Our Silent Monitor

Research, Design, Installation

Our Silent Monitors was a participatory installation over five days during the 2017 Dundee Design Festival in collaboration with Pete Thomas.

Our Silent Monitors takes its inspiration from the Silent Monitor invented by Robert Owen at New Lanark Mill in the 19th Century. These totemic objects helped the mill’s supervisors to monitor behaviour but also visualised data so that workers could see how their own performance compared to that of their colleagues. Owen’s Silent Monitors were used to control workers but they also brought freedom from physical and verbal abuse. In a similar way, the use of our personal data can be positive and negative.

In this installation we asked visitors to the design festival “How do you feel about the way your personal data is used: excellent, good, indifferent or bad?”.”

The discussion and responses were noted in our ‘book of character’ before being interpreted data into a large painted installation inspired by the simple geometry of the Silent Monitors. By the end of the festival we created a visual representation of how people feel about the way their data is used at that exact moment in place and time.

Design Process

Design Week - How Dundee is driving social change through design

A wonderful project write up by Pete Thomas can be read on the 2017 Dundee Design Festival archived website

Dundee Courier - Gearing up for Dundee Design Festival

Further information

This research project undertaken at DJCAD in collaboration with Pete Thomas during Dundee Design Festival 2017. Massive thanks to the Social Digital student collaborators.