View All

Data Futures: a live experiment about data ownership

On 30 May, almost 100 people braved the cold and risked the rain to attend Data Futures: a live experiment about data ownership, ethics, and our lives at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney. It was part of the Vivid Ideas festival.

Data Futures is the creation of Dominikus Bauer and Daniel Goddemeyer. They have run the live experiment with almost 1,000 people across 6 events from New York to Barcelona.

Small Multiples brought Data Futures to this side of hemisphere for the first time, run by our interaction designer, Martin, sandwiched by a talk on data collection and protection by me.

After talking about my personal journey with data privacy, I showed the audience what happens when I Google myself. I feel like the practice of Googling yourself used to be more common, but we don’t do it as much anymore. Are we less concerned with our privacy now?

Martin then ran the experiment, going through easy questions that slowly got tougher and more personal.

Martin showed the results back to the audience, attempting to find correlations between questions, and highlighting some members of the audience who answered in particular ways.

I then discussed the implications of what data is being collected, the benefits, the breadth of which data can be collected in our everyday lives, and concluded with principles for the future:

1. We are the owners of our own data
2. Our data has value
3. There must be consent and transparency in how this data is used.

Data is useful to individuals, organisations, and corporations alike. We should make tools and services that are transparent about both the collection and visualisation of data to provide insights for everyone.

The audience received stickers (designed by our UX/UI Designer Dasha) to go over their webcam and microphone, as a first step towards protecting their data. Come in for a visit and we’ll give you your very own set!

If you’re interested in more reading, I can recommend:

At Small Multiples, we want to make data useful for people. In doing so, we have to be mindful of how that data was created or collected in the first place. We also have to design tools and apps that keep users in control of their data.

Our interaction designer/developer intern, Rob, helped to check people in and take photos of the event. Thanks, Rob!

Media coverage: Why we need to Google ourselves,