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"Not Just Checking Boxes: Thinking & Working Through Ethical Problems with Checklists" with Bri Watson

"Not Just Checking Boxes: Thinking & Working Through Ethical Problems with Checklists" with Bri Watson

Over the past few decades, members of the public, students, professionals, and researchers have struggled to the dilemmas and conundrums originating from powerful new technologies, including artificial intelligence, Big Data, machine learning, just to name a few. Although these new technologies hold much potential, their creators and designers have—more often than not—been willingly overlook the often-detrimental and sometimes-devastating unintended consequences.

Ethics should be a priority—not an afterthought—of every initiative; to potentially prevent, or at least reduce, harm to individuals and communities. This workshop will focus on the use of ethics checklists. Popularized now as the “Checklist Manifesto,” the professional use of checklists originates from the medical field, where it is seen as one of the most effective tools in addressing medical inequalities and errors. By applying the same questions to every single patient, regardless of situation, doctors and other medical staff have been able to drastically reduce medical errors and inequities.

In this workshop, Bri Watson guides participants through the development and use of a checklist developed over the course of multiple years in consultation with the creators, developers,

maintainers, sustainers, and affected individuals and communities. Working through this Ethics Checklist that is divided into three major areas subdivided into 7 subsections, participants will:

● Leave the session with an understanding of how checklists work to address potential ethical pitfalls

● Learn how checklists and codes of ethics may be useful for their work, research, or projects

● Reflect more deeply at who and what isn’t represented in our information sources

● Gain experience in thinking and talking through ethical questions


This workshop is especially applicable to

● Students and researchers in any subject discipline who work with large sets of information and data

● Users of large information systems in disciplines such as geography, medicine, and information science

● Institutions that collect or provide information, such as Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Special Collections (GLAMS)

● Projects and initiatives still in their developing stages, but could also be useful for long-running initiatives that would like to re-examine their foundations.

● Project leads/principal investigators in their initial planning stages and/or as an organizational activity to inform discussions with data providers.


This event will take place in the Peña Room (Room 301) of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

Thursday, April 6, 2023
10:00am - 11:30am
Irving K Barber Learning Centre
  Peña Scholars  
Registration has closed.

Bri Watson

Bri is a PhD. student at University of British Columbia’s iSchool, the Archivist-Historian for the Haslam Collection on Polyamory part of the American Psychological Association’s Division 44 Committee on Consensual Nonmonogamy. They also run the history of sexuality project HistSex.org and contribute to theHomosaurus, an international linked data vocabulary for queer terminology. In the past, Bri has worked at the Kinsey Institute Library & Special Collections where they revised Sexual Nomenclature, A Thesaurus, and as a research/project assistant with Dr. Marika Cifor and Dr. Robert D. Montoya on a project called Classifying, Documenting, and Preserving Human Sexuality at the Kinsey Institute. For a time, Bri was also the host of The AskHistorians Podcast. Bri is currently especially interested in equitable cataloging in GLAMS (Galleries, Archives, Libraries, Museums, & Special Collections), linked data vocabularies, histories of sexuality, knowledge organization, and archival studies.

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