In a bid to prevent online abuse, New York technologist Anil Dash has challenged tech developers to reflect on their values and envision what the world will look like if their idea succeeds.
Speaking at the Above All Human conference in Melbourne last week, Makerspace cofounder Anil Dash says that the online world, where people spend more time than they do anywhere else, should have the infrastructure to make it safe and accessible for everyone.
Backstage, Dash told StartupSmart this was one of the inspirations behind Makerspace, an online community for “makers”.
“If you look at the apps we use everyday, there’s no way to see who made them, who designed them, who created them,” he says.
Similar to the way filmmakers and actors are celebrated through IMDb and award shows, Dash says app creators should be given a face.
“It’s something that we need as a community to be able to find the people that inspired us or that we learnt from or that we want to connect with in order to ask about how they got to do that in their career,” he says.
Looking back at his own journey as a tech developer, Dash shares two key pieces of advice.
Find your community of peers
“The first is to find a community of peers to share your ideas with and get a bit of a sanity check,” he says.
Dash says this community will play a critical role through the ups and downs of building your venture including celebrating your wins and helping you when things feel like they’re falling apart.
“I’m very fortunate, my co-founder Gina Trapani is a good friend of mine and we’ve known each other for a long time so there’s a lot of that natural rapport and support,” he says.
Envision the world if your plan succeeds
From his experience with entrepreneurs in the tech industry, Dash says often founders get preoccupied with the prospect of failing and plan accordingly to avoid this risk.
“What we don’t ask often enough is: What does the world look like if my plan succeeds?” he says.
Dash says he thinks about his a lot.
“I’ve had the good fortune to watch friends make things that are enormously successful.
“I come from the world of people that made some of the first social media and social networking tools and I’ve watched people go on and build tools that a billion people use,” he says.
But with the focus on not failing, Dash says many don’t consider what problems would arise in the case that they did succeed.
“In the case of social media where these issues around abuse, harassment, bullying and all these other concerns, those all arose because the tools were designed with such fear for failure that there was not any planning for success,” he says.
Instead, Dash says entrepreneurs should really look at why they are building their idea and how it can impact the world if it does become successful.
“Have a very clear idea of the values that your effort is going towards,” he says.