Blog post 10: Revisions, revisions, revisions: Drafting an appropriate design intervention

I have recently partaken in a group critiquing exercise, in which myself and a small group critiqued each other’s work for design intervention proposals to a given problem space.

My first draft proposal for design intervention involved a Twitter bot that would aggregate comments made on Twitter regarding online privacy and data security — and pair these comments with other comments — creating an ongoing and dynamic ‘conversation’ that would be presented visually within a web space. The conversation was to also permeate print material, and form a campaign — targeting those aged 18-25 in Australia. The concept arrived as a poetic and generative response to my research; which found there to be quite a lack of discourse between teens and young adults in Australia on social media, regarding the issues of online privacy and data security ( covered in blog post 6).

I received some critical feedback from my peers regarding the initial concept which certainly proved most useful. I have outlined some of the key moments from the feedback session below:

  • The group questioned whether observing a conversation was too passive in terms of getting people ‘involved’. More of an active, or interactive role could be more appropriate for getting people involved.
  • As the data collated by the bot is gathered from Twitter, the ‘conversation’ created by the bot may only reflect those currently discussing the matter on Twitter — meaning that the target audience, would again, be dissociated from the conversation.
  • Is a bot creating a conversation strong enough for a campaign that permeates print? Is it even a campaign? It is perhaps more of an art project.
  • The printed material discussed could be pushed further to better resonate with the concept and the target audience.
  •  Perhaps interaction might give the interface or the web space more currency in creating change. Perhaps the web space can be a space of voicing opinion.
  • The target audience could be more specific

It was interesting to note the level of self-critique that also occurred when attempting to articulate my concept: There were moments where I found it particularly difficult to articulate what I was trying to achieve. This is perhaps a major advantage of voicing concepts in such a way; where by articulating an idea, one is able to better realise how a concept may reach other people or how it actually resonates with one’s self.

After receiving feedback, I began to rework the concept accordingly. There were certainly some issues with my first iteration that required addressing. The group critique was most useful for identifying such issues and allowing a space for self reflection.

 

Refinements

In response to my feedback I hoped to address a number of issues within my concept of which I have outlined below:

  • Explore ways of making the piece interactive.
  • Allow the user to be more active within the generative process
  • Explore printed material so that it better resonates with the concept and the affordances of the data collected.
  • Depart from making the project a campaign — perhaps look to make it more micro or specific.

In attempting to address these issues within my original concept, I found it useful to do some more brainstorming  visually, upon a map. See below:

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Further brainstorming in response to feedback

Refined proposal

My revised proposal is informed by my probe task; which explored a student peer’s emotional, physical and aesthetic associations with her personal data — and how these associations might be altered by reframing or re-contextualising this personal data (through design intervention). Within the probe task I found the participant to be quite emotionally detached from her personal online data. This got me questioning; whether by reframing this personal data I may be able to create more of an emotional attachment in the participant to her personal data, which perhaps, in turn, may promote engagement with the topic and promote design thinking surrounding the topic, which is perhaps a responsibility of a design student.

I have considered that I perhaps located quite a interesting location for the designer within the probe task — where the designer finds him/herself a mediator of data. By mediating the personal data, the designer perhaps has an active role in shaping people’s associations and perceptions of such data — which certainly has a currency in creating an emotional attachment to data, which may promote discourse and future design movements within the problem space. 

The proposed design outcome is a generative art installation, titled ‘Eternal monologue’ located in the exhibition space on level 4 of the DAB — which explores this notion of reframing, curating or re-contextualising personal data to create an emotional response.

The piece explores the dichotomy between physical and digital space — the bodied and the disembodied — seeking to orientate students with the issues of online privacy and data security through an experience of art. 

Essentially I am filling a space with an ‘infinite’ monologue — printed by a printer onto continuous feed paper, which sits upon a stool in the corner of the exhibition space.

The printer will be connected to a centralised computer interface that uses a web-scraping bot to collate and print social media posts, status updates and imagery arriving from students within the University campus —using the UTS WIFI portal as a parameter.

Students can also interact with this interface and connect with the monologue online by following a link printed upon the walls of the gallery space. There could also be a digital means of providing this link to students, such as upon the desktop of UTS DAB lab computers, for example. 

The interactive interface made accessible online to students, will be a blank page, similar to a word doc, in which students may type sentences and drag and drop images etc. — contributing and interacting with the monologue which continually prints — filling the gallery space. The content will be printed constantly, along with the social media content generated from the scraping bot — creating a continuous monologue or script of data. I have included a rough flow chart of this method of data aggregation below: 

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A quick sketch of a flow chart that outlines how content will be generated for the printed monologue

I have considered the exhibition space on level 4 as an appropriate touch point for reaching students, as the exterior of the exhibition space is glass, meaning that students can observe the interior of the space and the piece whilst they move through the building. This particular location within the building also experiences quite a lot of traffic, so I suspect that the space receives quite a lot of exposure.

I have considered also creating a gallery art book: which displays sections of the monologue in a concertina-like format. I will also look to create post cards and typographic treatments for the exhibition space.

I believe that the scale of the piece is what will give the piece its resonance: I am particularly interested in how this dichotomy between digital and physical space is being explored. I imagine the monologue after 3 weeks to be upwards of 200m long, curling and congesting skyward within the gallery space.

I have considered how the web of things, as a material, is infinite — which perhaps lends itself to generative systems. This infinite material in a digital space is perhaps disembodied. I am interested in how this material may fill a physical space (or become embodied) and thus drive an emotional or physical response in students.

I am also particular interested in creating a festering, unfiltered, raw piece of printed material — as a manifestation of the student’s interactions online. As the monologue will be unfiltered, I expect quite vulgar material to be printed upon the monologue.

I hope to create a space for exploration and interaction that doesn’t aim to immediately solve all, or even many, pressing problems regarding online privacy and data security — but instead aims to orient minds to the problem space by allowing a space for emotional and physical reflections of space, scale and time. This may in turn encourage discourse and forward thinking surrounding the problem space, which is perhaps a social responsibility for students of design.

Below are some initial sketches for the piece, in which I have considered the way in which the space may be filled by the printed material. I have also began to think of ways in which Typographic vinyl may be used within the space or around the university to promote the piece and encourage interaction. I have also began to look into the format of the potential art book that would come as physical take-home merchandise as part of the exhibition — showcasing sections of the monologue in a book form. See bellow:

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Potential branding and space typographic vinyl
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Sequence 1 of 4 of the printer In situ printing the monologue and occupying space
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Sequence 2 of 4 of the printer In situ printing the monologue and occupying space
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Sequence 3 of 4 of the printer In situ printing the monologue and occupying space
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Sequence 4 of 4 of the printer In situ printing the monologue and occupying space
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Continuos feed printing paper suitable for the piece
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Continuos feed printing paper, suitable for the monologue
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Possible format for the art book that showcases sections of the monologue

Thank you.