Essay: On Weaponised Design

On Weaponised Design is an excellent, very well-informed essay by Cade, published in February 2018 on the Our Data Our Selves site of the Tactical Technology Collective, a Berlin-based non profit dedicated to privacy, digital security and info-activism.

The lived experiences of digital platform users is at odds with how these systems are designed. Weaponised design – a process that allows for harm of users within the defined bounds of a designed system – is faciliated by designers who are oblivious to the politics of digital infrastructure or consider their design practice output to be apolitical. Despite traumatic events against users with increasing regularity, addressing the weaponisation of design is not yet a priority, and is still to be addressed by the design community.

Cade’s critique of user stories is particularly on the mark, and I also appreciate his original link between security research and user experience design, even going as far as seeing the former as a form of the latter.

Our Data Our Selves is a multi-faceted initiative that exposes the political consequences of data-driven societies. Anchored around three themes, Data and Activism, Data and Politics, and Data and You, Tactical Tech investigates how digital technologies fueled by our data shape political engagement and impact our civil liberties, providing guidance for the future of our societies. The Data and You section is particularly interesting for the readers of this blog, as it “examines systems and user design in the context of digital security and privacy to inspire informed and politicised discussions about accountability in design processes.”