A revealing look at how tech industry bias and blind spots get baked into digital products—and harm us all.
Buying groceries, tracking our health, finding a date: whatever we want to do, odds are that we can now do it online. But few of us ask why all these digital products are designed the way they are. It’s time we change that. Many of the services we rely on are full of oversights, biases, and downright ethical nightmares: Chatbots that harass women. Signup forms that fail anyone who’s not straight. Social media sites that send peppy messages about dead relatives. Algorithms that put more black people behind bars.
Sara Wachter-Boettcher takes an unflinching look at the values, processes, and assumptions that lead to these and other problems. Technically Wrong demystifies the tech industry, leaving those of us on the other side of the screen better prepared to make informed choices about the services we use—and demand more from the companies behind them.
About the Author
Sara Wachter-Boettcher runs Rare Union, a consultancy based in Philadelphia, and is the author of Technically Wrong, Design for Real Life, with Eric Meyer, and Content Everywhere. She helps organizations with digital product and content strategy, and speaks at conferences worldwide.
If a book on design in the technology industry ever deserved a standing ovation, this one is it. Sara Wachter-Boettcher has laid out a concise case for digital product makers to work with a broader range of people. And that means working with people unlike themselves as both makers and consumers, and from start to finish.
— John Maeda, author of The Laws of Simplicity
Technically Wrong offers one of the deepest, most thoughtful views on exactly how today’s tech is affecting us, and at how we could change those apps for the better. It’s an essential guide for people who care about ensuring that today’s tech is humane and ethical.
— Anil Dash, CEO of Fog Creek Software
Sara Wachter-Boettcher is exactly the kind of sharp, informed and deeply compassionate critic of the tech industry that we need right now. Technically Wrong makes a strong case for adding basic humanity into the algorithms of the digital products that define the age. It's an invitation for all of us to think more deeply about our connections to others in any medium.
— Sarah Kaufman, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, author of The Art of Grace
No matter how we set the preferences, the results turn out the same. For all of digital technology’s supposed configurability and customization, there’s a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all quality to the apps and platforms we use, pushing conformity over individuality and acquiescence over identity. Sara Wachter-Boettcher reveals how none of us can, or should, live up to the image our technology has of us.
— Douglas Rushkoff, author of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus
An entertaining romp that tells us where and why the tech industry, once America's darling, went wrong, and what it might do to recover its good graces.
— Tim Wu, author of The Master Switch
Just as the current political climate has inspired many to pick up a sign and head out into the street for the first time, I hope Technically Wrong will inspire newcomers to start thinking more critically about the apps and algorithms around them.
— Anna Lauren Hoffmann - Science
Wachter-Boettcher clearly demonstrates the ways digital products are deeply connected to the intentional and unintentional biases of their designers in this approachable primer on digital technology.
— Publishers Weekly