As a group, we were particularly interested in this subject when it was first pitched back in May 2014. Until recently the topic was ignored by the general public and mainstream media. It came to the fore during the scandal which followed an iCloud hack that exposed compromising photos of celebrities over the internet[The Guardian, September 2014].
It could be argued that we may be the last generation to know what it is not to be totally dependent on web based services and social media platforms for day to day use. Our generation could be the last to use physical copies of maps rather than being utterly reliant on GPS technology. We have become accustomed to sourcing our information from print media rather than RSS Feeds, Twitter and Facebook etc. We are interested in the impact that social media has on the average user’s lifestyle and the physiological reasons that lead to people sharing candid and private content with others, seeking social acceptance/status through the number of “likes” such posts receive.
During this project we hope to survey the local population between the ages of 10 and 30. The data collected will provide content and direction for our project. We plan to source the information from the locality to keep the findings as relevant as possible to the community so as to create sufficient scope to make an impact. The project aims to create an awareness of the journey of the average user’s online data. It can be argued that the average user is unaware that the “snaps” they take on popular smartphone devices are stored on a server and never actually deleted [The Guardian, May 2013]. How many know about Google’s “Right to Forget” policy? The said policy permits the user to be removed from any Google search, ensuring the user’s right to anonymity online [BBC News, April 2014].
The scope of this project is to create an awareness amongst 10-30 year olds. We aim to highlight how easily personal information is attainable when posted online and its space binding consequences. With this in mind, there would be little reason for another phone hacking scandal or Levinson enquiry. Accessing such personal information could only take a momentary name search on Google to find a user’s posted information.
The findings of a recent survey conducted by a website called ‘Reason’ are worthy of a note. Ina survey determining how trustworthy companies are it was found that Facebook are ranked the lowest. Only 5% of those surveyed trust Facebook [Reason, April 2014]. In the survey which asked what firms the public considered to be liable to abuse their information or violate their right to privacy, Facebook ranked second last. Facebook was second, paying heed to NSA in a survey which questioned who was more likely to exploit a person’s online privacy. Applications such as the “Whisper” application records and tracks the user’s data, even though it is promoted as an anonymous social media application [The Guardian, October 2014].
The user group we chose for this project were people that we know. We chose friends and peers that fit the age demographic we set for the project to conduct a test survey.
Section II: Research
The group was very aware of the difficulties in trying to portray the message to the target audience. In “Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics that People Understand” [Malamed, March 2011], Connie Malamed argues that in order to communicate different types of information we must use different methods to do so. Two examples were given by the author, both relevant to our project. Malamed argues that a series of actions should be represented by a timeline and that statistical or pattern information should be represented through data visualisation such as infographics. Malamed suggests that this is due to a human’s capacity for cognitive actions. We find it difficult to process numerous strands of information simultaneously. Clear and explicit depictions of relationships between strands of data help the viewer to process information simultaneously rather than sequentially.
Visualising data enables the viewer to quickly grasp emerging patterns that are not commonplace or familiar. Through the exploration of such we can reconstruct and compare various forms of information and amalgamate different sources to be portrayed through a single medium or design.
As a group we discussed the use of infographics. We argued that the purpose of infographics is to distil down unfamiliar strands of data such as large numbers, and reconstruct the data in a way the user can understand. Simon Rogers recently described stories and information told to children through graphics and visualisations and this could be something from which the group could learn [The Guardian, March 2014].
At first we looked at the most successful designers and concept developers. We also looked at artists whose work is familiar to the public. We looked at Jony Ive, the lead designer of Apple’s UI [Apple, November 2014]. The UI is renowned for being accessible to multiple target audiences with varying levels of technological competency.
Jon Alvin is another artist with work often catching the public’s eye. Alvin is fantastic at producing “key art”. Key art is the graphical representation of an artistic piece, such as a book or film, and is the basis of a product’s advertisement campaign. John Alvin Art, November 2014].
Douglas Okasaki is a successful infographic designer. Like Milton Glaser we hope to introduce influence from a diverse group of designers into the project. The work of Jony Ive will be a good influence during the design phase as the project will need to provide a shallow learning curve for its users. We need to produce a design which the viewer can ‘consume’ [Okasaki,2014].
Alvins work will be noteworthy when designing the overall concepts and promoting the project. We found inspiration in the concept development behind logo design. At first we looked into the obvious choices such as Milton Glaser and Gerald Holtom, designers of the “I NY” and the logo for Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) known as the “Peace” sign respectively [Glaser, 2014]. We found a very interesting interview with Glaser in which he discusses his influences. He cites Picasso and Morandi as two of his biggest influences. It is interesting to note that Glaser cites these artists because of their diverse lifestyles and methods. Morandi’s ascetic lifestyle was portrayed in his etching work, while Picasso was flamboyant. We became aware that although Glaser is influenced by both classical and contemporary artists, he looked to different industries to find these influences.
We decided to delve into researching of visual metaphors. To do this we started at the beginning and looked at “Visual Metaphors, Visual Communication and the Organisation of Cognitive space” by Robert N. St. Clair [St.Clair, 2014]. In it he discusses visual metaphors and how they are embedded into pictographic and ideographic writing systems. He talks about how early language was most certainly iconographic and early cultures would have been more connected with visual thought. The rise of the novel led to the moving away from visual thinking although the theatre tried to negate this. It is argued now that visual thinking is emerging in society once again through the technologies of the last sixty years. He also speaks about English being a linear writing style, whereas Chinese is arranged in quadrangles. “The minimal syntax of basic strokes within the quadrangle allows one to generate a complex array of visual signs”. These are visual metaphors and were compounded and turned into visual ideograms later on. Due to this we decided to investigate the implementation of real life objects as designs.
The process of using designed objects based on real life objects is a process known as “Skeuomorphism” [Dictionary, November 2014]. The concept has been around since 1889 and one of the first examples of this concept was pottery jugs crafted in Zaire, the handles of which were made to imitate traditional handles made out of cord [The Economist, November 2014] [Danohara, November 2014]. A more recognisable example is linoleum vinyl flooring that gives a wooden floor effect. However with the advent of smartphones, the two most popular mobile operating systems, Android and iOS employed skeuomorphism to help users navigate and have a sense of control when operating their respective systems although recently Apple have stripped many of their skeuomorphic designs with the introduction of iOS7 [Forbes, November 2013].
This was linked to an article relating to visual language entitled “A Visual Dictionary of Philosophy: Major Schools of Thought in Minimalist Geometric Graphics” About a project which was successfully kick started into a book by Genis Carreras called “Philographics: Big Ideas in Simple Shapes” [Brainpickings, November 2013] [Kickstarter, 2014]. In this project the artist Carreras created a visual language for the 95 main terms in Philosophy to help the user understand some of the main cornerstones of Philosophy.
As part of one of our modules in first year we learned about Sergei Eisenstein and his information titled “Beyond the Shot (The Cinematographic Principle and The Ideogram) [Braudy and Cohen, 2009] which precedes Robert N. St. Clair by some time but the content is very similar and can be summed up in Eisenstein’s case with this simple quote “The point is that the copulation-perhaps we had better say the combination- of two hieroglyphs of the simplest series is regarded not as their sum but as their product, i.e. as a value of another dimension, another degree: each taken separately corresponds to an object but their combination corresponds to a concept”.
Eisenstein argues that in a cinematography context an efficient method of using sound is to use it “along the line of least resistance” which would satisfy a simple curiosity that the image in itself could not do. He believed this would be detrimental to montage as it operates on a basis of juxtaposing fragments. Sound used in this way would be counterproductive and in his opinion would not serve to create better work. He goes on to say that sound needs to be used in sharp discord with the visual to create a counterpoint so the sound and image create a tension between each other to enhance the immersive experience. For this project we will use juxtaposition to portray our message, the discord of sound will be used to subliminally make the user uncomfortable.
“Would you download a car?”
We decided on generic question having looked at an old anti-piracy campaign entitled “Piracy, it’s a crime” (YouTube, 2007) shown in cinemas and on home release DVD discs. One of the questions asked in that campaign was “would you download a car?” It was no surprise that that campaign was ridiculed because, of course, you can’t download a car in real life so the aim with our questions is to relate them to real world scenarios such as the sample question I mentioned above.
Another method we aim to employ is to ask the user to draw what piracy means to them and then display all the users’ drawings, similar to a tactic used in “The Sheep Market” project (The Sheep Market, 2015). This project used Amazon’s mechanical Turk and showed all of the users who contributed to their representation of the sheep.
The concept is to highlight the psychological contrast of asking people personally for their images vs. a social media site making the same request. In this, we will contrast the personal social action of giving somebody your intimate details such as photos vs. the same interaction within a digital framework. We looked at a video which was mentioned in the first mentor meeting, David Guillaume’s “Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’” (YouTube, 2012). In this video he “mind reader” tells the user their information based on a group of people in the background scraping all of the users’ social media profiles.
The main influence on our research was a short documentary by Adam Curtis about Rupert Murdock (BBC, 2011) which was originally screened on Charlie Brooker’s Wipe programme in 2011. That documentary relates to our project with regards to the public’s distrust of elites such as Murdock. However, it is the last 50 seconds of the documentary which influenced us the most when it came to the conclusion that in the future there will never be another large phone hacking scandal as seen in the Levinson enquiry because all the information people need will be freely available on the Google servers. The visual imagery of headshots constantly changing in the last few seconds of the documentary really stuck with us and this is the same impression that we hope people come away from our project with.
The Grid is a website which is generated by the user and created by the machine inside the framework. The AI offers the user multiple options per step and like WordPress, gives the illusion that everything is determined by the user. However, if the framework gives the user 3 options to choose from, is the user not restricted by this AI? The user could choose any of the three options, but only those options elected by the framework. Why can there not be a fourth or a fifth or a sixth option? This is the illusion of freedom that the framework gives us when browsing online. With the design, the user may be the one inputting information but it is the AI in the framework which will give the user their options, therefore, controlling the experience of the user.
We were also researching the various interactive installations as part of our project. “Plaception” is an exhibition that investigates a wide range of artists who turn space into a tangible experience by modifying or amplifying human senses (Art Center College of Design, 2014).
“Transform, Transcend, Transmedia” is an installation created by the Art Center College of Design in California. The objective of this project is for the students involved in this project to let their work transcend various media categories and in turn create new media categories as a result of this (Art Center College of Design, 2014). In Order to Control is a 2012 project created by Istanbul design studio NOTA BENE Visual. This is an interactive typographic installation which features a loop of text and requires the user to interact with the installation. Their silhouette with the words they are covering will fill up the wall (FeelDesign, 2012).
Another installation we also looked at was the Nike 100 exhibition that was created for the Beijing Olympics in 2008(2×4, 2008). The main concept of this installation is to display a series of installations embodying Nike’s pursuit of lightness and speed.
Web Application / Digital Publication:
Initially when we came up with the idea of digitising parts of this project, the terminology we used was “web app”. A web app is defined as “software which runs in the web browser”. After doing some research on the topic, we reconsidered our position and decided that “digital publication” is a more appropriate term for what we want to do. We want to create something for the user to experience the design fidelity of a print magazine married with the interactivity of digital and we can do this by digitising both the physical and digital parts of our project into one piece that can be viewed on a mobile device or in the browser of a PC or laptop.
Since we aim to raise people’s awareness about their online privacy and get them to think critically about what institutions such as Facebook are actually doing with their information after they so openly give it up, we felt that a digital publication, would give us the potential to reach more than just those who attend the final year exhibition next May.
For the exhibition, we want to use pre-existing learning conventions i.e. paper, to educate the user on digital concepts that can be hard to grasp for the average user. We want to use a booklet to compliment the digital work on display in the show. The project plans to use the digital framework and conjunctions in a physical framework to alter the user’s experience. We want to bring the user back to familiar learning conventions using an interactive print booklet.
Digital publishing is on the rise, so much so that the feeling is that it is “killing print”. Anumber of projects have already been done in the same format that we think will work best for us, one such project is Objektiv by Katarina Batina (ADAA, 2013). Her project won the digital publishing category of the Adobe Design Achievement Awards of 2013 (ADAA, 2013). Objektiv is built for the iPad and encompasses the gestures which seem to be evolving from this digital publishing genre.
Another digital magazine that we found during our research was 8½ magazine (Tommaso Dal Poz, 2014). The creator, Tommaso Dal Poz releases teasers of the magazine on his website in which you can really see the power of digital publishing. Again, his magazine is built for the iPad which seems to be the standard when it comes to digital publications of magazines. It makes the most sense for publications like this becauseit gives the creator enough space to create interactions that mean something and gives the user enough space to be able to play and interact with the magazine. It allows the user to view the interactive content so much more than the standard magazine publication.
The project is broken up into sections, if you want more information on the section you’re on then scroll down and if you want to move onto the next section then swipe to the left. This set of gestures will work really well with the form of our project. We want the user to have the booklet for step 1, then the booklet will point the user to the digital content, which will then point them back to the print booklet again. This is the reason that this set of gestures will work well when we are digitising this project. What’s contained in the booklet will be at the start of the page and then as the user scrolls down the digital content can be embedded into the publication so it will bounce the user between the print and digital content of the project.
Satire and Double Entendre:
Earlier in the semester we discussed the use of double entendre which we thought could be useful to the project. We think that satire can be a powerful tool when used to inform the user. Abstract illustrations using satirical undertones would have the ability to educate users about their deficiencies when interacting with the internet. The privacy issues that arise from them can be elaborated on in the content that we create for the booklet. When the user interacts with the paper format there is a possibility of revealing content with a satirical undertone. This will highlight the nature of a much more complicated digital system and thus educate the user in a conventional manner. As the user gets comfortable with the interface they will quickly realise what the function of the piece is. They will become cautious once they make one undesirable interaction and therefore become cautious of the emulated digital system.
The Dark Web:
Another aspect of our research was to explore a section of the internet known as the Dark Web? The “Dark Web” is defined as a collection of thousands of websites that use software o hide their IP addresses. The Dark Web also protects users from surveillance and censorship and allows Whistleblowing to occur due to this (Wired, 2014).
The most popular software commonly associated with the Dark Web is “Tor” (Tor, 2014). Tor is a military grade software application that was built by the United States Military. However, due to the security of the software it was released onto the web and became open source.
Tor works by hiding your IP Address (i.e. where you are connecting to the Internet from) and it constantly switches your location so within a couple of minutes your location could be shown as being on the opposite side of the planet. It also encrypts your network traffic so even people on the Tor network cannot see your search history. Due to the systems that Tor has in place, it makes it very hard to hack Tor users accounts to the point that the NSA have admitted that it would be near impossible to hack the system according a leaked NSA presentation entitled “Tor Stinks” (Guardian, 2013).
It is because of this that Tor has become the main place in which child pornography, drugs, assassination contracts, even fake documents such as Passports and Irish Drivers Licences are traded on a daily basis. Most of the transactions are done through BitCoin, the first,decentralised digital currency because of the anonymity of the currency (Bitcoin.org, 2014).
RTE Prime Time recently did an investigation (RTE, 2014) using Tor where they ordered Hashish, a strain of cannabis using an online alias and paying via BitCoin. The drug was delivered to a dropbox location where they picked it up . The system was so complex that there was even an oDtion to rate the seller using a feedback system similar to eBay.