Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 15 seconds

Disruptive Visions + VPRO

Co-creation | Research Design | Interactive Design


Onomatopee Gallery, Willemstraat, Eindhoven
Campus Party 2017, Utrecht
Bibliotheek Eindhoven, Witte Dame,Eindhoven


Disruptive Visions is a project conducted in collaboration with VPRO as part of the Forum 3 Research Minor in Design Academy Eindhoven. All main themes centre on critically looking at technology through a societal perspective.

Together with a group of students, we have researched several aspects of data collection practices ranging from the tracking and logging of personal data, to processing and extracting knowledge from large datasets, data brokerage, privacy-related policies and ethical implications big data analytics in public services.

Stephanie Bakker – data collection practices, educational models, impact production
Thomas Hoogerwerf – ethical technologies, privacy and surveillance
Yi-Ting Lee – big data, supply & demand, wellness and healthcare
Nicoleta Pana – data brokerage & public institutions, privacy, digital economy, inequality
Eileen Renier – biological data collection practices, privacy
Callahan Tufts – surveillance technologies, cryptography, citizen engagement


Below you can read an account of the process, methods and
outcomes of the project. In inverse chronological order.

The last part of the project involved bringing together all the interventions and research that have comprised our view into privacy and the use & commercialisation of data in the public sector. Our main conclusion was that whilst people are not generally aware of the amount and diversity of data they give away in their every day life, when presented with the results in an appropriate manner, they react positively and acknowledge strongly the necessity of educational/informative initiatives directed at the general public.

The majority of people at Campus Party that have agreed to play in on our intervention of quantifying in totems the amount of data that they give away to online services of all sorts were, in fact, present with children. They have all acknowledged, watching their children play with the totems, that there is a lack of information and education in this respect and have encouraged further initiatives to spread knowledge on the matter. As well, we have received positive remarks and a great deal of interest from professionals at the fair: from Insurance Company Representatives, to IT Consultants, Academics, Researchers, Real Estate Consultants, Privacy Experts, Retailers etc.​

In this sense, we have learnt that there is need for an educational "strategy" and platform that sustains and supports the spreading of knowledge related to data commerce. We have thus created a proposal for an educational platform that focuses on building up on the various interventions we have made. Users are given brief instructions on how to build a Tool for Data (or more likely, Data Awareness), they can ask for more information or specific references, or invite a non profit to give a talk or a workshop on the matter in a school, a company, or any place where guidance on the topic is needed (there is a network of educators & collaborators for this).

The tools resulting from the workshops/educational activities or from within the online community are available on the website with full open source instructions on how to reproduce them.  In the end, it would be possible to browse through a diverse and interesting archive of ready to make, DIY Data Awareness Tools that anyone can use to prove, teach or or discuss important points about the Use of Data, Privacy, Data Commerce, Data Types etc.

Investigating the possibilities and thresholds around exchanging rewards for personal data. In this part of the project, an analogue research tool goes through the following iterations: A Data Log in the form of a Notebook, An anonymous Vending Machine offering you Chips for Data, A Trading point where the Disruptive Visions team enters a negotiation with the citizens willing to trade their personal data and lastly – an awareness test conducted at Campus Party EU 2016 in Utrecht.

Here, we have invited people of all ages and backgrounds (tech & not) to see if they actually know how much data they are giving away and what the tangible, visible value of that amount is.​ The Data Test used at Campus Party includes a set of blocks in 4 colours and sizes: least used to most used service. Each individual has to think and interpret the amounts themselves and categorise the online services they used on this 4 point scale. They stick a service to the corresponding usage block. All blocks from one person are finally stacked on a pole and the participant gets to take a picture with their "Data Tower".

The range of services was designed to include as varied of a selection as possible of potential data collecting services, from online services, to retailers, energy companies, institutions etc.

Often, it turned out, people thought they gave away much less data than they thought they did.

Situation: Upon entering The Design Academy in Eindhoven, a student is confronted with the goal of the day – to raise €100 worth of personal data in order to pay one instalment of her yearly tuition fee. With each activity she performs and with each room that she enters, she receives a push-notification on her Higher Education Tuition App. She can ACCEPT (Terms & Conditions) if she wants her data collected and transformed into value or DECLINE if she does not want to log tuition value from the specific data collected at that entry point. The more data she hands in, the more she pays off from her tuition. When exiting the school, she picks up a printed log of all the data she has accepted or declined to hand in that day.

The Speculative Safari explores a situation where the user of the Tuition Service is able to control where she hands in data that day, but also has access to an overview with her choices at the end of the day. GDPR was not yet a reality, Privacy Shield not yet ratified.

Through mapping out all the touch points where the user's decision can be influenced and her experience altered, we can obtain a clearer picture of possible behaviours & decisions when presented with a financial reward opportunity.  For example: would her data being quantified in the end in a tangible and relatable format (a receipt) lead to a change in behaviour the next day?

The experiment is part of investigating what it can mean to connect (private) data commerce to a Public Institution such as a school, or university. Would having a service like this carried out by/within a public school result in potential users being more trusting of using it and more prone to giving away data they otherwise would chose not to? Would it make a difference to them?

​Gathering all our explorative material (publications, brainstorm sessions, intentions, references etc.) in a collective archive that can inform our research tools and our design process. In opposition to a regular web browsing experience (and established UX design standards) it is also a first attempt to highlight our intentions and visions within the broader theme.

The archive, as a shared resource contains only textual content (images included). In order to access the archive (and to use it), we've introduced a small challenge: you need to discover the access key hidden in the Terms & Conditions opening the archive...So you must actually read them this time :). If you have read the first paragraphs, you have the option to accept without reading the rest, but you will be redirected to a hint. Try again!