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SXSW 2021

Personalization Isn’t a Dirty Word

The public has soured on microtargeting and social platforms, thanks to rampant misuse of personal data. We struggle with how much privacy to forgo for a more convenient lifestyle. Social media and data intelligence are not necessarily poisoned fruits; rather, modern implementations are plagued by perverse incentives and a lack of ethical guidance.

Obsessed with creating a more perfect future, designers think a lot about how to recognize and correct predatory design. I’m optimistic that the right application of technologies and practices can leverage data to create experiences that are positive and economically viable. In this session, we’ll dissect the seven deadly sins of personalization, explore ethical alternatives, and discuss how we can course-correct to build a better world.

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  1. What are the dark patterns rampantly abused in personalized and social content?
  2. How can we correct these abusive mechanics and reform the design community?
  3. What are alternative ways to design more positive personalized experiences?


  • Rusty Kocian, Associate Creative Director, argodesign


Carla Cook, Content Strategist, Argodesign

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