Investigation II - Forgotten

tl;dr: Design a hybrid ritual for data loss (the forgetting or dispossessing of digital memories) supported with one or more tangible (physical/digital) objects

Due: Thurs, Mar 2, noon

Submit Documentation: Gallery Pool - Forgotten


Image Credit: [ZOE1998SB](https://zoe1998sb.wordpress.com/2015/04/).

Image Credit: ZOE1998SB.

Milestones:

  • Tues, Feb 14 - Assignment Given

  • Thur, Feb 16 - Warm up Exercise Due.

  • Thur, Feb 23 - Proposals and Background Research / Discoveries Due

  • Thur, Feb 23 - Desk crits

  • Thur, Mar 2 - Crit/Review of outcomes 12.00 am (in-class)

  • Thur, Mar 2 @ midnight - Digital Documentation Due

Overview

In the last module, we’ve spent time exploring the perfect memory. How we might use technology to capture, preserve and store the ultimate life archive. The opportunities that this might give us to reminiscence, remember, reflect, and to know ourselves better.

“Since the early days of humankind we have tried to remember, to preserve our knowledge, to hold on to our memories and we have devised numerous devices and mechanisms to aid us. Yet through millennia, forgetting has remained just a bit easier and cheaper than remembering.” Victor Mayer-Schönberger.

No longer. Today, we’re already facing the reality of pervasive, ubiquitous and enduring information online. Our digital footprint is increasing large and it raises many complex and nuanced socio-digital considerations. Many of these are discussed by Fleischer’s online article Foggy thinking about the Right to Oblivion. Similarly, both Victor Mayer-Schönberger’s Delete and Liam Bannon’s ‘Forgetting as a feature, not a bug’ both underscore the need to digitally “forget” in an increasingly networked world. [sidenote: we’ll look at both in this investigation’s readings!]. In 1970, Alan Westin introduced the notion of information self-determination, or affording the right to control how information presents us. But it’s recently taken on new relevance as European court rulings have mandated it online. The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ asserts an individual citizen’s right to information self-determination and gives anyone affected by prominent links to embarrassing and unwanted information on the Internet the ability to remove them from search engine results.

But the recent work of Corina Sas reminds us of other, overlooked, human consequences of networking our digital mementos from a different frame. In her paper with Steve Wittaker, they raise the question:

“As our lives are increasingly digitally mediated, we’re capturing and sharing our relationships online. What happens when they come to an end?”

Examples of symbolic objects. From Sas & Whittaker (2013) [Design for forgetting...](https://doi.org/10.1145/2470654.2466241) In Proc. CHI'13). ACM.

Examples of symbolic objects. From Sas & Whittaker (2013) Design for forgetting… In Proc. CHI’13). ACM.

Interviewing 24 people who have experienced a romantic breakup, they assert that “digital possessions are a problem demanding radical action”. In this and continuing work, Sas examining rituals of breakup, divorce, bereavement, and grief as a means to design for forgetting and suggests the need to create creative symbolic digital artifacts to support alternative ways of processing grief, separation and dissolution of intimate relationships (see below).

Relationships are just one of many cases where the pervasive, distributed, and redundancy-laden internet comes into conflict with our human desire to move on and forget. These individual, social and societal impacts, raise provocative questions about the internet and how we should remember.

  • What is forgetting in a networked world?
  • How can we recognize our digital footprint and manage it?
  • What shouldn’t be seen by our friends and colleagues today or our children tomorrow?
  • How can the past come back to haunt us?
  • Do we have the right to be forgotten online?
  • What is our digital legacy in a networked world?
  • How can we leave our past behind in an digital age?

Simply put, forgetting has value. It’s necessary. We need to ask how we can design for forgetting with our digital technologies. In this exercise, you’ll consider the value of digitally forgetting, and questions that surround managing our digital footprint, the nature of regret, dispossessing digital memories, and the effects of doing so. We’ll examine the ways in which we could help support forgetting today. We’ll consider the availability of web, social and other digital sources that we accumulate and how we might design new hybrid (physical digital) practices to divest ourselves of our digital footprints.

The “right to be forgotten” rule was passed in May 2014. It allows EU citizens to request links from search engines be removed and allow citizens to self-determine how they are represented online. Image Credit: [Regal Tribune](http://www.regaltribune.com/french-regulator-orders-google-to-apply-the-right-to-be-forgotten-to-all-domains/21287/).

The “right to be forgotten” rule was passed in May 2014. It allows EU citizens to request links from search engines be removed and allow citizens to self-determine how they are represented online. Image Credit: Regal Tribune.

Learning Objectives

This exercise is designed to provide a counterpoint to the explorations of the first module and help consider the limits of what we might want to and should remember. It’ll help you begin to consider technology-supported memory as a mediated practice that can be intentional, facilitated, invoked, and directed. As part of this exercise, you will:

  • Develop an understanding of the need to forget and the tensions that arise when digital accounts endure;

  • Investigate the concerns and considerations that currently surround our digital legacy online;

  • Speculate on how hybrid practices (blended physical digital rituals) might be able to help divest and dispossess digital memory;

  • Work collaboratively in an applied investigation to tease-out the broader considerations, issues and requirements in building memory-technologies (social, cultural, personal, biological implications etc.)

Warm Up

To help, kickstart this investigation, we’ll develop a shared understanding of what digital content people might want to ‘forget’ today.

Before class on Feb 16th, ask three people about their digital footprint. Document and share their response to the following:

If you could delete one thing about yourself from the internet, what would it be and why?

Reflect on any insights and considerations uncovered. Write up and report to Slack by Thursday We’ll review in class together.

Discovery

By class on Thursday 23rd, each group member should research contribute well documented 2 precedents to Slack. This could be an artistic work, theory on memory and forgetting, a research paper, a design reference, etc.

Add your documented example to the #discoveries as a new post on slack (see below). The discovery should include a link to the resource, it’s creators, and a short narrative (100-200 words explaining why someone else should pay attention to it)

From Sas, Whittaker & Zimmerman. 2016. [Design for Rituals of Letting Go](https://doi.org/10.1145/2926714): An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact.

From Sas, Whittaker & Zimmerman. 2016. Design for Rituals of Letting Go: An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact.

Brief:

Taking cues from Corina Sas and Steve Wittaker’s paper “Design for Forgetting: Disposing of Digital Possessions After a Breakup” and their call to ‘radical action’ on digital possessions, you’re going to consider how to crafting symbolic objects embodied in tangible artifacts that can support forgetting.

Brief: Design a hybrid ritual for data loss (the forgetting or dispossessing of digital memories) supported with one or more tangible (physical/digital) objects

The goal of this exercise is to consider a blending of physical and digital practices and memories: you’re going to design a physical practice connected to digital information. First, find a compelling context where people might want to forget. It could be a record of an embarrassing encounter, a moment of personal pain or grief (romantic breakups, etc), a traumatic experience or an undesirable legacy (teenage years) that’s been documented in some way online or even the corruption/destruction of data (hard drive loss, etc.). Identify and specify what information might be available and the sources. Draw analogs to practices of divestment as Sas has in later work: ‘Designing personal grief rituals’ and ‘Design for Rituals of Letting Go’ (see figure.) Develop an understanding of how a physical practice might be connected to digital information. Then design a tangible tool (or a series of tools) that help support this ritual, help someone forget that content and overcome the memory of it. Envision and prototype that experience and how the ritual is performed too. Remember: You can and should treat forgetting broadly and you should consider both sides of the equation (the benefits of forgetting the experience and its downsides). Ask: what are the benefits and risks? what happens when you forget both in the short- and in the long-term? Are there any (potential) unintended consequences and what are they? What might it mean if you no longer have a record of that experience or what might happen if your social network is notified or aware that you’ve divested yourself of the memory? etc.

You should develop at least one prototype that demonstrates your ideas for how you can support forgetting digital memories and possessions. The proposal should consider how data and digital information will be used in forgetting scenario and how this device would be used to divest oneself of a memory.

The possibilities are wide and varied. But you should:

  • Make - i.e. test your ideas and give them a form.
  • Research - i.e. uncover theory, ideas, and precedent projects that inform your approach.
  • Gather - i.e. find inspirational resources from speculative designs, design fiction, science fiction, etc..
  • Experiment - e.g. don’t just prototype the device and interactions but simulate/construct the data it might produce or use;
  • Document - e.g. test your ideas on yourself or others, how do you or others experience and encounter the device, what are your reactions and responses, document how you respond to it, what values it offer, and why it might matter to you or others.

Unusual approaches, left-of-center thinking and impracticality is encouraged!

Note: Hardware, technologies and other resources can be requested.

From Sas, Whittaker & Zimmerman. 2016. [Design for Rituals of Letting Go](https://doi.org/10.1145/2926714): An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact.

From Sas, Whittaker & Zimmerman. 2016. Design for Rituals of Letting Go: An Embodiment Perspective on Disposal Practices Informed by Grief Therapy. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact.

Deliverables:

  • A detailed conceptual design. This covers:
    • situating the design for the project (context, scenarios, cases, etc.),
    • the goals and rationale for the approach
    • articulating informed position that integrates theory of memory and forgetting, research in the area, and precedent projects
    • low-fi and high-fi design materials (mockups, concept videos, diagrams, experience maps, sketches, etc.)
  • A 1-2 minute video. Create a short (1-2 minute) video illustrating how the device would be used and how the hybrid ritual takes place. This should illustrate the intended scenarios, interactions, and how it helps dispossess digital content, etc.

  • A physical prototype of one ‘tool’ to support memory. You can take any approach to preparing this tangible manifestation that you feel is appropriate. This should be of reasonable fidelity to give form your your proposal, but will reflect your skills with prototyping interactive systems. This could include:
  • A digital presentation of your design work (3 minutes maximum)
    • Prepare a digital presentation and take part in a crit.
    • Showcase/demo your prototype during this time
    • Pose open questions and highlight challenges or failures encountered.

Final deliverables to be presented at the Crit/Review

Final Documentation Requirements:

Include a write up of the following:

  • Conceptual Design: Describe your vision. What is the driving idea behind your design? What kind of solution are you trying to create and why? How does it enhance/augment/extend memory? What are your goals and motivations? How would it work in practice? etc

  • Prototype: Describe your experience/working prototype: What did you create, how, etc.? What tools and technologies were involved? Include appropriate content and illustration (e.g. a concept video, a video of the device in operation, diagrams, code, etc.)

  • Precedents: Describe theory, concepts, and research you have performed. Describe the prior work, ideas and projects that influenced your design. What work informed this idea.

  • Process: Describe how you arrived out the outcome. What iterations, refinements, design decisions and changes were made?

  • Open Questions and Challenges: What questions remain to be addressed or questions about memory did this exploration raise for you. What are the things we should pay attention to/discuss in class for future explorations?

  • Reflection: Reflect on making this project. What did you learn? What would you do differently? Did you get where you wanted to? If not, why not? What do you need to get there, etc?

  • Attribution and References: Reference any sources or materials used in the documentation or composition.

Each of these sections should be no more than 200 words max. and well illustrated (images, videos, etc.)

For the Project Info’s goal description: it must be tweetable - summarise your outcome in no more than 140 characters