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Through the viewing of an encrypted email in a museum space, my idea explores the implication of privacy made public.

Photo of William Phan
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

The idea is to show a duality between privately-encrypted emails and publicly-viewed gallery art. By placing such an email within a painting frame, it is meant to convey a loss of privacy, and becomes something to be witnessed by many, instead. I was inspired by questioning just how safely whistleblowers and dissidents can communicate with journalists, and what the implications are if their correspondence is revealed—whether their emails are forcibly unencrypted, or just the nature of having sent them, in itself. I would like to think my idea represents a pertinent view of encryption. While I attempted to find different ways to show its importance, I think the dichotomy of what is meant to be private and what exists for the public is a convincing concept. Apart from excessive visual polishing, If I can build more on this idea, I would like to further explore the power dynamics of whistleblowers/dissidents and companies/governments. Doing so could potentially change the tone of the idea, but it puts more focus and awareness on how truly necessary encryption can be to avoid punishment, or far worse. I also think the idea has potential to be turned into a greater social comment by becoming an art installation. Individuals could encrypt an email, and they could all be gathered and displayed—a concept similar to other installations where anonymous secrets or wishes are made for public view.

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

Most of the visuals relevant to our current times comprise solely of full-on digital graphics. They were charming, but it seemed I would be inept at making them without more practice. There were less mixed media, or photograph-based work, but I thought they were more visually interesting.

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

I am just a student interested in ethics, and how it pertains to our lives. I really have no background in cyber security, or in doing anything overly artistic. I just have ideas, and hope that I can one day convey them to exist in the world. I am inspired by those who are brave to challenge powers beyond even themselves, and those who do so without even without being known.

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

In my search to understand the scope of programming, I happened upon this challenge. This challenge has allowed me to objectively learn about cyber security, and the consequences there are to go without it. As just an ideas person, I really wanted to bring an idea to fruition.

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 visual creator by hobby.

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • In the news

Location: City

Las Vegas

Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America


Join the conversation:

Photo of Viviane

It might be interesting if the gallery image is visually ‘encrypt’ (or scrambled) in some way. The viewer can interact with the image to ‘decrypt’ (unscramble) the message (say, using a mouse over effect, as an easy to implement example) using a ‘decryption key’ (eg. in the present example, that might be a computer mouse).

Photo of Aswin BeHera

The dynamics of whistleblowers and encryption tech would be interesting to learn. Hope you make it come to life. One suggestion would be, the image you used in the image gallery is 'hashed' hence encrypted. It can't be decrypted without a key, so in reality the email is still private. You can perhaps show an imagery of those hashed letters turning into sensible letters. That would be interesting.

Photo of Viviane

For reseach, I’ve been watching Udacity's online course on intro to cybersecurity. FYI: hashing generates a long ‘string’ of letters and numbers according to the contents of a file. It can be used to compare 2 files to see if their contents are the same. But hashing itself is not encryption (it does not encrypt data).

Photo of Dima Boulad

Welcome to the challenge William Phan  and thank you for your contribution! I like the conceptual side of it. We've had a large number of very interesting submissions so far and we will be going through them one by one in the Review phase. In the meantime, we invite you to browse the other submissions and join the conversation around cybersecurity on the platform!