THING 6 – ONLINE DIVERSITY
Diversity and representation is just as important in our online and digital tools as it is in the office and classroom for us to achieve equity as a society. Representation of diverse individuals in advertisements, media and even emoji/emoticons can have a profound impact on people. For instance, a lot of communication online now includes the use of emoji/emoticon images. Traditionally these have been displayed as a yellow standard, but recent releases of more diverse emoji choices have raised a number of conversations.
It is also important to be aware that insights taken from big data—the widespread collection of information about people and their activities online and off—and online representation “can actually perpetuate and exacerbate existing systems of racism, discrimination, and inequality.” (Brennan, 2015). This happens through algorithmic bias, which occurs as the algorithms used to interpret these massive stores of data “learn from the external process of bias or discriminatory behavior” (Brennan, 2015). This is, it is important to remember that algorithms are made by people and that their input also comes from people, so biases and discriminatory ideas in society become embedded in these algorithms.
Watch the following short video for an example of algorithmic bias.
Diversity is related to inclusivity, which was discussed in the previous module alongside accessibility. Like accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring diversity is part of our digital technologies requires care on the part of designers.