Context for Technology: People Over Product

Nathanael Yellis By Nathanael Yellis • Last Updated August 24, 2019

From the beginning, I’ve been impressed with Michael Marinaccio’s work. The latest chapter in his writing promises to be the best yet. People Over Product puts technology in its proper context.

In his words, POP (nice acronym!) is where ethics and technology converge. That convergence has been a place where either one or the other is preferred: Josh Hawley thinks laws ought to be passed to ban infinite scroll or autoplay videos, the human race has universally adopted handheld computers with no thought of downsides. We need a set of thinking that questions technology and forces us to make ethical judgments.

In the opening manifesto for People Over Product, Michael presents five theses that will guide his writing:

Our tools shape who we are and we are constantly recreating our environments to mirror and imitate the mediums we worship;
Every man deserves work that summons his greatness, creativity, or physicality — even if that work product is less efficient, more expensive, or not automated;
Constant communication, especially media, news, streaming video, and information on demand, all contribute to an insatiable online addiction;
Visual media, especially video, can be a corrupting force that entertains, distorts truth, and consumes the mind;
Reading, writing, and physical communion of persons are the highest order goods for communicating.

You can read the rest of the essay here.

The item from Michael’s list that struck me the most is the second: how do digital tools impact the work each person deserves?

Frequently in my job as a technology consultant, I encounter the axiom that behavior change is the hardest technological hurdle. Almost anything can be “coded” around, but eventually a person needs to pick up the tools and use them to do their job. And that person needs to do better with the digital tools than without them. Thus, my work tends to be more oriented towards change management than towards technological solution design.

But Michael raises the question whether that sort of change management is good. Why should people adopt CRM, marketing automation, or a digitized sales process? What if the more “costly” (say in time or effort) approach is actually better for the people and their work?

This is the ethical question behind the change management behind the technology. And it’s not one that we spend much time answering, and we probably should. That’s why I’m following Michael’s work closely and aim to publish something on his new platform soon.

In the meantime, I do want to let you know that the day after he gave up Twitter, Michael was the first person to alert me to an Instagram hack. Tech habits die hard.



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