Our tech devices are designed to make life easier, but maybe ease isn’t what we need. They’re designed to captivate us, but maybe we need time to look up and around.
Silicon Valley’s technologies promised a revolution in speed and convenience, and they certainly delivered. Yet it’s starting to look like those were the wrong promises. 24/7 communication and distraction haven’t relieved us from stress, boredom, or loneliness.
As our lives become increasingly mediated by algorithms and machines, tech designers need to rethink those promises.
The following “ten commandments” suggest a way of designing that is centred not on ease or distraction, but flourishing. Perhaps we don’t need greater convenience in our communities and callings. Perhaps instead we need help to venture further on the straight-and-narrow path of righteousness.
Your users are created in the image of God, “crowned . . . with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5), and instructed to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4:8). Therefore:
You shall create tools for our human calling.
- Equip your users to participate in the real challenges of creation, restoration, and relationship, rather than offering an illusion of godlike ease.
You shall honour the holiness of your neighbour.
- Consistently remind users of the humanity they share with friends, strangers, and enemies, especially the most vulnerable.
You shall design with honesty.
- Contribute to both truth and trust in the community of your users. Respect privacy rather than creating a veneer of anonymity.
You shall remember the Sabbath.
- Honour our God-given rhythms of work and rest. Aim to enrich your users’ hours of work and rest, not to diminish them to dull toil or distracted leisure.
You shall cultivate communities where people can be known and loved.
- Create and support opportunities for people to be deeply known, from the household to the church body. Prioritize relational investment over shallow scrolling.
You shall learn from generations past, and care for generations to come.
- Learn from past wisdom as you design, and seek to lift up the next generation with your work, asking always how your devices will affect your children and your children’s children. Do not assume that what is new is what is best.
You shall honour God-created human bodies.
- Do not distract your users from their lives as embodied creatures. Design your devices to support physical flourishing both in bodily ability and disability.
You shall encourage attentiveness, rather than numbing the prickle of boredom.
- Promote mental engagement and creativity; avoid profiting from distraction. Awaken users to the wonder of the world.
You shall not prey on human temptations.
- Do not exploit human attraction to violence, sex, and outrage, no matter how much you stand to profit from them.
You shall not fuel your users’ envy.
- Rather than exploiting insecurity or stoking discontent, encourage the soul to be grateful for God’s good gifts.