Viewed from the bustling sidewalks of Lower Manhattan, The Glass Room may appear a routine tech store. Through the window you glimpse gadgets seated atop stands; a clean, white aesthetic; and staffers in matching shirts.
But The Glass Room is hardly routine. And it’s not a technology shop — it’s an art exhibit, learning experience, and powerful statement on the role of technology in our daily lives.
Presented by Mozilla and Tactical Technology Collective, The Glass Room is nestled on Mulberry Street in New York City, and runs from November 29 through December 14.
Within are artifacts, apps, and artwork that explore the benefits — and consequences — of living our lives online. Installations are divided into four categories:
Something To Hide, which explores privacy and personal data in the internet era.
Big Mama, which unpacks the consequences — intended and unintended — of digital surveillance.
Normal is Boring, which turns a critical eye on Silicon Valley culture and tech monopolies.
Open the Box, which examines how online data is trafficked and traded.
On one pedestal sits a pair of sneakers, purchased on the darknet by a bot. Nearby, a thick set of encyclopedias document some 4.6 million passwords that leaked online. A few steps away, an intricate diagram maps out the countless acquisitions and investments made by Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
I don’t have anything to hide, but I don’t have anything I want to show you, either, reads a placard on the wall. If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold, declares another.
On a recent morning, Tactical Tech Executive Director & Co-Founder Stephanie Hankey spoke about some of the questions The Glass Room seeks to answer.
“Are we entering a stage where we think of privacy as a thing for the rich?” Hankey said. “What is the value of data? And what does it mean when we rely so heavily on a single tech company?”
The Glass Room offers thoughtful and colorful commentary on the state of the web, from the philosophies guiding data collection to the implications of biotechnology. There’s space for education and action, too. At the rear of the venue is the Data Detox Bar, where staff are ready to assist web users bolster their privacy and security online. (An eight-day data detox guide helps individuals to strengthen passwords and leave fewer breadcrumbs online.)
The space also hosts a number of free, open-to-the-public workshops, from “Investigate Your Metadata” and “De-Googlize Your Life” to “How the Web Works.”
To view exhibits, sign up for workshops, meet artists, and more, click here. See you at 201 Mulberry Street, New York, NY.