LNDW: Privacy from the Perspective of Human-Computer Interaction
The Long Night of the Sciences (Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften, LNDW) took place on July 2nd, 2022 with three formats presented by the HCC Research Group. The LNDW is a yearly event that has been taking place since 2001. This year, on July 2nd, from 5 pm to midnight, scientific and science-related institutions in Berlin and Potsdam opened their doors. We welcomed more than 800 visitors at the Institute of Computer science.
The HCC Research Group's contribution to this year's LNDW focused on communicating privacy risks associated with digital services. We conveyed the importance of privacy from the perspective of human-computer interaction and how to better protect it - without having to lead a life offline. Anyone who uses the Internet unknowingly pays with their data. In addition to private information that we actively enter, for example, when we shop online, personal data is also being recorded automatically without us noticing.
»Defeat the Cookie Monster«
Protecting one's privacy on the Internet is not that easy: cookie banners pop up on every web page and the design urges us to get to the actual content of the page with a simple and ill-considered click on "accept all cookies". Such misleading designs ("deceptive design") are tricks in the design of user interfaces. They use so-called "dark patterns" in design, which we now encounter unconsciously every day on websites, in apps or even in the settings of operating systems. By means of the dark patterns we are supposed to be purposefully controlled and deceived into making decisions that we might not have thought of making in the first place. For the LNDW, we developed an arcade game with which we take dark patterns to the extreme. Visitors had to protect their privacy and resist the Cookie Monster's deceptive design. In classic arcade fashion, players have three "lives" in the game, represented by cookie icons. For each wrong and ill-considered choice, a "life" or cookie is deducted. The visitors who were able to recognize the "dark patterns" and avoided them were rewarded with a real cookie. Visitors of all age groups took their chance at defeating the Cookie Monster, including kids as young as 8 years old. Families and groups of friends played together and gave each other tipps and shared their own experiences with dark patterns on the web.
»The privacy oracle: A look through value glasses«
Our second format acted as a conversation starter: we developed a "privacy oracle" with which LNDW visitors could determine how well they already protect their data on the internet. Based on visitors' answers to value-oriented questions about privacy and data protection, an individual score was calculated for them. The score was entered into an overview page and displayed as a bar chart so that the visitors were able to contextualize their own score with the score of the other visitors. Depending on their own privacy score, visitors received a card with tipps on how they can increase their level of privacy. The oracle provided helpful recommendations on what measures visitors could still take to better protect their privacy on the internet.
»Coding IxD - Digital:Sovereignty«
As our third format, we installed an exhibition with posters and project-videos from this year's edition of the interdisciplinary course project "Coding IxD". Since 2015, Coding IxD has taken place annually and educates students of computer science and product design alike. Beyond the experience of interdisciplinary work, we enable students to design intelligent and interactive systems: in this case, we understand "intelligence" in terms of code that connects material, form and contexts and respects human capabilities and needs. In the winter semester 2021/22, the Coding IxD seminar took place for the sixth time - this year with the topic "Digital:Sovereignty". Guided by this topic, students pursued the goal of uncovering, exploring and reshaping the socio-material aspects of digital sovereignty. Digital sovereignty describes the ability of an individual or society to use digital services (such as cloud/payment services or digital media) in a self-determined way. The student projects explore new forms of interaction between people, material and code that enable sovereign decision-making by empowering people to critically reflect on their own digital behavior. You can read more about the project here.