Positive change in 2018

This year, it's been impossible to ignore that alongside technology’s constant march forwards, there has also been a growing unease about whether or not we’re creating the right things, or focusing energies in the right places.

From reports of Russian interference in elections, to Twitter’s frequent double standards over what breaks its terms of service, or that [hand-drier] (https://twitter.com/nke_ise/status/897756900753891328?lang=en) that wouldn’t work if your skin tone didn’t match what it was expecting… the web was in the news a lot. Even outside of more obviously problematic stories, exciting developments such as AI voice generation service Lyrebird or image generation capabilities raise follow-on ethical questions about how usage may develop in undesirable ways.

As a web community, it feels that there’s more awareness than ever of the power and responsibility that we as creators and decision makers hold in terms of having a real impact on society and people’s lives.

Into 2018, people will face more challenges - some of them technology-influenced - but they’ll also use technology and the web in more spectacularly enabling ways than ever before. I want to be on the right side of this. I’m very lucky that I’ve got to a place where I have some freedom with the kind of work that I get involved with, and in 2018 I want to use my skills, knowledge and expertise to help people; to make positive change in the world.

On top of more traditional digital projects, this year has involved a lot of digital transformation work focused on sustainable change and making a difference to people - everything from helping the RNLI to save lives at sea, through to working as part of the OpenActive initiative to make physical activity more accessible to all. I’d really like that to continue, but to do more. I’d like to speak to anyone who needs help with the following:

  • Are you trying to solve the big problems - climate change, cancer, inequality in education, understanding the impact that technology is having on us, and more?
  • Are you focused on taking on outdated processes or attitudes, and making something better - more accessible, usable, or ethical?
  • Are you working to help people - specifically younger people, older people, those in disadvantaged circumstances, under-represented groups, or who live outside of the wealthy Western web bubble?
  • Maybe you’re not trying to save the whole world, but you’re focusing on making an important element much better, which would have a big impact on people’s lives.

If so, would you like some help?

I can work as a consultant to help you make change happen from the inside, but with an outsider’s perspective. Alternatively if the project needs a bigger team then I can put together a custom group with the right skills once I understand your challenges. Your project may be digital at its heart or it may not. As an example, some areas that myself and a team can get involved in could span the following kind of activities:

Doing. Understanding problems and setting direction

  • Identifying how web technologies can help you do what you do, better.
  • Support with Discovery and UX work - who you’re helping, why, what their needs and current frustrations are, identifying digital and non-digital experience factors, assessing systems, understanding frictions and opportunities, collecting requirements, and making recommendations.
  • Getting an independent, expert review of a particular problem that’s holding you or your organisation back: identifying the root causes, and proposing some ways forward.
  • Using service design techniques to map experiences and identify improvements.
  • Doing a digital maturity audit to identify gaps and set strategies.
  • Selecting technology and architecting solutions
  • Creating prototypes and testing these with people.
  • Updating older, or unsuitable processes.
  • Changing relationships with technology, and shifting culture.

Teaching. Working with you to create something sustainable.

  • Championing important causes, helping you to set your strategy and roadmap.
  • Teaching digital skills and techniques to in-house teams, or direct coaching. Challenging areas where you may have stagnated, showing new tools, teaching techniques that you may not have known about.
  • Helping you learn about newer and future capabilities that web technologies are bringing us, understanding what you can do with these, and how they may (or may not!) solve some of your problems - things like Progressive Web Apps, Web VR, voice interfaces, and of course everyone’s favourite, AI.
  • If you have audiences around the world using different devices and browsers with different capabilities and levels of connectivity, I’d love to work with you to make sure that you’re making your creations as accessible and performant as possible to give these people the best experience you can.

If any of this sounds interesting, I’m currently having conversations about projects that can start in February/March next year. Let me know if you’d like to arrange a virtual chat or if you’d prefer to meet up in person for a cup of tea.

I have high hopes that in 2018 we’ll see some smart people working together to solve some important problems, and to make lives better. I’d love to hear about how myself and my friends can help with that.

Thanks to Ross Findon on Unsplash for the header image

Posted by Sally Lait

Sally is the lead consultant and founder of Records Sound the Same, helping people with digital transformation. She's also a speaker, coder, gamer, author, and jasmine tea fiend.