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Pulling the Strings

Instead of marionette strings, hackers use keyboard strokes to manipulate their puppets – users

Photo of Lindsay Sayre
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

My submission represents the Hackers and Hacking opportunity area. The label of a "hacker" is broad and there isn't one representation, visually or verbally, that succinctly represents the entire field. As a group, hackers have diverse motivations and methods but they all use computers to manipulate users and data to achieve a series of unique goals. Like a puppeteer, hackers pull the strings of users and get them to act or behave in certain ways to obtain data. No, hackers aren't all scammers and criminals, but they do use their highly specialized skillsets to surprise and often baffle the best of the best. Although we may think we're more than puppets playing a part in an elaborate play, there's validity to the notion that we are being manipulated by militaries, governments, corporations and hobbyists every single day. Like it or not, our online interactions and behaviors are highly controlled, monitored and adjusted as necessary by these hackers. The concept artwork is minimalistic and flat, but also lighthearted, to avoid any fear mongering behind the stereotypical visual of a "man in a hoodie" sitting in the dark. Pulling the puppet strings represents the wide variety of types of hacking we're subjected to every single day, and can open up the conversation behind the diverse motivations’ hackers hold.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

Three elements are key to this concept: 1. Puppet strings behind held above a keyboard 2. Hackers’ hands above the keyboard 3. Users being manipulated onscreen. From hackers’ hands, to our behaviors online, our movements are controlled and manipulated by smart individuals who have deep insights into systems and networks. Not all hackers are evil, not all are sparkle princesses – but there needs to be balance and transparency with the visuals used to represent these highly specialized experts. To continue building out this concept, I would produce a series of computer screens with different audience / user behaviors represented. This is a big opportunity area and needs to be represented with a series of compelling images to tell a complete story.

What have you learned through this sketching process? (1,000 characters)

Hackers have a reputation! The “white men in hoodies staring at glowing screens” is a true stereotype and exists absolutely everywhere. From pop culture to industry documents, it’s a cheap visual concept used time and time again because it’s familiar and easy for people to grasp. Now, we’re moving past this stage where most people have a basic understanding about what hacking is. We’re a little smarter and a bit more aware of what’s happening to us online. Now, our visuals need to catch up to what we know as truth.

Tell us more about you. (1,000 characters)

Hey there, I'm Lindsay. I currently design and execute on marketing campaigns at Reel Axis. We're a scrappy group of marketers and designers who create and manage marketing initiatives for technology companies. Taking highly technical and complex ideas and products and developing a simple, yet eye-catching visually representation is something I do on a daily basis. It's challenging, but always fun at the same time because I get to work with a group of people that inspire me to be a better designer and thinker every day!

Why are you participating in this Challenge? (750 characters)

As someone who works in a creative role in the IT/cyber security space on a daily basis, it's very clear to me that they typical imagery and messaging used in the industry could use a massive refresh. Products in the industry rapidly evolve, but the imagery and marketing messages remain relatively stagnant. I'm excited that through this Challenge, OpenIDEO, is providing the opportunity to rethink and reapproach how we design and visually present information in the tech/security space.


What is your experience with the field of cybersecurity?

  • I have minimal experience and/or knowledge in the cybersecurity field.

What best describes you?

  • I’m a professional visual creator affiliated with an organization.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • Someone in my network (word of mouth)

Location: City

San Diego

Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America


Join the conversation:

Photo of Andrea Lee

I really enjoy the concept behind your submission. I find the muted colours add to the stoic tone and seriousness of the issue. Great job!

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