At noon on Wednesday, Oct. 25, the doors to The Glass Room, London’s latest sleek pop-up store, will open, offering curious visitors a glimpse into the implications of our increasingly digital lifestyles.
The Glass Room, produced by Mozilla and curated by Tactical Tech, highlights the flipside of life in the digital age through an animated, creative space that combines artworks, interactive workshops, videos and guest speakers to visualise our data and explore how it is freely harvested, traded and sold on a daily basis. Running from 25th October to 12th November in London, The Glass Room aims to help people identify and reduce their digital footprints, having helped more than 10,000 New Yorkers do the same in 2016.
Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, Mozilla’s Chief Marketing Officer, said, “Having debuted to national acclaim when it arrived in New York last year, we look forward to the opening of The Glass Room in London. As a not-for-profit, Mozilla invests in creative ways to make sure people are informed and ready to protect themselves online. With fake news and misinformation, the normalisation of surveillance, and so-called “free” services from powerful tech companies, The Glass Room opens your eyes to the invisible imbalance of power and the irony of referring to our most intimate data as ‘personal’. ”
Stephanie Hankey, of Tactical Tech added, “The Glass Room is where big data is displayed in a tangible and less abstract way. On the one hand, it is a personal experience, where you can playfully challenge your own relationship with the devices, websites and apps you use everyday. On the other hand, it is a space to ask important questions about the issues we face as a society, such as right to privacy, disproportional power, and the data-driven economy. Everyone has a reason to care, but sometimes you just need to see something from a new perspective to do something about it.”
The Glass Room’s sleek, minimalist storefront located in London’s busy West End is no accident. Shoppers may enter with an expectation to browse and buy the latest technology, yet they leave with a greater understanding that for many companies, we have become the product and our personal data has become a commodity. An experience created by artists, activists and technologists, The Glass Room features over 40 individual artworks inspired by four principal themes:
- We Know You: The Big Five (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft) are no longer the disruptive upstarts of their “Don’t Be Evil” origin stories and are today fully enmeshed in our daily lives. They are also the biggest companies in the world, with the power to influence everything, from the next hot consumer trend to shaping the global political stage, with the tweak of an algorithm. Pieces created by Tactical Tech and La Loma visualise this data and explore how much we know about these companies who know so much about us.
- Something to Hide: We often hear the argument, “I have nothing to hide” but are we aware of how much we aren’t hiding in return for free or convenient services? These pieces explore the unbalanced and often invisible data exchange in a playful way and offers food for thought on how such data could be used and abused.
- Big Mother: In this age of “Big Brother”, surveillance comes in many forms, with the State introducing a new brand of “care-veillance”. A new program designed to provide swifter access to in-home monitoring of elderly relatives is being welcomed as a safety net to allow safer independent living. But who holds that data and how is it protected? This installation investigates the risks and rewards of this new breed of surveillance society and explores if and how we can opt out.
- Open the Box: Take a peek beneath the screen to the data patterns and traces we leave in our wake. This section visualises the data footprints that we leave behind for all to see, and examines how this data can be collected, analysed and used by others.
A series of guest speakers throughout the duration of the pop-up will host lectures, workshops and interactive sessions on many key issues raised by the proliferation of data and the exponential growth of our online lifestyles. Confirmed speakers include artists Adam Harvey and !Mediengruppe Bitnik, journalists Eliot Higgins and Carl Miller, and many others.
For those who wish to explore further, “Ingeniuses” at the Data Detox Bar will show you what the data brokers see, allow you to manipulate the online advertising that others see and even create fake news on real news websites — encouraging us all to think twice before taking anything online at face value. For those who wish to learn how to reduce their digital footprint and make more informed choices about their online activity moving forward, the Ingeniuses will be able to provide practical tips and everyone can try the ‘8-day Data Detox kit’, available from the event or online.
The Glass Room will be open to the public, free of charge, between 12pm and 8pm daily from Wednesday 25th October to Sunday 12th November 2017.
The Glass Room Experience will be touring the UK during the same period, offering visitors in towns and cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Bristol an opportunity to gain insight into the implications of today’s digital life. More details can be found at https://theglassroom.org
At the same time as The Glass Room, MozFest, Mozilla’s week-long festival (23 October to 29 October) in London opens, focusing on Internet health issues like online privacy, web literacy, and misinformation.
Location: 69–71 Charing Cross Road, WC2
A full list of the exhibits, workshops and guest speakers can be found online: theglassroom.org
Mozilla Mozilla is the not-for-profit behind the popular web browser, Firefox. We believe the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. We work to ensure it stays open by building products, technologies and programs that put people in control of their online lives, and contribute to a healthier Internet.
About Tactical Tech
Tactical Tech is a Berlin-based organisation working at the intersection of technology, human rights and civil liberties. They provide trainings, conduct research, and create cultural interventions that contribute to the wider socio-political debate around digital security, privacy and the ethics of data.