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Since 2009, I have been active on twitter sharing my design knowledge and safety content. Some appreciate me, some mute me, some block me and others attack me for being a "communist" or an NGO — well, it's just science. The reality is that design sometimes deals with death. Deaths of people, deaths of animals, or both. Design that ignores this topic is doomed to repeat the mistakes that most in science try to pursue — try to benefit society.
Science rarely gets to speak freely "at the microphone" — nor does our corporate media choose to discuss it. Talking about death is a taboo topic — it's also bad for business. Having worked on systems that can kill people, design safety is always lurking in my head. Am I sharing too much? When I am designing something, I must ensure that it will not chop a person's arm off, etc.
There is a lot of legal issues in design when it really goes wrong. Designs that end up hurting people typically are not allowed to leave the drawing board — they get crumpled up and recycled. But what if management says that you have no say in what is designed? By law a licensed engineer can't release a design that kills people, seems management is much better suited?
The news published, today, that links oil sands to cancer isn't a "victory" for me. It's a shameful moment when I discover I was correct — another sad moment when being ignored hurts even more. There is no victory in knowing people are getting cancer from oil sands. We see the Alberta Government fired the doctor that originally discovered the links. Is the Stephen Harper Government now complicit in ecocide? Do I want to blog about this? No, but thank you, Dr. John O'Connor, for your service — if only our governments were legally bound to such professional ethics as "reality".
People wonder why I blog and tweet so much about safety in design. Today you just might understand that sometimes I wish I was wrong. I am not wrong, I'm sad.