How to live a good life in a bad life? This is the question of morals that Judith Butler asked in 2012, borrowed from the question of ethics asked by Theodor Adorno in 1951. It is also a question that, in 2021, has asserted its solidity as intersecting environmental, social, political, and economic demands are distributed through the echoing chambers of a manipulative and manipulated technical infrastructure. It is a question that every conscientious knowledge worker will eventually confront, both in their mode of production and through their means of consumption; yet, “How to live a good life in a bad life?” is, fundamentally, a provocation that requires motion and an operative that resists resolution.
To flex with this refusal, Whole nurtures the functional program over the objective. It starts with the optimistic assumption that it is how we build technology, not what technology we build, that leads to ethical problems. It avoids empty principles, passive guides, and decontextualized recommendations while aspiring to operationalize the will of distributed product teams who desire to act, be agents, and advocate for good within the larger sociotechnical landscape they participate in constructing.
Working within the temporal constraints endemic to the practice of digital product development, Whole attempts to create dialectical preconditions for ethical decision-making through the materialization of otherwise immaterial forms as well as through the responsive unification of the fragmented lexicon typical of emergent technology. In doing so, Whole reorganizes the contested space of digital product development while enabling new models of regulatory possibilities fit for a data-spliced future.