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IsITethical? Serious Play with datafication as ethical impact assessment

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This is design-led collaborative research (Frayling 1993, Büscher et al 2011) that uses mobile methods to develop ethical impact assessment (EIA) as a way of addressing ethical, legal and social issues (ELSI) in the datafication of everyday life through a focus on disaster risk management. ELSI must be understood as fluid, emergent, ambiguous, socio-technical matters of concern, and EIA must move along with innovation as an on-going set of practices rather than as a ‘policing’ effort somehow positioned outside of the design or use of technology (Balmer et al 2016; Viseu 2015).
We have developed IsITethical? – a board game – to move into and collaboratively build future worlds in which datafication is real and where ELSI can be explored and addressed critically, pro-actively and creatively. The research draws on future orientated design approaches (Dunne 2008, Coulton et al 2016) and Critical Play (Flanagan 2009), Persuasive Games and Procedural Rhetoric (Bogost 2007). From the premise that past and present are constructed and create particular realities (Law and Urry 2004), and that design can be considered “as rhetoric” (Buchanan 1985), the game is designed with the premise that each time it is played, worlds are built, and in these worlds players experience ELSI ‘live’.
Several rounds of speculative play in the SecInCoRe project (www.secincore.eu) have explored how data may be mobilized in disaster risk management. This has moved different sets of participants into future worlds, where practices and artefacts that can appear utopian, dystopian, subversive and irreverent (Coulton et all. 2016). Moreover play has proved to be an effective tool to instigate conversations and creative thinking on complex issues otherwise too difficult to approach, especially in a context of conflicting perspectives.
This talk explores how play can move participants to do disclosive IT ethics in design an technology appropriation.

Event (Conference)

TitleMobile Utopia
LocationLancaster University
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Degree of recognitionInternational event