Digital Birth
by Torunn Ovland

AustraliaQueensland College of Art, Griffith University
Published online
March 20, 2014

This assignment asks students to choose one or more texts of a total of no more than 100 words, and without altering the text, create a convincing typographic argument in any medium, guided by the principles of classical rhetoric. Tutor: Jason Grant.

Digital technology is enabling ever more efficient intrusions into personal realms with corresponding potentials for exploitation. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to backscatter (naked body scanner) x-ray devices at airports, geolocation capabilities of mobile phones, social network data sales, and even domestic surveillance drones and genomic and other ‘omic’-type data including collected individual DNA sequences – we are willingly or coercively exposed.

Torunn has created a campaign focusing on parents online sharing of their children’s images and personal information. She states: “A study done by AVG shows that 84% of Australian children under the age of two have some kind of digital dossier online, mostly photos posted by their parents. Although the average “digital birth” happens at around six months, one-third of children have information and images online within weeks of being born.”

Torunn produced industrial pedestrian safety signs displaying basic advice for parents and a website with more detailed information. Intervening in the public realm requires ingenious strategies to avoid legal transgressions. Torunn visited children’s playgrounds throughout the city, cordoned them off with safety tape, and placed the signs in prominent positions. She documented the intervention and interviewed parents regarding their reaction to the messages:

“It’s worrying to read “the 84%”… I never give out any information about my daughter online. Or, I have images of her on my Facebook-profile. What can people get from these photos?” (gave some examples) “I will go home now and check what photos I have on my profile.”
mother of a girl (primary school)

  1. Guest comment
    by Pierre Bernard

    This is very clever, roundabout way to bring attention to a social subject.

    It may be that this scenography works better in a Anglo-saxon country than in a mediterranean one where generally public spaces are very often less organised and more chaotic. Sorry, it’s a really short comment!

  1. Comment
    by Design Activisim – Visual Design Lab
    July 28, 2016

    [...] One project stood out for me, Torunn Ovland’s child safety and privacy campaign – Digital Birth [...]

  2. Comment
    by Design Activism – Visual Design Lab
    July 28, 2016

    [...] One project stood out for me, Torunn Ovland’s child safety and privacy campaign – Digital Birth [...]

  3. Comment
    by Design Activism: Designers With A Sense of Social Responsibility – Design & Conquer
    November 2, 2016

    [...] (Digital Birth, 2014, http://typolitic.com/digital-birth/) [...]

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