Between data and memorySpeculative Design
I have been working with 2 main subjects, one concerns the centralization, control, lack of privacy of data storage services and the other concerns the humanized and personally experienced nature of memory and how to make that a tangible commodity.
Through Fragment.menot, I tried to materialize memory, asking “what is memory?”. As our personal data moves away from being controlled by ourselves and more by technology, that tangibility is the loss. Although this was interesting, I felt it did not communicate the consequences originally speculated about our personal data and privacy enough.
To answer the questions, what got us here and how do we make sense of this? I decided to shift my focus onto the centralized control aspect of cloud storage. Going back to the crash of the Amazon Web Service as a starting point to thinking about the implications and meaning of the things we connect to the internet.
The manifestation of the new connected environment implies that if one day, the internet comes to a limit, internet of things gadgets become useless pieces of plastic in our homes. Like the materials I used to visualize memory, these objects don’t carry meaning and has no use if not connected to the internet. This fragile future is vulnerable to disconnectedness.
The internet being the main pressure point because it signifies centralized control and hierarchy of storage systems.
The objects I created to represent memory in the LCC studio act as triggers only when interaction happens.
Object as an embodiment
The objects I’ve chosen to represent memory in Fragment.menot embody a texture and more of an imagined way that memory can be packaged and held. These objects can be more haptic than a hard drive.
What does the audience already know?
We are becoming more and more reliant on the internet.
How is my project challenging what the audience already knows?
The project asks the audience whether the meaning in the objects we use today is lost and proposes that the internet and cloud storage will come to an end in the future.
How to make your project normal, lock someone into the atmosphere, background how do objects live in that context?
The objects I propose are recognizable as internet of things gadgets we now use. But they are presented as offline objects giving them a different context, and therefore, needs a new functionality.
Lawrence Krauss says in the documentary Lo and Behold, “If there’s a solar flare, if you destroyed the information fabric of the world right now, modern civilization would collapse […] If the Internet shuts down, people will not remember how they used to live before that.”
We are going towards a future of cool connected gadgets but also a future where if the internet goes out, we are left in the dark and lost. Similar to when the power goes out but at a much larger scale. The devices seem to be controlled by us remotely but once unplugged from the internet, they become uncontrollable.
Projects by If is doing a project with Google Open Research called Rights and Networks. The focus of their project is on the privacy and security of free wifi networks and how people don’t have a say on how their data is being collected or used. They observe that users are open to manipulation by services they’ve come to rely on.
By 2020, every house in the UK will have a smart meter. Global news Canada reported, “In the future, should a cloud service that other smart home companies rely on go down, these so-called smart devices could — at least temporarily — become useless bricks.” The consequences of a malfunctioned home thermostat could cause lack of heating in the winter, these problems can be quite severe.