LOQ Revisited — Part 2: Lego My Ego

The fundamental requirements of my concept were that it should appear to be another interesting and useful IoT product, but could also harbour unsettling connections behind the interface which could be explored by a diverse group. I wanted something that would initially please and then unsettle, but I also wanted it to be practical enough for people to be able to defend it and overlook any compromises.

In Ireland, a housing crisis was beginning. Many had not noticed it yet, but many others, on lower incomes, were beginning to feel the burn.

In the digital realm, people were starting to really question privacy and concerns were being raised about data collection. The realities of using a ‘free’ service like facebook were beginning to dawn on its users, and Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto was starting to tarnish.

Alongside the aforementioned Water Charges fiasco, where a government tried to push through a questionable initiative in the face of open protest and corruption concerns, a design began to form…

The Smart Home was returning from the cold and represented a new, and invasive, frontier for the tech giants to conquer in their quest for more data and control. This would be where I would position my product, a Smart Lock with more features than could possibly be imagined (…or good for you).

LOQ Revisited — Part 1: Chasing A Bee Inside A Jar

During my MSc in Interactive Media, I became obsessed with Critical Design. It gave me the language to interpret many of the works that I had produced over the previous ten years and also gave me a framework and history of other artists and artworks to explore. Happy times!

This also opened up a world of _______ Design exploration. There was Participatory Design, User Centred Design, Co-Design, Research through Design, Design for Discourse, Political Design and, another obsession, Adversarial Design.

Long story short, I wanted to understand how to work with some of these design methodologies and explore approaches to generating new concepts and prototypes. Knowing how I work and understand things, it would have to be a very hands-on approach. After some thought, I decided to generate my own piece of Critical Design and use workshops as a way to get feedback on how effective the design was and to use the iterative process of User Centred Design to refine and sharpen. As I reflected more on this process, I saw potential to use the approach to help me understand and enlist the possibilities of Adversarial Design.

Essentially, I was attempting to use design approaches and methodologies to make an artwork/artefact more effective in its interaction with the public.

As with any iterative process an initial fuel/air/spark must be introduced to get the thing going. For my needs, this was going to have to be a piece of design which could be presented to my workshop group(s).

What is it?

At the time I had been reading about ethics and the dangers of solutionism in Evgeny Morosov’s excellent book, To Save Everything, Click Here, and the Mark Shepard edited Sentient City essays, amongst others. Also, at the time in Ireland, there was considerable public protest and backlash to the installation of water meters and water charges throughout the country, which were being pushed through without any recognition by the government of public interest. This process failed embarrassingly for the government and still resonates to this day, but has not gone away completely.

Finally, with my own background in interactive art, electronics and software, an idea began to take shape…

The LOQ project will be discussed in the next post.

Part 2