So it comes back to this. When we talk about the need for diversity in tech, we’re not doing it because we like quota systems. Diverse backgrounds produce differing points of view. And those differences are needed if we are to put the flowering of internet genius to use actually helping humanity with its many terrifying and seemingly intractable problems.

Zeldman on unexamined privilege

We keep on saying empathy is a core feature of good software design. I would agree with that, and I’m sure most of you would too. But we always say it as if empathy is something a designer just sprinkles on like salt. Here’s the problem: it’s not clear to me that every person can just pull out empathy from their character and apply it to what they’re doing. Empathy is a muscle you must build, and the only way I know to build that muscle is through life experience. I would even go further and say that, unfortunately, experiencing hardship in life is the steroids to the empathetic muscle. Empathy is not something you learn at an expensive Manhattan design school, or at a hot Silicon Valley startup. I'm not even convinced that it's something you can user test. You can’t just add empathy to your product roadmap like you add a feature. Empathy isn’t a feature, it informs a feature. [insert edit]A team with[/end edit] diverse life experiences are the checks-and-balances of informed empathetic design.

[Edit] Geoff, Kevin, and Evan are clearly right, and I didn't mean to be too black/white. I should probably take back highlighting hardship too, since a lot of wonderful life moments could be just as complex imo. I edited the last sentence because I mean to say a "diverse team" is a checks-and-balances, damn I wish I had a personal editor, blogging is hard.

[Edit 2] I have a quote from one blog, my opinion after it, then an edit from a conversation I had on different channels. I also wanted to edit the last sentence and there is no good way for me to show that I did that. I don't have a personal editor either, which adds to the chances of missing or conflicting thoughts. Personal blogging is great, but this feels broken/outdated? hmmm...

Written in New York, on Dec 29, 2014. ©