In early March, I attended my first Designing for Digital conference—online. Established in 2015 as an extension of the ER&L conference, Designing for Digital focuses on user experience, design and discovery, and usability in libraries. And I have to say, my (user) experience of the conference was great.

Much of my enjoyment was in the differential mechanics of a virtual conference, the simple convenience of asynchronous attendance. Watching in my office here, I could pause, adjust playback, or skip through time, depending on the session. Now, the sessions were good, covering some of the current hot topics in UX like empathy and design, algorithms and culture, and technology and community, but, while the content was good, the impact of that content was also asynchronous, occurring later as I reflected on my own practice.

It’s one of the big themes right now in technology and social media, the deficits created through a careless failure to review or question current practices and assumptions. Dominant narratives celebrate innovation and potential, forecasts and promises, while the work is often constrained to platform optimizations, to performance analytics, to personalization metrics, as ways to automate and commodify trust and value. It’s especially refreshing then to challenge this version of modern technology practice with established library practice, a practice informed by core values, careful ethics, and essential competencies. None of us knows the future but hopefully all of us know a librarian.