Holding on to dissensus: Participatory interactions in security design

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


Recent high-profile cyber-attacks have brought into focus the fact that data, devices and people are so intermingled that we now need a new way of approaching everyday security that provides an account of place. The assumption until now has been that the security of the individual will follow from technical security, and that designing for security requires purely technological solutions. Our creative engagement method puts the human security of actors in the foreground, ensuring that actors who may ordinarily be marginalised may have their perspectives taken into account. The creative methods used include participatory physical modelling to co-design representations what constitutes ontological security in the everyday for communities. LEGO and other materials allow participants to physically model matters of concern as tangible scenarios, using coloured bricks to encode actors, infrastructure, and the movement of data. In this paper a single LEGO model, depicting an internet-protocol home-banking service, is described in detail. A number of playful and agonistic interactions between our participants are examined through a place-based lens, using descriptive concepts from ontological and autonomous design, an approach designed to tease apart different aspects of our results. This reveals how a community constructs place, the perspectives and horizons of actors, and networks of resilience. We find that participants achieve positive insight into these scenarios by testing out the ways in which they can be broken down by antagonists and adversaries. Participants sustain a space of contestation in which dissensus can be established and anticipation of breakdown can be played with.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalStrategic Design Research Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • ontological design
  • autonomous design
  • co-design
  • ontological security
  • LEGO

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