Critical Justification 01 Christopher Barker
Navigation A quick summary of the activity will appear here.
Forward Feedback Reflection Failure Success Decision Insights
New activities will appear in a black borders
The Brief Any brief iterations will be presented on a green background with a summary of factors which lead to the change.
13 Reading 15 Exploration 17
The brief 2.0
Critical product analysis
Learning to animate
43 Feedback (Minor interim) 45
The brief 3.0
Creating a video
More reading (Speculative Everything)
The brief 4.0
More reading (The Road to Somewhere)
Navigating by colour
Two in one probe
102 Ear piece/ Voice user interface 104 Summary/ The brief (final) 106 Whatâ€™s next?
Project aims The aim of this project is to address biased A.I. algorithms in a critical way, by highlighting their tendancy to amplify tribalism. Thus the intention is to trigger a critical reflection on optimizing algorithms for personal engagement and the potential consequences of this. This document covers my journey from my initial brief to the brief stated here.
Exploration 40% Mark hand in Interim Interim
Reflection Predictably this plan didnâ€™t last long, I revisited stages a lot and spent less time on parts Iâ€™d like to spend more.
What actually happened...
Exploration 40% Mark hand in Interim Interim
Collaborators These are the talented and informed individuals who have helped me through this project so far. Arunabh Arunabh is a designer based in Seattle, Washington who I contacted about an article he wrote Designing to Escape the Filter Bubble, after hearing about my project he offered to provide advice and feedback. Zoe Zoe is a talented writer with a First class degree in creative writing, she has offered to advice me on consructing the story I will eventually film.
Autonomous car analysis Skills development STEP research Case study Concept development
Exploration Hand-in 05/01/18
Ideation Seek validators User scenarios Personas Form iteration
January Interim Critique 29/01/18
February 40% Interim 26/02/18
Reflection Time keeping is not my strong suit and I was certain my initial estimate would change significantly
This was my proposed project timeline from the beginning of the project. I left a weeks wriggle room at the end of May just in case.
Materials exploration User case study Model development User feedback Iteration
March CJ1 08/03/18
April Easter 26/03/18 13/04/18
Scale prototype Photos and video Validator responce Edit Communication
Final Hand-in 60% 11/05/18
The Brief What if high bandwidth internet becomes ubiquitous?
Exploration Interim My exploration interim was centred around a case study which focused on data and computing as a utility. Reflection My research proposal was extremely vague which made it difficult to focus the brief. Feedback Howard Fenwick Howard suggested that I focus the project more around a use case / need and users and “bring it to life” more. Feedback David O’Leary David recommended two books to read, “What should we be worried about?” & “Freakonomics”. Forward I needed to find a way of focusing my brief.
Reading These two books recommended by David O’Leary were read to find problems which I could apply my research Insights too. Reflection I really enjoyed them but it didn’t help me find a problem to design for. I needed to refine my brief. Forward I was caught up in the ‘technology’ side of things which was narrowing my thinking. I needed to get creative and pull myself out.
John, B (2014) What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarioes That Keep Scientists Up at Night Stephen, J.D & Steven Levitt (2005) Freakonomics
Exploration My exploration case study covered a lot of knowledge and data but I struggled to come up with creative outlets for my research. Reflection I had a really bad time with exploration. I found my subject area academically stimulating but struggled to apply any design directions. Reflection I also packed in far too much information and didnâ€™t focus enough on communicating potential directions. Failure I learnt a lot about data! But I did not feel anymore prepared for the next steps and I failed to refine my brief.
Exploration Feedback I was not confident about my exploration and this was reflected in my feedback.
Feedback What are you going to design? What is the design content? How are you going to validate and prove it? Feedback The research feels very abstract – seemingly drawn from journalism. There’s lots of big picture stuff but very little to relate it to real people’s lives. Feedback You need some strong use-cases, personas and real-world scenarios in which to locate your design concepts in order to critique them and move forward. Reflection All of this advice resonated with me, I was aware that I had got caught up in the ‘big picture’ and failed to effectively highlight any strong design concepts.
Exploration Conclusion At the end of my exploration I resolved to focus my research at any cost! Before the minor interim I would focus on two major insights from my research. Insight 1 There is a massive demand for digital competencies and skills, therefore it is vital that students are digitally adept otherwise they will miss out. How can children stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the ‘Internet of Things’? Insight 2 Black box machine-learning models are already having a major impact on some people’s lives. Machine learning algorithms pick up biases in the data they’re trained on and amplify them. Forward I needed to learn how (if at all) parents protect their children from the ‘dangers’ of the internet. Forward What IoT products are there for children?
Forward I needed to know how biased algorithms are effecting peopleâ€™s lives? Forward How is the influence of these algorithms visible in society today?
Design direction 1 This was a very minor exercise but to some extent it helped me snap out of my bubble a little and remember how to be a designer! IoT EDUCATIONAL TOY AIM: To helps parents teach their children how to safely engage with IoT devices. RISKS: Difficult to make, securing IoT devices too ambitious? Too expensive. CONSIDER: Play value, age-group, access to validators, similiar products?
Reflection At this point it was still pretty broad but defining some problems within the space of Big data definitely helped refine my research.
Design direction 2
Connected device AIM: Overcome the inherent biases of algorithms. RISKS: Could be ‘woolly’, Abstract issue, difficult to communicate, hard to find suitable validators CONSIDER: The role of design in overcoming these issues, type of design project this is, how do you influence algorithms?
Forward I needed to research & ideate for both directions and determin which I’d rather go with.
Summary Because my exploration was so broad I ended up with two very different directions to explore. I initially hesitated to make a decision between them and explored opportunities for both.
Reflection In hindsight I should have probably chosen which direction to pursue at this stage and invested more time in it. You know what they say about hindsight!
The Brief What if high bandwidth Internet becomes Ubiquitous? Design a product which helps families teach their children how to stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the â€˜Internet of Thingsâ€™ OR A speculative project which communicates the effect of bias algorithms.
Design a product which helps families teach their children how to stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the ‘Internet of Things’
Insight There is a massive demand for digital competencies and skills, therefore it is vital that students are digitally adept otherwise they will miss out. How can children stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the ‘Internet of Things’?
Interviews I wanted to know what people did to protect their kids from the internet in the past and now. As this was just a query I used family of friends, cousins and my folks.
Insight Most of the parents I interviewed let their children use tablets and their phones without any concern for their childâ€™s privacy or security. Reflection I used a small sample of people but my findings reflected my research from the media surrounding awareness for child-proofing Reflection Turns out the Internet wasnâ€™t relevant enough in my household until I was old enough to know more than my parents about it! Insight David Oâ€™leary David told me he had actually returned an Amazon Echo he bought over christmas as it nearly returned an inapporpriate search result for his kids and there were no parental controls to stop this.
Mum & dad
Chantelle (Two boys + Girl on the way!)
David (New dad + stepdad)
Lloyd (Young dad to Ella)
Kate & Laura Family babysitters
Five doesnâ€™t make for balanced presentation!
Interview summary The findings were predictable but it did confirm my suspicions that parents feel that web security is sufficient.
Success At the very least most of the parents / guardians shared a consensus that having web security was enough. This validated my desk research, confirming a lack of understanding when people engage with IoT compared to a laptop or phone. Reflection My preperation wasnâ€™t perfect but the parents answers were informative. Insight Only Davidâ€™s family had an IoT product and he works in IT. This made me think that it may be too early to introduce IoT security education or it could be the perfect time? Forward Need to see what IoT related toys there are and if they educate children in security.
CPA This was a really helpful activity. It uncovered several interesting insights about the industry for IoT toys.
Success This task gave me several great insights which made the idea more credible. Reflection Despite making the concept more credible it highlighted some concerns. The insights regarded a backlash on IoT toys due to insecurity issues. Forward If I move forward with this project I will need to work out how to ‘secure’ my IoT toy or risk it being victim to the very issue it’s trying to teach users to avoid.
Direction 2 A critical project that communicates the effects of biased algorithms on society.
Insight Black box machine-learning models are already having a major impact on some peopleâ€™s lives. Machine learning algorithms pick up biases in the data theyâ€™re trained on and amplify them.
Refined research This research acitivity helped me understand how biased algorithms are effecting people negatively.
Insight Algorithms are discriminating against minorities. They’re exaggerating ‘selective exposure, and as a symptom potentially influencing democracy. Reflection This research reinforced my second direction. Reflection The political side to this issue provides great opportunity for provocation. Success This task confirmed my intial insight and assumptions. Forward I need to create some strong scenarios and work out exactly how I communicate this as a piece of ‘critical design’
Learning to animate I knew I would need some animated effects in the video so I decided to do a â€˜skillshareâ€™ lesson in animating in After Effects Success This was a very fun activity that gave me some vital skills for creating my video later on. Reflection This was well worth the time, it was very informative and I learnt a lot about using After Effects. Forward Hopefully I can apply some of the skills I learnt here on the video later.
Definitions Before going ahead I decided to clarify a few technical terms so I could establish a shared understanding when communicating my project.
Reflection This activity was minor but it went a long way into helping me understand the negative human behaviours which tech is amplifying. Insight This concept could be about interpersonal interactions in a divided society.
Minor Interim At my minor interim I presented both of my concepts hoping this would help me decide which direction to go.
Failure I did not do my research or concepts any justice, I did not communicate them very well.
Reflection If I had been more decisive and chosen one of my two directions earlier I would have had time to refine my communication and rushed less.
Feedback My feedback was expected, I needed to really push the storytelling and continue to focus my brief.
Feedback David Parkinson David said I needed to improve my storytelling and refine my communication methods. Feedback David Parkinson He also suggested I watch Blackmirror as it is similiar to the style of communication I’m aiming for. Feedback David O’leary David suggested I try and communicate what I’m doing in video. Reflection Should not have spent so much time pursuing two directions. I need to be more decisive! Forward I really needed to take these ideas along with my own and pick some to start ideating and creating scenarios.
Summary In the interim me and the tutors agreed that there was more scope for this direction. It also didnâ€™t require me to fix IoT security which was an unrealistic goal.
The Brief What if high bandwidth Internet becomes Ubiquitous? Design a product which helps families teach their children how to stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the â€˜Internet of Thingsâ€™ A speculative project which communicates the effects of bias algorithms.
Feedback Shortly after choosing the updated brief I discussed my direction with Neil and he had a number of good insights. Feedback Neil Smith He said that I needed to create stronger scenarios and personas. Feedback Neil Smith He suggested I tell a ‘day in the life’ of living in tribalised districts and categorize the products that would be in the video. Feedback Neil Smith Neil recommended I watch ‘The Third Man’ for the style I’m trying to capture and recommended looking at other speculative projects Reflection This discusion was very useful, and Neils recommendations definitely gave me some new creative enthusiasm!
Creating a video From my feedback in the minor interim I decided to try and create a video using existing footage to inform my concept. Failure I couldnâ€™t quite get the atmosphere and story I was aiming for using existing clips.
Reflection Video was still an important part of my project so I needed to work out my scenarios so I could start making lo-fi versions. Forward I needed to work out exactly what story I was going to tell and start creating my own footage to edit.
Reading I spoke with Anthony about heading in a speculative direction and he recommended I read ‘Speculative Everything’. Success This book helped me learn ‘critical design’ methadology and how to design probes for the project I’m doing. Reflection I really enjoyed this book and learning about Speculative Design in general. Forward I needed to select the trends most relevant to my story and incorporate them into my scenario ideation.
Future trends To communicate algorithm biasis effectively I wanted to push this technological problem into the future and imagine it at an extreme. Success Researching trends helped me begin to picture â€˜the world of tomorrowâ€™ and begin to imagine scenarios. Reflection This was a really great activity that helped to build up a broad image of potential futures, I now needed to pick the most relevant trends to create a narrative around my speculative future. Forward I needed to select the trends most relevant to my story and incorporate them into my scenario ideation.
Refined trends The trends research revealed many macro and micro drivers that could lead to many potential futures. This activity helped me pick out the ones that justified my forecast for the future. Success This process helped simplify the communication behind the trends which could help create my proposed future. Reflection Another simple activity that really helped clear the fog and simplify the communication of a complex concept.
Forward Now that I have a clear understanding of the speculative future Iâ€™m trying to create I want to see what others think about it.
Big data is a mine, algorithms are the miners. With enough data we a predictable and brands can personalize themselves to your needs.
Algorithms lock on to our mindset and reserve content it knows we will engage with again & again...
Socio-cultural Non-demographic Tribalism Fragment- Collective ation Destiny Gravitational content Smart Systems Big Data
Tribalism Algorithms reinforce our biases, this leads to fragmentation and ultimately amplifies tribalism.
Simplified research I still felt there was too much going on for anyone unintiated to provide helpful comments so I filtered the trends and research for relevance and sorted it into groups. Success This formed my research into directions for my speculative video and therefore deliverables. Reflection Breaking down the research into digestibile chunks made the complexity of the concept more manageable. Forward I really needed to take these ideas along with my own and pick some to start ideating and creating scenarios.
What if workshop The what if workshop helped get some fresh perspectives on my brief and escape my own filter bubble!
Success This helped me see how others perceived my concept and generated new ideas. Reflection Many of the opinions people had confirmed my future scoping vision and validated my direction. Reflection Some of the reactions were funny, disturbing, or deep, but many were things I had already predicted. Forward I really needed to take these ideas along with my own and pick some to start ideating and creating scenarios.
Summary The what if scenarios revealed that people by nature want to use A.I. to focus the world around them to their perspective. Iâ€™ve refined it to urban living because my research revealed that this is where a rich diversity of tribes already exist side by side.
The Brief What if high bandwidth Internet becomes Ubiquitous? Design a product which helps families teach their children how to stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the â€˜Internet of Thingsâ€™ A speculative project which communicates the effects of bias algorithms. A critical design piece which aims to communicate the effects of algorithms on social life within urban societies.
Scenario Ideation I decided to quickly start mind mapping different scenarios using the infomation I got from what if workshops and future scoping. Success This helped me organise the What if ideas and my concepts into plausible scenarios. Reflection I had a clear idea of which insights were relevant so this was simply a process of visualising that. Forward From here I needed to make these scenarios more concrete and visualise the scenes with storyboards.
Reflection These two scenarios were my favourite, they work well together and tell both positive and negative effects of the technology.
Feedback Zoe Kinchington, Niel Smith Both Zoe and Niel felt that I should build my video around these two scenarios.
Storyboarding The scripts provided a narrative for the video but I needed to visualise the scenes so that I could begin to try and create the right atmosphere for my speculative future. Success This was a good way of thinking about filming the video but it will be an iterative process. Reflection The whole process of creating the video will be an iterative one with revision to the story and script on the go. Forward I really need to just get out and film some â€˜Lo-fiâ€™ scenes to try and test the ideas I have on paper.
Personality questionnaire I felt like I needed to understand what characteristics create tribes so I asked people online to do the Briggs Myers test to see if personality played a part. In the end over a hundred people responded! Failure There was no clear border between friendship groups and their personalities. Reflection Turns out the vast majority of designers fit with one personality type! Unfortunately I do not... Forward I still want to find out if thereâ€™s anyway of clearly defining differences between tribes.
Tribe Identity In the video I wanted to create a clear distinction between the tribes and their respective behavoural traits. I assigned colours to the Briggs Myers test and made icons for people who did the test. Failure In the end I realised personality doesnâ€™t play a significant role in tribe formation, and assigning multiple colours to each tribe made it more complicated. Reflection There is something in using colour to identify the tribes in my story but not based on personality. Feedback David Oâ€™leary David told me that this direction reminded him of the Belbin test for psychometrics testing in the work place.
More reading This book was mentioned in Plan: Perspective 04, the author makes a convincing argument that tribalism today are the for/against of globalisation. I think this overly simplifies the reality of tribalism. Failure Probably a waste of time, it didnâ€™t provide any new insights and only partly covers the drivers behind tribalism. Reflection There appeared to be so many different constantly evolving factors behind tribalism I began to believe the reasons didnâ€™t matter. Forward I need to drop my crusade on finding where the divide between tribes are and just focus on my own perspective of the issue.
Probes Ideation I had my stories now I just needed to come up with the â€˜probesâ€™ which would help tell the story. I began by sketching as many artifacts for different scenarios as I could. Success This activity helped me free up some creative neurons and generate as many ideas as possible. Reflection Letting go of any constraints really helped me push this concept to the limits and imagine many future devices to tell my story. Forward I needed to pick out the best probes and refine them.
Indentifying probes I needed to select the design items which would allow me to communicate the effects of bias algorithms in our day-to-day lives. I chose to make these probes... • Wearable - The wearable signifies to others what your tribe is and aids in navigating physical space. • Augmented reality UI - AR interfaces will make it possible to see data regarding tribes and their nature and act accordingly. • Voice user-interface - A voice UI will enable the user to interact with the algorithms directly. • Handheld - In public people will probably still use hand held devices in the future as voice UI and gesture control could be seen as socially awk ward. Success This process helped me choose and justify the probes I would make for the video.
Wearable ideation Now that I knew what probes I would need I started to create rapid sketch sheets to find a suitable form.
Failure I felt like I was doing this just to tick a box I already had a clear idea of what the wearable would look like. Reflection Itâ€™s always fun to just sketch but the time could have been better spent, I already had a clear idea of what this probe would look like. Forward I need to continue to ideate for the other probes and create 3D mock-ups fast!
AR Ideation I wanted to see how AR tech and bias algorithms might merge to â€˜filterâ€™ our world view in the video. So I ideated around this possibility. Success This process helped me find a theme I liked for the AR overlay of my video. A subtle overlay was more effective. Reflection Overlays that were too heavy made the effect of altering our reality very obvious. Subtle infomation makes the curation less visible and therefore more effective. Forward I need to get a lo-fi video together so that I can add this overlay to the whole film.
Handheld modelling I knew my video would feature voice UI but I don’t think we will use VUI in public in the future so a handheld device would be needed for those scenes Success Creating these kinds of low-fi probes helped clarify my vision and helped push my ideation forward. Reflection A ‘smartphone’ type device doesn’t feel that futuristic but I still think we’ll use handhelds along side more exotic interactions in the future. Forward I need to work out what handheld devices could be with the next generation of technologies.
Wearable modelling In this speculative future people will want to navigate the behavioural landscape of their city. Either to avoid other tribes or learn to interact with them. The wearable is intended to be a visual marker of tribe and a compass for navigating them. Success Rapid ideation allowed me to try out several forms and navigation styles and work out which version worked best. Reflection This process would have been more direct with a clearer idea of the final stories. Forward I needed to refine the watch and more clearly communicate itâ€™s purpose.
Navigate by colour This watch & UI is designed to help the wearer identify other tribes and help them move through the urban jungle according to their need to avoid or interact with them. Reflection This idea was simple but stimulated a lot of interesting discussions with others that informed my direction. Forward What if identifying other tribes isnâ€™t important? It could just be about avoiding them.
Compass wearable This model simplifies the need to avoid other tribes by simply having a â€˜wearable compassâ€™ which is repelled by members of other tribes.
Reflection This was a fun little bit of ideation which inspired a lot of good ideas from others. Feedback Tommy Dylan Tommy thought this was a fun way of imaging a future need to avoid other tribes but he felt that a functional version may be quite bulky. Forward Tommy gave me an arduino and some Xbees to begin prototyping a working wearable.
Two in one I decided to merge the handheld and the wearable into one device. Flexible displays will make this possible in the short-term future.
Success This direction simplified the scenarios by reducing the number of probes at play in the scenarios. Reflection This was a fast iterative process which helped me simplify some of the interactions in the videos. Forward I need to take this direction and produce the finished probes for the video
Ear piece / VUI Voice UI will play a key part in bringing this narrative to life so I quickly mocked up some examples. This isnâ€™t the most important as it wonâ€™t be seen much in the video. Success As a simple probe this helped me and the actors in my video imagine the interaction with technology. Reflection The models are a bit rough and ready and need further refining. The voice UI is scripted for the video. Forward I need to shrink the form factor and possibly 3D print something for the final video.
Summary This is my brief going into the major interim, the emphasis is on the effects of algorithms on society and how these effects amplify negative tribalism. I reworded the brief in this way to highlight my intention to cause debate not fix the problem, this wasnâ€™t clear previously.
The Brief What if high bandwidth Internet becomes Ubiquitous? Design a product which helps families teach their children how to stay safe and retain their privacy as they engage with the â€˜Internet of Thingsâ€™ A speculative project which communicates the effects of bias algorithms. A critical design piece which aims to communicate the effects of algorithms on social life within urban societies. The aim of this project is to address biased A.I. algorithms in a critical way, by highlighting their tendancy to amplify tribalism. Thus the intention is to trigger a critical reflection on optimizing algorithms for personal engagement and the potential consequences of this.
What’s next? • • • • • • • • •
Major interim Validator feedback Final probes Final storyboard Final script Video iteration Final video Presentation materials Hand-in
Part 2 coming soon...