Ataraxie : an online cult that denounces the attention economy

Graduation project — Graphic design master — Lyon, France.

Attention = money

My graduation project deals with the attention economy.
Apps and websites we use are subjected to this attention economy : their goal is to keep us online as long as possible and make us buy or do some actions.

What about UX design?

Devices such as smartphones are really immersive and absorbent : it means that we uses them daily without even thinking about it, in an intuitive way, the same way we drive a car without asking ourselves how to drive.
The difference is that when you drive a car, you’re the only one on board. When you’re using an app or surfing on a website the content that you see, the choices you have in a menu or in a search engine are chosen by the designer and/or the company that created the app.

What is the role of the UX designer?
Does interactivity provides the user a real power?
How is the web organized?

From an analysis of our behaviors on the internet and the organization of the world wide web, I chose to develop a narrative interactive project.

Turn the designer into a guru

Ataraxie is an online cult promising to make you reach a digital serenity by purifying you from your bad behavior on the internet : try to break out from the attention economy, be the sole master of your navigation, a free and happy internet user.

Step 1 : Recruit.

Through a twitter account, a bot recruits potential members by sending them a direct message.

Step 2 : Entertain to conquer hijacks mechanisms from the attention economy that we are subjected to every day to give the user a rich and entertaining interactive experience to make him subscribe and join the cult.

The home page sets up the cult, questioning ourselves about the digital world we live in.
This page displays the 100 hashtags that were used the most in May 2016

The user is invited to click on the ataraxie hashtag.

An infinite like counter, inviting the user to click.
Likes are assimilated to pills.
The 15 most seen youtube videos

After a 10-seconds wait, 15 pop-ups window open — mostly hits. Justin Bieber and Gangnam Style fans will be pleased.

Explodes emojis to get rid of useless followers.

All these useless Facebook friends from middle school, all these random instagram followers : explode them.

Ataraxie’s terms and conditions.

As nobody reads them, Ataraxie makes you read its terms and conditions in a scrollable tunnel.

On this final page, you can make a donation, share the website or enter the temple.

Phase 3 : The temple.

After an entertaining and sarcastic part where the user experiments and make actions, he can finally enter the temple.

Outdoor view of the temple and its 7 rooms.

7 rooms for a full indoctrination.

7 rooms for a full indoctrination.

Each room is themed and requires actions from the user in order for him to move forward to his purification.

Preview of a room

The temple has several features for the user. Interactive elements follow the architecture of the temple, in order to reinforce the immersion.

Members can chat with each other . Their identity is hidden, but it can be revealed by making a donation to the cult.
Actions to do to reach the next level are displayed near the doors.
Users can make a donation. A high donation can unlock the next room.
A member must parrain other members.
Members can chat orally with the guru.

Actions to do are simple and attractive at first, in order to keep the member in the cult. By progressing into the cult, members start being recluse.

When you enter the temple, users have to install an app that monitors them and give them instructions.

The app looks like a timeline where the user can see all his actions. By seeing them, it will implicitly influence his behavior.
The app has premium features.
With this feature, aim your phone at somebody’s face and see if they’re enrolled in Ataraxie.

The paradox is now clear : this cult acts like a mirror of our actual behavior on the internet. Thinking that you’re joining ataraxie to walk away from the attention economy, you get trapped in a sect with even darker desires.

A partial solution to this problem would be our self-awareness and freedom. By being able to step back from our screens, we can avoid traps from the attention economy or other similar systems.

Sound design

My friend Thomas Battistella sound designed the whole project, giving it a unique and custom atmosphere, reinforcing once again the immersion and the singularity of this cult.

The project can be seen and tested online at :
(Works only on Chrome for time and coding skills issues)