Glass Room Exhibit Critically Examines Surveillance Culture

The Glass Room, an exhibition about data and privacy, is now on display at Tisch Library in the stairwell from the main floor (Level 2) to Level 3 through March 13, 2020.

What is personal data in an age when data is everything but personal? Websites, apps, social media and ‘smart’ devices all thrive on the same thing — data. Not just any data, but our data.

Diagram of a face as seen through facial recognition technology

The Glass Room Community Edition is a pop-up exhibition that explores how society is dealing with the growing dependency on data and technology, and the normalisation of monitoring and surveillance. It aims to engage visitors to think more critically about their devices and interactions with technology, as well as the mechanisms and companies that create the environment of those technologies.

This edition was developed as a result of high demand from visitors of larger Glass Rooms in London, New York City, San Francisco, and Berlin, who also wanted to set up similar exhibitions in their cities. This slimmed down, portable version comes in a lightweight and adaptable format that can be set up in a variety of different spaces from libraries and schools, to conferences and metro stations.

The current version of the Glass Room Community Edition focuses on the Internet of Things (IoT), with an aim to creatively illustrate the larger issues around data, privacy and smart devices. It explores some of these new technologies in a playful way, and encourages visitors to question whether IoT technologies will really make our lives more efficient, healthier and safer.

The exhibition set features posters, a color-by-number display, and a takeaway for visitors: the "Data Detox Kit." Two of the large-scale posters explore the companies behind the everyday technologies that we use like Alphabet and Facebook, and challenge visitors to think about how much data they give way through all their activities in their "Data Day."

The Glass Room is curated by the Tactical Tech Collective with support from Mozilla. The pop-up exhibit was brought to Tufts by Ellen McDonald, Research and Instruction Librarian at Ginn Library, and Chelcie Rowell, Head of Digital Scholarship at Tisch Library.

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