Tactical Tech – a group I have had an on/off one sided relationship with since my time at CIVICUS, where amongst other things I led an initiative to help non-profits adopt appropriate technologies 1 – organises physical exhibitions around Europe calling attention to some of the challenges imposed on our world by technology. These exhibitions are called Glass Rooms.
Glass Rooms: The Misinformation Edition
On its website, the introduction of this exhibit opens with: “What happens when we increasingly rely on social media and the web for our news and information? What information do we see, and what do we miss? How do we know if content is genuine? And what can we do if we can’t be sure?”
And many will agree these are valid questions and concerns, especially in the face of the current public onslaught at scale against knowledge and experts (not to be confused with expats) which has been amplified by the corona virus pandemic.
It would seem that the mainstay of internet trolls (people and bots created and owned by people) deliberately creating misinformation for varying purposes – political, economic, religious and social – have gone mainstream and our devices – those smart tvs, smart watches, smart phones and other smart electronics in our lives are helping, if inadvertently, to sustain the continued flow of (mis)information. Misinformation, that is so real that a lot of people don’t even know how to differentiate any more.
Making matters worse is the fundamental design of the internet or what one can argue it has become – where personalisation, an attempt to ensure the internet serves each one of us in the best way possible, has developed a dark side of creating a personalised bubble for each one of: where one’s biases subtly introduced in one’s search terms and social media consumptions and even in conversations before some of the listening techs all around us, is reinforced in what is subsequently presented to the user. Haven’t you noticed that you only get search results that you are more likely to click on than you are not (this is good from an efficiency point of view, but it still reinforces the idea of the knowledge bubble) and how you only hear from the same set of people on facebook, even though you have hundreds of friends? Yes, that’s the bubble. Further exacerbating the challenges occasioned by our technologies, is the sudden rise in popularity of unethical leadership – as is currently evidenced in the handling of George Floyd‘s murder in the United States.
This exhibition seeks to redeem the young who are potentially yet to be irreversibly tainted and may still be open to pragmatism to “explore how social media and the web have changed the way we read information and react to it.”. And to Learn why finding “fakenews” is not as easy as it sounds, and how the term “fake news” is as much a problem as the news it describes.”
The exhibition will be seen in 40 events across 8 European languages and more information about this an be gleaned at the exhibitions’ home page here: https://theglassroom.org/misinformation
I will start to explore the opportunity for creating an African equivalent. One which will not only explore the ills, but also explore and amplify some home grown responses that may also be exportable.
About: Glass Room
The Glass Room is a public intervention that provides an interactive, fun, and challenging experience, bringing to life the most pressing challenges facing people and the tech industry today. As technology reaches a global scale and becomes embedded in every part of our lives and our environments, The Glass Room examines its impacts and helps visitors explore practical solutions to mitigate them.
The Glass Room was originally conceived and produced in the context of the exhibition “Nervous Systems” with support from Haus der Kulturen der Welt in the framework of “100 Years of Now” and is based on an original concept developed by Stephanie Hankey and Marek Tuszynski, shown in March-May 2016 at the HKW in Berlin, Germany.
- An effort that culminated in the 2011 publication of the CIVICUS TechPack a website and DVD which had a collection of software to help non-profits run their business with out having to worry about huge license costs, dedicated resources and all the other nice things that can potentially distract organisations from their core business.