Welcome to our new blog on data and design - an extension of the ideas from our new book, Visualising Information for Advocacy.
As designers, activists, technologists and researchers, Tactical Tech has spent the past 10 years looking for opportunities to bridge disciplines: to bring design and information technologies into the world of activism. Following from our history of developing toolkits and guides that helped demystify technology for activists, we created drawingbynumbers.org where we reviewed visualisation tools and shared advice on how to do-it-yourself. At the same time we were doing workshops, talking to activists and artists and wrote Visualising Information for Advocacy - showcasing visual advocacy and campaign examples from around the world to derive a framework for thinking through how visuals can be used to shape ideas and debates around us.
However, we're not just interested in cool visualisations. We are equally interested in the politics of data - where it comes from, how it's collected, who it might endanger or empower. We are far enough along with the use of digital technologies in advocacy and activism to be critical of how much control we have over our information, and yet, the internet offers seemingly endless possibilities for creativity in activism. Moulding and shaping complex data and reams of information into a clear and compelling idea, combined with the right presentation and momentum can create strong visual advocacy. Pitch Interactive's visualisation of drone strikes in Pakistan is one such example.
The all-encompassing call to revolution by Anonymous, the open data and freedom of information movements, the revelations of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden point to a maker and hacker ethic showing how things can work and inspiring tinkering and experimentation. Artists creating speculative and provocative projects reflecting on the surveillance economy offer new perspectives on how to think about data. With the proliferation of tools, data and hackathons, we're also interested in data literacy and our roots in opening up black boxes of technology and information are still growing. The elation around what is possible with and through the digital and the visual is tempered by unease and deeper questions. We bring all of these to this blog.
Here we will write about the projects we're working on and the events we attend. We will share our thoughts and observations on data and design in activism, and invite others to do the same. We invited a guest contributor to write the first blog post - Mushon Zer-Aviv, a designer, educator and media activist. We loved the Disinformation Visualisation workshop he ran for us at our Info-Activism Camp in the summer and hope you enjoy reading about it too.
Header Image Credit: Year of the Glitch