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Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It

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The world is working exactly as designed.

The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” iniative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.

The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all.

Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name.

This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.

If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.

251 pages, Kindle Edition

Published April 12, 2019

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About the author

Mike Monteiro

10 books166 followers
Some say the clothes make the man. Others say it’s opinions. Co-founder of Mule, Mike likes to have a bet both ways. His 2012 book, Design is a Job, was a love letter to hard work, self-awareness, and the importance of a good tailor.

Mike cultivates his reputation around being serious about design, human rights, a damn fine joke, and the Phillies. His philosophy of supportive antagonism helps Mule create great internal and external projects. He has given talks about the responsibility of designers in client relationships at conferences such as CreativeMornings, TYPO, and An Event Apart.

Mike received his BA in Fine Art from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University, and his MFA in Graphic Design from University of Texas, Austin.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 247 reviews
Profile Image for Truce.
64 reviews129 followers
May 3, 2019
I’m giving this book four stars on a curve because I believe it needs to exist for the audience it was written for: white tech bros who will only listen to another white tech bro (the author basically says as much).

I’m a WOC working in tech and I’m certain many of us minority folk already know most of this stuff through experience and necessity. Diverse hiring practices bring more perspectives to the table and result in a better product. Big social media platforms will never be in the business of protecting their users’ data or lives. And if you really want to make change in the workplace, you need organized labor. A lot of this felt like Humanities 101, but I suppose this is the stuff you miss in STEM and design school.

I will say, I appreciate Monteiro’s fire. And while I thought I was pretty aware of the rampant douchebaggery in Silicon Valley, I still found myself genuinely surprised each time Monteiro cited yet another violation by another tech giant. I also appreciate that he did offer some concrete answers — not in the way of how to save the world from inhumane design, or how to be totally financially okay from getting fired for taking a stand, but in building community with others. There is strength in numbers, and when you act in solidarity with others, they’ll act in solidarity with you.
Profile Image for Alexander Traykov.
2 reviews22 followers
August 30, 2019
A piece about design ethics, while the writer focuses solely on US-based issues, ignoring the rest of the design world. Quotes like "If you work at company X, you should quit now" are pathetic, giving the fact that there are designers outside of your six figure-paycheck bubbles, basically pushing whole families just a bit over the poverty lines thanks to "unethical" companies. Extremely opinionated, irrational and at times god-awfully cliched. I get the point of it, I respect a couple of parts of it, but the rest is just focused on first world problem issues, ignoring the fact that there are designers, mind the fact they're humans as well, outside of the Bay Area. And while the author throws buzz words like "all white teams" and so on, I believe he could consider the fact that is white teams around the world that are living with less than $90 a month.
Profile Image for Lennie Noiles.
44 reviews3 followers
April 28, 2019
A good rant

There were times I wanted to rate this book 4 stars, other times 2. I split the difference. Some very valid points. Sometimes just a rant.
24 reviews1 follower
June 10, 2019
I tried. I really tried to push through and read it all. I couldn't. I started to have doubts right at the start when it reads like a blog post bashing Twitter, Uber, FB... Then politics got mixed and we got into a Trump bashing frenzy. I'm the last person to support him, but if I'm reading a book on design (or so I thought) I don't expect US politics to be the central topic.

Then we got to this: "While the study doesn’t make a conclusive connection between mental health and social media because of academic rigor and all that, it makes a very strong case for it. Thankfully, I’m not an academic, and I have little patience for academic pussyfooting, as well-meaning as it may be. So I have no problem telling you this: the work we are doing is killing people."

So, let me get things straight: Studies don't show a relationship, you are not an academic and despise academia, and I have to trust your opinion?

I was tempted to stop reading there. I had enough of this bullshit but I forced myself to push through. I wish I hadn't.

33% into the book I was already considering what I was doing reading this book and then I encountered this: "I am both racist and sexist, because I’ve benefited from both racism and sexism. If you are reading this and you look like me, you are those things too. Regardless of how well you’ve lived your life, regardless of how good your intentions were, you benefited from a stacked deck. Yet, even with the deck stacked in our favor, we couldn’t do the job. So yes, the best thing we can do for the planet is to die."

For me that's the straw that broke the camel's back. If in 33% of the book all you have been able to do is grind an ax against Twitter, Uber, fb, Google, and US politics, and then taking a detour into identify politics to reach that conclusion for white males, I have little hope the book will suddenly become a source of knowledge about design.
Profile Image for Paula Cruz.
Author 12 books211 followers
September 7, 2020
Sinceramente? O livro que TODO designer deveria ler no começo da graduação. Quem é de UX e UI então tem que ler isso aqui PRA ONTEM, porque ô área cooptada pelo neoliberalismo fascista, viu.

Ler este livro durante a pandemia foi um belo soco no estômago, porque concentrou todos meus pensamentos recentes num só lugar: por que o design se gaba de ter construído o mundo moderno se o mundo moderno é um lixo? Esse é o começo do livro, que logo aborda que trabalhar com design é uma questão de ética diária, e daí pra frente a gente só tem mais temas ótimos abordados. Confesso que fiquei especialmente feliz que, para além de um livro que critica o papel do design na sociedade, a gente tem aqui um livro que PROPÕE soluções, como sindicatos (MUITO QUE SIM), uma legalização da profissão que não é excludente (e sim reguladora de ética profissional) e manifestações coletivas contra empresas da área tecnológica. Inclusive, o Twitter cada mais se mostra um esgoto nazista a céu aberto. E a frase do CEO do Facebook "o que é bom pro mundo não é o mesmo que é bom pro Facebook"? Bizarro.

Devo dizer também que esse livro funciona como CURSO DE CIÊNCIAS HUMANAS BÁSICO AULA 101 PARA DESIGNERS. Porém, tudo que eu esperava de livros como "Políticas do design" e não tive, está aqui nesse livro do Mike Monteiro. É muito mais do que mostrar exemplos e estudos de caso. Ë sobre entender a responsabilidade de uma profissão que pode, e está sendo usada, como algo prejudicial ao mundo. Se manter atento e esperto é uma questão de sobrevivência. Por que, né?, "we are gatekeepers".
Profile Image for Sam Hutchings.
1 review7 followers
April 28, 2019
The World is Ruined By Design.

In this book, Mike takes the task the generations of designers who have let terrible things happen on their watch. From the Facebook designers who allow the company to harvest all of our data, to the designers of cages to put immigrant children in. At every level, Designers have both helped and hindered humanity, and the latter often feels like it’s winning.

Read this book if you’re interested in how you, as a designer, can make the world a better place for humanity. And definitely read this book if you work at the companies we often see as worst offenders: Facebook, Twitter, Google.
Profile Image for Deniz Cem Önduygu.
62 reviews44 followers
July 1, 2019
There is absolutely nothing about you that makes you different than anyone else. (p.14)

Every human being on this planet is obligated to do their best to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. Everyone on the planet is obligated to respect every other human being on this planet. (p.19)

A designer’s job is always to look out for society’s best interest. (p.52)

This job isn’t about helping Nike sell shoes; it’s about making sure everyone has shoes. (p.208)

These sentences and the like rain down in this mixture of simple-minded pretentious rant and overly romantic manifesto, not as the conclusions but the postulates of the author's arguments. I'm scared by how sure he is about these ideological claims and how he doesn't allow for human beings or designers to position themselves differently, to give different meanings to their lives or jobs. I guess it’s a bit of a problem when your ethics book has such a fascist tone that it makes your readers feel oppressed just because they have a different take on ethics.

This puritanical attitude is especially problematic for a book that uses false advertising: it is titled "Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It" but the content has almost nothing to do with the title. As a designer who’s got deceived by this trick into buying the book, I am angry. (And I write long reviews when I’m angry.)

No, I wasn’t expecting a book about how designers really destroyed the world, I was okay with the poetic license. The problem lies elsewhere. The word "designer" is used very ambiguously, with shifting definitions throughout the book, usually meaning developers and engineers, sometimes including CEOs, sometimes UX/UI designers, sometimes everybody. When the bad things we "designed" are mentioned, it's used as a general term for all the things we created as humans (combustion engines, guns, religions, social networks, financial systems). But we’re told in the introduction that the book is for designers indeed ("industrial, graphic, fashion", etc.); people who actually don't have much to do with all the bad "design" examples mentioned – with what makes them bad anyway.

It becomes clear in the first half that the author is just obsessed with Twitter and Jack Dorsey – whatever the subject is, he keeps going back to the same rants about Twitter (their decisions about Trump, harassment, etc.), Facebook (issues of data privacy), and Silicon Valley ("all white men"), over and over again. That is how the world is ruined, according to Monteiro.

So the problems described and the people addressed don't really match; it only serves to give a fake sense of importance to what designers do. This mismatch is reflected in the fact that there are only a few pages where the listed problems are specifically design-related (dark patterns in UX/UI) in this book about "how designers destroyed the world"; the rest of the 200 pages are filled with problems related to the software or the management of social media and tech industry. Monteiro eventually lets his guard down and refers to his readers as "tech workers" towards the end. It's one thing to claim to have a broad definition of design as to include developers and engineers, it's another to write a whole book for developers-engineers and advertise it as if it's written for designers, about design.

When the author seldom restricts his definition and talks about (UX/UI) designers, he repeats he expects them to be the "gatekeepers" (after Victor Papanek) raising their voices against unethical projects in order to protect the people: the examples (violations of data privacy, etc.) again aren’t from the domain of design, but he wants designers to stop other people (developers, engineers, managers) making those things. That’s where the book relates to designers, as just one of the many groups working in those big evil companies – it’s not about what design-related things they do, it’s about refusing to work for people doing bad things like unauthorized data collection. So this call could as well be directed at the copywriters in those companies.

But I admit, "Ruined by Copywriting" doesn’t sound as cool.
Profile Image for Alja.
95 reviews34 followers
May 27, 2019
Essential reading and a call to action for anyone working in the tech industry*. We had the chance to make digital products work for people, but instead chose to prioritize profits and egos to build platforms where Nazis run free, and products that help lock children in cages or sell our private data to the highest bidder. It's time we acknowledge that moving fast breaks not just things but the lives of people, especially those already marginalized and vulnerable.

The author argues for redefining the job of designers as gatekeepers, rather than servants or wannabe artists who are "just pushing pixels around." The book doesn't offer easy solutions to the design mess we find ourselves in, but rather calls to the design community to take responsibility, create standards that promote accountability and eventually regain public trust through more responsible everyday design choices. While the book focuses on Silicon Valley companies, it still opens important questions any startup in the world should be asking.

*Yes, anyone in the tech industry, not just designers; the book extends the definition of design to anyone involved in making decisions about product functionality. You could easily replace the word "designer" with "engineer" and maintain the validity of the arguments laid out in the book. It's time to stop pretending the digital products we build are neutral and only changing the world for the better.
Profile Image for Brennan Letkeman.
40 reviews2 followers
July 13, 2019
Have you ever wanted to read a 200 page twitter thread of tepid "hot" takes whose only common thread seems to be 'directionless anger'?

good news! here's the book.
Profile Image for Alison Meeks.
26 reviews1 follower
November 11, 2020
As a designer I follow Mike Monteiro on Twitter and his video on YouTube "F*ck you, Pay Me" was a huge influence on framing clear language and boundaries with clients on payment.

When I saw him promoting his new book I was over to Audible straight away to get it. Extra bonus was it was also read by Mike! I've listened several times and always pick out something new or find a bit that is exceptionally relevant to ongoing work.

If you design or create you must read this. Truly what we put out into the world is important.
Profile Image for Mary Chase Mize.
Author 1 book6 followers
January 25, 2020
Thought provoking and important - I’ll echo another reviewer here: I think this is an excellent book for the targeted audience. A bit repetitive, and it was definitely a rant, but the content is worth reading and considering. I don’t think I’d ever read a book like this on my own, which is reason #6,284 of why I love my book club.
Profile Image for Shelby.
48 reviews
January 26, 2020
I want to give this three and a half stars, but I'll round up because this book needs to be read by folks in the profession that aren't already highly invested in design ethics.

Reading this feels like a really, really long rant. Because it is. It's probably longer than it needs to be. And if you are already invested in the idea of designers (and those who make things) needing to be ethical then it will feel like a lot of "no shit" and "I already know this" and maybe even "why am I wasting my time when I could be _doing something_!"

But we aren't all like that. I wish a book like this existed when I was a design student. Or a young, early professional. I want people I work with in the tech industry to read it and start thinking critically about the choices we make and how they impact others. It's not the best book that could've been written in this area. But it's good for getting attention to it.
Profile Image for Madalina Nastase.
121 reviews11 followers
November 28, 2019
Fierce and empowering 💥
I agree with Mike that as designers we have focused for far too long on *how* to do our craft better instead of asking *why* we're doing it, and for what purpose. The topic of ethics in design is finally here (and late to the party), and I completely agree with Mike's rage on the subject. Tough love is what we need right now.

The one question I still have and do not feel like this book has answered is - 'how does anyone know at the moment of discovery where their work will ultimately lead?' (I borrowed this question from Blake Crouch). Yes, research and diverse viewpoints will help, but will it be enough?
Profile Image for Scott Boms.
11 reviews8 followers
March 28, 2019
Required reading for any designer whether you work on the web, building apps, or making anything really. There’s something here for you. Mike pulls no punches in the way only he does. And we need to hear it.
Profile Image for David Cruz.
7 reviews3 followers
November 20, 2020
Blunt, no hold bared, opinionated, the is akin to a "Papanek" book for this day and age. You know that when the first page is:
"This book is dedicated to Bahtiyar Duysak, who, for eleven glorious minutes in 2017, deactivated Donald Trump's twitter account"

In the current day of politically correct midfield, Mike just go straight away. It's refreshing! He writes with passion and direct language about the Silicon Valley "ethics" and the responsibility of Designers for the terrible we are currently living with.

"A book about ethics and designer? Surely this isn't for me.
Wait! Design is about creating a solution to a problem. If you contribute in any way to the definition of a product, a service, an experience; this book is for you!

Throughout the book, Mike repeatedly hit his favoured
punching bags: Twitter, Facebook, Uber, Google, …
It isn't hard to understand why. When stakeholders are more important that the impact on society, it is when racists and racists run rampant in social media. When we grow, no matter the cost, it is when we elect presidents by giving voice and immunity no matter the consequences.

The "silliconian" may be the targets of his hire, but this book isn't about them: it is about each of us. About us, professionals that prefer to stay in silence, to cave in, when unethical decisions are pushed throw with the help of our silence and complacency. This book is like that slapping scene on "Aeroplane" movie. Passengers are lining to slap one of them, but instead of nuns, monks and goons, it's Mike all the way done. We are urged to be like Gandalf and prevent the Balrog of rampant corporate greed pass. We are the gatekeepers.

This kind of book can leave a very negative and depressing taste, Mike gives us example of remarkable individuals who stood their ground and did the right thing: the job they were supposed to do.

This book is mainly aimed for an American audience, with sometimes hard to grasp idiomatic expressions. But its relevancy goes far beyond a single country. I believe that this is a must read book: to empower you, to make you question, to make you act.

As a strong closing note, he says: "The world is working exactly as we designed it to work, and that's the problem. We're here because we abdicated our responsibility as gatekeepers. We're here because we forgot how much strength we have. It's time to remember.

Wake up and fight."
Profile Image for Hannah.
53 reviews33 followers
May 12, 2021
Somewhere in the book, I realized I was reading a long rant. But it was thought provoking and made me think how many of us don't realize what "design" is. Sure, "design" is a broad term and I don't even think it was defined clearly in the book, but there are many things it's certainly not. It's not just making things look nice and pretty. It's not simply creating cool products. Design is pervasive throughout many (if not all) of our decisions and lives and has huge implications to us all... and that's where the ethics come in. But what does it mean for design to be ethical? Can we always be ethical with design? It's something that I've been thinking about and this book introduced many helpful points, definitely something I'd need to think over some more.

It's a book heavily written for a certain audience in the US, but nonetheless an important read for any designer. Particularly if you're new to the field, I think.
Profile Image for Diren.
52 reviews1 follower
March 10, 2023
3.5 stars! Monteiro argues a very compelling point, that the oft-lauded ability of design to encompass multiple roles allows designers to take responsibility for none of them.

This book acts (for me) not so much as an ethics guide, but as a reminder to search for and implement opportunities for responsibility at all points in my career. The line that most stood out to me is actually a quote from another book, where Victor Papanek says "there are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a few."

The dock in stars is mainly for the narrative voice, it's that new-age style I can't stand; "I'm not like most business leaders/self-help coaches/etc because I'm annoyingly colloquial." Monteiro's intentions are opaquely and satisfyingly leftist, but he wastes a lot of time on virtue signalling towards this conclusion instead of letting the work speak for itself.
Profile Image for Mpho3.
238 reviews9 followers
January 15, 2020
I don't always write reviews, and when I do, they tend to be more of reactions than "thoughtful analysis." Furthermore, I don't believe I have ever written any kind of review before finishing a book, unless to say that the book was so awful I couldn't finish it. Well, this isn't quite that. I'm commenting now, with half the book yet to go, because I'm irritated by how long it's taking me to get through the damn thing. It's taking me forever because Ruined by Design is sort of ruined by its design, i.e it's an unchecked, unmitigated rant. However, there's enough here to keep me wading in his waters for fear of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Still,ugh... Additional reactions forthcoming.

I'm no further along but continue to see more trains attaching to the car. Monteiro particularly calls out Twitter, Facebook, and Uber as prime examples of designer abetted malfeasance. Today Wired has published an op-ed by Guilluime Chasbot, YouTube's former AI engineer, and The Guardian UK has a piece similar in spirit on Craiglist's Craig Newmark in which he talks about "the way in which social media can be weaponized." Though Newmark doesn't discuss it as a design issue, the interviewer frame it as a problem with the ecosystem, and that does point back to a flaw in the design a la Monteiro.

Phew! Wow, that was sort of a slog but a worthwhile slog. A slog worth enduring, I think. By number of pages, not very long, but a bit much at times in ways aforementioned. Sidenote, Slate's "Evil List" of tech companies who are doing the most harm, was published today. Their definition is evil "in the way Googlers once swore to avoid mission drift, respect their users, and spurn short-term profiteering, even though the company now regularly faces scandals in which it has violated its users’ or workers’ trust. We mean ills that outweigh conveniences. We mean temptations and poison pills and unanticipated outcomes."

Well that's what Ruined by Design is all about. Unfortunately there are too many examples of malfeasance for Monteiro to choose from with more rising to public acknowledgement each day. He tackles some of these exhaustively, but I think the most important stuff is in the last chapters when he makes cases for three interesting and important remedies.

The case for starting a design community: "If we agree that we work within an ethical framework, as most other profession of our caliber do, then we can elevate not just the type of work we do and how we do it, but also the society which that work ends up affecting." Right now many of these companies set themselves up to become their employees' de facto community, which makes might seem like a benevolent benefit to the workers, but is really designed to benefit the company by essentially locking in one's loyalty to the company instead of to the world at large (i.e. service and product users). This is the backbone of incidents such as Mark Zuckerberg's infamous "what's good for Facebook is good for the world."

The case for professional organizations, inc. unions--to set standards, codes of professional conduct, and provide mentorship; to resolve disputes and provide legal representation; and perhaps group benefits and/or financial services. These things would give designers greater freedom to confront or walk away from unethical employers.

The case for licensing and regulation:Licensing practitioners and regulating industries don't solve all problems, but they do provide some sort of accountability. From lawyers and doctors to drivers and realtors and from the airline and financial services industries to nursing homes, these exist, to varying degrees of success, to protect the public from potential harm. I found his arguments here very compelling. Again, these won't prevent bad outcomes, but at least "guarantee" some sort of qualifications to do a job (license) and oversight (regulation).

Most compelling of all, however, is his broad definition of a designer. While ostensibly, he's mostly writing to/for user experience designers, right from the beginning he writes that regardless of whether your job has "designer" in the title, "if you're affecting how a product works in any way whatsoever" or have any impact on a final design, product, service, or result, you're designing, whether it's fashion or Congressional districts. He further qualifies, and quite rightly, that "design is a political act. What we choose to design and more importantly, what we choose not to design, and even more importantly, who exclude from the design process--these are all political acts. ... And he quotes the 20th century designer Victor Papanek, who said, "You are responsible for what you put into the world. And you are responsible for the effects those things have upon the world." That's the crux of the entire book. Read it. Maybe try to live it.
Profile Image for Sallar.
38 reviews39 followers
October 13, 2019
I’m going to read this book again and again for years to come. It’s an important book. Brilliantly angry and rightfully so. If you work in tech (and not only if you’re a designer) please give this book a good read. I think we all need to learn a thing or two from Mike Monteiro and his amazing book.
Profile Image for Celina.
22 reviews3 followers
February 9, 2020
This book should be at the top of the curriculum for anyone entering the design field. Mike Monteiro lays out examples of how design has scarred society and is empowering designers to acknowledge and take charge of their responsibility. He puts it perfectly at last when he states: “I’m talking about caring who our work is affecting. I’m talking about caring about who it’s helping and who it’s hurting. I’m talking about who’s making design decisions, and who’s being left out of them. I’m talking about increasing our definition of design beyond aesthetics and into ramifications. I’m talking about what we’re willing to support and what we’re willing to lay the tools down for.” Another word for designers that is used throughout is gatekeepers. We are the gatekeepers. And I’m excited to contribute to the fight in better designs that can help more and hurt less.

A must read for all designers.
Profile Image for Emily Carlin.
325 reviews38 followers
December 5, 2019
I'm in complete agreement with nearly all of Monteiro's points. I appreciate his shtick. He seems to have his heart/brain in the right place. I didn't find the "fuck you" tone too grating (though I can imagine it alienating some readers).

I liked the repetition of this Upton Sinclair quote: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." I also like the emphasis on saying "no" and asking "why?" as central to what designers are hired to do.

But in general, this book misses the mark. I guess that I'm glad that it exists, but it feels unlikely that it's going to change anyone's mind or move the needle in any way.

I found it totally superficial:

- Critiques of tech in general. It's a 101 rehashing of all of the messed up things that tech companies have done in the past few years. Anyone alive in 2019 + paying any attention will be familiar with the examples (which is fine) and the analysis of them (less fine).

- Organizing among tech workers. This was a touch deeper, but felt really under-researched and under-explored. There are interesting things happening with tech labor. None of them were touched on here (besides, again, the most surface-level treatment of familiar examples like the Google walkout in 2018).

- Designers. There is almost nothing here that is particularly relevant to designers, besides a few random pages on dark patterns. This isn't inherently a bad thing; it would be totally valid to write a book for tech workers in general. It just felt like he was trying to shoehorn these critiques of tech into his wheelhouse (design) and as a result, a lot of the arguments ended up falling flat. I would have loved some examples of designers who have acted as gatekeepers in the way he argues for -- or really anything concrete beyond repetitive invective to not work on unethical things.

In general, I just found it disorganized and 50% too long. For example, at one part he starts talking about death as an inevitable part of life, "Death is always a given. It is not a choice. We’re all automatically enrolled in this program right from birth." ... Okay, yes, sure, of course, but ... what?

It's a shame this book isn't better. Read it if you're a tech automaton who needs a jolt of motivation to start working ethically and/or if you haven't followed anything that has happened in the industry for the past few years. Otherwise ... probably fine to skip.
Profile Image for Ian.
139 reviews
May 24, 2019
I can’t believe I wasted my time reading this. A few of the examples are valid (data harvesting and dark patterns) but nothing that anyone living in 2019 doesn’t already know. Everyone involved in a product does have some level of responsibly but not nearly the level the author assumes.

The book falls apart with weak arguments (all of which can easily be debunked) and many of the rants just go over the edge. The author is completely out of touch with reality and the level of arrogance is astonishing. He clearly doesn’t believe in free-speech (unless he agrees with what is being said). The whole thing felt like a long twitter post.

This is a book written for snowflakes by a snowflake that ultimately turns into far-left garbage that will not age well.
Profile Image for Scott.
207 reviews2 followers
December 26, 2019

"Humility is just lipstick on a pig called fear." (page 143)

If you decide to read this book, please consider the source...

Mr. Monteiro, I don't know where you get your definition of meek and humility, but it never means backing down and letting people walk on you. Rather, it’s having a quiet but confident trust and being willing and able to do whatever is right from within yourself.

Blatant arrogance won't solve all the problems you wish to solve, sir.

And that's all I have to say about that.
Profile Image for Vuk Trifkovic.
513 reviews43 followers
April 15, 2019
Very opinionated, in a good way. Very pragmatic, in a good way. Reads well and is entertaining, though a bit predictable.

The thing is, in many ways it jumps to the solution without neccessarily giving tools to people how to think through ethic issues. It is *very* good on giving you tools on how to act on ethic issues.
Profile Image for iversia.
16 reviews
June 17, 2019
A few basics about design ethics and a handful of talking points about licensing for designers near the end. Has a very narrow worldview (Americentric), with next to no backing research. It reads a lot like a rant, but is humdrum instead of fiery.

I like the idea of this book, the driving premise, but not the execution.
Profile Image for Marina Muller.
29 reviews
February 4, 2021
A prepotência com que o autor busca trazer frases impactantes, quase como xingamentos e repetições de expressões e efeitos para soarem bonitos, denuncia seu lugar de fala de homem branco cis privilegiado. Como mulher, é claro identificar de onde vem tal raiva, mas por vezes é incômodo que o tom de "cagação"de regra continue vindo da mesma classe. Os homens continuam a só se entender falando em tom agressivo? Além disso, incomoda a certeza óbvia de tudo, a inexistência para dúvidas, para incertezas, para pensamentos que ainda vamos descobrir juntos.

Apesar disso, as propostas, como a criação de uma comunidade sólida e de associações eficientes, são boas. A crítica que o autor faz à AIGA vale o livro todo e representa muito do que penso a nível Brasil, do nosso design glamouroso de associações e prêmios na velha fantasiada de nova bolha.

E por mais que essa seja uma leitura extremamente nichada - big techs estadunidenses, há reflexões que poderiam se estender a muitas outras áreas. Talvez aqui eu esperasse um livro menos focado no Vale do Silício e mais abrangente em design no mundo, porque ainda há tanto a ser dito fora dos Estados Unidos.
Profile Image for J.
22 reviews5 followers
June 6, 2021
Don’t read this as a designer if you are currently or want to be a Silicon Valley Bro. This was suggested to me as a UX Designer whose 2-year program currently does not have a required design ethics course, and I think this is an excellent wake up call to many UX Designers because we do have a moral responsibility to consider the technologies and products we’re designing and testing since we are, in effect, manipulating the user’s way of handling the product and how we format it to the users is important. Monteiro’s voice is brash and I’ve never read so many “fuck you’s” in a design book before, but it gets the point across unless, as mentioned, you’re a Silicon Valley baby who’ll read this and just scoff. Because that’s exactly who he’s targeting and the exact person he knows he will never be able to change.
Profile Image for Elbz.
13 reviews20 followers
December 31, 2019
The read we need, and probably the one we deserved years ago, is here.

Cynical. Honest. Direct. What's not to love?

The dialogue for this argument on how every aspect of our daily lives is design - or the 'lack' of - is eye opening.
Designer? Pick this one now. 'Non-designer'? Pick it too.

Monteiro opens the case of the evident repercussions of missed ethics whilst designing the current digital products of today. But there's still a salvation - as long as we start doing something about our mess.

Hard, but not impossible.
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