Footprints to emissions: Exploring near-future digital vulnerabilities with creative methodologies

  • Ellis, David (PI)
  • Wu, Philip (CoI)
  • Reid, Iain (CoI)
  • Ali , Asad (CoI)

Project: Research

Project Details


Digital emissions are traces of seemingly innocuous data that reflect everyday activities (e.g., liking a Tweet). However, they are also essential for the modern economy (e.g., financial transactions). Like greenhouse gasses, digital emissions are invisible and appear harmless, but can make individuals, groups, and society vulnerable. As more systems become interconnected and new devices enter the digital ecosystem, the problem of digital emissions and how to manage pollution will become of paramount importance in the next 5-10 years. For citizens to become proactive rather than reactionary in protecting their data, we need to first understand how people understand digital emissions and associated vulnerabilities.

Building on innovative developments within speculative design, we will explore how probe-based methods can elicit reactions and reflections about current and near-future vulnerabilities from digital emissions. Specifically, some participants will talk aloud as they use their smartphone while others will discuss how new technology that might evolve from science fiction could impact them in the future. The results of this project will act as a first step towards a larger body of research that develops future-oriented technical solutions and policy recommendations to reduce the risks of digital emissions, increase trust, and enhance individual and collective privacy.
Effective start/end date1/11/2128/02/22