Looking ethical on-line isn’t quite good enough

I welcomed the latest cover article on ethical design (DW 21 September). Given the sometimes highly influential positions designers can find themselves in, I feel as an industry we are guilty of crime in absentia. Too often our extra energy is channelled into personal aims rather than ethical ones.

The issues you discussed are also relevant to me as a Web designer. Buzz-ideas like ‘community’ and ‘transparency’ have led to many companies looking to market themselves in an ethical light on-line. The idea is that you can be upfront and open on-line, and win kudos for being authentic and un-corporate. Talk to the bloggers on their own terms, and so on.

Generally, these efforts are falling flat on their face. Companies still feel safer with the illusion of freedom, real freedom being too much of a leap. Marketing has such a tradition of tight control that things like unmoderated forums and user-uploaded content are terrifying.

But with more and more small successes, and the run-away popularity of MySpace (pictured) and YouTube, the move towards visible, uncontrolled, two-way dialogue between companies and their customers is inevitable.

After all, if an anti-blog about your product is only a Google search away, why not show your confidence and openness, and link straight to it?

Olly Wright, Head of information architecture, Media Catalyst, Amsterdam,

The Netherlands

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