We visited the Glass Room exhibit in New York City -- and now we're more paranoid about digital surveillance than ever.
Welcome to The Glass Room, a pop-up exhibit sponsored by Mozilla and The Tactical Technology Collection. It opened in late November and runs only until December 18, 2016, at 201 Mulberry Street in Manhattan's Nolita neighborhood.
From the outside it looks like a typical boutique. Inside, curious visitors will encounter 54 separate items of artwork, investigations and activist projects designed to spur conversation on where technology is headed, how our data is collected and how it's being used.
This piece is a visual representation of users' travel patterns, purchases, contacts and search terms -- the sort of info collected and collated not only by Google, Facebook and Amazon, but by countless other websites and online ad networks, too.
Expert volunteers sit ready at the "Data Detox Bar" wearing white. They can answer your questions, help you access tricky settings and elusive privacy controls within your phone, and will provide you with a handy guide to a "Detox," that will get you feeling more in control of your own data.
"Forgot your Password" by Aram Bartholl is a set of books filled to the brim with all of the 4.6 million passwords that were leaked by a 2012 LinkedIn hack. The passwords are in alphabetical order throughout a series of books so that visitors can look to see if their own password was compromised. Mine? Safe and sound -- from that one hack, at least.
Coming in 2018 is a chip you can implant to "remotely control" a woman's fertility for up to 16 years. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested $11.3 million with Microchips Biotech Inc in 2014 to develop this technology.
Unbeknownst to iPhone users at the time, their locations were mapped and saved in Apple databases between June 2010 through April 2011. The artist, James Bridle, has represented the extracted data from his own file in this book-- it includes all 35,801 locations he visited in that span of time. I suspect my book would be a bit slimmer.
Jer Thorp created these rolodexes of all the ads that were targeted at distinct users based on their browsing history in Chrome. He collected the types of ads that were surfacing using a Chrome extension called Floodwatch, developed by the Office for Creative Research. Looking through one of these rolodexes tells you a lot about the person to whom the ads are targeted.
Does your employee health insurance program encourage you to wear a fitness tracker to earn discounts? Tega Brain and Surya Mattu seek to free you from the pressures of needing to be so "active" with their invention of Unfitbits. Clip your Fitbit to a metronome, a drill, or a bicycle wheel to generate fake data.
Parabon Snapshot is a software that uses DNA samples to produce a facial profile of a suspect. This software is targeted at law enforcement to help investigate cases which have no known suspects or unmatched DNA evidence. (This information was presented by Heather Dewey-Hagborg.)
Visitors to The Glass Room can watch a live feed of data that is available to be gathered from the phones in their pockets.
Smell Dating is a startup service that had great success when it tested matching singles based on their scent preferences. Here visitors can sample smelly T-shirts, rate attractiveness and sign up to be informed of the relaunch in 2017.
At a table in the back you can sit with a tablet and view a number of informative presentations on topics such as Trackography, Data logs and retention, how data is bought and sold, the power of algorithms and what metadata actually reveals about users.
Don't forget to pick up a free postcard on your way out -- tell a friend to visit!
Overwhelmed by the paranoia-inducing exhibit, I brought my free Digital Detox Kit back to the office with intentions to tackle my digital footprint.
The metaphor of a detox plan both makes a lot of sense and a nifty design hook.
The steps are broken down into eight days of tasks. Check out Tactical Technology's website or the online tutorials at Me and My Shadow for more information.