Review: Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech

Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech Technically Wrong: Sexist Apps, Biased Algorithms, and Other Threats of Toxic Tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wachter-Boettcher's book on understanding the exclusionary power and privilege of technology is must-read for anyone who works in technology or with technology (which yes, means the vast majority of us). She moves through a variety of technologies, platforms, and systems to show how while useful, technology also privileges certain groups of people and excludes other and that if technology is going to truly meaningful and transformative, it needs to be inclusive. She does this by look at different technology and raise questions around questions of edge-cases (people who do not fit the mold of how tech designer assume will fit into their technology or who were not prepared for such people), intentional design made to rush users rather than engage them, and how companies have histories of abusing or not protecting the information they gather on users. It's not a call to be anti-tech but a call to be tech-conscious, tech-inclusive and tech-responsible, which is always appreciated. Her best work is done when she illustrates how simple steps in processes and technologies illustrate innate and problematic assumptions on the side of the designers such as when name-inputs restrict the letter count (what if you have a particularly long name) or when Google search results illustrate problematic results (that typically represent racial assumptions baked into or derived from other people's use). These help the common reader understand where these problems arrive for those that may not have encountered them or help them understand that they have indeed encountered such issues but did not realize such things were conscious design choices. In total, it's worth checking out as many of us can benefit from thinking about the inclusivity of technology.

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