Who’s Watching You?!

  1. Cookies
  2. Privacy Location Setting
    1. Snapchat.
    2. Facebook.
    3. Instagram.
  3. Web Browsers
    1. Device Finger Printing.
  4. Online TV Shows
    1. CW.
  5. IOS Identities
    1. ex: when you update, you can choose whether or not you can share your data with them.
  6. Games/Console/PC
    1. ex: give them data about how long you played.




For our first design, we choose  Cookies, Web History,  and our tactic was to use an encrypted network to try to solve this. So our team created this design, which is a bunker that has a server, and on that server, we have web pages and other information that we download from the internet. The bunker is kept underwater and surrounded by sharks and the bunker is ready to blow if there is any danger that comes to the bunker.



For our second design, we still chose to tackle the cookies, Web History. And this time we choose to use another tactic. Our second Tactic was VPN – Software modification. And with this design, it was meant to replicate the Amazon echo but instead of listening to you it listens to the internet and it will let you know with a sound, that someone is tracking you.

  1.  I believe that the second design does a better job of creating a space for contestation because this device tells you when someone is tracking you. And whether or not it bothers you, is up for confrontation. I feel like it seems pretty one way on who is involved in the contestation, in which I feel like people would be pretty bothered on how much you are being tracked. The average person would be involved in the contestation and Maybe business companies. I feel like that the conversations would be about how to be less noticeable, It would create awareness because I feel like it would be a big shock to people. And with the other design, I feel like it doesn’t bring that awareness that I feel like people should know.
  2. do you think your designs would be an effective way of provoking contestation about the issues of surveillance or do you think other types of political action would be more effective? Yes, I do believe that our design is an effective way of provoking contestation about issues of surveillance. Our design will let you know how much you are being tracked with sounds of subtle beeps. And I feel like if it were a person telling you these things it would be more of an argument. While without design it makes you think, and then you can argue/contest other people with what you know and what you’ve seen.

Subversion Exercise

  1. instagram
  2. facebook
  3. google(maps, gmail, calendar)
  4. bandsintown
  5. snapchat

The design on the left is called Bread Crumbs it blocks cookies and allows you to turn on a VPN if you have one so the sites you visit won’t track your activity. The design on the left is called Cookie Monster and it is completely opposite. It replaces the ads you get on sites with coupons for websites that you have visited. Also, if you you are about to purchase an item it can tell you to hold off for a few days because a sale is near.

I would say the design that does a better job at creating space for contestation is the Cookie Monster design. It completely embraces the cookies, which a lot of people don’t like and turns it into a more positive thing. The reason it does a better job is because as I mentioned before people don’t really like that their computer can track their activity. People would probably either love it or hate it. On one side it gives you great deals and can save you money. On the other side it invades your privacy by tracking which sites you are visiting and buying from.

This design for sure provokes contestation toward surveillance because it uses surveillance against itself. The sites that keep cookies are now being tracked by Cookie Monster to find the best deals and save people money. It may have companies think twice about using cookies because now we are reversing the roles and taking surveillance on them to find the best deals for people getting cookied.

Subversion Activity

Tracking Technology

  1. Snapchat
  2. Restaurant apps (ex Starbucks)
  3. Parking garage tag
  4. Student ID
  5. Apartment keys

Our designs were a map that visualizes where you go and allows you to pick what apps have access to that information, and a location tinder that allows to to delete or save locations.

I think the map visualization provides a better space for contestation because it allows people to easily see, analyze, and decide what data to share. Users become more involved because they can easily see what data their phone is collecting, and apps/other parties can only see the data if it is permitted by the user.

I think conversations about user location and privacy would occur with both, but the map would specifically prompt discussion about the amount of detail users share with outside parties, and how much is appropriate to share. I think the other design would prompt conversation about user security and methods of subverting location tracking.

I think these designs would be a good conversation starter, but to ultimately change surveillance I think new regulations or laws would need to be written.

Subversion Exercise

List of tracking technologies used in different aspects of people’s lives:

  1. Credit cards
  2. Social media location checkpoint
  3. Google maps
  4. Cookies tracking from shopping online
  5. I-phone messaging tracking location to send to friends

A map that shows the amount of times a location has been visited by the size of the googly eyes and the time a user visited the location. The drop down menu shows the different apps that want to use this data and has a feature that allows you to deny access to location settings.


Location tinder: the location tinder tracks the locations that you have visited and allows users to delete locations that they do not want to share. It will also have a feature that suggests places in the surrounding area that you might want to include as location pins. For example if you wanted to look studious adding a the library and the school campus to your location list during that day will allow users to present their ‘best’ location settings.

I think the design that does the best job at creating a space for contestation is the first sketch with the map that shows the different locations that the user visits and what time they visit these locations. The design notifies users of other apps that want to track the user’s location. I think this design is the best way to create contestation because it allows the user to analyze the data collected and make their own conclusions. This means that users can block location settings from being used in certain apps. The user and various companies are involved in this contestation because companies want data on their users so that they can subliminally show users advertisements. If this design was implemented users could control what information was shared with these large companies and corporations. Some conversations and outcomes from this technology would be users becoming more aware of who and what companies want to track. This technology would be effective to people who are curious about how their search history and technological habits are being monitored but I believe in order for it to truly be provoking to create contestation is if companies obviously displayed these known facts about the user in advertisements. If companies became bolder with their approach to selling by including personal facts about the user I believe that the map technology would become a well-used commodity for people.


Subversion Exercise

For this exercise, I compiled a small list of technologies, applications, and features that track an aspect of your life:

  • Fit Bit/ Fitness Tracker – Heart monitor, gps, step counter, etc.
  • Amazon – Tracks purchasing/ viewing history
  • Steam – Types of games you buy/ play most
  • Ad Monitoring – Suggested ads on Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter
  • Diet Tracker – Requires conscious user input, but still tracks behavior
  • Smart Home/ Security Services – Monitors residents for security

My partner and I selected Snapchat’s “friend map” feature as our technology/feature to subvert. Our first approach to this issue was to randomize the data that would be sent to the phone’s location services. A bot would be created to piggyback on a VPN and send random locations to your phone, so that it would appear as though you are moving across the globe at lightning speed. For example, one minute, your phone would believe/display that you are in Brazil, and the next, you would be in Tanzania or Japan. This way, no one would know where you actually are.


Our second approach to subvert this technology, was to add a hardware modification to your phone. By adding or removing this antenna to your phone, you would be able to enable or disable location services for your phone, respectively.

I believe that our second design sketch does a better job of creating a space for contestation because it forces the user to make a conscious decision as to whether they want to share their location or not. This design allows for a debate between those who are more paranoid about who/what is tracking them, and those who believe that this tracking is helping to improve their technological experience. I think that this hardware modification would steer the debate more toward online privacy and security, as opposed to the first design. With the first “randomization” technique, the conversation may end up moving toward patters that may emerge among the bot’s “behavior” and travel algorithms.

Our designs help in bringing to light the pervasiveness of location monitoring/ surveillance, even in just a general sense. However, I believe that there needs to be more political conversations about online privacy and cyber surveillance. This seems to be a highly controversial topic, as some people are very paranoid when it comes to ISP’s selling certain online activity history of their customers to ad corporations, so they can tailor their ads to what they think you need. But at some point, it becomes too invasive, like when “Target knows that you’re pregnant before you do”.

Subversion Exercise – BreadCrumbs and Cookie Monster

For this week’s exercise on surveillance and establishing methods of subversion, I determined that the following are tracking my metadata in some way:

  • Iphone, iPad, and computer
    • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – location, friends, likes, post interaction, messages
    • Snapchat – location (made public)
    • Google products – location services, web history, cookies, ads
    • Amazon, Ebay – purchase history, recently viewed items
  • Game consoles (Nintendo Switch, PS4, etc) – location, achievements, hours played, friends
  • Internet Service Providers – websites visited, location

We selected internet cookies as the surveillance technology to subvert. Our first design, BreadCrumbs, is a browser extension that allows one to enable and disable cookies from a specific webpage by clicking the icon. It also alerts the user when a website requests to use cookies, and for what purpose. This informs the user of what is going on behind the scenes. In addition, the extension also features ad blocking and a VPN. img_17051.jpg

In contrast, our second design encourages the use of cookies to improve the user experience. Called Cookie Monster, the browser extension consolidates cookie-based ads onto a homepage, which the user can browse at their leisure. When purchasing items, it also alerts the consumer if the item will be on sale within a designated time period, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. img_17041.jpg

I believe the first design provides a better space for contestation between users and the website creator than the latter. Breadcrumbs provides the user with the information that is being used to track them, which can be interpreted any way they see fit. They can also bring up issues of invasive activity with the websites they visit, as opposed to not knowing what the companies are doing with their private information. In contrast, Cookie Monster does nothing but consolidate ad-related cookies in one location, without illustrating other uses the company might have for that information.

I do not believe the above designs would be enough to provoke contestation about surveillance; both are features that, once enabled, may be quickly forgotten about. Furthermore, many individuals are already aware that we are being surveilled by our devices any time they are turned on, yet our behaviors have not changed. While preserving our right to privacy is monumental to me, I am unsure if such issues will ever be addressed until telescreens are installed in our homes and we are forced to pledge our allegiance to the Party.

Subversion Exercise

Drawing from this weeks focus on Adversarial Design, we will focus this week’s assignment on collecting evidence and displaying it in a way that would allow someone to participate in contestation. Here, out goal in design is to open a space for conversation about a topic or issue.

For Class 9.27
This week, we are going to focus our projects on surveillance. Spend about 30 minutes at your computer or phone looking at various applications, websites, apps and thinking about how they track and monitor your behaviors. Create a list of at least 5 different technologies, apps, or features that track your behavior. Bring your list to class on 9.27.

In Class on 9.27
We will start by compiling a shared list of tracking technologies and brainstorming tactics that would someone to subvert those technologies. We will then work in small groups to create 2 design sketches, each applying a different tactic to subvert a particular technology. We will then compare our designs as a group and reflect on how each form of subversion created different opportunities to participate in contestation or provided resources allowing someone to participate.

Turn in on 9.28
While the work will take place in groups, I would like each person to submit their own blog post including the following information:

  • Your list
  • A brief description and/or photos of your 2 design sketches
  • Please compare the design sketches along the following criteria:
    1. which design do you think does a better job at creating a space for contestation and why?
      1. who is involved in the contestation?
      2. what kind of conversations/outcomes do you think could emerge from this design as opposed to the other?
    2. do you think your designs would be an effective way of provoking contestation about the issues of surveillance or do you think other types of political action would be more effective?