Kawara: Ian Ardouin-Fumat and Maxime Fabas

Curator: Jer Thorp
date: March 7, 2014
Categories: Experience Design, Information Design
Tags: facebook, ownership, privacy
Screenshot from Kawara

French designers Ian Ardouin-Fumat and Maxime Fabas are developing Kawara, a platform for collecting, exploring and sharing the data that makes up your online identity.

I once heard someone describe the role of designers using an analogy:

“An engineer builds a bridge. A designer thinks about how people walk over the bridge.”

Recent revelations around privacy and surveillance have a lot of people thinking about how to build solutions rooted in technology, such as BitCoin or crypto-enabled e-mail clients—even pants pockets that prevent phone snooping.

These solutions can work. But they are more about building the bridge than they are about walking over it. Who is thinking about the human experience of navigating these complex issues? Who is thinking about design for privacy?

Ian Ardouin-Fumat and Maxime Fabas examine this question with Kawara, an intriguing platform which allows users to collect their personal data from various services (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), engage with it through a series of visualizations and share it with trusted third parties. 

I’m particularly impressed by the language-based querying, allowing people to ask questions about their own data. Through this kind of experience, not only do people learn more about what is in their own personal data, they can also gain insight into the kinds of things that Facebook (and the NSA) are gleaning from the data of individuals every day.

The project seems to be in its infancy, but it shows a tremendous amount of promise. Also, it sets an important precedent by taking a design-centered approach to the problem of data and privacy. Designers have a key role to play in this crucial discussion.

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