Communicating ethical dilemmas & best practices of responsible IoT
There’s a lot of buzz around the topic of IoT (Internet of Things). Connecting a product with other products and collecting data of how they are used has spurred many innovations. But how useful are all these new inventions? And how ethical are they? With the exhibition ‘Why does my refrigerator know my birthday’ we inspired visitors of the Dutch Design Week with such questions. The purpose was to inform the public and provide a basis for discussion of the ethical implications of IoT.
With various examples the public is introduced to IoT and its implications. Each item illustrates 1 principle of the IoT manifesto, developed by the Just Things Foundation. These include a gas tank with a clever and fair business model, a transparent home server, but also the IoT graveyard with products which didn’t make it on the market. Visitors are guided along the various items and provided with a question and background information. At the end of the exhibition visitors are confronted with the data collected of them and asked what we are allowed to do with it.
In this project I was responsible for concept development, curation and part of the design of the exhibition. We started with the idea to illustrate the 10 principles of the IoT Manifesto and worked from there. Several ideas on how to communicate these principles were explored. The goal was to make these context-specific principles understandable to a larger audience, without losing the depth of information. The overall purpose was to inform and spark debate.
We decided on a selection of simple interactions such as sliding to reveal information, connecting the dots and asking questions. This made the exhibition more engaging, without being too expensive. One of these interactions is the Privacy curtain through which visitors enter the exhibition.
One of the tough parts was the curation of the separate exhibits, because we wanted to show ‘good’ examples of IoT products: Products that embody the principles of the manifesto. It was important that we were considerate in how we communicated about the products. The exhibit should inform and inspire, rather than warn or provoke.
At the end of the exhibition visitors can indicate what they allow us to do with their data.