Facilitating Inclusive Design

Last week I facilitated a 30 minute conversation around inclusive and exclusive design. A group conversation surrounding readings we completed before class is always helpful in processing new information, but I also wanted to use this as an opportunity to prompt ideas for each of our personal design frameworks.

My hope was that everyone walked away from our conversation with an open mind to what in an inclusive design might mean.

To begin our group discussion, I introduced two key definitions from Microsoft’s Inclusive Design Tool Kit.

“Inclusive Design: A design methodology that enables and draws on the full range of human diversity.”

“Accessibility: 1. The qualities that make n experience open to all. 2. A professional discipline aimed at achieving No. 1”

A more succinct way a fellow student suggested for thinking about these concepts is that inclusivity gets you a seat at the table, accessibility is if you can participate in the activity once you are there.

After a brief discussion of these terms, we walked through some basic consideration to be made whenever engaging in inclusive design. I would consider this the weaker part of my group facilitation, and if I were to engage in the exercise again I would move this to the end of the session. I was hoping to start a list of considerations that we would then build on, but it turned out that the next bit of conversation I had planned was much more effective at soliciting group participation.

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 5.32.06 PM

The most successful part of this facilitated discussion began when I introduced a scenario: A venture capitalist has come to our design group with a directive to use our “design skills” to develop a new body soap product. This investor will let us take it from there, so it’s up to us to create a soap that we personally believe is ethical and inclusive.

To prompt discussion and thinking, I asked the group to first consider how they might make the most exclusive soap possible. By using a more simple product like soap (as opposed to a complex system or interaction) we were able to quickly think of ways to make it exclusive, such as: 

  • Expensive
  • Bacon fat included
  • Skin color altering
  • Requiring complex technology
  • Time intensive to use
  • Short lasting results
  • Something that must be assembled each time
  • Only a set number created

While some silly ideas emerged, it helped us think in larger buckets of who might be excluded by design decisions. Beyond just age, or race, or income, it’s possible to be exclusive on the basis of time constraints, access to technology, or dietary choices.

From there we flipped the conversation and used the traits we listed to understand how to better design an inclusive soap.

Overall, the exercise was a bit silly, and intentionally so. I was hoping to solicit conversation or bring up ideas that we hadn’t had before. 

In the end, maybe the most interesting piece of the conversation was around feasibility of inclusive design. Since the exercise required a focus on extremes, it brought about the conversation of what to do when a design elements are in direct opposition to each other. 

This lead to a conversation about “growing the pie”, and figuring out how to serve a new population, while not forgetting the original.

The resulting element I personally chose to add to my framework as a result of this facilitated session was a test I could ask myself around the design of any system, interaction, or product in the future. Can I add any other population or user need to this design without completely cutting out another population? i.e. Can I grow this pie without detracting from it at the same time?

Are we making the world a better place?

As I started thinking about Ethics class and this particular assignment, a lot of questions went through my mind and the process got a little bit like a labyrinth process. After doing my facilitation in class I ended up with a lot unanswered questions about all the readings like, How power works? Is everything done for the good or bad of customers? Are the users the losers? Are this big companies designing our lives? Is it unethical? Are they manipulating the customer into doing things they don’t want? Do algorithms define us? Are all these questions a framework? … I was mind browned away by all of these questions. So, I decided to zoom out and look at a bigger question:

Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 11.24.33 AM

To have some sensemaking of the content in the readings I decided to do construct their different perspectives in two axis. And it all came to this:



By doing that I divided the concepts that prioritized more the business outcome and not so much the users. I found that there is a gap when having products and services that are human-centered and prioritize the user’s needs and wants.

To fix this, we could take the power-privilege diagram, where designers are in the top with the power (Figure 1). Why don’t we change the word power to businesses and vulnerability to users and bring the designers to the middle and move the balance where the users are in the power space and the businesses in the receiving end (Figure 2).

By doing these changes we could:

  • Balance the user’s needs with the business needs.
  • Design and the users experience will no longer be compromised.
  • The desire to generate commerce will lower and they will be able to main goal and to serve the user.

The challenges of doing this would be:

  • To be able to accomplish the business needs.
  • We have to be careful with regulations that already exist.
  • The ecosystem is built one way that influences design.
  • Benefit the businesses because at the end, they pay
  • Want things to change



(Figure 1)


(Figure 2)

After all of this questioning and thinking I ended up with a bigger question and that is what I will leave you to think about.


Screen Shot 2019-11-12 at 11.25.12 AM

Creating Inclusive Design

Last week, I facilitated a 30-minute discussion on inclusive vs. exclusive design. Our conversation was largely influenced by this talk by Kat Holmes, Director of UX Design at Google. Holmes discusses how we should move beyond thinking of designing for the majority of people, and instead focus on creating design that reaches everyone. By focusing on those with particular needs, such as people with disabilities, we can create design that is more adaptable and useful for everyone.

Our conversation began with a brainstorm about the different ways that people can be excluded from design. Exclusion can stem from physical ability, such as how video game controllers require the use of fingers and hands, but it can also stem from other factors, such as race, education level, socioeconomic level, and gender. We should consider who our design is meant for and whether it can be easily used by all members of our audience.

John Porter states that “our job isn’t to tell [people] how to interact with what we create; our job is to create something that they can interact with in whatever way they choose to interact.” This is a great argument for creating design that fosters user control and adaptability, but it can lead to unexpected consequences. For example, we discussed how Airbnb’s platform allowed users to discriminate against others; by putting unlimited power in the hands of hosts, guests of color found themselves singled out and excluded by some hosts. How, we discussed,  do you reconcile user empowerment against the potential for users to shape the product or service in ways that negatively impact others?


Our whiteboarding exercise, brainstorming ways that users can be excluded from design and identifying the conflict of user control vs. potential for discrimination.

After this discussion, I led an exercise in which we designed a farmer’s market to be as exclusionary as possible. This was a fun exercise that allowed us to get silly, but some of the ideas we thought of—limited parking, no bathrooms—are commonplace.

We also thought about ways that places deliberately exclude others based on education and class. Many high-end products are, by their nature, exclusionary. It is acceptable in capitalist society to design for those with money and exclude the poor from purchase or use. However, we should be aware, when designing for the public, of how these biases may negatively affect those who otherwise should be able to benefit from a service.

Our discussion was enriching and thought provoking. At times, I found the conversation wandering away from where I thought it would go, and I had to think on my feet to connect it back to where I wanted it to. I hope to lean more into getting “off track” in the future and allowing organic conversations to take place. And although we covered the three main questions I wanted to discuss (see the whiteboard, above), I had hoped to more firmly establish takeaways from our conversation for each of these questions. This is something that I plan to build into future presentations and facilitations.

Limiting Persuasive Design

At the start of Q2, we were introduced to a new curriculum. In this quarter, ac4d students would learn about ethics, and more specifically, understand how to create personal ethical frameworks that can guide us into our professional careers. With this mindset, I began to further explore my own value system. What motivates and drives me? Where do I draw the line when no one is watching? These questions followed me into our first set of readings.

The readings linked to our first assignment introduced the idea of dark patterns in design. Dark patterns are often subtle obscured nudges designed into a product to compel a user to take action in favor of the business they are interacting with – often at the cost of the user. While reading, I became intimately interested in exploring how persuasion is built into such a system.

As defined by the Interaction Design Foundation, persuasive design is an area of design practice that is based on psychological and social theories and focuses on influencing human behavior through a product’s or service’s characteristics.

In thinking about this definition, I realize we interact with these persuasive architectures in our physical world all the time.

We encounter them at grocery stores upon check out. The gum and candy at perfect eye-level for young children right before we complete shopping. The tabloids that we can toss onto the conveyor belt without a second thought. The persuasive architectures built into the grocery shopping experience are small nudges to add one more thing into our carts before we go.

 Are you sure you don’t want..?

This isn’t a far cry from what we interact with online. The targeted ads that follow us from site to site. The extra item that found its way into our cart right before we check out online. The notifications reminding us there are only a few tickets left.

As resources grow more sophisticated, designers are becoming more equipped to personalize user experience and embed persuasive elements in increasingly discreet ways. This is how dark patterns grow at scale.

We still see dark patterns in the physical world too.

When we walk into a casino, everything in this space tells us to stay and take a seat. Slot machines are especially successful in keeping us engaged for long periods of time. Designed with our psychologies in mind, slot machines compel us to play again and again and again. We were that close last time – just one more try… And the more we play, the more money the casino is prepared to make.

This is also true in the digital world. Take the infinite scroll. Joshua Porter mentions, “Scrolling is a continuation, clicking is a decision.” By taking away this decision from users, users become subconsciously engaged with a platform for longer durations of time. The potential for addiction grows with users’ desires to solve the uncertainty of the next post which is coupled with our inability to remove smartphones from the fabric of our lives. And with each continued scroll, the more ads we are fed and data captured.

As a budding designer set on building her ethical framework, I must inspect each behavior I design to change.

  • Is it a continued scroll on Instagram? Increased user engagement with Instagram? Am I persuading users to look at their phone more often?
  • Is it purchased candy at the grocery store? Am I persuading children to eat more candy?
  • Is it disposing of waste in recycling bins? Am I persuading people to limit their non-renewable waste?

I also question how much agency each system gives a user when making these behavioral decisions. To what degree can a user opt-in or out of each behavior change?

How much agency does a user have in adopting a behavior?

Artboard Copy 5

What if the behavior in question is recycling? As a designer, can I reconcile with discreet persuasion to encourage users to separate their trash as an effort in conservation? What about to buy a product for the company I work for?

The identified behavior is important. It’s associate benefits and consequences matter.

So, who benefits and who suffers?

Artboard Copy 3@2xScreen Shot 2019-11-10 at 6.30.32 PM

 How do identified consequences manifest over time?

 Artboard Copy 2Artboard

How do I reconcile with the answers to these questions?

When thinking about my role as a designer, I remember a quote from Ian Leslie in our readings.

“No matter how useful the products, the system itself is tilted in favor of its designers.”

We have great responsibility when designing these systems. In learning about different ethical principles and framing it back to my values, I’ve begun to create a “gut check.” With these questions in mind, I can challenge whether I accept my part and power in promoting a behavior.

Screen Shot 2019-11-10 at 6.31.19 PMPlease continue to follow me as I develop my formal ethical framework over the course of this quarter.



Parent’s Please! – AC4D Capstone Research Project

Hey there,

My name is Dan and I am a current student at the Austin Center for Design (AC4D). For the next 8 weeks my team mate Ana want to learn more about financial inclusion. We’re interested in learning more about the day to day lives of parents and how they operate in today’s world. We we want to hear the stories only a parent can offer! Car seats, formula, and child-care are a few different things I don’t account for in my budget that’s for sure.

JUST partnered with AC4D to find other communities they can serve and to understand how other communities behave when it comes to financial inclusion.

JUST is a non-profit organization whose mission is to invest in low-income, female entrepreneurs to create more resilient communities throughout America. Through their work they create a more just world where people have the chance to live with less stress and more joy. To further their mission JUST wants to change the narrative around the potential of low-income communities to be their own change agents. JUST provides loans exclusively based on trust to female, Spanish-speaking, entrepreneurs.

We are looking to focus on non-traditional families and how they decide, navigate, and communicate financial decisions and division of labor within their home. Children limit a parent’s ability to work, there is a constraint on the actual amount of money a parent is able to bring in due to having less time.

We are looking to learn more about non-traditional families and how they decide, navigate, and communicate financial decisions and division of labor within their home. Having a child limits a parent’s ability to work, there is a constraint on the actual amount of money a parent is able to bring in due to having less time. Non-traditional in regards to our research means we’re looking to hear from single parents, LGBTQ parents, or families where the female is the primary income earner.

We need help connecting with parent participants! If you or someone you know may be interested in chatting with us, please reach out to team_da@ac4d.com to get in touch. Your perspective is incredibly valuable and will ultimately help in designing solutions for this unique group of people.

As students working with a nonprofit, we appreciate your willingness to help both us and our community.

Dan O’Halloran & Ana Toca


Our design team, Leah Divito and I, have partnered with Austin-based nonprofit, JUST, to conduct design research which seeks to understand underrepresented communities seeking financial inclusion.

The sex industry is frequently marginalized, stigmatized and policed – and so are the women who work within it. In our last blog post, we introduced our research which specifically focuses on how women working in the sex industry relate to money and how their identities and communities influence this relationship.

Everyone has a relationship with money. That relationship informs the way we make decisions, work together, and move through life. We are ultimately interested in understanding how identity and community shape that relationship while are simultaneously influenced by it.

Over the last week, we’ve begun to speak to female-identifying performers including sex workers, strippers, dancers, cam-girls, phone sex operators, bartenders, amongst other professions.

We realized early in this process that recruiting participants would be challenging. Trust can be hard to come by – a possible consequence of the stigma and policing drawn to this industry.

We initially relied on mutual connections. We also approached women working in various strip clubs. We posted flyers in lingerie stores, bookstores, coffee shops, sex toy stores. We posted an ad on Craigslist. We tried many things. Some approaches worked better than others, but each taught us something new about the space we sought to understand.

Flyer_design4women - fb

We were eventually able to conduct five formal interviews in our first week. Through questions and exercises, we discussed sexuality, finances, community and identity, and the roles it plays within and outside work. The stories which arise from these interviews are invaluable and inform all phases of our design process.

We will be sharing those stories with you soon.

Until then, if you or someone you know may be interested in chatting with us, please reach out to design4women@ac4d.com to get in touch. Your perspective is incredibly valuable to better understanding and ultimately designing solutions for this unique group of workers.



Makers and their Money

Continuing with our work from last weekKyle, Sean, and I have continued to speak with makers in the Austin area who rely on contract-based employment. We’ve had the opportunity to learn from artists, craft workers, and construction workers about their attitudes toward money, and about how they make ends meet whenever they are completely reliant on variable income


Below, are a few stories of the people we have spoken with and what we’ve learned from them.

Jordan is a construction worker. He moved to Austin from Michoacán, Mexico in 1998. He came to work, but went to high school first, in Del Valle, just south of Austin. He enjoyed high school, playing soccer and running cross country, and he learned to speak English. When he graduated, his first job was laying carpet and flooring. Since then, his jobs have shifted: he performed stone work for a while, and now does carpentry. He lives with his wife and four children in a home in south Austin, a home that he lost during the Great Recession but was able to buy back later, at lower cost, in a fortuitous turn of events. He’s since paid off his house, but he’s now paying back loans on a new car and truck. He’s hoping he might be able to save for his daughter to go to college, but so far, it has been difficult. “I guess we’re never happy because we pay [our bills] and then we decide to go and get into debt again,” he laments. Although he’d like to have a “normal job…be an employee and just kind of take it easy,” he says, he likes the variety of his work and the fact that he always gets to learn new skills. He’s proud of his abilities and invests in his tools regularly, so that he can always find work. As he says, even when the contracts slow down, “you got bills to pay, and they don’t wait.”

Screen Shot 2019-11-08 at 9.58.26 PM

Becca and Carrie run a creative studio specializing in signage, wayfinding, and art. They met in Nashville in 2012, but moved to Portland a year later so Carrie could study acupuncture. Disillusioned, she dropped out two years later, and the two moved to Austin. Becca is an artist who dropped out of her program during the Great Recession. Upon moving to Austin, she began working as an artist’s assistant, but she hated it. After getting paid $800 for a sign-painting gig, she decided to start her own business. Carrie now works alongside her, handling much of their administrative and financial management. The two have found success, mainly in the restaurant industry; every time they go out to eat, it seems, they find a new client. Like many contract workers, they find work through networking and word of mouth. After a tumultuous year of success and disappointment, including canceled corporate gigs and unplanned tax expenses, the two are working to build their way out of credit card debt. “We have insane credit cards, not like normal people credit cards,” Becca says. But it’s worth it to finally live out her dream. As she tells us, “If you don’t build your own dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs for them.”


Pete is an artist who “escaped Oklahoma in 2008” and moved to Austin in the middle of the recession. He graduated from college with degrees in graphic design, illustration, and studio art. After graduation he applied to over 3,000 jobs (he counted) and didn’t get one. He was struggling to make ends meet and remembers at one point being close to “literally starving to death.” He’s been working in the area long enough that he’s built a great reputation for himself and people call him when they need him. He said he likes it that way. People call him when they need him and he can say yes or no. He’s a jack of all trades, and works in audio, lighting, design, and recently has been getting into the photography business. When we asked him about his month to month income he said it was hard to separate his income from the way he thinks about his budget at all. “Basically, the way I think about it is that I have an overhead, and then I think about how much I need to work to cover that.” During his time in Austin, he’s been a frequent victim of gentrification–one year getting gentrified 5 times and in one of those moves was given just 15 days to move out and find a new place. This is particularly challenging for him as he has equipment that he must store at his home and then move from place to place.

Emerging Themes

We have several people left to speak with, but already some themes are emerging from this research.


Rely on their networks and relationships for work, and for increased stability over time.

Have to be in control to allow for a free flow of creativity

Are their own safety net. Confidence is a huge factor in success

Don’t compromise on their dreams and they don’t want to use their skills to build someone else’s dreams

Are system outlaws




Designing With Addiction’s In Mind

Through facilitating this exercise in ethics I was able to cultivate an understanding of my small design team. I posed questions for discussion to identify addictions people have faced in their personal life. We talked about spending too much time on instagram, to stalking ex boyfriends, to smoking. I strived to construct a discussion that highlighted personal experience to addictive behaviors that are implemented in services we use throughout our daily lives. We talked about overcoming our own addictions with things and feeling good about them, behaviors that had been construct that weren’t conducive to our well being, ultimately realized, and later deconstructed to live a healthier and happier life. Unfortunately we can’t always remove the addictive patterns engrained in our phone applications and other services that we use to make our lives easier.

We talked about establishing our values as a team to design for good. We created a discussion around self-awareness, meaningful connections, and good health. Self awareness brought people time and control of their day. Meaningful connections meant not swiping left and right on an app that claims to be designed to meet people, but to have a pleasant interaction while waiting in line. A healthier and happier life meant being able to go for a run and breathe clearly, instead of itching for something that does you more harm than good.

We brought our discussion towards prevalent services and organizations that capitalize from addictive behaviors. I posed two questions after developing our set of values the first was “Why Do Users Come To The Product Or Service In The First Place? followed by “How Can We Change an Organization’s Value?”. It’s easy to highlight the things that are wrong on an individual level, but putting minds together to work towards an actionable goal is far more beneficial in the design process. We brainstormed and white boarded through a myriad of solution spaces. Something that came to mind was changing the revenue stream or model of these services to better provide for their users. To developing check-in boxes in opposition to infinite play loops on video websites.

I hope to add more visual cues to explain my facilitation process in the coming days, but I truly found identifying with my team to have been extremely important in further the discussion around a hard topic. Addiction’s are tough, no matter what they are. It became clear and important that it’s important to recognize our own in order to better benefit the services and things we’re designing for.

How to Be an Ethical Designer – In Practice

When talking about design, and the techniques that designers use, it’s almost impossible to leave the topic of ethics out of the conversation. Designers are able to create useful products, systems, and interactions by intimately understanding the way humans operate. Good designers go beyond understanding what a person does, and they understand why that person does what they do, how they feel when they do it and even why they feel that way. That understanding can lead to some really great solutions to big problems. But, it can also lead to opportunities for manipulation of the user.

In our Design Ethics class, we have been exploring what it means to create ethical design. There really isn’t any universal right or wrong in ethics, and design doesn’t have a formal code of ethics, so it is up to each designer to make these ethical decisions on their own.

This class is giving us an opportunity to explore ethical questions, and to build an ethical framework for ourselves of what we personally believe to be ethical. I’m still processing a lot of what I’ve learned over the last couple of weeks, but something that keeps coming to mind for me is the connection between building a framework and then implementing that framework.

At AC4D, we are studying this information in great detail, so the conversations we are all having about ethical design are with others who are educated on and interested in the topic. And that’s certainly valuable. But in May, that’s over. I hope to have a job lined up by then, and most likely I’ll be walking into a business environment where few, if any, of my colleagues are educated in or even aware of the ethical impact design can have. I’ll be armed with my personal framework by then, but I think the hardest part is going to be communicating the value of those ethical decisions in a way that someone else will understand or even care.

This is further compounded by the fact that many dark patterns in design actually do benefit the business, at least in the short term. They trick people into spending more time on a website or buying more product. I wanted to explore how I might be able to communicate my own ethical boundaries when faced with an environment where I’m the only one thinking about these choices through an ethical lens.

To do so, I’ve called on my previous profession as a nonprofit fundraiser. In fundraising, your end goal is to raise money for an organization. At my last organization, our mission was to place post-9/11 military veterans into industry careers. All of the money that is raised goes directly toward that mission, but people give for lots of different reasons. Some people give because they had directly benefitted from our program, while others gave because they knew they wanted to give back to their local community, and we were able to provide them with solid stats on our success rate to convince them that we were a good investment.

These different temperaments are usually referred to as the  “7 Faces of Philanthropy”.

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 6.19.17 PM

This framework really helped me in fundraising because I had my own reasons for caring about our mission to help military veterans, but communicating why I cared wasn’t always going to resonate with people. I would have to meet them where they were most interest and communicate with them that way.

I’ve incorporated this way of thinking into the ethical framework I’m building, and have started to think about how I will communicate my personal ethics in a way that makes sense and matters to future colleagues. Understanding those colleagues and their motivations will allow me to speak with them about these ethical topics but in a language that makes sense to them.

This is a potential group of colleagues, and an attempt at understanding what they might care about most:

Screen Shot 2019-11-07 at 6.25.04 PM

Using this as a tool, I can come up with scenarios with ethical implications and see how to best communicate my concerns with this wide variety of colleagues. For example, let’s say I work for a company that is sending a massive amount of emails and not giving a clear way for users to unsubscribe from those emails. To simply say “I don’t think this is ethical because we aren’t giving our users any agency to make decisions about whether or not they want to receive these emails” I think a better approach would be to meet my colleagues where they are. For the lawyer who is constantly evaluating risk for the company, it might be updating him on the recent LinkedIn case, and letting him know that this type of behavior is starting to create some real legal issues for companies. For the founder of this company, it might be the money he stands to loose by a drop off in frustrated customers. I could encourage him to give his customers more agency with the emails and take a more long term approach. The better his customer retention is the more money he can make in the long run.

Over the rest of the quarter, I’ll be continuing to build my own ethical framework, while at the same time thinking about how to best communicate these topics with a future colleague who has no background in this way of thinking.

Designing for Value Systems – Part II

In Part I, I spoke about the conversation and activities I facilitated around making value assumptions of our partner organization, JUST, and the clients they serve.

Wanting to plumb this a little further, I’m speaking tonight about trust. JUST lends, not on credit score or collateral, but on trust. Tonight, however, I’m doing a 5 minute presentation on another company that’s built around the value of trust – Airbnb. Notwithstanding current news, we had been reading Laura W. Murphy’s report from 2016 on Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion.

Yesterday, Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky issued an email,  subject: In the business of trust. This was in response to the Orinda shooting that happened at an Airbnb rental last week and a Vice report on predatory scams.

Chesky wrote, “People need to feel like they can trust our community, and that they can trust Airbnb when something does go wrong… We intend to do everything possible to learn from these incidents when they occur.”

I initially wanted to pose the question of what does trust mean to you?, and I realized that might get us into a definition space. So I’m pivoting slightly because trust is really a product of relationship. When you trust someone, how does it feel? What is the quality of trust that lingers? 

To help us answer this question I’m asking the class to engage in a quick one-minute exercise – rapid ideation! free association! Go!

Activity Prompt #1: Quick Draw

Draw someone you trust – your lover, your mechanic, your friend, your colleague, your dentist. How do they make you feel? Write it down. What is the quality of trust that lingers, that allows you to build a relationship with them?

Keeping that person in mind, I want to show you my Airbnb profile:

Screen Shot 2019-11-06 at 5.44.23 PM

Here you can see I live in Austin, Texas. I have 1 review. I have verified checks and I can be pretty cute when I’m not at wits end. But damn if this doesn’t feel lacking. How does this convey trust worthiness? How does this build trust with another person?

Activity Prompt #2: Build a better profile

Keeping in mind the person you’ve just drawn – hopefully you’ve tried this at home as well! – think about what you would want to build around that person. How can you design something better – to honor and extend the quality of trust they provide to you?

For all the trappings of the site – the branding, the experiences, the promises, the bottomless scroll of beautiful places – the profile page is severely basic. For a company built around the value of trust, they do little to bake that into the first interaction a host might have with my profile and, vice versa, that I would have with a potential host.

It seems Airbnb’s idea of trust revolves around the way people interact with the platform. Which implies that I’m trusting a corporation – something that feels entirely unreasonable to me. As I understand it, corporations = bodies of people operating within structures of power.

It makes me wonder if the powers that be understand what trust means outside of the way they consider trust as a tool of business – part of a practice, part of a transaction. Because the most critical point of establishing trust – between two actual people – is completely overlooked.

Possible Futures

When I think of my friend, Erica, I think of her as an easy person – an easy person to be with. I think of trust as having a quality of feeling and being at ease with another person.


I don’t mean to imply that everything I love about Erica should be built into or shared with a broader audience. But considering a real person helps me understand what it means to have, and appreciate, trust.

If I were to redesign profile pages for Airbnb, I might consider how I could build in opportunities to establish a trust connection in a more meaningful, considered way. I would include some of the things my friend likes to do – drink coffee, go for bike rides, look at art, travel.

Maybe it would make the profile picture a moot point. Maybe it could be another way of matching her to hosts who could personalize recommendations based on her interests or abilities. Maybe hosts would have their own version of this. I think there are lots of ways to consider how to shape this.