Dear Santa, …
Welcome to the holiday season. Christmas songs are everywhere. The more modern ones like “All I want for Christmas is you” or “Last Christmas” (the earworms that were just incoming? You’re welcome!) or the more ancient ones. What most christmas songs have in common though, is a sense of saviour being a part in them. Be it a romantic other who is all that is still missing to make the fest a good one or be it the actual saviour in the form of Christ. It’s actually pretty hard to avoid making the holidays about anything else than saving.
This year and in that spirit let me remind you to include another saviour into your prayers. If you follow the debates about [fill in a global crisis of your choice here] there is a common element in all of these tales. Because yeah, it’s bad, but we already have a cure-all! All hail the rise of technology.
But let’s not forget that technology itself also needs a saviour. Big Tech rarely meets ethics concerns within new technologies and bringing the awareness into tech companies has proven to be a major chunk of work. And if technology is to solve the climate crisis how can we avoid it contributing to it by large? So in the spirit of the season, this time let’s look at twelve ideas I wish we could include into our considerations. Let’s make technology better to make the world better!
P.S. This wishlist is not weighted. No wish is more or less important than the other. Just one focus at a time.
On the first day of christmas, I wish for more media literacy training for digital media. We need offers to show how to judge news and information online just as much as we learned to separate and judge the news in different newspapers.
On the second day of christmas, I wish for more inclusive tech. Make it easy for as many people as possible to actually use it, profit from it and make their lives easier.
On the third day of christmas, I wish for the investment companies to critically investigate the over-estimation of tech companies. Use your money for something that actually helps people, not something that puts the word “AI” in their pitch presentation. Let WeWork, Theranos and TLT be the lessons to be learned.
On the fourth day of christmas, I wish for the insight, that offering the same feature as your competitor does not add to your revenue. We started from downloading movies somewhat legally to being willing to pay for Netflix, because we could stream many movies we wanted with one single subscription to being now asked again by every media outlet separately to buy a subscription with their respective service. Competition is good, too much competition harms everybody. Let’s cherish the ecosystem thought and cooperate on platforms rather than separating one and the same service.
On the fifth day of christmas, I wish for global tech companies to also offer a product that are designed from a global perspective and not just from a western-centric viewpoint.
On the sixth day of christmas, I wish for an end to the hero complex in tech management. There is not that one big brain that changes the world. It is many people, who work together. It’s always a team effort!
On the seventh day of christmas, I wish for more safe spaces for everyone on the internet. For the notion to build safe spaces by default.
On the eight day of christmas, I wish for tech companies to not just do something, because it is possible. I wish for them to consider their actions and implications. I wish them to decide what is decent to do!
On the ninth day of christmas, I wish for a change in the narrative who is a person in tech. Tech is not just for clever nerds. We need so many disciplines working together to create a good application. If you think you have something to say, you belong in tech, with or without an computer science degree.
On the tenth day of christmas, I wish for a more unbiased approach to the problems tech is solving. Consider your priviledges and consider your biases. And then keep them out of your product.
On the eleventh day of christmas, I wish for more understanding of the mechanisms of technology in politics. The internet is not something that will soon pass. Take it seriously. But don’t over-regulate it either to hinder developments for the sake of companies who are just too incapable to change their business model.
On the twelfth day of christmas, I wish for an end to the tale that tech alone will save all of our problems. It won’t. It isn’t supposed to. Some things we have to do for ourselves. Tech is just the tool to help us do that. But the impulse to do so has to come from within ourselves.