James Williams is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute. He studies the ethics of attention and persuasion in technology design.

email: james.williams@oii.ox.ac.uk

James Williams is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute. His research addresses the philosophy and ethics of attention and persuasion as they relate to technology design.

He is also a co-founder of the ‘Time Well Spent’ campaign (http://timewellspent.io), a project that aims to steer technology design toward having greater respect for users’ attention, goals, and values.

Previously, James worked for over ten years at Google, where he received the Founder’s Award, the company’s highest honor. He is also a frequent speaker, consultant for companies and governments, and commentator on technology issues in the media.

James is also a visiting researcher at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the founder of the OII’s PhilTech seminar series, and Teaching Assistant for the OII’s Internet Technology and Regulation course.

His other interests include virtual/mixed reality systems, gaming, space travel, and the work of James Joyce. His first computer was a TI-99/4A.

James holds a M.S. in Human-Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington and a B.A. in English Literature from Seattle Pacific University.

Research interests

philosophy, ethics, attention, persuasive technology, behavioral economics, games, task and goal management, virtual reality, augmented reality, literature, narrative, human-computer interaction, education, advertising, product design

Positions held at the OII

  • DPhil student, October 2011 –

Supervisors at the OII


Latest blog posts

  • The Clickbait Candidate

    Date Published: 10 October 2016 - 12:44 am

    Authors: James Williams

    By James Williams (@WilliamsJames_)Note: This is a cross-post with Quillette magazine. While ‘interrobang’ sounds like a technique Donald Trump might add to the Guantanamo Bay playbook, [...]

  • Bring Your Own Boundaries: Pokémon GO and the Challenge of Ambient Fun

    Date Published: 23 July 2016 - 12:10 am

    Authors: James Williams

    By James Williams (@WilliamsJames_)(Words: 2500 | Reading time: 12 minutes | Gross misuses of the ‘Poké-‘ prefix: 6) 1. I’m not a Pokémaster; I haven’t ‘caught [...]

  • Why It’s OK to Block Ads

    Date Published: 16 October 2015 - 4:05 pm

    Authors: James Williams

    Over the past couple of months, the practice of ad blocking has received heightened ethical scrutiny. (1,2,3,4) If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “ad [...]

Current projects

Past projects

  • The Clickbait Candidate

    10 October 2016

    Authors: James Williams

    By James Williams (@WilliamsJames_)Note: This is a cross-post with Quillette magazine. While ‘interrobang’ sounds like a technique Donald Trump might add to the Guantanamo Bay playbook, [...]

  • Bring Your Own Boundaries: Pokémon GO and the Challenge of Ambient Fun

    23 July 2016

    Authors: James Williams

    By James Williams (@WilliamsJames_)(Words: 2500 | Reading time: 12 minutes | Gross misuses of the ‘Poké-‘ prefix: 6) 1. I’m not a Pokémaster; I haven’t ‘caught [...]

  • Why It’s OK to Block Ads

    16 October 2015

    Authors: James Williams

    Over the past couple of months, the practice of ad blocking has received heightened ethical scrutiny. (1,2,3,4) If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “ad [...]

  • Orwell, Huxley, Banksy

    24 May 2014

    Authors: James Williams

    Last month two new Banksy installations emerged, and they have something important to say about what we choose to fear in the age of the [...]

  • Staying free in a world of persuasive technologies

    29 July 2013

    Authors: James Williams

    Technologies are increasingly being designed to change the way we think and behave. While there has been excitement recently about designing information environments to [...]