to gather feedback:

I’ll review what gets submitted to us (via the survey or the Ledger itself). I’ll also check back on this forum thread, so feel free to post questions if you’ve got ‘em. We’re excited to get everyone’s thoughts on this. Please do send feedback!


Continuing the discussion from New CHT Project & Feedback Request: The Ledger of Harms:


In this article I want to describe not functional situations for our relationships, leaving for another one tips to solve these problems and generate healthy behavior in social environment.

All that I describe here is a daily observation of messaging, focused in social groups, leaving outside a lot of situations of work environment.

I will describe only 3 frequent situations:

1-High frequency of social communications

2-The impulsive messaging

3-The impact within the IRL people environment

1-High frequency of social communications

In real life, it’s not probably you talk or have a meeting every day with a friend or a group of friends, and it`s even less possible to do it several times in the same day.

But if you use WhatsApp you probably send and receive daily messages of several friends

This situation, in one hand, makes you feel close and with an everyday company, but in the other hand, you suffer a great personal exposure that the experience usually shows that could generate progressively erasure of your relationships.


  • Because in the daily messaging your words increase the possibility of misunderstanding.
  • In real life when you have a meeting with your friend or a group of friends you first coordinate a convenient moment and space, and you concentrate on that in real time conversation but in messaging it’s probably you do it in convenient and not convenient moments, in the middle of a lot of others social and networking messages.
  • Your attention is unfocused and your emotions may be in constant change.

This high exposure and the requirement of answer a lot of messages ( in occasion more than one hundred a day ) makes very difficult the quality of your communication

Probably effects:

  • Increasing stress
  • Bad quality of communication
  • Misunderstanding

2- The impulsive messaging

Messaging facilitates you express, and send impulsive messages, You easily than ever can express your emotions of the moment. Not always this is clear understood or received by other people.

It is possible that people not reply immediately or not reply at all. That silence usually generate anxiety, you don’t know if others hadnt the occasion to reply or didnt want to be involved in impulsive messages. This situation creates unpredictable emotions in you and in the other persons.

In real life, you can express your emotions in real time, with your voice, your face and all your body language, and you have an immediate reply, even in the silence, because body always replies.

In real life, you have the environment to select what to say, how to say it, and what not to say.

That`s because you have immediate feedback for what you are saying, so you can regulate and adapt your message to your interlocutor.

In the messaging groups increases the illusion of missing out, and this another reason for anxiety and unpredictable emotions.

Probably effects:

  • Anxiety
  • Unpredictable emotions
  • Misunderstanding

3- The impact on the IRL people environment

The online communication produces you are in several spaces at the same time, but it is IRL who suffers the real impact.

It is usual that in relaxing moments you are beside people you love, but both take a lot of time messaging, so your IRL environment lose quality conversation.

It is a real situation that could make distance with who are beside you, living with you, and waiting for you. Even kids or people of all age suffer the similar situation.

Probably effects:

  • Worse relationship with your familiar environment
  • To be required at the same time for face to face environment and for the online environment
  • Social stress


Let`s take the control of our lives and enjoy technology at the service your wellbeing

We are learning, we are choosing what kind of future we want to live.

Let`s create a healthy future, the first step is right now.


Hi @lydialaurenson,

It is very nice to finally see another official response from the CHT organization. I have been quiet on this forum for a while - after a long period of high activity - in large part due to my disappointment on the continued lack of involvement of the CHT organization members. This community is craving to be more than just a loose discussion forum!

I already told you how much I like the idea of having a Ledger of Harms. It is a great idea, so it is fantastic to see the first alpha release! I also have some significant feedback to give you to help improve it towards its 1.0.0 release version. However - before I can provide you my input to the Ledger - I have some serious issues with the proposed way to develop the ledger. Please allow me to explain…

CHT - The community and the organization

Until now the CHT community and the CHT organization have been completely separate entities. Though the organization created the community and offered the forum, there is hardly any interaction by organization members. Furthermore, there was never a reason given for the creation of the community and the purpose for which it exists. No public roadmap or vision exists, leaving the community out in the cold.

The community itself has tremendous potential. We are all here, like-minded people, who have flocked to the cause of ‘reversing the attention crisis, and realigning technology with humanity’s best interests’. And we have posted, analyzed and discussed many great ideas and information sources. It is the follow-up to all of this that is missing, and here we hoped for guidance, leadership and plans from the CHT organization.

Instead the organization has been a black box from the beginning - almost in the sense of a Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. Are they dead, or are they alive? At least from following @tristanh’s Twitter feed, @Mamie’s previous involvement in organizing the forum, and now your Ledger of Harms announcement, we can deduce you are alive :slight_smile:

Don’t get me wrong. I really appreciate what the CHT has provided us so far: a common outlet for our thoughts. But the CHT could be so much more than that. Much more powerful and influential in a positive way. If you want to effect real change you have to really mobilize people, rally them to the cause, be open and transparent and together, in a concerted effort forge ahead towards common goals.

Unless, of course, this is not the CHT’s intention (anymore). Maybe the organization wants to go their own way. Operate in the political field as advisers and consultants. But then it would be fair to clearly communicate that to us, so we know what we can expect. An honest answer of this nature would not offend me in the slightest. On the contrary, any clarity you can provide would be enlightening.

On building The Ledger of Harms

With that said, back to the Ledger and your request for feedback. You are making an announcement to the community via this forum and ask us several times for feedback. That’s great…

But (there is always a but, isn’t there):

  1. You made the 1st announcement of the Ledger on May 31
  2. The initiative then disappeared for 3 months in the CHT ‘black box’
  3. Now you announce the alpha version of the Ledger
  4. And you ask us to post our feedback once again into the same black box!
  5. Presumably at some time in the future a beta version will suddenly appear

I personally don’t think this is a fruitful and constructive way to cooperate on this Ledger. I have in the past sent various kinds of feedback on different fill-out forms on and never got a response back, and even direct conversations (by email and forum) with organization members got suddenly cut off without reason provided.

Also the method of providing feedback - by the use of questionnaires asserts a one-way input stream. The products used to create them are questionable in itself. While is okay-ish, the use of Google Forms is problematic and not in line with what the CHT stands for. Especially if you have feedback that is critical of Google, and even more so if you are also a Google employee. I already wrote about this in Researchers should use privacy-respecting survey tools!

Instead I would like to propose a different way to help bring the Ledger project come about… and thrive!

The Ledger of Harms - a crowdsourced initiative

The Ledger is about the (unseen) harms that new technology applications pose towards people in general and to our society at large. Sometimes (or oftentimes) knowledge about these harms is intentionally overlooked, underplayed, or actively suppressed. It is up to the people - us - to identify and record them so we can protect ourselves.

This then makes The Ledger of Harms project a perfect candidate to be a crowdsourced effort that is led by the CHT organization, driven forward by the community and supported by the broader public.

I hereby propose that you open-source the project and its development processes, so we can work on this together.

We already have the tools to do just that. Instead of using feedback questionnaires we can use Github (which is not just for Developers). On June 13 I had already created the organization account for the CHT:

Github offers a full-blown cooperation environment:

  • Version management for the source documents and content of the Ledger itself
  • Issue management and commenting to discuss open issues, bugs and improvements
  • Project boards for planning and scheduling tasks
  • User-editable wiki pages to outline goals, roadmap, technical notes, etc.
  • Pull request feature so member and non-members can suggest, review and approve changes
  • Website feature (Github Pages) that can host and automatically republish the Ledger upon changes
  • And more…

I’d be willing and able to help make the Ledger of Harms an open and transparent initiative that is aligned with CHT vision and mission and in touch with the community, and I gather many community members are willing to participate too.

Please let me know your thoughts on all this, and I’d really appreciate if you’d also inform @tristanh, @randy, @Mamie, @metasj and other organization members, so they may join the discussion.

Warm regards,

Community member


This is awesome to see. Thanks for posting, Lydia. I generally like the framing of this in terms of externalities.

The one difference I might add is that this approach seems to appeal more to altruistic and notions of “others” as to the harms and potential benefits. As more of systems thinker, what’s missing is the connection that shows how these practices also cause self-harm to the perpetrators in a connective cycle. The kind that gets the most attention is always regulation, of course. But there are other self-induced harms in creating an environment that’s deeply suspicious of their organizations, that creates doubt and concern among their ability to recruit productive employees and contractors, that affects their own family members, affects the investor climate for further funding their efforts, and that even establishes an unsustainable environment that will ultimately be the cause of its own downfall.

Everybody needs to feel a role in the solution and the benefits that come with that – whether direct or indirect, consumers or producers, etc.

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I appreciate seeing this, and agree that enabling us to develop this collaboratively would be in the spirit of transparency and democracy. That’s not a criticism, as I don’t know the story behind how the ledger has gotten developed to this point - just an affirmation of the value of participation from forum members - a remarkable group of people.

I think the section on democracy could be stronger - and/or the section on relationships. I’m very concerned about the impact of technology on racial bias and judgments based on income / class - these are areas I work on, and the impact of propaganda bots and AI more generally is deeply concerning (see, for example, Algorithms of Oppression and Automating Inequality). Those harms are neither solely about relationships nor solely about democracy - I’d say they’re about social norms, perhaps.

All this is meant constructively - it’s great to see this being developed.

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Hi all and thanks for the feedback so far!

As some of you have pointed out, the Ledger of Harms is just a small part of a complex set of solutions needed to address the existential threats that tech platforms present to humanity. CHT is working actively through many different avenues, and we hope to share some detailed updates soon.

In terms of open-sourcing the Ledger, we think that making it community-run is an important idea, and one to keep in mind for a future version. First, though, we want to hear more from you about the Ledger’s content (what’s missing or could be improved) as well as how useful it is to you.

Specifically, we agree that there are a lot of ideas (e.g. ideas related to democracy and relationships) that are missing from the current Ledger. We need more studies, surveys, and articles that clearly demonstrate harms in those areas. Have you seen research, articles, etc. that showcase harms relevant to those topics? As we refine the current Ledger, it would be really helpful for us to find more material that we can evaluate and maybe include.

Thank you again for your enthusiasm and support!!


Hi Lydia,

I have created a bunch of general feedback on the Ledger. Instead of using the Google Form, however, I have added it in the issue tracker of a Github repository I created for this purpose. Though I didn’t configure much else, it demonstrates how such a project could be used for future cooperation on the project.

Here is the project:


Fully in support of using Github and providing feedback using issues.