Kenneth Larsen

March 28, 2021

Feminist Design Theory: Building Alliances

While building my fictional food delivery service Grieferando I ran into several issues with the people who were delivering the food. It turns out that not giving them any rights or proper pay has caused some issues. Besides the extremely low compensation I give them they also get tips from our fictional, hungry customers. The problem is that not all of our wonderful, hungry customers remember to tip our ungrateful, hungry delivery people.

Someone outside of Grieferando decided to create a tool that allows the delivery people to rate customers based on their tips. This enabled them to only accept routes where a tip was more or less guaranteed.

This piece of software got a lot of positive attention in the media. Finally, software made the world a better place by helping these poor delivery people.

This is where most founders would stop and celebrate. But stopping here only enforces the idea that the delivery people need to be saved.

Stopping to reflect instead of celebrating can highlight ways where you can build alliances with your users instead of feeding your saviour complex. By investigating how they could work together on solving their issues, the software was extended to also include ways for the delivery people to discuss their work, unionise, and create a better space for their work. This way the software was nothing but a facilitator for their own work and the tool was now a supporting structure for them to create their own terms - not a saviour.

By building alliances with the users you get to step away from your saviour complex and work together with your users on solving their problems. This is a feminist criticism of individualism and something I can only encourage you to read more about


These were my product notes from week 12. See you next week!