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What struck me most about this article is how much rationalization occurred. I'm amazed that a (presumably licensed) doctor can in one breath say they have a moral responsibility to safeguard the public, their workers and the environment, then in the next breath describe why the results of their own study didn't apply.

But looking inward, I wonder if our industry doesn't do the same thing in many cases - what about:

- Eye strain caused by lack of contrast due to our favorite color palette.

- Stress induced by unintelligible workflows.

- Failure to protect a user's privacy.

- Programs that induce RSI.

I realize this is a far cry from polluting the environment with toxins, but shouldn't we at least think about these factors more often?

> - Failure to protect a user's privacy.

Advertising is our C8. It pollutes nearly every corner of the web with deception and manipulation. It is the cause of the cancer called click-bait. It is so profitable it has given rise to factories that pump out cheap junk "content", overwhelming anything of merit on the web[1][2]. Then, to extract even more from the devil in this Faustian bargain, we invade our very customer's privacy, selling our soul twice over.

Most of us avert our eyes from this moral abdication because it funds our high salaries and our get-rich-quick startup schemes[3]. Everyone seems happy with their "free" non-stick pans and waterproof boots, so why spoil the party?

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” – Upton Sinclair

If you agree with me, send me an email. I'm starting a project to whistle blow, to raise awareness, to inspire change.

[1] Most people will miss this article about C8 because it doesn't stand a chance against all the ad-supported garbage. The Intercept doesn't do click-bait. Journalism, a cornerstone of democracy, is dying. This toxin analogy is sadly too accurate.

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8585237

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9961761


> I realize this is a far cry from polluting the environment with toxins, but shouldn't we at least think about these factors more often?

Yes, demand a better work environment, but please don't compare "eye strain caused by lack of contrast due to our favorite color palette" and "Stress induced by unintelligible workflows" with an environmental toxin that never existed until we created it, is now "in the blood of 99.7 percent of Americans", causes cancer and birth defects, and may outlive humanity. Many jobs have some stress on the body or mind or risks to life and limb (manual labor, fire fighting). It is called "work" after all. The fire department is not being evil. Dupont and 3M are. I hope you can see the difference.

I said it was a far-cry!

I don't work in the chemical industry and other than complaining, I can't effect much change in how it operates. I can however make life better for those using the software I create. As many others have pointed out, there are many more categories. I'll even add another - efficiency. I should create my software to use the least amount of resources possible. Eventually CPU and memory usage equate to power consumed from the grid.

> Advertising is our C8.

This. Not to mention the malware that hitches rides on ad networks. Adblockers being the new condoms and all that.

Nah, we can always protect ourselves from ads or malware. Worst case we can go completely offline or use an extremely locked down system.

C8 and similar compounds pollute the only inhabitable planet we have access to, there's no escape from the pollution. The man-made C8 will remain in the water and soil far longer than any human will be around, but before that it will accumulate in our bodies and poison us. And C8 is just one such compound, how many more are there?

In the various recent threads about open office plans, some people have pointed out that extended use of headphones, at the volume required to shut out conversation, causes permanent hearing loss over the long term. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a tech company that takes that concern seriously.

You can use noise canceling headphones/ear buds to avoid the chatter and lower the volume.

At ~300$ there not cheap, but not only do they help save your hearing they are also less distracting for those around you.

>avoid the chatter

If active noise canceling seems to lower conversation volume, it is because you've convinced yourself it should. No DSP located on your ear can analyze and cancel an unpredictable signal like conversation before it reaches your ear. It can be effective against drone sounds like motors, rushing air, etc. because the same cancellation signal works now as did 100ms ago. This is not true of human speech.

Opt for a pair of well-fitting in-ears. If you have the money, see an audiologist for a custom fit. With high-quality earbuds and a good seal, you can play music at a very low level and still 1) hear all its detail, and 2) not perceive outside sounds.

1 v 1 they don't work, but they seem to help with 1 v 100 open office situations where the background of 100 people working. Granted, this might be by blocking the AC and other background sounds. But, I don't care why they help just that they do.

I find the chatter of 100 (and AC and other background sounds) soothing and even necessary. It's when I can pick out individual conversations that I can't help but stop what I'm doing and process them.

Active noise cancelling still adds to the absolute volume, doesn't it? I use some headphones intended for muffling yardwork at the lowest setting to have music drown out frequent background noises (carts moving by, nearby keyboards) but not necessarily uncommon things like people chattering.

>> Active noise cancelling still adds to the absolute volume, doesn't it?

Noise canceling works by playing back the exact environmental frequencies through the headphones, 180 degrees out of phase. So from the perspective of your ears, noise canceling does lower the absolute volume.

The phase-shifted signal from active noise canceling electronics only actually achieves physical cancellation if the signal it's attempting to cancel hasn't changed. By the time the phase-shifted response to a dynamic signal like speech comes out of the speaker, the signal it's trying to cancel is gone, and there is in fact more sound coming to your ears.

Thanks for correcting me. I knew the physics behind it, so I'm not entirely sure why I've never self corrected that belief.

I find that nice pair of in-ear etymotics with their biggest foam tips is the best way to block out noise.

The noise isolation is so strong that I can't even listen to music at higher than half volume without discomfort.

Seconding this. I love my etymotics. You can get a pair these days for about 70 bucks (or less). Take the time to try out different tips to find ones that are most comfortable.

The pressure on the skull also causes headaches in a lot of people, which is why most of the people in my office don't use them, even though the company pays for them.

I think points are valid and worth considering, but unless new research finds something entirely new, "eye strain" doesn't damage your eyes.

From the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

"Watching televisions, including LCDs and flat screens, can't cause your eyes any physical harm. The same is true for using the computer too much or watching 3-D movies. Your eyes may feel more tired if you sit too close to the TV or spend a lot of time working at the computer or watching 3-D movies, but you can fix that by giving your eyes a rest."


Tell that to my computer use induced Blepharitis.

>my computer use induced Blepharitis.

Do you have evidence that computer use was a factor in your development of Blepharitis, or do you think that because of the correlation between the two?

How did computer use cause oily buildup, bacterial infection, and eyelid inflammation?

The most serious is ignoring the effects of sitting all day. Employers tout their big monitors and new laptops but I've never seen one advertise treadmill workstations.

Another rationalization is that longer work hours are somehow mutually beneficial but I find the opposite to be true.

>but I've never seen one advertise treadmill workstations. Look again. Anecdotally, I have actually seen them advertise this, and my company decided to get two. I see people using it all the time, but I have yet to see anyone do in depth work requiring interaction with the machine, mostly just reading and researching.

I was working at a treadmill workstation for 8 hours a day coding. Physically it felt great but eventually the number of hours concentrating on code wore me down. Now I work two hours a day on code and spend the rest of the day doing other activities. I was burned out coding at regular hours which makes me incredulous of those who claim productivity at 60+ hours a week.

>- Eye strain caused by lack of contrast due to our favorite color palette.

An anecdote: A couple of years ago during a stressful time at work I was fitted for prescription lenses. While being indecisive about choosing frames, I installed f.lux and reduced brightness of my monitors. Never ended up buying glasses, and in a couple of weeks my vision was back to normal. It was just eye strain, and I saved about $300.

Edit: changed "Flux" to "f.lux"

+1 for f.Lux!

Unfortunately, 35 years of typing in front of a screen has led to trifocals for me (or maybe I would have needed them anyway?).

that and the "hacker vision" extension on chrome.

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