Post 8 – Brainstorming possibilities for a design response

After weeks of researching, it now came time to start thinking about the end game. What can I turn all of this research into, and what kind of design response could be created?

The individual and collaborative tasks that were undertaken in class were very helpful–if only I had a good grasp on a specific data issue! The first section of the exercise was to individually develop a problem statement. Throughout the research process, I hadn’t investigated a specific issue within data privacy and surveillance. And although the Internet of Things was somewhat specific, at the time of the problem statement it didn’t feel specific enough. So with a brief discussion of issues and topics with a peer, the issue of patient data came to mind as a specific concept that was also present in the research. With this brief topic in mind, I tried to develop a problem statement.

Initial problem statements

However, it almost seemed too specific (topic / user wise), and was probably too long. Shortened, it came down to patients wanting control over their heath data. It was almost too specific because there wasn’t a lot of room for interpretation or response development because the topic was too small in terms of who it involved and creative solutions. I almost needed something more varied and broad that could also be specified in certain situations.

But I powered on with the specific patient data, and used the problem in the next stage of the task which was to brainstorm any and all visual design responses to the problem statement that were of an emergent practice. This was difficult as not only did I not have a lot of understanding of the problem and key characteristics, but there was nothing to clearly explain the problem to my peers.

Even still, we brainstormed for around ten minutes and came up with few possibilities. Not nearly enough to develop a good proposal for though.

Group brainstorm of possibilities of change

After taking a week off the research and development, I wanted to ty the exercises again. So after doing some more secondary research, and going back to my original topic of the Internet of Things, I developed new problem statements, and brainstormed new possibilities for visual design responses.

Initial problem statements
Initial problem statements

It was decided that the responses would be around education, warning and limiting the problem rather than stopping it, as the data privacy controversy won’t end any time soon while the Internet of Things is active and growing.

Five ideas stood out as the most possible and interesting, as well as the best responses to the problem.

While the emergent practices were in the foreground of my mind, I feel that some of the responses may need a greater connection to one of them.

  1. A data visualisation on the places that you would get targeted / monitored, or what types of data would be collected if a particular suburb or local area were to be a smart city in the Internet of Things.
  2. A new service / policy for companies, governments and businesses to comply to. Like Microsoft’s DNT.
  3. An opt-in / opt-out system / service that could act as a way to be a part of the data collection and monitoring as little or great as you want (limits).
  4. A data visualisation on how much of ‘YOU’ can be collected through the Internet of Things data collection / monitoring.
  5. A service that aims to spread the awareness of the Internet of Things around the home, especially with regards to public entities monitoring your private data without you knowing about it.

I tried to keep the same mindset of the process taken in the original brainstorm session in class: there is no judgement, the aim is quantity over quality, and it shouldn’t be too hard (in terms of how the concept can progress or be adopted. It would have been good to have another person to bounce ideas, however the time frame left me short.

From here, it was time to determine a particular response that fitted best into one of the emergent practices, and had the most possibilities for change. It came to my attention that the solution was not going to be to stop the monitoring or end the tracking of private data as it is already too prevalent in today’s society. What is needed, is a way to create limits on the collection and monitoring of data, so that the users are given part of the control. Or at least there could be a compromise.

One possibility seemed the most interesting and direct in creating an intervention: number 3, an opt-in / opt-out system / service that could act as a way to be a part of the data collection and monitoring as little or great as you want (creating limits). Being in the so called technological age or generation, 18-25 year olds have grown up with technology and the internet. They have seen it been born and grow into a gigantic virtual world that is used daily. However, with all of this growth and use, some things have been lost. With the terms and conditions of online websites being so long and in such fine print, they are generally skipped over and forgotten about. Or on the other hand, the terms and conditions are deliberately placed in hard to find areas on sites. What is needed here is a system that is in the control of the user. And so, this proposal aims to give control back to the user by creating an opt-in / opt-out service. For every site (or connected product / place in the internet of things), users could be presented with a short form, or a button that transforms into a slightly longer form. The concept is, that through a standardized form or set of questions, the user could state how much or how little or particular things they would want to be tracked. This way, instead of just stating ‘track’ or ‘don’t track’, they can be involved in some aspects, none at all, or only for particular companies / products they trust. There is also potential for the system to go further and block particular details of the user, so their online persona turns into a bunch of statistics rather than a digital personality. The tracking and monitoring control would be up to the user.

While this could be a solid idea, it is only a draft at this point and could (or most likely would) change in the near future.