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Group project: Who’s watching you?

October 6, 2016

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For the project you will explore the concept of your digital identity and it’s importance to you and anyone else. In your groups you will research the traces each of you has already left online, your digital footprint: what you are sharing? what can others learn about you? who might be watching you? who owns the information you might have thought was private? And, most importantly, what value might it have to others and what are they doing with it?

The tacit agreement most of us make when we engage online is that our personal details, behaviour, preferences, likes and dislikes and so on will be shared in exchange for the ‘free’ availability of useful or entertaining apps, games, tools, services etc. Most of us share apparently innocuous information online on a daily basis. Taken on their own, these nuggets of personal information seem harmless but, when they are aggregated the result can be a surprisingly comprehensive profile of our behaviour. The corporations engaged in this activity protect themselves by asking us to agree to Terms of Reference when signing up for services but, does anybody read the terms? and if you do read them have you ever decided against proceeding to sign up?

This information is gathered legally and often shared legally. But in addition, there are more sinister operators at work in the so-called ‘dark web’. They will seek to break encrypted information you may reasonably expect to be kept secret: credit card details from legitimate online purchases for example.

In the early incarnation of the world wide web it was often compared with the wild west of the US, a new frontier with little regulation or law enforcement. While that has now changed and much activity is in fact regulated the fact remains that we are in new territory. As major corporations gather information the unexpected consequences of the ‘big data’ phenomenon is only beginning to emerge.

For the project you are to research the digital footprint of your group members. Consider all your online activity, whether through social media, shopping, gaming, correspondence, searching and researching, downloading, communicating and so on. Build a picture of the shadow you are leaving behind, the information that might remain online for others to find. Analyse the impact this may have and envisage a scenario where it might be used by unscrupulous operators to their own benefit.

Present your findings in an entertaining, informative and lively manner using whatever medium and format you wish as long as it can be stored for later review (e.g. a talk, short film, narration+visuals).

Each participant must also describe the progress of the project in a weekly blog post with particular emphasis on their contribution to the project. (What are you bringing to the group and how does it fit into the team’s work?) Discuss the details of the project and also the issues that arise in working collaboratively online. How easy is it meet up virtually and plan the project? What difficulties arise in development? How easy or difficult is communication? What particular problems arise and how do you deal with them? Focus on the experience rather than writing a ‘correct’ post or having an answer for every difficulty.

See page 6 Module assessment for assessment criteria applying to this project.

Important note: If you use images or sound be mindful of copyright, particularly as presentations will be posted to the module blog.

Presentations should be no less than 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes in duration.

Your presentation can be made in the DIT campus or any appropriate venue selected by the group. Presentation date is normal class time on Thursday 8th December.

Reading and watching list:

Fake It – to control your digital identity In a 2013 TEDx Oxford presentation Danish journalist Pernille Tranberg, who wrote the book Fake It – Your Guide to Digital Self-defense with the German journalist Steffan Heuer, explains what happens with your data, what it can cost you now and in years to come.

The Power of Privacy In this 2016 film by The Guardian, Aleks Krotoski travels the world to undergo challenges that explore our digital life in the 21st century. Watch her be stalked and hacked, fight to get leaked documents back, dive into open data and live in a futuristic home that monitors her every move.

Is someone watching you online? The security risks of the Internet of Things is outlined in this 2016 article from The Conversation by Patryk Szewczyk and Nikolai Hampton.

Who’s watching me on the internet? Technology Correspondent for the BBC, Rory Cellan-Jones writes about our digital footprint and explains data trails in iWonder 2016.

Mockumentary made by Limerick School of Art and Design students in 2014 on how NOT to do a group project. (Only to be used for light relief.)

3 comments

  1. […] blog were on the list. An updated list will be circulated next week. The brief for the project Who’s watching you has been posted on the website. We discussed the theme and John pointed out the reading and […]


  2. […] the project brief again… carefully… pay particular attention to the outcomes. Make sure you understand […]



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