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Watching you. Watching me.

How do you communicate surveillance to young children, for whom the web is a magical thing? As a parent this is what I'm exploring.

Photo of David du Plessis
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Sketch 1 (1,500 characters)

I work in photoshop directly, blocking out shapes to create images, and using bright colours and then I keep iterating. What I'm exploring in this image is the seemingly natural attraction that young children have to the internet. Places are evaluated by the quality of the wifi. But communicating that the seemingly innocent act of browsing and searching the web has a dark side. You are being 'watched' as much as that which you are looking at. Many adults don't understand this.

Sketch 2 (1,500 characters)

In this image I'm how machines create a 'heatmap' of us based on our online behaviour. How our online behaviour/data is a 'true' picture of us. This information can be abused and has been recently. Overall the idea of our data being held by large corporations is presented as a bad thing. But what is the flipside, can this data be used in our best interests, and what would that world look like? This is what I'd like to explore next.

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

It is easier to make an abstract image on the topic of cybersecurity. Telling the story of what actually happens, what tech is involved, which organisations and individuals, where does the data go. This will be more challenging, and then framing the image within a particular context. For example, why do you need to take privacy seriously, how do you make your data private. I think it comes down to an experience challenge. Non-tech people don't know what to do, and the systems are not helping them.

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

I am a designer currently based in Chicago, originally from Johannesburg. I studied science, and love exploring complex topics visually. A quote that inspires me, but I don't know who said it, is: "as information becomes digital people are becoming more visual". I'm not sure if this is true, but it makes sense to me. We need new metaphors for dealing with complexity.

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

I talk about this topic to my young kids. It is hard to find the words and concepts at the right level for them to understand. And my sense is that they don't really care, they stare back at me as if to say, 'so what?'. Generally in my work as a designer working with information the challenge is to make concepts and flows as simple as possible. And this is hard. 'Simplicity at the other side of complexity'. I'm excited to grapple with this and to see where I end up.


What is your experience with the field of cybersecurity?

  • I have never worked in cybersecurity before but am excited to learn more and get involved.

What best describes you?

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

How did you hear about this OpenIDEO Challenge?

  • OpenIDEO email / social media

Location: City


Location: State / District


Location: Country

  • United States of America


Join the conversation:

Photo of Dima Boulad

Hello David du Plessis  Happy to see your contribution to the Cybersecurity challenge. How would you consider pushing this idea further? We've had a large number of very interesting creations, have you had a chance to browse other submissions? There's a very interesting conversation around cybersecurity going on!

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