For this edition of FFS, we're delighted to be joined by designer and tech ethics consultant Cennydd Bowles.
If you're new to FFS, otherwise known as Futureheads Five Stories, this is a regular interview series where we speak to people who have interesting stories to tell.
And we couldn’t resist the acronym.
Cennydd is also leading our first Leaders in Change event of 2019, on the topic of future ethics. Find out more and reserve your space here.
What’s the story of your career so far?
I expected to graduate from my Master's degree into a software engineering role, but a single well-taught HCI module was enough to convince me that the human side of things was much more interesting. From there I’ve worked in government, startups, dotcoms, consultancies, tech giants, and am now an independent design consultant and writer. I just published my second book, Future Ethics.
What advice would you give to yourself when you were just starting out?
Learn visual design far sooner. The false separation of UX and UI has been harmful to the industry and to its practitioners; we’re only now starting to recover.
What do you love most about what you do?
The privileges afforded to me by education, by upbringing, and by luck have put me in a welcome position of being able to pursue my interests, to travel, to be paid well, to contribute to the evolution of a field. I’m a fortunate man.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Follow your own path. Our industry is becoming homogenised, well-trodden. We need more dabblers: more art, more music, more writing, more exploration, more curiosity. In the last few years, I’ve chosen to take more of these risks: it makes for a lonelier professional trajectory, and perhaps a less lucrative one, but it’s a path I’ve found more fulfilling and meaningful.
What do you think is going to be the biggest challenge in our industry over the next twelve months?
Having, at last, realised the power of collective action, tech workers have become a significant political force. Groups of concerned workers have forced change in even the most powerful tech giants through protest, walk-outs, and even resignations. This trend is only going to grow. Tech companies will have to handle an increasingly mobilised and politicised workforce, and carefully navigate the inevitable political, ethical, and business conflicts that will result.
A little bit more about Cennydd
Cennydd Bowles is a London-based designer and writer with fifteen years of experience advising clients including Twitter, Ford, Cisco, and the BBC. His focus today is the ethics of emerging technology. He has lectured on the topic at Facebook, Stanford University, and Google, and is a sought-after speaker at technology and design events worldwide. His second book, Future Ethics, was published in 2018.
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