The SPRITE+ funded-project team, Footprints to emissions: Exploring near-future digital vulnerabilities with creative methodologies has worked alongside University of Portsmouth illustration lecutrer, Dr Louis Netter, to develop a comic strip in their exploration of invisible emissions and associated vulnerabilities from digital devices.
As more systems become interconnected and new devices enter the digital ecosystem, the problem of digital emissions and how to manage pollution will become of paramount importance in the next 5-10 years. Building on innovative developments within speculative design, The 'Footprints to emmissions' project investigates how probe-based methods can elicit reactions and reflections about current and near-future vulnerabilities from digital emissions. The team consists of research partners Dr David Ellis (University of Bath), Dr Iain Reid (University of Portsmouth)and Dr Philip Wu (Royal Holloway, University of London) and supporting partner Dr Asad Ali (Ofcom).
Designed in collaboration with Dr Louis Netter (University of Portsmouth), the comic is intended to provoke dialogue around privacy in the current and near-future, and bring attention to the kind of information sharing that happens with and without public permission. Dr Netter said:
“The abstract nature of digital emissions enabled a more imaginative approach to the content of the comic. The aim was to show how the seemingly invisible and inconsequential can have real implications for privacy, security and employability. I created the comic during the Christmas period and I borrowed ideas from Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Story’ in the way the ghost’s are able to show alternate realities for Scrooge. The comic is an incredibly flexible medium and is well suited for engaging readers in complex ideas and making concepts concrete through visual metaphor.”
The comic script employs satire, fantasy and humour to make study participants aware of the multiple access points to information that large businesses and tech firms have, ranging from the insignificant to the personal and invasive. Dr Reid said:
“Our research exploring digital footprints to emissions is keen to explore the utility of new creative methodologies in conducting research. We saw the opportunity of developing a comic book for use in our research as an innovative way to have participants visualize, what may be complex, ideas of current and near-future technologies and their implications for privacy. Working with Louis on the development of the comic has been a great opportunity for developing these new approaches to research.”
The results of this project will act as a first step towards a larger body of research that develops future-oriented technical solutions and policy recommendations to reduce the risks of digital emissions, increase trust, and enhance individual and collective privacy. To find out more about the project and the team, click here.
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