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On the 17th November as part of the Contextual Week series of talks, I attended a talk by designer Sarah Gold. Sarah studies the dark matter that is behind technology and the design that can take place in order to create radical change.

She started off her talk by discussing her previous practice. After her BA in Architecture at Sheffield, she founded the wiki house foundation. This project involved the creation of a house from different building blocks that could be easily placed together. These building blocks were laser cut and the final product was suitable for living in. Following this she took interest in doing design work where privacy was involved, this included an interest in wearables such as google glass and the NHS planned data sale. From this work Sarah designed the Alternet, a fair trade internet which she perceived as the future. This system would enable us to regain control of our information.

Sarah spent sometime working for the Government and design for the control of data and now works with IF, a multidisaplinary collective which creates design outside of its traditional boundaries, institutions and helps build social enterprise, they use speculative design as a process to create new products.

Sarah then started her talk on “New Civic”. Sarah has always been interested in the goal of the internet, what the internet means to us and what are we to it. Each new technology opens a new realm, we are constantly being pushed into the next era of new technology and although this is in some ways a positive change it is clear it is one that effects us all. This is the theme that Sarah is trying to bring on board in her work. She explained in depth the ideas in which her work revolves. Data control is becoming more and more sought after with people realising their data is being sent all over the world in lots of different directions. At this current point in time we don’t control our data neither what is done with it. Sarah’s interest lie within this cadre and her artwork enables us to start to control our own data. Now we are producing more data that ever (90% of the worlds data has been produced in the last 2 years) it is crucial a change starts now. 

I really appreciated Sarah’s talk and it did make me think about where my data goes and who is using it. I admit to not having changed my ways much in terms of use, it does make me think about how and who is using my data. I found her project the Wiki House the most exciting and innovative, I thought it was a great concept with a good response to the housing crisis. However I found her other work difficult to relate to as I did not understand all the concepts behind the work.

Here is a link to the Wiki House project: http://www.sarahtgold.co.uk/wikihouse-40

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