The Race Towards Livable Media

How Will Tech Platforms Compete in the 21st Century?

Joe Edelman
2 min readAug 17, 2014

The tech platforms compete for our allegiance, and design has been a key factor. Over the last decade, design leadership made Apple / iOS the leader, as tech platforms worked on streamlining our communications.

Now, these platforms are transitioning from streamlining our lives to structuring them. Algorithmic recommendations and personal assistant features don’t just help us do things, they tell us what to do.

In this new phase, users must trust that a platform will help them live according to their own values. In the next decade, platforms will compete over alignment with their users’ human values.

At present, all the platforms are terrible at this. Facebook, Apple, and Google—from their notification screens to their feeds—they ignore their users’ will and intent, they ignore their users’ values, they abuse users by directing their attention towards advertising or towards greater platform engagement.

The values revolution will be as big as the design revolution. There will be an Apple of values. And there will also be new players, new interface concepts, new types of careers in tech.

To stay in the game, the vendors must hire a new kind of product person—half philosopher—who understands values and what the good life means to different people, and who can use these notions to reshape functions like email and app stores.

The values revolution will begin when users start to see the possibility of values-aligned tech, and to discover that their lives are warped by tech with values contrary to their own. This is already happening and it will accelerate.

To drive this change, we are starting an organization, and you can help.



Joe Edelman

Building economies of meaning, and leading the School for Social Design